Fragrance 101 | Pureman Blog

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You shower, you moisturise, you put on your dinner suit. You lace your shoes and you sculpt your hair. Finally, you reach for a fragrance. But you’re met with a confusing choice. Is this the right moment for the cologne? You’ve just used a razor, so perhaps you should select the aftershave? But what of the Eau de Toilette and the Eau de Parfum?

The world of men’s fragrances, awash with subtle variations disguised by foreign tongues, is admittedly a confusing one. But while many men will simply select one fragrance and use it as a cure-all, learning the differences between the variants and using each for the purpose it was designed can save you money, save you pain, make the fragrance endlessly more effective and give you the sort of confidence that simply cannot be bought.

So what must today’s man know when it comes to his choice of fragrance? Let’s take a look.


When performed on sensitive skin or with a less-than-sharp razor, a shave can leave your face feeling delicate and even irritable. Aftershave was created to offer a pleasing scent and a soothing feeling for this sensitivity.

Aftershave is low in perfume oil (1% - 3%) to prevent that all too familiar stinging feeling, but this does mean that the scent will only last 2-3 hours. Aftershave is generally infused with cooling agents, such as Aloe Vera, and the alcohol present helps to close the pores opened by a hot shave.


A word synonymous with male scent, if you’re talking men’s fragrances most will assume that you’re talking Cologne. Cologne will have a higher perfume oil concentration than that of aftershave (usually around 2% - 5%), but not overtly so – if you don’t suffer from sensitive skin this may be okay to spritz on your face, although it will more commonly be used on pulse points.

A light and often fruity option, traditional Colognes are popular as ‘splash’ fragrances for the younger set, although the likes of Fulton & Roark are redefining the category with their elegant and erudite range of solid Colognes.

Eau de Toilette

The subsequent step in our perfume oil journey comes in the form of Eau de Toilette. EDT contains a perfume oil percentage more commonly in the 4% - 8% range, and is not suitable for use on the face, particularly that which has been freshly shaved.

Traditionally available in scents that are more sophisticated and mature, an Eau de Toilette will comfortably last for a whole evening, and as such makes for the perfect fragrance accompaniment at black tie events.

Eau de Parfum

From Eau de Toilette we continue to increase our intensity, this time moving to Eau de Parfum. With a perfume oil percentage of between 8% and 15%, EDP is the perfect option for men who need their fragrance to last all day, or who find that they tend to wick their scent more readily than others.

While Eau de Parfum isn’t particularly common in men’s fragrances, the likes of Floris and Penhaligons – fragrance houses with centuries of history behind them – still create EDP products.


At the far end of the scale sits Parfum, the undiluted version of Eau de Parfum (‘eau de’ translating to ‘water of’ in French). With a perfume oil percentage in the realm of 15% - 40%, Parfum is exceedingly rare in men’s fragrances, being more commonly created in female scents.

A thicker and oilier liquid, Parfums are bought in stopper bottles rather than in sprays. If you do purchase a Parfum you’ll need no more than the lightest of dabs on your pulse points for it to last all day. Those with sensitive skin need not apply.

It must be said that the facts and figures quoted here are indicative only, as many fragrance houses have begun to use these terms interchangeably, particularly Eau de Toilette and Cologne. But all that you as a modern gentleman need to be aware of is that there is certainly a difference between Aftershave and EDT, between Cologne and Parfum. What you do with this knowledge is entirely up to you.

You’ve showered. You’ve moisturised. You’re suited and booted. Now confidently march to your vanity and select a scent. What’s your favourite scent? Tweet us @puremansg or facebook us @pureman

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