6 Different Types Of Perfume + Common Fragrances You Should Know

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Perfume is not something you visibly wear, but it’s an essential part of how you present yourself, whether you’re going to a special event or just going about your everyday routine.

While all perfumes smell great, they’re not all the same. And the fact that perfume is worn for various occasions is one of the reasons why it’s important to know about the various types of perfumes out there.

flatlay image of various perfume bottles on a plain white background.

There’s a huge chance that you’ve already found your favorite perfume and fragrance. However, having ample knowledge of different perfume choices will certainly give you an advantage.

So keep reading if you want to expand your perfume collection and know which kinds of perfumes work for specific occasions and which don’t.

What Is Perfume?

Perfume is a substance in liquid form that lends a pleasant scent to any surface it comes in contact with, like our clothes or skin.

In a more technical sense, it’s a mixture of fragrant compounds that usually includes water and alcohol. 

But its main ingredient is essential oils or fragrance extracts, which are used for various hair care and cosmetic purposes but are primarily used to create different scents in different perfumes.

So whichever type of perfume you’re using, chances are its scent comes from essential oils. 

What Are the Different Types of Perfume?

An infographic featuring the 6 types of perfume and how long each perfume lasts

There are six main types of perfume, namely parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, eau fraiche, and perfume oil. 

These types are primarily differentiated by the level of concentration of essential oils or perfume extracts they contain, a factor that also influences how long their scent lingers and how much they cost.


This type comes in at the top of this list because it has the highest concentration of essential oils.

Fragrant oils or extracts comprise about 20% to 30% of parfum. This is why it’s typically the most expensive type of perfume in the market. 

But its higher concentration provides several advantages as well. It also makes parfum last the longest — between 12 to 24 hours — among all other perfume types.

And because fragrant oils or extracts are used in each bottle of parfum, it means there’s also less alcohol in every mixture. This makes parfum a suitable perfume type for people with sensitive skin.

Eau de Parfum

Eau de parfum has the second-highest concentration of fragrant oils at about 15% to 20% per bottle. So you can expect its scent to be quite strong but not on the same level as parfum.

The amount of time it can linger on the skin is still quite satisfactory, however. Its scent should be noticeable for 8 to 12 hours, making it a great option if you’re going to a special event that lasts for hours. 

While it’s not as expensive as parfum, it’s still one of the pricier perfume types. That said, to its potency, you won’t have to apply it several times daily — so it’s worth the splurge. 

Most eau de parfum products can be sprayed on clothes, except for certain fabrics like silk.

So if you’re going to a large gathering or on a romantic date, EDP is the way to go.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette is one of the most widely used types of perfume by many famous brands, as it only contains 5% to 15% essential oils. This means its formula is lighter and more suitable for everyday use.

It even got its name from the French phrase “faire sa toilette,” which means to wash up or get ready. So it’s quite literally meant to be used during the day, and you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to use eau de toilette.

Many eau de toilette perfumes are placed in spray bottles, which is convenient because you may have to spray it twice or more throughout the day, as its scent only lingers for 2 to 4 hours.

Since it has more water and alcohol than perfume extracts, it also has a less potent perfume that’s great for situations where you expect to be in closed quarters, especially during allergy season. 

This way, your perfume will be less likely to trigger sensitivities or allergic reactions in other people who may get a whiff of it.

Most eau de toilette perfumes aren’t exactly cheap. But it’s still a much less expensive option than parfum and eau de parfum.

Eau de Cologne

There’s quite a huge gap between eau de parfum and eau de cologne in their essential oil content. 

The latter only has a 2 to 4% concentration of perfume extract. It also typically has more alcohol content, so you might want to steer clear of it if you have highly sensitive skin.

Eau de colognes are usually sold in larger bottles because they are applied more frequently, which is due to the fact that their scent typically lasts for only 2 hours or less. This is why it’s a much cheaper option than the perfume types listed above.

Eau de cologne is typically marketed as a type of perfume for male users. 

Eau Fraiche

Eau fraiche is a French phrase that translates to “fresh water.” So this perfume type commonly contains more water, giving it a lighter and more subtle scent than other fragrances.

It only has a 1% to 3% concentration of essential oils or aroma extracts, so it’s much more affordable than other types of perfume. But this also means its scent only lingers for around an hour or so.

Most eau fraiche products don’t contain alcohol, only water. As such, they’re among the best options for people with sensitive or dry skin.

The catch is that you’ll likely have to spray it on several times throughout the day. 

So if you’re going out for an evening party or date that can go on for several hours, this may not be the best perfume to wear. 

But this is a great perfume to use when you go out to get some shopping done or run a few quick errands.

Perfume Oil

This is one of the newest additions to the list of perfume types. Unlike other types of perfume, this one is a purely oil-based fragrance, just as the name suggests.

Note that the concentration of essential oils in perfume is about 20% similar to parfum. But instead of using water or alcohol, carrier oils like jojoba oil are typically added to fill in the rest of the mixture.

A bottle of perfume oil with yellow flowers on a white background.

It uses fragrances naturally extracted from flowers, woods, and spices to create a potent scent that can last up to 12 hours. 

Because of its consistency, you can’t really spray it on your skin. So the best way to use it is by rubbing a small amount on your skin. 

But its scent is believed to be more noticeable when applied on the inner elbow, wrist, and neck, which are areas also known as pulse points.

Different Types of Fragrances

Choosing the type of fragrance you want your perfume to have is just as important as choosing the right type of perfume.

Why? Studies have found a strong link between fragrance, emotion, and memory, showing that certain scents in perfumes can positively affect our mood and behavior.

This means that choosing the right perfume scent doesn’t just make you smell good — it can also make you feel good! 

But which type of fragrance can do this for you? 

To help you choose the right scent, we’ve broken down the different types of fragrances in perfumes into four main families based on their similar olfactory attributes below. 


Perfumes with fresh fragrances provide a cool, clean, bright, and refreshing aroma. It will remind you of the clean, zesty smell of citrus fruits, green leaves, and herbs. 

Zesty citrus notes from essences of orange, bergamot, and lemon fall under this category. It also includes perfumes with green notes resembling the scent of freshly cut grass or fresh herbs.

Perfumes with aquatic notes — which are reminiscent of the smell of the ocean — are also part of this fragrance family. One great example of this is the Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gioia Eau De Parfum.


This is easily the most popular type of perfume scent for ladies. As you can tell by its name, floral fragrances will remind you of the smell of flowers, which combines sweet and powdery scents.

Of course, perfume scents that remind you of roses and lilies are integral to the floral fragrance family. 

Sweet-smelling fruity perfumes with extracts from apples, watermelons, and pears also belong to this group. These can match your summer outfits perfectly. 

When choosing a perfume with a floral fragrance, it’s vital to find one with the right balance of strong and sweet smells, like the Vera Wang Eau de Parfum. It has a lush, feminine scent — perfect for your next romantic date!


This fragrance category is a tad more diverse. It can be sweet but also luxurious, like the scents based on spices like cinnamon and vanilla.

Perfumes with oriental notes can also give off an exotic, sometimes spicy aroma that’s warm and sultry.

Perfumes for men and women can be filed under this scent family simply due to the range of oriental fragrances. 

Some of the best examples are the Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir for men and the Alien By Thierry Mugler for women.


Any perfume that reminds you of the great outdoors and gives off musky, earthy tones belongs here. 

Men usually prefer perfumes with woody notes, such as the Dolce & Gabbana The One, because of their stronger aroma.

Patchouli and sandalwood scents are some of the most popular examples of woody fragrances. 

But some perfumes with a woody scent are mixed with floral notes to tone it down and infuse it with a feminine touch, just like the Skylar Clean Beauty Willow Woods Eau de Perfume.  This perfume is great for evening events.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Perfume the Same as Fragrance?

Many brands often refer to their perfumes as fragrances. You’ll also find many instances where “perfume” and “fragrance” are used synonymously, even though they’re not really the same thing. 

While perfume refers to the actual substance mixture, fragrance refers more to the scent we smell from perfume. 

Does Perfume Last Longer on Clothes or Skin?

Perfumes with higher concentrations of essential oils should be applied to the skin.

However, perfumes that contain more water or alcohol can be sprayed on clothes. They might even last longer when applied this way.

But you need to be cautious when spraying it on your clothes or scarves, as some perfumes can leave stains.

Which Types of Perfume Can Last All Day?

Several factors can affect how long a perfume’s scent will last on your skin or clothes. Even body chemistry, which is unique for everyone, can alter how long a fragrance will last.

So there’s no guarantee that any perfume scent will last all day, especially if you’re using a perfume type with lower concentrations of essential oils.

But if a long-lasting scent is a major factor for you, choose a pure parfum or an eau de parfum product. A small amount of either type will last up to 12 hours — maybe even more.

What Perfume Type Has the Strongest Scent?

Parfum and eau de parfum are also the perfume types that tend to have the strongest scent.

If you want a perfume with a sharp, potent fragrance, choose eau de toilette or eau de cologne with woody or oriental notes.

Find the Best Type of Perfume Based on Your Needs

While fragrance is an important factor in choosing the best perfume, there are other things you should consider for the best experience possible.

Various perfume bottles standing on a beige background.

There are countless perfumes you can find online and in stores and knowing the right type of perfume for your needs should help narrow down the list.

Do you want a strong fragrance perfume that doesn’t need to be re-applied multiple times a day? You should consider investing in an eau de parfum.

Is your skin or sense of smell sensitive? You don’t have to forgo perfumes altogether. Give eau de cologne or eau fraiche with subtle fruity or floral scents a try!

Gear Up for Your Next Spring Getaway! 

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  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

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