Deodorant vs Perfume: What’s the Difference? [Complete Guide!]

One question that I had for years was this – “If I can smell nice with a deodorant, then why do I need to spend huge amounts of money on a perfume!”. In fact, I even wondered if there is any difference between a perfume and a deodorant! But, over the years, this is what I have learned –

The key difference between deodorant and perfume is that deodorant is used to suppress the smell of your body odor whereas perfume is used to enhance the fragrance and make you smell nice.

This piece of information completely changed the way I looked at fragrances. Furthermore, I was totally surprised how no one tells you these key nuggets of information.

So, I decided to write this article as a complete guide in order to share the answers to all the common questions that people have on this topic.

So, let’s get started!

What is a Perfume?

Perfume is a mixture, usually in a liquid form, made of aromatic compounds, and alcohol or water as a solvent. It is often used to pamper the sense of smell by enhancing the body’s fragrance, and to create a good impression.

The use of perfume in our day-to-day activity is not new. In fact, the oldest references to the use of perfumes are seen in the Indus Valley civilization in 3300 BC and even in the Mesopotamian civilization in 1200 BC.

The use of modern perfume was first seen in Hungary in 1370 partially due to the Arabic influences. The modern perfume consisted of essential oils blended with alcohol (which was a new thing). The first modern perfume was made at the command of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary, and was known as “Hungary Water” throughout Europe.

However, France quickly became the center of the perfume trade and industry in the 17th century. Later, King Louis XIV propelled the use of perfume to a new pedestal.

The perfume was often used as a way to cover the body odor as people resorted to taking a shower only once a fortnight due to the frequent outbreak of plague. People feared that plague spread through water (a piece of information we know today to be untrue).

The process of making perfume, its ingredients and its use underwent a great change in the 19th century to adapt to the changing tastes and the evolution of modern chemistry which paved the way to the use of lab-produced chemicals for making perfumes.

What is a Deodorant?

Image Credit to Virgil Cayasa

A deodorant is a substance used to suppress the body odor by directly acting on the odor-producing bacteria present in the sweat. It is usually used under the arm pits and other parts of the body where sweating is common or inconvenient.

The first deodorant was developed in the USA in 1888 known as “Mum” as in “to keep silent”. This was a type of cream that could be applied using your finger tips.

However, in the late 1940s, a new version of the deodorant was designed. The new deodorant had an applicator to apply on the body. The inspiration for this design was based on the success of the design of ball-point just a few years ago.

This new version of the deodorant was re-branded and launched as “Ban Roll On” spray. The Ban brand of deodorants became quite popular and can be bought till date in some of the major retail stores in the USA and Europe markets.

A major flaw with the roll on deodorants was that it had to be applied directly on the underarms; thereby restricting the willingness to share it with others.

The first aerosol-based deodorant spray was later invented and first used in the early 1960s. The primary purpose of the deodorant spray was to prevent the contact of the applicator to the underarms of the user.

What is the Difference between Perfume and Deodorant?

While the key difference between perfume and deodorant is the purpose for which each of the two are used, there are actually several other differences between a perfume and a deodorant. Let’s take a look at some of these –

List of Differences between Perfume and Deodorant

S. NoDifferencePerfumeDeodorant
1PurposeMake you smell nice and enhance your fragranceSuppress or prevent the smell of your body odor
2Fragrance Concentration3% to 30%1% to 2%
3Alcohol ContentUsually 65% to 90%Usually 95% or above
4CostExpensiveAffordable
5Fragrance Duration2 to 12 hours1 to 3 hours
6Types1. Parfum Extract (Pure Perfume)
2. Eau de Parfum
3. Eau de Toilette
4. Eau de Cologne
5. Eau Fraiche
1. Deodorants
2. Antiperspirants
7UsageUsually used on a special occasionUsed as a daily wear or after workouts
8ApplicationBest used on pulse points – inner wrists, necks, behind ears, etc.Under arms or other sweaty parts of the body
9Bottle TypeDesigner bottles with branded labels – usually as a spray or dab-onAluminum tin-can (spray), roll-on sticks, applicators
10Longevity100 ml bottle can last 1-2 years or more100 ml bottle will last 2-4 months
11StorageIdeally stored in a temperature-controlled (12 C to 22 C) environment, and prevent exposure to heat, light, humidity, etc.No special precautions needed

As you may have noticed, there are several differences between a perfume and a deodorant even though both contain fragrance.

I hope the above information gives a comprehensive understanding of the differences between a deodorant and a perfume.

Which is Better – Perfume or Deodorant?

It is better to use perfume for special occasions, events, or a romantic date especially when your goal is to impress others. Deodorants should be used to prevent body odor usually after a gym session or a heavy workout that may lead to sweating and body odor.

Perfume is perfectly suited for you if your goal is to smell nice and impress other people around you.

Furthermore, perfume not only contains a higher concentration of perfume oil, but it also lasts longer than a deodorant.

Even though a perfume bottle might be an expensive option, if you want people to turn their heads when you enter a room, you should definitely be using a perfume.

One last thing – some deodorants are designed to give a powerful fragrance as soon as you apply it. So it may feel very attractive. But, don’t forget that deodorants have a much higher concentration of alcohol in them. This means that this powerful fragrance will not last that long!

Can you Use Perfume as a Deodorant?

A bottle of Vera Wang Cologne for Men

Perfume cannot be used as a replacement for deodorant. A deodorant is designed to act and breakdown the foul smell producing bacteria present in the sweat; thereby preventing the body odor. Unlike a deodorant, a perfume can enhance the fragrance but is not equipped to suppress body odor.

Another reason it may not make sense to use perfume as a deodorant is the cost factor. A perfume usually costs much more than a deodorant. It simply doesn’t provide any cost-value benefit when using perfume as a replacement for deodorant.

Can you Use Deodorant and Perfume Together?

You can use deodorant and perfume together. Make sure that you apply deodorant on the armpits and wait for 30 minutes or so before using perfume. This will allow the deodorant to take full effect. Then, apply the perfume on the pulse points for best results.

If you do choose to use both deodorant and perfume together, it is recommended to go with a deodorant that either has a neutral scent or matches the fragrance of your perfume. That way, the deodorant won’t interfere with your perfume.

If you are scared of bad odor, it may be a good idea to just clean your armpits with water first. If that is not an option, use wet wipes to clean out the sweat first. Then, apply deodorant or even use the perfume directly!

Is Deodorant the Same as Antiperspirants?

Antiperspirant differs from a deodorant in its capabilities. Deodorant can suppress body odor by killing the odor-producing bacteria found in the sweat produced by the body. An antiperspirant prevents the production of sweat itself by forming a gel-like layer above the sweat-producing glands.

Another thing to remember is that all antiperspirants fall under the category of deodorant. However, not all deodorants can be classified as an antiperspirant!

Even though a deodorant and an antiperspirant differ in their method of working, the end goal of both is to prevent foul-smelling body odor.

Difference Between Cologne and Deodorant?

The key difference between cologne and deodorant is that cologne is used for enhancing the fragrance whereas a deodorant is used for masking the foul-smelling body odor produced from sweat.

Cologne is a type of perfume that usually contains a lower concentration of fragrance oil (3-5%). Thus, just like any other form of perfume, cologne does not have the ability to suppress foul-smelling body odor or inhibit the production of sweat like a deodorant or an antiperspirant.

More related information –

  1. Does Perfume Damage Jewelry? Here’s What We Found!
  2. Why is Perfume Expensive? [With GOLDEN Tips to Buy it Cheap!]
  3. Can I Carry Perfume on a Plane? THIS is What You Should Remember!
  4. Does Perfume Get Better with Age? You Should Know THIS!
  5. Should Perfume be Used on Skin or Clothes? A Comprehensive Guide!
  6. Why is Perfume Called Toilet Water? Eau de Toilette Explained!
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