After all, one sounds like a perfume while the other sounds like… well, not something you’d necessarily want to smell like, right? Eau de pardon me? But there’s more to the EDT versus EDP story than you might think.
Whilst it’s true that eau de parfum is generally a stronger fragrance than eau de toilette, the differences between the two are more complex than that. Consider EDT and EDP siblings, not twins. Although EDP does usually contain a higher concentration of scent than EDT, they are not necessarily the same exact blend in different doses. And while EDT is often considered an everyday kind of fragrance, EDP is traditionally reserved for evening wear or special occasions (although if you want to break some beauty rules, we’d never stand in your way). Let’s get the A to Z on EDT versus EDP.
What is eau de parfum (EDP)?
If you want to get literal, eau de parfum translates directly to ‘water of perfume.’ While straight parfum is the strongest concentration of scent in the fragrance family, eau de parfum comes in next, usually with a concentration between 15 to 30 percent. Much like a shot of espresso produces a stronger, bolder hit of coffee than a long black or Americano, eau de parfum generally has a richer, fuller-bodied scent than eau de toilette. For this reason it’s classically been reserved for wear as a date night or evening fragrance.
Because of its higher fragrance component, EDP generally contains less alcohol than EDT, which can make it a more suitable option for those with sensitive or very dry skin. However, it’s also the more pricey of the two, given you’re investing in a higher fragrance payoff.
Another consideration is that since EDP does have that higher concentration, it can result in a more complex fragrance that evolves with wear. Whilst its opening may have specific scents (called ‘top notes’), EDP will often dry down to a very different bouquet of smells as the body comes through. That’s why it’s always a good idea to test your EDP with a few hours on your skin, rather than just sniffing the tester.
What is eau de toilette (EDT)?
No, it’s not an air freshener. Eau de toilette is derived from the French term for getting ready. In a literal sense, it refers to water applied as part of the daily dressing routine. Containing a perfume concentration of around 10 to 15 percent, EDT is lighter in intensity than EDP, which is why it’s often considered an ‘everyday’ fragrance, suitable to wear around the home or at the office. When considered as part of your personal style, an EDT can offer a perfect signature scent, since it’s something you would reach for to finish off an outfit daily.
But just because it has a lower concentration, doesn’t mean EDT is necessarily ‘weaker’ or more watered down than EDP. Rather, consider eau de toilette a different substance altogether. In the same way that herbal tea offers a completely different flavour and experience to a strong black tea, EDT is often designed to be a fresh, light and crisp fragrance (though there are plenty of perfumers who happily experiment with the form). Because of its greater alcohol and water content, in broad terms EDT is generally less complex than EDP, which isn’t a bad thing – it just means there will be less of a journey from top notes to base notes.
Does EDP or EDT last longer?
No surprises here. Eau de parfum, with its higher concentration of fragrance oils, tends to outlast eau de toilette by a number of hours. Whilst estimates vary, a perfume’s sillage (staying power) can last between four to eight hours for EDT, and eight to 12 hours for EDP. Remember that the fragrance experience with an EDP will generally develop over time, as opposed to an EDT which tends to have less depth.
If you’re looking to help make your fragrance last longer, there are a few tricks to nail. Fragrance clings best to well-hydrated skin, so the ideal time to apply your perfume is straight out of the shower (you can even apply to damp or freshly moisturised skin.) You might also like to layer your fragrance to increase its life. Many perfumes have a matching body lotion, designed to extend the wear of the fragrance when the two are paired together.
When should you wear EDP vs EDT?
Like all rules, fragrance rules are there for breaking. But if you’re a traditionalist, here’s the gist: eau de parfum is generally considered an ‘evening’ or ‘special occasion’ fragrance, best worn as a statement or a full stop on the end of a look. Eau de toilette is your everyday fragrance; the one you spritz on as part of your getting ready routine and the one that smells like you and finishes off your outfit.
Another way to look at it is to settle the EDT versus EDP debate according to the profile of the scent you’re choosing. For example, you might opt for a more pungent, gourmand or woody fragrance in all its eau de parfum complexity, while choosing the lighter, fresher approach of an eau de toilette for a citrus or floral fragrance.Or, vice versa – wear a less-intense EDT for the more polarising, powerful fragrances and go all out with an EDP to get the most scent out of your lighter fragrances. Like we said, you make the rules!
So, how do I decide whether to purchase an EDP or EDT?
There are no wrong answers here. Whether you have a signature scent or you’re building up your fragrance wardrobe (one for every mood), whatever scent speaks to you is probably the right one. But there are a couple of things to bear in mind when you’re making the choice between an EDT and an EDP.
Firstly, price. Due to its higher concentration of precious perfume oil, eau de parfum is usually more expensive. However, with its greater sillage you’ll probably find yourself needing to reapply less often.
Secondly, consider where and how you’ll be wearing it. If you’re a fan of heady, intense fragrances, we’re all for it, but your office offsiders may not be! It might be a good idea to consider the less full-bodied eau de toilette as your everyday go-to.
Finally, and most importantly, make sure you test your chosen scent in both EDP and EDT forms. Part of the magic of perfumery is in the craft, and often the same fragrance will be surprisingly different when comparing EDT and EDP. Rather than simply being a matter of more or less fragrance in the bottle, perfume houses will often tweak the ingredients of their scents according to the type of perfume (in this instance, whether they’re making an EDT or an EDP.) So while they are part of the same scent story and feature the same notes, the balance of notes and the way they play out may well be different. Think of the EDT as a remix of the EDP song, if you will. So, it’s always a good idea to trial both on your skin, and see how they develop over the course of a day. Because sometimes the remix is even better than the original – and sometimes, there’s simply no improving on a classic!