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A Lesson In Fragrance

Our Beauty Editor breaks down the difference between the various categories of scent and shares helpful insight on choosing the concentration to best suits your scent sensibility.

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I must admit — navigating the fragrance counter is no easy task. For starters, the simple act of deciphering notes can prove overwhelming . . . you sniff & whiff and ask yourself: “Am I citrusy, woodsy, spicy, floral?” You ponder: “While I love the scent now, will it feel as dreamy once it dries down, will I still love it tomorrow?” All valid scent-searching questions.  Then, add to all of that, the task of decoding the difference between Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Spritz, etc…and deciding how to invest.

Here’s where I lend a hand!


It’s actually rather simple. All fragrances contain a percentage of oils. These oils are referred to as “juice”. Generally, the highest concentration of “juice” is found in Parfum (also same as Perfume). This helps to explain the higher price tag associated with Parfum.

Why Parfum?

Higher “juice” concentration insures a longer wear. So the scent you apply in the AM, is guaranteed to last through morning meetings, lunch, and after-work cocktails with friends.

It is at the discretion of each perfumer to decide the concentration of juice for their parfum. Roberto Vargas, Fragrance Expert for Maison Francis Kurkdjian explains: Our parfum starts at a 25% concentration of juice. Aqua Universalis Forte, a top seller, is 40% juice. Parfum is a truly extravagant choice and, so we are quite generous in our exquisite blends. WHERE TO WEAR: Delicately dot points of interest, like behind the ear lobe, at collarbone, and back-of-knees (the scent rises with each stride). “Apply everywhere there is a pulse“, says MaryLine National Fragrance Expert for Guerlain. “The more you move, the more the notes dance on your skin.”

Eau de Toilette &  Eau de Cologne

Just as with Parfum, each perfumer, decides the concentration of juice required to label a scent an Eau de Toilette or Eau de Cologne (also know as a “Splash” or “Spritz”). Less concentrated than Parfum, Toilette is intended as an after bath refresh . . .it completes the bathing ritual. The Thirdman, of THIRDMAN, adds: “Eau de Cologne is designed for generous wear….it is a total body experience. In the tradition of eaux de cologne, we are on average at 5% concentration because our formulae are engineered to perform at that type of lower level. We use the highest grade of naturals available in the composition. Eau de Cologne is a specific craft in the world of perfumery. Traditionally composed with high grade citrus, it provides a sensation of well being on impact. A high quality Eau de Cologne is prepared at lower than traditional perfume concentrations allowing the natural, untouched quality of its ingredients to shine through.” WHERE TO WEAR: Splash vigorously from head to toe. Refresh midday for a little lift.

Layer For Longevity

PH levels, the amount of acidity in our skin, help determine how fragrance will react. For a longer lasting wear, try layering – the art of priming skin with various scented preparations, like fragrant bath gel, moisturizer and powder. This greatly improves the longevity of your final scent application.  “We all desire to smell beautiful throughout the day and fragrance layering helps extend the length of time a scent will linger on your skin.  It’s like applying paint to a canvas – the fragrance gets richer with each coat.”, says Laura Slatkin, Founder and CEO, NEST Fragrances.

Max Blagg noses around the fragrance counter