There is an array of terms associated with the different types of perfumes and fragrances on the market.  Some of the more common terms are perfume, cologne, eau de partum, and eau de toilette.  These terms can be frequently confused with each other, so when selecting your perfumes, it is useful to know what they are.


Perfume is the widest-ranging category.  The term can refer to both body scents in general and also to a particular specific type of scent.

As a specific term, perfume refers to the strongest, and longest lasting, type of body scent.  the majority of perfumes are what are termed  “layered” scents. This means that they have a combination of different fragrances.  The layers of scents are referred to as “notes” and they are individually chosen to achieve a specific characteristic in the scent.

There are typically three notes in a perfume.  The first, carries the strongest scent, but this is also the shortest lasting scent.  These are the scents that are evident when you initially put on the perfume. However they will usually wear off within a few hours. This then exposes the next layer…

The perfumers then use a less volatile scent for the second layer, or “middle note”, which gradually takes over from the first, stronger scented note. Eventually even the second note disappears, leaving the residual note or third layer, which is often the most subtle scent. Eventually even this one will reduce in intensity.

Because of the way that the perfumes are constructed, the best perfumes will change their scent over time.  The sign of a well blended perfume is that each of the layers complement each other. The changes therefore, in the scent should be both subtle and pleasing.


The next category of perfumes is cologne.  It is not simply a word for “men’s perfume”.  Cologne is a perfume, but one that only contains a single scent.  As a result, colognes are both stronger and shorter lasting than perfumes.

Because colognes only have a single scent, this will fade faster than layered perfume.  To compensate for this they are constructed with a stronger scent, so that it will last as long as possible.  The cologne therefore is not as subtle a scent as a perfume, and shouldn’t be over-applied.

As regards men’s fragrances most of them are constructed as colognes as opposed to perfumes. Even if they are true perfumes – they are often described as a cologne.

Eau de …

The next categories of liquid based perfume scents are eau de partum and eau de toilette. They can be simply translated from their French names as “perfumed water” and “make-up water” respectively.

Eau de partum is the more popular of the two ‘eaus’ and is itself a less expensive form of perfume. It only has a single scent, but uses one that is more subtle than cologne.  This is a typical perfume that will last a few hours

Eau de toilette is similar but doesn’t use as strong a scent. As a result it is cheaper, but if the scent fades it is cheap enough that it can always be reapplied.


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