Parfum vs Eau de Parfum: 9 Key Differences You Should Know!

You will often notice the two terms i.e. Parfum and Eau de Parfum written on a perfume bottle. This may seem confusing at first since they sound the same, but these two terms actually mean and represent two different types of perfumes! So, what exactly is the difference between Parfum and Eau de Parfum?

The key difference between Parfum and Eau de Parfum is the concentration of essential oils used. Parfum is the most concentrated type of perfume and contains a 20%-40% concentration of essential oils. Whereas, Eau de Parfum has a 15%-20% concentration. Parfum is also more expensive and lasts longer.

Although essential oil concentration is the key difference, there are actually multiple other differentiating factors between Eau de Parfum and Parfum. So, in this article, we’ll take a detailed look at some of the most important differences and how it may impact your decision to choose one or the other!

So, let’s get started!

What is Parfum?

Let us quickly understand the basics first.

Parfum, also known as Pure Perfume, Perfume Extract, Extrait de Parfum, Parfum Extrait, or simply perfume, is basically a type of fragrance that contains the highest concentration of essential oils. It is usually the most expensive perfume available in the market.

Not only is it the most expensive, but it usually also lasts the longest as it has the highest concentration of fragrance. 

However, due to its purity, quality and concentration, it differs from the other types of perfumes. For instance, the method of application for this perfume is also different from that of other perfumes. I’ve written a detailed article about Parfum which will give you all the key information that you need to know. So, make sure you check out that article to know more 

What is Eau de Parfum?

Eau de Parfum is actually a French word that directly translates to “Perfume Water”. Eau de Parfum is a type of perfume that usually contains about 15-20% concentration of essential oils and typically lasts about 6-12 hours.

Although Eau de Parfum contains a lower concentration of fragrance oils than Parfum, it is often a perfume of choice for consumers when they are looking for a strong fragrance. We shall understand why that is the case later in this article.

If you would like to know more about Eau de Parfum, check out my other article (by clicking on the link) where I’ve actually covered the topic in great detail! You will get to understand all the basics and how Eau de Parfum stacks against some of the other fragrances!

Key Differences Between Parfum and Eau de Parfum

Eau de Parfum and Parfum versions of Chanel No 5 shown together

Now that we have understood the basic meaning of the two types of perfumes, let us understand the key differences between Parfum and Eau de Parfum. 

By the end of this section, my hope is that you will be able to better understand the two perfume types, and you will be better equipped to make a decision on which is most suited for your needs!

1. Essential Oil Concentration

By now you perhaps already know that Parfum contains a stronger concentration of essential oils than Eau de Parfum. 

Just to reiterate, Parfum contains about 20% to 40% essential oils, whereas Eau de Parfum usually contains 15% to 20% of essential oil in it. 

One thing to note here is that the aforementioned oil concentration ranges are not regulated. Meaning, a perfume brand is not required to stick to these ranges. There is no legal obligation on the company’s part. 

So, you shouldn’t be surprised if an Eau de Parfum from a particular brand only contains about 10% of essential oil in it! (this is also the reason why some websites may give you a different range)

However, concentration ranges that we have mentioned are generally accepted ranges across the industry (as stated by “The International Fragrance Association (IFRA)”).

2. Ingredients

Another key difference between Parfum and Eau de Parfum is the quality of the ingredients used. 

Parfum or Perfume Extract usually contains a higher quantity of natural ingredients than any other type of perfume. This is one of the key reasons why Parfum will usually cost significantly higher than other types of perfume!

Furthermore, certain ingredients such as Ambergris can only be used in the perfume extract form. This usually makes Parfum more valuable.

Interestingly, the difference in the quality of the ingredients is further noticeable in Parfum specifically designed for women! The increase in popularity of Chanel no. 5 was primarily driven by the Parfum version which contained a lot more natural ingredients. 

The Parfum variant of a fragrance targeted towards men usually contains a marginal increase in quality of ingredients as opposed to the one designed for women!

3. Longevity

One thing that consumers always look for in a perfume is its longevity. You may have perhaps wondered which perfume type lasts the longest!

Parfum or Pure perfume (perfume extract) lasts the longest. Pure perfume can last as much as 8 hours to 20 hours on the skin. Some versions of pure perfume can even last as much as 24 hours or longer depending on the composition and ingredients used. 

On the contrary, Eau de Parfum will typically last about 6 hours to 12 hours on the skin. A few Eau de Parfum fragrances may last even longer. For instance, Dior Sauvage and Acqua Di Gio Profumo are known to last over 12 hours! But, they can be a bit heavy on your pocket. Other perfumes like Club de Nuit by Armaf and Versace Eros will not only last quite long, but they are also quite affordable.

Most of these perfumes that I’ve just mentioned will usually last longer than 12 hours. In my experience, Versace Eros tends to sometimes last as long as 20 hours!

But, in general, you will notice that Parfum will last longer than Eau de Parfum.

4. Performance 

It is important to note that there is a subtle but important difference between the longevity of perfume and the performance of a perfume!

Performance of a perfume is defined by the sillage (the perfume trail left behind when a person passes through the room) and perfume radius (how far the scent travels from a person).

Since Parfum has a stronger concentration of essential oils, you may think that it will also have a powerful performance. But, the reality is quite the opposite!

Parfum, as compared to Eau de Parfum, doesn’t give you a fragrance punch. It is a very intimate and personal perfume. Meaning, mostly the person wearing the perfume or people who are standing very close to him or her will only be able to smell the fragrance. The sillage of the perfume is not as high as Eau de Parfum.

Furthermore, Parfum is actually even heavier on the mid and base notes as compared to Eau de Parfum. While this does allow it to last long, the punch that you get from the top notes is usually missing!

The very fact that Parfum contains a higher concentration of essential oils limits its performance. The oil tends to stick to the membrane of the skin and as a result, the fragrance molecules don’t travel as much. 

Don’t get me wrong, having a toned-down performance is not a bad thing at all. You may have heard the term – “less is more”. Parfum, as opposed to Eau de Parfum, actually fits perfectly well in this category!

Eau de Parfum, on the other hand, also has a lower performance than some of the other types of perfumes. But, it will give you a better sillage and perfume radius than Parfum. 

Remember – the scent of Parfum will mostly be limited to you but it will last really long whereas Eau de Parfum may last fairly long too but it will make your presence felt in the room on the olfactory level!

5. Composition and Smell

Image Credit – Mart Productions (on Pexels)

Parfum and Eau de Parfum also vary on the composition level. 

As we already discussed earlier, Parfum typically contains more natural ingredients than Eau de Parfum. Thus, the composition varies slightly between the two types of fragrances when creating the perfume. 

If you remember our earlier example of Chanel no. 5, the Parfum version of the fragrance was more successful primarily because of the more natural ingredients but also because the composition was slightly different than the other types of Chanel no. 5.

It is also important to remember that not only does Parfum contain more essential oil concentration, but it also contains a lower amount of alcohol. Rather, Eau de Parfum contains a higher amount of alcohol. This also creates a marginal differentiation in the scent of perfume even when the same ingredients are used.

Alcohol tends to have a scent of its own, and having a higher concentration of alcohol in a perfume tends to leave a marginal trace. 

6. Price

Parfum is usually priced higher than an Eau de Parfum. The primary reason behind this is the use of a higher quantity of natural ingredients in Parfum than any other type of perfume.

Perhaps you may not have been surprised to know that Parfum is priced higher than Eau de Parfum. But, what you may find surprising is the difference in the price!

To give you an example, a bottle of Chanel no. 5 Eau de Parfum 3.4 Oz (100 ml) is usually priced in the range of about $180 to $200. That’s about $55 per Oz. However, the same Chanel no. 5 Parfum variant can be priced in the range of about $150 for 0.25 Oz (7.5 ml). A quick calculation will yield a price of roughly $600 per Oz! That’s close to 12 times the price of an Eau de Parfum!

You’d see a similar pattern across other brands offering the Parfum version of their fragrance! Most brands that offer a parfum variant of a fragrance price it in the range of $100 to $300 for a 7.5 to 30 ml bottle!

7. Bottle Size

Another difference between the Parfum and Eau de Parfum is the size of the bottle in which it is made available. 

There are various bottle sizes in which you can get an Eau de Parfum 2.4 Oz (70 ml), 3.4 Oz (100 ml), 6.8 Oz (200 ml), etc. Eau de Parfum might sometimes also be available in miniature bottles of small sizes. 

On the contrary, Parfum is available only in smaller quantities. The bottle size usually ranges from 0.25 Oz (7.5 ml) to 1 Oz (30 ml). If a perfume house is generous, then the bottle might be given in a size of 1 Oz, else Parfum is sold in mostly smaller bottle sizes!

The primary reason behind this is perhaps the price of the perfume. Since Parfum is priced quite high, it may not make sense to sell it in a 3.4 Oz bottle!

8. Market Demand

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the market demand for Eau de Parfum is much higher than that of Parfum. 

Eau de Parfum is much more affordable even though sometimes even this perfume variant feels expensive. Due to the price, there are even lower consumers of perfume extract.

Purchasing Parfum was a common trend up until the early 20th century. However, the availability of fragrances at a more affordable price point coupled with the changing consumer demand for larger perfume bottles lead to the decline of sales of perfume extract.

However, the recent trends in the last 10 years suggest that demand for Parfum is rising again due to the inclination of the consumers towards the usage of natural ingredients.

9. Availability

Due to the low market demand and higher costs, there are very few perfume brands that offer the “Parfum” variant of a fragrance.

Only a few select well-known brands like Guerlain, Chanel, Christian Dior, Cartier, Hermes, and a few others offer the Extrait de Parfum variants!

Jean Patou offers Sublime Parfum and Joy Parfum. It is usually priced at around $250 to $275. Other brands like Cartier provide La Panthere for around $175.

Guerlain provides a range of options with Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Samsara, and La Petite Robe Noire among others. 

Brands like Chanel also provide options such as Chanel No 5, Chanel No 19, Allure, Coco Mademoiselle, Chance, and Coco Noir among others.

Even though these brands do offer the Parfum variants, you’ll usually need to go to their flagship store or head over to their online stores to buy the perfume. 

Eau de Parfum on the other hand is far more widely and easily available. It is one of the go-to options for many consumers around the world. It is easily available in most fragrance stores and even online stores such as Amazon, Walmart, and a few well-known online fragrance brands such as Sephora.

Which is Better: Extrait de Parfum or Eau de Parfum?

Finally, the one thing that perhaps you may be wondering is which perfume type is better? Which perfume type should you purchase?

Although Extrait de Parfum or Parfum lasts longer provides better overall performance, Eau de Parfum actually provides a much better value for money. Eau de Parfum is definitely more affordable between the two types of perfumes. If budget is a constraint, you should definitely consider purchasing Eau de Parfum.

No matter what parameter you look at, the cost-value benefit of Eau de Parfum will most certainly weigh over the incremental performance benefit that you get with Parfum. Unless luxury is what you are looking for and money is not a constraint, my recommendation would only be to go with an Eau de Parfum.

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