EDT? EDP? Just what in the blue blazes are these strange acronyms?
The world of perfume is nearly bursting at the seams with jargon, a lot of it (nay, most of it) in French. For your good ol’ cornfed average Joe, it can be a lot to handle. But never fear – that’s why I’m here, to guide you through this strange, wonderful, fragrant, overwhelmingly Francophone universe of scent.
So what exactly is an EDT and an EDP? And what is the difference between them?
EDT is the acronym for “eau de toilette” and EDP is the acronym for “eau de parfum“. These are the two most common perfume “concentrations”, which refers to the amount of perfume oil in a given fragrance. An EDT is a lighter concentration, while an EDP is a heavier concentration.
Want to know more? Let’s break down the difference between EDTs and EDPs in detail.
It’s All About Concentration
The critical difference between an EDT and an EDP all comes down to a little something called “perfume concentration”.
What is “perfume concentration”?
Well, it has nothing to do with thinking very deeply about perfume, and everything to do with the dose of perfume oil relative to perfumer’s alcohol or oil in a given formulation. I’ve written about this topic before, so if you’d like a more detailed breakdown, you can feel free to take a look.
Basically, any perfume is going to be made up of a blend of perfume oil and some kind of solvent – in most cases, perfumer’s alcohol, a carrier oil, or sometimes water. A solvent is used both to dilute the scent (as a 100% concentration would not only be nuclear, but would also be toxic) and to help diffuse the scent in the air.
The higher the concentration of perfume oil in a formula, the longer lasting the fragrance will be. The highest concentration, called “extrait de parfum“, lasts the longest on skin, but will be less detectable by others due to the heaviness of the oils. Lighter concentrations, on the other hand, offer less longevity (lasting power), but greater projection and sillage.
What Concentration is EDT?
EDT, an acronym which stands for “eau de toilette” (“toilet water” in French, though not the kind you’re thinking), is one of the most common perfume concentrations; in masculine perfumery, it’s even considered the default concentration in some respects.
It is one of the lighter concentrations, just a step up from eau de cologne (2-4% concentration) and eau fraîche (1-3% concentration). It is usually dosed at between 5-15% perfume oil to alcohol, meaning that some eaux de toilette can be quite airy and light, while others can be relatively heavy hitting.
What Concentration is EDP?
EDP, an acronym which stands for “eau de parfum“ (“water of perfume” in French) is also one of the most common perfume concentrations. While EDT is usually considered the default concentration for male-oriented perfumes, at least in the designer realm, EDP is usually the default concentration for female-oriented perfumes.
It is the second heaviest concentration, just one step below extrait de parfum (20-30+% concentration). It is usually dosed at between 15-20%. Generally, EDPs will be denser, richer, and closer to the skin than lighter fragrance concentrations.
EDT vs. EDP
So, we’ve sussed out the difference between EDTs and EDPs in terms of their perfume concentration – EDTs are 5-15% concentration, while EDPs are 15-20% concentration – but what is the difference when it comes to the actual wearing experience?
Longevity, Projection & Sillage
Generally speaking, EDTs will have lesser longevity than EDPs, but will have greater projection and sillage. EDTs usually last for around 4-6 hours, while EDPS last for around 6-8 hours. The higher alcohol content in EDTs makes them a lot more diffusive; while they might be shorter lived, it’s easier to actually smell them in the air than most EDPs.
Take, for example, Dior Sauvage EDT – that fragrance projects extremely loudly, and can basically be smelt from across the room by most anybody. Dior Sauvage EDP, on the other hand, is still definitely a loud fragrance, but it is a lot quieter than the EDT, in addition to being less peppery and citrusy.
Which brings us to another point…
Although you do get the occasional scent that remains mostly the same in higher concentrations (Costume National Homme Parfum, for example, which I reviewed here), usually brands will take the opportunity to change the actual scent character of a fragrance when releasing an EDP version of an EDT or an EDT version of an EDP.
There are countless examples of this, but let’s just stick with Dior Sauvage for now.
The EDT of Sauvage features a very sharp, citrusy, zesty, almost metallic profile, redolent of black and pink pepper, bergamot (buttressed by elemi resin), and lavender with a boatload of ambroxan.
The EDP, by comparison, eschews the pepper altogether, supplanting it with star anise and nutmeg, and adds a base note of vanilla. It’s a far smoother, soapier, and less sharp and spiky experience, one that I much prefer to the EDT myself. While it still has the “soul” of the EDT, it updates it with new bells and whistles, and makes things significantly less rough around the edges.
This is only one of many, many designer fragrances which follow a similar formula. So if you’re a fan of a fragrance in EDT form, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like the EDP, or vice versa.
Let’s break it down in a nice, easily digestible table:
|EDT (Eau de toilette)||EDP (Eau de parfum)|
–Lasts between 4-6 hours
–Greater projection and sillage
–Airier and lighter; usually has a greater emphasis on “light” notes like citrus, flowers, and herbs
–Lasts between 6-8 hours
–Lesser projection and sillage, but greater longevity
–Denser and richer; usually has a greater emphasis on “heavy” notes like woods, spices, and vanilla
The Final Word
So, as we’ve seen, EDTs and EDPs can be quite different in several respects, from oil content, to performance, and even to the scent profile itself.
EDTs, or eaux de toilette, are lighter in concentration (5-15% perfume oil), while EDPs, or eaux de parfum, are heavier in concentration (15-20% perfume oil). EDTs are airier and fresher, while EDPs are denser, richer, and longer lasting. EDTs are more diffusive, while EDPs sit closer to the skin.