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Cologne or Perfume?

     I used to have this idea that colognes are for men, and that perfumes are, well, for women.  Until I did a bit of research and realized that this is not exactly accurate. Somehow true but not that accurate. 

One of the perfumes I'm using at the moment...
Perfumes:  A Background

     According to Wikipedia, the word perfume is from the Latin per fumus meaning "through smoke."  Perfumery or the art of making perfumes began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, and was further refined by the Romans and Persians.  Upon further reading, I found out that it was the French who developed this art into becoming an industry which remained steadfast until today.  Wiki further says that between the 16th and 17th century, perfumes were used primarily by the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from infrequent bathing.  Mmm, this last piece of trivia is interesting...

Perfumes are made with three layers of fragrance called notes:
  • Top notes (also called head notes) is the initial scent and evaporates real quick  This is what you smell upon applying the perfume and will usually last 10-20 minutes before it evaporates.
  • Middle notes (also called the heart notes) emerges while top notes is slowly leaving the building.  This layer together with the next one is what gives the perfume it's character.  The 'heart' becomes apparent anywhere from 2 minutes to 1 hour after wearing the perfume and may last about 3-6 hours on the skin.
  • Base notes (also called drydown) brings depth and solidity to the perfume and is usually perceived 30 minutes after application.  Some base notes are known to linger even after 24 hours.
So What are Colognes?

     Eau de Cologne or simply Cologne (German: Kölnisch Wasser which means “Water of Cologne”) is a perfume in a style that originated from Cologne, Germany.  Colognes are single layered perfumes thus somehow less potent than typical perfumes.

The standard classification of perfume scents are as follows:
  • Floral - created mainly from flowers such as roses and jasmine, easily the largest category.  They are often fused together to create a distinct smell.  Different sub-groups include floral, soft floral and floral oriental.
  • Oriental - A combination of spices, amber, balsams and resins to create a scent that's suggestive of warmth and exotic sensuality that's rich and musky.  Different sub-groups include soft oriental, oriental and woody oriental.
2010 Version of the Fragrance Classification
  • Woody - built on base notes of bark and moss, conjuring winding forest paths. Unisex than other fragrance categories but appeals more masculine.  Sub-groups include woods, mossy woods, dry woods and aromatic.
  • Fresh - this category has these popular sub-groups
    1. citrus - created from citrus fruits such as lime, lemon, tangerine and mandarin, the citrus fragrance projects a sharp, tangy aroma.  This category is naturally refreshing and uplifting.
    2. fruity - main notes include berries and other non-citrus fruits.
    3. green - sharp, grassy notes blended with pine, juniper, leaves and herbs to to produce a sporty and brisk appeal.
    4. water/oceanic - first appearing with Christian Dior's Dune in 1991, these scent uses a blend of synthetic compounds to evoke natural aromas such as mountain air, ocean spray or clean linen to produce a crisp and fresh scent.

     Here are the classification of perfumes based on the potency or strength of their essential oils (also referred to as aromatic compounds or natural essential oils/perfume oils):
  • Perfume Extract (or simply perfume): 15-40% essential oils (accdg to International Fragrance Association or IFRA, the typical is ~20%)
  • Eau de Parfum (EdP), Parfum de Toilette (PdT): 10-20% essential oils (typical is ~15%), sometimes listed as "eau de perfume" or "millésime"
  • Esprit de Parfum (ESdP): 15-30% essential oils, a seldom used strength concentration in between EdP and perfume
  • Eau de Toilette (EdT): 5-15% essential oils (typical is ~10%)
  • Eau de Cologne (EdC): Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8% essential oils (typical  is ~5%)
  • Perfume mist: 3-8% essential oils (typical non-alcohol solvent)
  • Splash (EdS) and After shave: 1-3% essential oils

     Perfume oils are often diluted with a solvent.  By far, the most common solvent for perfume oil dilution is ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water.  Perfume oil can also be diluted by means of neutral-smelling oils such as fractionated coconut oil, or liquid waxes such as jojoba oil.

Caring for Perfumes

Fragrance compounds in perfumes will degrade or break down if  not properly stored in the presence of
  • heat
  • oxygen
  • light, and;
  • extraneous organic materials.
     I twitted earlier this year that I keep my colognes/perfumes inside the fridge to prevent them from evaporating.  I am somehow right even before I did this research.  You see, the air-conditioning is not turned on all the time thus at times it can get too hot inside my room (Philippines is a tropical country and without air conditioning, city life would be unbearable).

     To properly preserve perfumes, keep them away from sources of heat and store them where they won't be exposed to too much light.  An opened bottle will keep its scent intact even after several years as long as it is well kept and protected from the factors mentioned above.  The presence of oxygen inside the bottle and other environmental factors, however, can and will alter the smell of the fragrance in the long run.

So, is it Cologne or Perfume?

     The term "cologne" can be applied to perfumes for men or women that are single scented, but modern convention in the English language dictates that it should be assumed the term is most likely when talking about men's fragrance.  So whether it's a perfume for men, it should be referred to as cologne.  However, this convention does not apply to everybody, especially to the Germans.

     Hope you guys learned something from this post.  Up next on The Pinoy Wanderer are the colognes (err perfumes, now I'm confused which term to use!) that I have used recently -- and some tips on how we can choose the smell that's right for us. Thanks for reading!

*Most of the information from this post are taken from Wikipedia, verbatim parts are italicized. 
*Additional information were taken from and
*Calvin Klein photo taken from Google Image search.
*Fragrance pyramid photo taken from Wikipedia.
tags: information about perfume and colognes, how to properly care and store perfumes, classification of perfume/perfume scents, three layers of perfume fragrance


  1. very informative post tokzzz.... super like!!!!

  2. Whoa, nice feed, i learned something new again, so sometimes, the difference between cologne and perfume is really nothing actually...for some reasons. :)

  3. I like this post. For me, it depends on the smell of the cologne or perfume.

  4. may ganto palang layers at classification.. waahh.. ang tot ko, yung mga matatapang na pabango perfume tawag tapos yung mas light eh cologne.. :P

  5. Hi, Myke!

    This subject are very interesting !
    I usually wear fragrance When I go out with friends at parties.
    At work I only use deodorant because some people do not like.
    The perfumes that I have used are:

    - Ultramarine Givenchy;
    - L'eau par kenzo;
    - Calvin Klein be;
    - Paris Elysees Black Caviar

    And you?

    1. Hey Clark! I answered that on this post.

  6. Likey!


  7. Interesting read, thanks for the history lesson.


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