Recently, I came across the following article in Lifehacker: The Real Difference between Perfume, Cologne, Toilette and Other Fragrances.
What stood out the most for me in this article was the excellent chart by Real Men Real Style (RMRS) reproduced below. It illustrates the percentage perfume oil makes up in the most popular fragrance concentrations on the market.
I've been following Antonio Centeno, the founder of RMRS, on YouTube for several years now. He offers some great advice on men's style but I had no idea that he has some very informative articles on perfume. See his Introduction to Fragrance page for more information.
In his original post accompanying his fragrance concentration chart, Antonio had also included an estimated longevity each perfume concentration provides. I've reproduced Antonio's data in the table below so that it is easier to compare:
Eau de Cologne
Eau de Toilette
Eau de Parfum
< 1 hour
The overall message I get from Antonio's writing and the Lifehacker article is that the more concentrated a fragrance is, the longer it lasts.
Even though this argument makes logical sense, I don't agree 100% with it. I've come across many fragrances with high concentration, which barely last an hour. Vice versa, there are tons of scents with
I think concentration matters to longevity only in relation to the same fragrance. That is, if you compare Bleu de Chanel (EdT) and Bleu de Chanel (EdP), the EdP version will last longer because it is more concentrated.
If you do a cross-fragrance comparison (compare two different fragrances), the ones with higher concentration won't necessarily last longer than the ones with lower concentration. I think this is due to two reasons: the notes composition and olfactory recognition.
Let's look at each one of these two factors, so that we understand how they impact longevity and our perception of it.
The nature of the composition and the notes in it play a significant role in how long your perfume lasts.
To prove this point, let's compare two popular fragrances:
Here are the key features of each fragrance:
Bergamot, Lemon, Gin, Juniper Berries, Pink Pepper, Cardamom, Pepper, Oakmoss, Tonka Bean
Concentration: Eau de Parfum
Longevity: 2 hours
Caramel, Coffee, Patchouli, Vanilla, Honey, Milk, Tonka Bean, Benzoin, Mint, Lavender, Amber
Concentration: Eau de Toilette
Longevity: 8 hours
Notes and Character
You will notice that the notes of each fragrance are significantly different. L'Humaniste features mostly citrus notes while A*Men is made up of gourmand notes.
I got the notes from Fragrantica and ordered them by the number of people that have detected them. This way, we can determine the character of each fragrance.
You may notice that both fragrances share a note of tonka bean. Doesn't that mean they both should be similar in terms of smell and longevity?
Not really. What matters is not whether there is some presence of a certain note but how much of it is there. In the case of L'Humaniste, the tonka bean note is virtually undetectable (at least to me). It is used mostly as a fixative - a note perfumers use to prolong the longevity of a fragrance.
By looking at each bottle we can tell that L'Humaniste is an
So, if it's not the concentration, what makes A*Men last longer than L'Humaniste? It has to be the notes composition.
L'Humaniste is made up mostly of citrus notes. Citrus notes have small molecules, which evaporate fast. This is why L'Humaniste doesn't last very long.
A*Men, on the other hand, is loaded with caramel, coffee, and tonka bean - notes made up of larger molecules. They take a while to evaporate. This is why you can smell A*Men for days.
Olfactory recognition can be a bit tricky. Some may argue it has nothing to do with longevity. This argument is theoretically correct - just because someone cannot smell a perfume, it doesn't mean the perfume is not there. It is a bit like the conundrum about the whether a tree had fallen if no one heard it fall.
From a practical point of view, however, olfactory recognition matters when we talk about the longevity of a fragrance. It comes down to whether we can smell the scent and for how long we can smell it.
Can We Smell The Roses?
Some people cannot smell certain scents. Put simply, their noses don't detect certain olfactory molecules. This is usually not an issue unless you are anosmic and you can't smell anything at all.
When it comes to fragrances, however, the majority of people can smell most of the notes in a fragrance. They may not be able to separate them and identify the individual notes but they can still smell them.
The development of synthetic aroma chemicals has produced certain musks, which may not be detectable by some people. If you have a fragrance with such
For How Long Can We Smell The Roses?
Evolutionarily, we have been programmed to detect only smells that are significantly different than the smells in our environment. This was very useful when we lived in the wilderness, and we needed to detect the smell of a predator coming our way. It is also useful today too, as
Once we've been exposed to a certain smell, our brain stops detecting it. It only focuses on detecting smells that are different. This is
This feature of our brain has a direct impact on how we perceive longevity. If we wear a linear perfume (the kind that doesn't change over time), our brain will stop registering it after a while and we'll perceive the perfume as not long-lasting. Someone else, however, who hasn't been exposed to it, will detect the scent right away.
This was my experience with Creed's Millesime Imperial. It is a
Doing some research, I found out that other people were having the same experience: they thought Millesime Imperial wasn't long-lasting because they couldn't smell it and, yet, other people could detect it.
For the record, Millesime Imperial comes in an EdP concentration and theoretically it should last a whole day.
So, Now What?
Overall, perfume concentration doesn't matter that much when it comes to longevity. If you want your fragrance to last longer, then a more concentrated version may achieve this. However, when you change the concentration of the scent, you also change its character. This is the case with Terre d'Hermes and Bleu de Chanel. The EdP versions of both smell different than the EdT versions. They do last longer but are they even the same fragrance?
If you want a fragrance that lasts long, then look for a perfume composed of strong middle and base notes. Find a fragrance that develops over time. This way, your nose will keep detecting its new nuances. It makes for a more interesting experience and you will enjoy the scent longer.