What is Eau de Toilette? [A Comprehensive Guide!]

When you are looking to buy a perfume, one of the terms that you may hear quite often is “Eau de Toilette”. You may hear it from the salesperson at the store or notice it written on the perfume box. Either way, it is important to understand what this means and how it affects your purchasing process!

Eau de Toilette is a type of perfume that contains lower concentration of essential oil. It typically contains about a 5%-15% essential oil concentration blended in alcohol and usually lasts about 4 to 8 hours on skin.

But how does this compare to other forms of perfume? And, should this be your choice of perfume? In this article, we explore Eau de Toilette in further detail and answer some of the most common questions that you may have!

So, let’s get started!

What is Eau de Toilette?

There are various types of fragrances that exist. The key difference between the types of fragrances is the concentration of the essential oil used in it. Why does this matter? Well, the quantity of essential oil is one of the primary factors that influence the performance and projection of a perfume.

Eau de Toilette usually contains a lower concentration of essential oil (about 5% to 15%) compared to some of the fragrances. However, it is not the weakest of the perfumes. Eau de Toilette contains more essential oil concentration and usually lasts longer than Eau de Cologne of Eau Fraiche.

One thing to understand is that the range of essential oil concentration is not fixed by any industry regulations. It is just a generally accepted number. Moreover, this range can vary in a particular perfume line based on the decision of the perfume brand.

Thus, you may see certain brands use an even lower concentration of oils and yet term the fragrance as Eau de Toilette. The decision may be based either on the performance of the perfume or the discretion of brand.

Meaning of Eau de Toilette

Eau de Toilette is a French term that literally translates into “Toilet Water”! Now, that may sound disgusting to some of you, but it isn’t what you think it is. Perfume is not made from urine or water from the toilet! (or any other form of human excretion)

Interestingly, Eau de Toilette derives its name from the French word “Toilette” which actually means “a small piece of cloth”! [In fact, “Toile” in “Toilette” stands for “cloth”]

This small piece of cloth known as “Toilette” was used specifically in reference to shaving or grooming purposes. Furthermore, oftentimes, aromatic water was used during or after the shaving process. This aromatic water (now referred to as perfume) commonly became known as “Toilette Water” or the water used during shaving or grooming purposes.

I previously wrote a detailed article explaining the history of Eau de Toilette, how it derived its name and the role of the queen of Hungary in making this perfume world-renowned! Make sure to check out that article for more fun facts!

Difference between Perfume and Eau de Toilette

Often, people get confused between the terms “Perfume” and “Eau de Toilette”. Sometimes, you may even hear people use these terms interchangeably! Since they don’t sound related, one tends to wonder why is perfume linked with Eau de Toilette and what exactly is their relation.

The key difference between Perfume and Eau de Toilette is that Perfume is a generic term assigned to various types of fragrances whereas Eau de Toilette is basically a type of perfume.

You will see the usage of the term “Eau de Toilette” on only specific perfumes that contain a certain concentration of essential oil as mentioned before. However, all fragrances such as Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, Colognes, etc are referred to as “Perfume” in general.

How Long Does Eau de Toilette Last?

Now let’s try and understand a bit about the performance of Eau de Toilette perfume.

On average, Eau de Toilette usually lasts about 4 to 8 hours on skin. However, some Eau de Toilette fragrances can last longer depending upon their composition and the ingredients used in making the perfume.

There are several factors that influence how long a perfume can last. This holds true for all types of fragrances including Eau de Toilette. Moreover, longevity of perfume can also vary from person to person as the same perfume can react differently with different people.

Thus, it is quite difficult to say exactly how long can a perfume last once sprayed. That said, you will find that most Eau de Toilette fragrances will fall within the aforementioned range of 4 to 8 hours.

Is Eau de Toilette Perfume for Men or Women?

Now this is another common question that people often have. This question really stems from the fact that in certain countries such as the United States, fragrances are termed as “Perfume” when marketed for women and as “Cologne” when targeted at men.

So, when you hear the term Eau de Toilette, you may wonder whether it is a perfume or a cologne and whether it is meant for men or women! However, here’s what you need to know.

Eau de Toilette, as a perfume type, is unisex. Meaning, it is designed and used by both men and women. The term “Eau de Toilette” only signifies the potency of a specific perfume. You need to look at the perfume notes to determine the gender a perfume is meant for. Check the packaging to be certain.

In short, it is the perfume notes that determine whether a certain fragrance is meant for a man or a woman. Even so, there is no hard and fast rule on the usage of perfume meant for the opposite gender!

I actually wrote a detailed article on can women wear men’s perfume. It talks about the science behind the gender of perfume with some interesting facts! Be sure to give it a read.

Difference between Eau de Toilette and Cologne

The key difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne (or Cologne) is the concentration of essential oils used. Eau de Toilette usually contains 5%-15% oil concentration whereas Eau de Cologne typically contains 2%-5%. Eau de Toilette also tends to last longer between the two.

That said, there are actually several other minor differences between Eau de Toilette and Cologne. For instance, cost is another differentiating factor between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne.

Since Eau de Cologne usually contains a lower concentration of essential oils, the cost of Cologne is usually lower. than Eau de Toilette within a particular perfume brand.

However, it is important to remember that sometimes you may notice that a Cologne from a particular brand may be more expensive than an Eau de Toilette of another brand! Brand value is often a factor in determining the cost of a particular perfume.

Thus, the cost of perfume with other types is best compared within the same perfume brand.

Difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum

The key difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum is the concentration of essential oils used. Eau de Toilette usually contains 5%-15% oil concentration whereas Eau de Parfum typically contains 15%-20%. Eau de Parfum also tends to last longer between the two.

Eau de Parfum usually gives a better performance between the two types of perfume since it contains higher concentration of fragrance oil in it.

However, there are instances when an Eau de Toilette can actually outperform an Eau de Parfum of another brand but also within its own line of perfume!

For instance, the Eau de Toilette version of Dior Sauvage by Christian Dior actually tends to perform much better than the EDP or even the Parfum version. Likewise, I noticed a similar observation in Dior Poison Girl by Christian Dior. The EDT version is longer lasting than the EDP version!

In such a situation, it is best to go with the EDT version as it will not only give you better performance but also save you some money!

Should You Buy Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum?

While the examples mentioned in the previous section are a rare scenario, Eau de Parfum will almost always perform better than Eau de Toilette. However, Eau de Parfum will also cost more than Eau de Toilette.

If cost is a not a factor, then you should buy Eau de Parfum as it will almost always give you a better longer lasting performance.

That said, Eau de Toilette is also not a bad choice. You will most likely get a decent performance from your EDT perfume as well. Obviously, this varies significantly from one brand to another. However, in general, you should expect some nice fragrance for the good part of the day!

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