Difference Between Cologne and Perfume

Main Difference – Cologne vs Perfume

Though many people assume that the difference between Cologne and Perfume is cologne is used by men and perfume is used by women, this is not so. The difference between Cologne and Perfume lies not on the gender differences but properties like the composition, intensity and fragrant choices. The main difference between cologne and perfume is that the fragrance of Perfume is potent and intense than perfume.

What is Perfume

Perfume is made of a mixture of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents. The history of perfume can be traced back to the earliest civilizations in the world. But modern perfumery started in the late 19th century Europe.

The longevity or the intensity of a perfume depends on the concentration of the aroma compounds and the essential oils used in the perfume. Pure perfume contains about 15–40% concentration of oils. This contains the highest concentration of oils in a scented product. When alcohol in a perfume evaporates leaving behind the fragrance oils on the skin, it is the product with the highest concentration of oils that gives the longer lasting fragrance. Since Perfumes have a high concentration of aroma compound, they are potent and intense. Therefore, it should not be used liberally. Perfume should be only applied to the pulse points of the body.

A perfume is typically made of several scents. In perfumery, these are called notes. There are three notes in a perfume called head note, middle note and the base note. Head note or top note is the scent that is immediately perceived after the application of a scent. The middle note is the scent that is perceived just before the dissipation of the head note. The base note appears prior to the dissipation of the middle note. Middle note and the base note create the main theme of the perfume.Difference Between Cologne and Perfume

What is Cologne

Cologne is a type of perfume that is originating from Cologne, Germany. Though the term cologne is mostly associated with the scented products worn by men, it is not this that differentiates cologne from perfume. The difference between cologne and perfume lies on their composition and other properties. As mentioned above, perfume contains the highest percentage of aromatic compounds and cologne contains the lowest. Because of this low concentration, cologne is not as intense or potent as perfume. It only lasts a few hours, so it has to be applied liberally. In addition, cologne is less expensive compared to perfume.Main Difference - Cologne vs Perfume

Difference Between Cologne and Perfume


The fragrance of Cologne is less intense.

The fragrance of Perfume is potent and intense.


Cologne can be used liberally.

Perfume should be used sparingly.


The fragrance of Cologne doesn’t last long.

The fragrance of Perfume lasts long.


A cologne is based on one scent though it might include several scents.

A perfume is made up of several scents which create a layer of fragrance.

Fragrance Concentration

Cologne contains about  3–8% aromatic compounds.

Perfume contains about 15–40% aromatic compounds.


Cologne tends to be less expensive than perfumes.

Perfume tends to be more expensive than colognes as fragrance oils are very expensive.Difference Between Cologne and Perfume - infographic

Image Courtesy: 

“Vintage Atomizer Perfume Bottle” by Angela AndriotVetiver Aromatics.  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

“Imperiale Eau de Cologne, Boldoot” by AlfvanBeem – Own work.  (CC0) via Wikimedia Commons 

About the Author: de Silva

N. de Silva is a graduate, specializing in Sociology. She also works as a part time language educator. With an immense love for language, literature, and psychology she aspires to be a writer who can blend in subject material with linguistic mastery