Cologne vs Aftershave vs Eau de Toilette vs Eau de Parfum... What's The Difference?

Cologne vs Aftershave vs Eau de Toilette vs Eau de Parfum... What's The Difference?

Men's fragrance is a minefield when it comes to terminology. From scent pyramids to 'the nose' to eau de... let's simplify.

- Our fragrances are Eau de Toilettes or, in some cases Eau de Parfums but...

- ...we call them colognes and aftershaves, because that's what almost everyone outside the 'perfume world' calls fragrances for men.

- If anyone tries to tell you that the higher % a fragrance has the stronger it is, they're wrong. Sort of. It's complicated. More below...

Thomas Clipper's range of colognes, aftershaves, eau de toilettes and / or parfums... eau my...

What's In A Name? 

In short, not as much as you might think.

All of the terms above are more marketing than science. So why do we call our fragrances 'colognes' and 'aftershaves' interchangeably?

The below graph shows searches on Google for several men's fragrance terms:

Eau De Cologne vs Eau De Toilette vs Eau De Parfum vs Aftershave

Worldwide searches for men's cologne outpace those for men's aftershave (although interestingly that looks to be slightly shifting this year). Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum barely feature.

Cologne vs Aftershave

What cologne and aftershave mean to you will most likely depend on where you live. They both mean 'scents for men', but aftershave really only has that meaning in the UK and a few markets in South East Asia as shown in blue on the below map. In contrast, the red bits in the below map represent markets where people are generally use cologne to refer to men's fragrance.


Where do people call men's fragrance cologne or aftershave?

As we're Brits (and love pho, except for Antonio who can't eat coriander... I digress) we do use aftershave fairly often to describe our range of men's fragrances. But as we're globally minded, cologne's what we've got on the bottles.

Eau My, But There's More?

Very good. Yes, there's more. We've not mentioned the Eau de Toilettes (EdTs) and Eau de Parfums (EdPs) that perfume experts often discuss. So what's the difference?

It comes down to concentration or 'inclusion level'. The higher the inclusion, the more concentrated fragrance oil is in the product. In general EdTs have a lower inclusion level than EdPs.

You often hear around 7-15% for an EdT and around 15-20% for and EdP, but there are no hard and fast rules. Generally you'd expect something marketed as an EdP to be stronger and / or last longer than an EdT.

Cologne and aftershave have historically had a lower inclusion level than EdTs, although as you can see in the above graph and map, today both terms are used by normal people just about everywhere to mean 'anything that makes a man smell great'.

Thomas Clipper fragrances

So What Does Thomas Clipper Make?

We design our fragrances to blend together so it's important they have roughly the same potency and longevity. You'd expect that to mean using the same inclusion level, but it doesn't at all. To achieve the same strength the inclusion level can vary by as much as 50% from one fragrance to another.

The goal is always to have a scent that is simple to blend, doesn't overpower and lasts well. Our inclusion levels sometimes tip over 15%, and are sometimes under, meaning that they could  be referred to as Eau de Toilettes or Eau de Parfums. 

To keep things simple, we just say cologne.


What difference does it make? What is even going on?

Relax. The important thing is to find the perfect fragrance and not get too worried about the technical details. To do that we'd always recommend trying fragrances on your skin, live with them a little while and base your decisions on personal taste not terminology.

And we have just the thing to help you make your choice (of course...) The Thomas Clipper Discovery Set.

So, less talk, more cologne. Or aftershave. Or EdT. Or EdP...

The Discovery Set From Thomas Clipper

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Some of our favourites...

Handmade men's fragrances, available direct in the UK and USA.

As seen in The Guardian, Wallpaper, Monocle. Recommended in British GQ's 'favourite men's fragrances' 7 years running. Read our reviews.

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