What is cologne vs perfume?

The most common misapprehension when it comes to cologne and perfume is that a majority thinks the difference is based on gender. Perfume is for women while cologne is for men. But the reality of the truth is that the difference lies in the composition of essential oils in the water and alcohol base of the fragrance. Cologne contains two to four percent of oils, compared to the higher concentration in perfumes of around twenty to thirty percent. So, to speak of, the difference between cologne and perfumes begins right from the process of making them.

Cologne has, over the years, evolved to be branded as a men’s fragrance regardless of the composition of oils. The confusion starts at the point of broadening of the term based on the fragrance concentration. Even though some are as potent and highly concentrated like perfumes, they are still sold as cologne. But compared to men’s fragrances, women’s fragrances are scented more intently. It is like an unwritten rule.

Other than the differences between the concentration of essential oils, colognes and perfumes do have other difference.

#1 Cologne vs Perfume-Price

Though the alcohol used in perfumes are not that costly, the fragrances oils which provide the scent its uniqueness costs in thousands per ounce. This fact makes perfumes costlier than colognes. Inexpensive brands of perfumes at times may cost more than designer colognes.

#2 Cologne vs Perfume-Scent

Depending on the concentration of fragrance in the cologne or perfume, its character changes. Most of the manufacturers take this a step further by slightly altering different oil profiles for their perfumes and colognes. This allows to creating unique signature scent by putting together a coordinating cologne and perfume. This process helps add depth to the cologne or perfume.

#3 Cologne vs Perfume-Longevity

The alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving behind the fragrance oils from the perfume or cologne on the skin which means that more oil would give a longer lasting product. Hence, perfumes last longer than colognes.

When to Wear Cologne

Giorgio Armani

Long car trips, small closed rooms, and flights are some of the good occasions to use cologne as opposed to perfumes. The lightness of colognes makes them the perfect choice for situations that asks for the fragrance to stay close to the skin. Colognes are the ideal fit for dinner plans too, as it plays second fiddle to the delicious scents of food. Cologne is a better choice for people with oily skin as they might find perfumes to be overly intense. It is also the better option to give as a gift to someone due to its economical and mild nature.

When to Wear Perfume


Perfumes are intense, complex and expensive. It can radiate for a meter or more around the one who has applied it. Perfume should be chosen over cologne when you are in a situation where you want a more dramatic scent without invading others’ privacy or overpower other tastes or scents. It should also be taken into account to apply perfumes sparingly at the neck or wrist or behind the knees.

To conclude the difference lies in the concentration and not on the gender. Use cologne to get a mild scent and look for a perfume if you are in search for a radiant and lasting fragrance.

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