Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a cologne, and eau de cologne?

Translated, Eau de Cologne means "water of Cologne", a town in Germany (Koln). Exact dates vary a bit, but in general, Cologne as we know it, was patented in 1818 by Jean Marie Farina. It was an alcohol-water base scented with neroli, bergamot, rosemary and lemon. It evaporated quickly, leaving behind a simple clean citrus scent. Roget et Gallet took over the Farina perfume house and still produces the original Eau de Cologne today.

Is toilette water and Eau De Toilette the same thing? (Toilet water doesn’t sound like something designed to smell good!)

Yes. The word toilet comes from the French word, toile, meaning cloth. A cloth was usually spread over a table in a chamber or dressing room. The word began to be used to name the dressing table, and then to include the whole room. Around the turn of the century, when ladies "attended to their toilet" in their dressing room, it meant they were freshening up or changing for dinner. It was at this point they would sprinkle on a little cologne, or, as it came to be known, toilet water. (The term "toilet water" fell out of fashion, and the French term Eau de Toilette was adopted in America when the term "toilet" came to mean a commode in the WC (Water closet)). We will go no further here discussing terms for toilets! Anyway, as people back then often changed clothing 4 times throughout the day so they would be appropriately dressed for an event, they would sprinkle toilet water on themselves each time. Since toilet water was so light, it would evaporate within the few hours before they would be changing again. Back then, as now, some had a signature scent they always wore, and just as many changed their fragrance for the time of day, event, or season.

Fragrances never seem to last on me. ..What can I do?

Realize that your nose becomes acclimated to a scent quickly, resulting in a kind of fatigue. As a result, your nose becomes kind of "immune" to the scent, until it gets a break. This characteristic of our sense of smell is one of the reasons why people say to never try more than 3-4 scents at the fragrance counter at a time.

So, before you think scent fades quickly on you, be sure it isn’t just because YOU can’t smell it on yourself anymore.

Suppose scent does indeed fade quickly on you. There are a few things you can do. First of all, I would guess that you are using a deodorant soap in the shower (most of us in America do). Oil holds scent (good OR bad!), so deodorant soaps are designed to strip off the oil from our skin. So, when you pop out of the shower, get dressed, and spritz on a fragrance, it will indeed evaporate relatively quickly since the fragrance has little oil to cling to. Also realize that fragrance, like that in the form of Eau de Toilette, is made up of the perfume oils, alcohol, and water. As you probably remember from chemistry, alcohol evaporates quickly, and water’s evaporation rate is right behind that. So what’s left? A small percentage of anything with oil in it. If you have dry skin, or are fair-haired (naturally!), I’m guessing that fragrances do fade faster on you, if you don’t give the fragrance oils something to cling to. How can you do that? A few ideas:

  • Use the layering technique (see the fragrance glossary)... in brief, this is where you use more than one form of the fragrance, such as a lotion and Eau de Toilette;
  • Use a form of the fragrance that has a higher concentration of the perfume oils, such as Eau de Parfum, or the Perfume;
  • If you have a moisturizer you like, and don’t want to switch or buy another, try to make sure it is unscented. That way, you’ll give the fragrance something to hang onto, yet it won’t compete with the scent of the moisturizer;
  • Carry a small purse spray, and refresh about every 4-6 hours, if using an Eau de Toilette (but don’t leave the flacon in the car—you’ll literally bake the fragrance!)
  • Fragrance rises, so be sure to put fragrance on pulse points below your wrist, like your ankles, and behind your knees, in addition to your wrist, inside elbows, behind your ears, and the back of your neck;


Do YOU have a fragrance question? Drop me a line, and I’ll answer it. Who knows—maybe your question will end up in my FAQ (frequently asked questions) page!



Fragrance Glossary



The basic character or theme of a fragrance.  Perfume accords are a balanced blend of three or four notes which lose their individual identities to create a completely new unified odor impression.


Denatured ethyl alcohol is added to fragrance compound to serve as the carrier.  It modifies the fragrance intensity and makes application to the skin it easier.


Organic chemicals which can be derived from natural material or man-made from ethyl alcohol by hydrogen loss.  They represent a major series of perfume ingredients and are used in extreme dilution in the preparation of perfumes.  Aldehydes are used in perfume for their particularly vivid top notes.


Obtained from fir trees and when processed gives a heavy, full bodied, powdery, warmer fragrance tone.


Refers to the warm, sensual, and heavy base notes once associated with the natural odor of musk, ambergris, civet, and castoreum, now produced by some vegetable materials and aroma chemicals.


Loss of the sense of smell. It may be caused by a head injury, accident, allergies, cold or virus.


A new science, developed by the Sense Of Smell Institute (SOSI), dedicated to the study of the interrelationship between psychology and the latest in fragrance technology to elicit a variety of specific feelings and emotions.  For more information see


The therapeutic use of essential oils and herbs in body massage, the results of which is described by proponents as "healing, beautifying, and soothing" the body and mind. aromatherapy has its roots in the folk medicine practiced in primitive cultures, and the history goes as far back as 6000 years ago in ancient Egypt.  It wasn't until the 1920's, however, when the term was actually coined by a French chemist, R. M. Gattefosse.

Attar (otto)

From the ancient Persian word "To smell sweet." Attar refers to essentials oil obtained by distillation and that in particular of the Bulgarian Rose, an extremely precious perfumery material.


Harmonious mixture of perfumery ingredients


The main fragrance theme--the "Middle" or "Heart" of a perfume.  Also used to describe a fragrance that is well-rounded or full.

Chypre (pronounced SHEEP reh)

A fragrance family or type--a complex combination of moss with woods, flowers, or fruit odors


Odors from citrus fruits such as Orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, and bergamot which give fresh, fruity top notes used especially and eau fraiche, classical, and men's colognes.


A fragrance that has been widely accepted by generation after generation and is in use for a minimum of 15 years.  Because it fragrance can be considered in the same vein as classic literature or architecture.

Cologne (men’s)

More concentrated than women’s colognes, similar to the concentration of toilet water and in some instances, perfume.

Cologne (women’s)

A light form of fragrance with a low concentration of perfume oils mixed with diluted alcohol. When referring to a women’s type of cologne, often it is called “eau de cologne”. In the US, the word “cologne” used alone is generally understood to refer to a man’s version of cologne.

Cologne (classic)

A term reserved for those fragrances that are basically citrus and flower blends, and do not have perfume parent


Refers to the percentage of perfume oils to grade of alcohol and water in a fragrance. The grade of alcohol denotes the percentage of alcohol to water. The concentrations of perfume from highest to lowest are:

·         Perfume: usually contains 20-45% perfume oils in pure ethyl alcohol. The concentration of oils varies from perfumer to perfumer.

·         Eau de Perfume (EdP): usually contains 15-25% perfume oils in pure ethyl alcohol.

·         Eau de Toilette (EdT): a 6-15% solution of perfume oils in an 80% grade of alcohol

·         (Eau de) Cologne: Eau de Cologne is a 3-6% solution of fragrance oil in a 70% grade alcohol.


A technique for transferring a fragrance from a larger container to a smaller one. {When stores have “dramming events” they are telling you that they have very large bottles of the fragrance, usually on display, that they will pour into a smaller one for you, usually in concert with special promotions.}


The final phase of a fragrance--the character which appears several hours after application.  Perfumers evaluate the base notes and the tenacity of the fragrance during this stage


The provocative the odor of freshly turned earth, musty and rooty

Eau de Toilette

a 6-15% solution of perfume oil in an 80% grade of alcohol

Essential oils

Essence of plants or the fragrant, volatile non-oily extracts obtained by various processes from flowers, grass, leaves, roots, barks, stems, fruits, seeds, moss, trees secretions, and woods.  They are obtained by various means including distillations, expression, and extraction.  The essential oils are not to be confused with fragrance oils.


The process of changing from a liquid to a vapor


Regular or oversized perfume or toiletry bottles filled with a tinted liquid for display purposes only.


Fragrance are grouped into families according to the major characteristics they exhibit. Women’s major fragrance families include: Citrus, green, floral, aldehydic, oriental, and chypre. There are subfamilies as well that take their name from a blending of 2 families, such as floral oriental (often called floriental today).


The property of a fragrance which prolongs the continuity and life of the odor


Fragrance family or type—has the characteristic of a specific flower or a blend of several flower notes

Fragrance oils

A combination of essential oils with added chemicals and fixed oils.


Fragrance family or type whose odor is reminiscent of fresh-cut grass, weeds, or a warm, moist forest.  Green notes add lift and vigor to a fragrance composition


The core of a perfume composition that gives it its character


A fragrance note that is grassy-green, spicy, and somewhat therapeutic, for example lavender


The most common type of smell loss experienced by humans, it may occur following of flu like illness, a blood ahead, nasal allergies, or from unknown causes.  Hyposmia has been classified into two major types: Type I represents an impairment of smell at the olfactory epithelia area--vapors cannot be recognized but can still be detected; Type II represents a quantitative impairment of smell--vapors can be detected and recognized but at higher-than-normal concentrations. 


The use of 2 or more fragrance forms, usually starting with a fragrant product in the bath/shower. Example of layering: shower gel, talcum powder, then eau de toilette, or body crème and Eau de Parfum

Middle notes

The middle or "heart" notes make up the mean blend of the fragrance that classifies the fragrance family or accord.  It usually takes from 10 to 20 minutes for the middle notes to fully develop on the skin.


Borrowed from the language of music to indicate an olfactory impression of a single smell, or to indicate the three parts of the perfume: top note, middle note, base or bottom note


Relating to the sense of smell


Fragrance family or type devoted to have the, full-bodied, and tenacious perfumes, often using spices associated with the Orient.


Most highly concentrated form of fragrance, the strongest and most lasting.  From the Latin "per-fumum" meaning "through smoke." The name alludes to the early practice of releasing pleasant odors from fragrant materials by heat or burning.

Top notes

The first impression of what fragrance when sniffed or applied to this again; usually the most volatile ingredients in a perfume


The property of being freely diffused in the atmosphere; easily vaporized at a low temperature.

Woody or woodsy

An odor that is linked to the aroma of freshly cut, dry wood to or fibrous roots such as sandalwood or vetiver


Note:  Most definitions come from the CFSS guide from the Fragrance Foundation