Fragrance is something that is often as individual as you are, reacting with your unique skin chemistry to create a uniquely you scent. It is part of any woman’s wardrobe, with fragrances for the day, evening, summer, winter, and all-day depending on their notes. However lurking in many women’s boudoirs is something that I believe should be banished immediately – eau de toilette.
To understand why I binned each and every single bottle of eau to toilette in my collection, you need to understand what goes in to each different type of fragrance. A fragrance will most likely be a mix of natural and synthetic products. One of the problems with any fragrance is that the scent changes over time and degrades. However the less fragrance in the original mix, the faster it degrades.
A lot of things affect the fragrance in your scent. For example, UV (sunlight) will cause changes to your scent, but probably the worst is oxidation. Even though an eau de toilette starts with a concentrated fragrance, once put into alcohol or base in such a low concentration the fragrance can degrade quickly as the air in the bottle reacts with the fragrance. Have you ever noticed a fragrance you loved when you bought it no longer smells as nice? The change in fragrance is likely due to oxidation – or if you’ve left the bottle in the sun. The reason it happens so fast with eau de toilette is often because there is so little actual concentrated fragrance in your bottle.
On the scale of percentages of fragrance to other stuff, eau fraiche and body sprays are the lowest on the scale with only 1%-3% of the actual fragrance in the liquid. While eau fraiche is perfect for people who have an extreme reaction to alcohol, this spray deteriorates quickly on the skin and in the bottle. This means layering and frequent reapplication is required.
Eau de Toilette is a base perfume diluted in a substantial amount of alcohol with the fragrance coming in at around 5%-10% of the total volume or up to 15% if you are lucky. This means you have a very small amount of actual perfume oil to alcohol in the spray you are buying, which is why you probably pay less (and need to layer). This isn’t ideal and if you only get 5% perfume in your blend it will fade quickly and leave you needing to reapply through the day. Your eau de toilette isn’t going to stay smelling nice for long.
Buying parfum or eau de parfum can be a more expensive prospect but they will last longer and require less application which means they go further. Whereas an eau de toilette may require four or five pumps of the spray plus reapplication, a parfum only requires a short single spritz or a drop on the wrist which is then dabbed on the décolletage and behind the ears because it can be 25% – 40% pure fragrance. Even an eau de parfum has 15% – 25% pure fragrance so only needs a single spritz to the décolletage then dab your wrists on the spritzed area with often no need to reapply during the day. Stronger and longer lasting scents mean fewer applications for longer wear. Often 25mL of parfum will often go further than 150mL of eau de toilette because of its longer lasting fragrance.
These survived the cull and really form the basis of my entire scent wardrobe. I don’t stray far from these, balancing florals with darker scents through the day and the year
Image credit: Judith Lewis
At the moment my favourites are Ormonde Jayne’s Osymanthus (floral) which I bought years ago and still smells amazing, Penhaligon’s TraLaLa (slightly darker) which was a limited edition and which I still love for the autumn, winter or evening, Connock’s Manuka which is an amazing all day scent, Kenzo’s Parfum d’ete which is perfect for the summer as a day scent but is not for colder weather, Chloe which I have bought again and again, Aqua di Parma’s Peonia Noble which is the most amazing floral fragrance and I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes florals, and I’m also really in to Metal Chypre from Juliette has a Gun but this is a purely evening fragrance and is very intense, requiring less than a single pump to envelope you in fragrance.
Scent is extremely personal and I tend to go for herbaceous florals for the day, and darker (amber, patchouli) based scents for the evening. The base notes within a fragrance will last the longest (like amber or patchouli), middle notes will be what you mostly smell through the day and they will support the top notes which is what you’ll smell immediately. Remember to read the bottle carefully before you buy and bin your eau de toilette.
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