Difference Between Aftershave, Cologne and Eau De Toilette

There are differences between Aftershave, Cologne, and Eau de Toilette but many men will use the products, and the terms, interchangeably. This can cause problems, most notably skin reactions, for some people. This is mainly due to the percentage of perfume or fragrance oil used.

NamePerfume Oil Content
Eau de Toilette5%-15%

Let’s have a look at the differences.


Aftershave usually has a high alcohol content. This is what gives you the sting or burn when you apply it after shaving. The alcohol will act as an antiseptic on your skin and should help to clean and close any small cuts or weepers left after you have shaved.

There will most likely be other ingredients added as skin soothers. Witch Hazel is common due to its many skin benefits, Aloe Vera also displays these benefits. Menthol is another common additive. Menthol will provide a nice cooling sensation which can help alleviate the feeling of razor burn. Menthol is also great for use in summer or hot climates giving you a nice fresh feel after the shave.

The main difference with an aftershave is the percentage of perfume oil used. Aftershave will typically contain 1% to 3% perfume oil. This makes the scent rather weak so it will fade rather quickly, but it also means that there will be less chance of an adverse skin reaction.

To sum up, aftershave should be used as its name infers, straight after shaving.


The name Eau De Cologne originates from the famous 4711 Cologne but is now used as a generic term for a lighter fragrance. When I say lighter, I am comparing it to Eau De Toilette rather than aftershave.

Cologne has a perfume oil content between 2% and 5% which makes the scent longer lasting than aftershave but less than an EDT, hence the term lighter.

It is not advisable to use on your face due to the higher concentration of perfume. I personally don’t use an Eau de Cologne but it may be used as a freshener after bathing or showering.

Eau De Toilette

Eau de Toilette is the strongest of all in terms of fragrance and the percentage of perfume oil used. Between 5% and 15% of perfume oil results in a fragrance which will last six to eight hours and often longer.

Needless to say, you shouldn’t be using Eau de Toilette on your face. There is a high chance of a skin reaction to the concentrated perfume oil. EDT should be applied to the wrists, top of the chest, or behind the ears. Some people also apply it to their hair to increase the longevity of the scent.

I don’t recommend applying fragrance to all these points at the same time. Pick two maybe and apply a little to each. Less is definitely more when it comes to fragrance in my opinion. It’s fine if the person next to you catches a whiff of the scent now and again, however, you don’t want the whole room to get hit by it the moment you walk in.

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