Body sprays and mists are some of the most common beauty products on the market. They’re a good alternative for those who might not have the money to afford an expensive designer perfume but still want to smell good.
But is your Bath & Body Works body mist or AXE body spray a perfume?
There are, of course, differences between the two. But technically speaking, body mists and body sprays are perfumes.
But why are their names different? Why not call a spade a spade? What makes a perfume a perfume, and a body spray a body spray? The answer is a little bit complicated.
It all comes down to something called “concentration”.
What is the “concentration” of a perfume?
“Concentration” refers to the percentage amount of perfume oil present in a fragrance. Any perfume is a combination of perfume oil and alcohol. Adding more perfume oil will increase the intensity and lasting power of a fragrance, while decreasing the amount of perfume oil will result in a lighter, fresher, and more fleeting scent.
A higher concentration of perfume oil makes for a longer lasting fragrance, but the more intensely concentrated a fragrance is, the closer to the skin it will remain. Alcohol diffuses perfume in the air, allowing people around you to smell you.
Increasing the dosage of perfume oil, however, will make a fragrance “heavier” and less diffusive. So while a blend with a higher percentage of perfume oil might be richer, deeper, and longer lasting, you might be the only person who can smell it since it’ll stick closer to the skin.
The perfume industry has different designations for perfumes based on their concentration of perfume oils. Here are a few of the most common concentrations:
The lightest perfume concentration, eaux fraîche (French for “fresh water”) contain just 1-3% perfume oils to alcohol. They’re usually fresh, summery, and decidedly natural blends based on citrus and floral notes, and last about an hour on skin or fabric.
Eau de Cologne (EdC)
The second lightest perfume concentration, eaux de Cologne (French for “water of Cologne”, since it originated in the German city of Cologne) contain 2-4% perfume oils to alcohol. The EdC is the reason why most guys call all fragrances “colognes” – back in the old days, the good ol’ eau de Cologne was just about all you could find as a man, while “perfume” was reserved for the ladies.
Like eaux fraîche, EdCs are light and airy scents centered around citrus, floral, and woody notes, and will last on your skin for a little over an hour (two, if you’re lucky).
Eau de toilette (EdT)
Probably the most common perfume concentration, eaux de toilette (French for “toilet water”, but, you know, not that way) contain 5-15% perfume oils to alcohol. Most men’s and women’s fragrances are EdTs. They have light to moderate lasting power and intensity, remaining on skin and fabric for between 4-6 hours.
Eau de parfum (EdP)
Deeper, longer lasting, and more intense than EdTs, eaux de parfum (French for “water of perfume”) contain 15-20% perfume oils to alcohol. They have moderate to heavy lasting power and intensity and remain on skin and fabric for between 6-8 hours.
Parfum/Extrait de Parfum
The most intensely concentrated of all, parfums or extraits de parfum contain 20-40% perfume oils to alcohol. They tend to be quite long lasting, remaining on skin and fabric for 8 hours and beyond. Some extraits might even last 24 hours or more.
|Eau de Parfum (EDP)||15-20%|
|Eau de Toilette (EDT)||5-15%|
|Eau de Cologne (EDC)||2-4%|
What’s the concentration of a body mist/body spray?
So where do body mists and sprays fall on the concentration spectrum?
Body mists and body sprays have a 1-3% concentration of perfume oil to alcohol, making them roughly the same as an eau fraîche.
What’s the difference then?
There are a few things that differentiate a body mist or body spray from a perfume.
Compared to an eau fraîche, body mists and sprays are far more synthetic in terms of their ingredients.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing – unless otherwise specified, all perfumes contain a blend of synthetic molecules and natural raw materials, and they’ve been made that way since the 19th century.
Raw materials are expensive, and perfumes made up of natural ingredients tend to be quite short-lived. Synthetic molecules help enhance and prolong the smell of natural ingredients, and cut down on the cost.
Body mists and sprays usually contain very little or no natural materials compared to an eau fraîche, which are composed of mostly natural ingredients.
Body mists and sprays are not nearly as elaborate in terms of bottle design when compared to most perfumes, and they’re not meant to be.
Body mists and body sprays are all about ease of use – throw one in your gym or school bag on the way out the door, or keep one in your car for a quick freshening up before work.
The heavy glass bottle of your average perfume is simply not practical for hauling around like that (nor should you ever, ever, keep a perfume in a car).
Because of that, most body mists or body sprays are usually packaged in aluminum aerosol or plastic bottles which can withstand a beating. These bottles are generally larger than perfume bottles, which are at most 4.2oz (200ml), and more commonly 3.4oz (100ml) or 1.7oz (50ml).
For most ordinary folks, body mists and sprays take the place of perfume. You might smother yourself in Victoria’s Secret Body Mist before walking out the door, or deluge yourself with a beefy 10-second spray of AXE Dark Temptation in the locker room at the gym.
But due to their very low concentration of perfume oils, body mists and sprays are fleeting, requiring either heavy or regular application if you want people to smell you. They’re intended to keep you smelling fresh, providing a light fragrance that fades quickly, just like their eaux fraîche cousins. They can also serve effectively as spray deodorants.
Perfumes can have a similar function, but for the most part, a proper perfume will be far longer lasting and diffusive than any body mist or spray (except for the ones from Lush, which outlast some EdPs).
A lot of the difference between body mists and sprays, though, comes down to marketing. Perfumes are (perhaps for good reason, due to the material costs) considered luxury goods.
Perfume ad campaigns will usually highlight that, emphasizing their ability to enhance your sensuality and attractiveness towards the opposite sex.
Buying this perfume will not only make you seem classier, they imply, but will increase your sex appeal as well.
Marketing for body mists and sprays sometimes go for this kind of thing (I’m looking at you AXE), but they’re generally less “bougie” – think a shirtless everyman rather than a tall, dark and handsome hunk driving a Lamborghini through a rain-soaked European capital.
Perfume marketing seeks to heighten a perfume’s exclusivity and mystique. Body mist and spray marketing, on the other hand, strikes a more down-to-earth tone. To be sure, dousing yourself in Bath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom is still going to turn every guy’s head, but that’s something that even you can attain (for the low low price of $12), not just Jennifer Lawrence.
|– Cheaper |
– Not as long lasting
– Bigger/less elaborate packaging
– Lower quality ingredients
– Good for freshening up and deodorizing
| – More expensive|
– Longer lasting and more diffusive
– Smaller bottles and more elaborate packaging
– Higher quality ingredients
– Not so good as deodorants
The Final Word
So, are body mists and sprays perfumes?
Body mists and sprays are perfumes. Any blend of perfume oils and alcohol is, technically speaking, a perfume.
But body mists and sprays are lower in concentration than most perfumes, which are usually eaux de toilette or eaux de parfum.
As a result, they’re not as long lasting as most perfumes and are mostly meant for deodorizing or giving you a short burst of scent.
Packaging for body mists and sprays are usually more utilitarian and not as ornate as most perfumes, which tend to have heavy glass bottles.
The quality of ingredients used in body mists and sprays is lower than what you’d find in a perfume, which keeps the cost low.
And finally, the marketing for body mists and sprays is a bit more down-to-earth than the often more cerebral marketing of perfumes.
None of this is a knock against body mists and sprays, though. They have their place, just like luxury perfumes. Not everyone has the disposable income to afford an expensive perfume, but everyone has the right to smell good.
That’s where body mists and sprays come in. These products make smelling good achievable for most everybody, even on a budget.
So reach for that body mist and spray away. Just go easy on the trigger in the locker room.