The Difference Between Perfume, Cologne & Toilette

When you hear the word “perfume” it’s likely that you think of one thing: expensive scent in a fancy crystal bottle. But there are other scent formulations for both men and women that differ in price, concentration, and staying power. Here’s a primer.


Perfume is the most concentrated and expensive of all fragrance choices and is traditionally for women. It contains between 20% to 30% of pure perfume essence mixed with water and alcohol. It’s slightly oily and can stain clothes, but if you place it carefully to prevent staining, a single application can last up to 24 hours. Perfume usually is applied with the fingertips or “tipped” from the bottle onto pulse points.