Difference between Aftershave, Eau de Toilette, and Cologne

They are completely different things, although many men, unknowingly use them interchangeably.

An Aftershave contains less perfume oil (around (1%-3%), therefore the scent isn't as long lasting as an Eau de Toilette. Many aftershaves contain soothing and cooling ingredients, such as Aloe Vera. This helps soothe the skin after a shave . The alcohol contained will also close skin pores opened by the hot water from your shave*. Aftershave will only last for about 2-3 hours so, it isn't effective if you want your fragrance to last all evening.

An Eau de Toilette contains more perfume oil than the Aftershave, typically around 4%-8%. However EDT's contain too much oil to be put on the face, especially after shaving. You will probably come up all red and blotchy as a result. An Eau de Cologne will contain 2%-5%. Therefore, an Eau de Cologne should be a lighter and not so longer lasting fragrance.

However in the world of Men's Fragrance, the definitions have become slightly blurred. A lot of the time, a fragrance house will call an Eau de Toilette strength fragrance, a Cologne. Nine times out of ten, in men's fragrance a Cologne will be of EDT strength. There are a few houses which use the correct term, (Guerlain for example).

Eau de Toilette should be put on the 'pulse points'. These are the area's where the veins are near the skins surface and you can feel a pulse (ie. Neck, Wrist, Chest... ) which will last longer. Because of the higher perfume content, Eau de Toilette lasts much longer than an Aftershave (around 6-8 hours) so its ideal if you want your fragrance to last all evening.

It is a common misconception that an Eau de Toilette is weaker than an Aftershave. Probably because the 'Eau' part of the name makes people think it is watered down Aftershave. Or it could be that people are used to the fact that an Eau de toilette is generally the weakest strength in Ladies Fragrance.

As EDT contains more perfume than the Aftershave, you will find that they are more expensive.

Some people will ask "Which shall I buy? EDT or Aftershave?". It depends on your needs. If you are wanting a lasting fragrance, go for the EDT. Many men like Aftershave to put on after they have shaved & then spray on a little EDT. It is mostly up to you as to what you perfer to use.

As well as Aftershaves, Eau de Toilettes and Eau de Colognes, there are two other main fragrance strength categories. These are Eau de Parfum and Parfum (or Perfume)

A Parfum or Perfume is quite rare in Men's fragrance. A perfume contains 15%-30% Perfume Oil (the rest is alcohol). You'll only need a very tiny amount at the pulse points but it lasts for ages. Very expensive though.

An Eau de Parfum is 'The next one up' from an Eau de Toilette. They are useful for men, who find that their fragrance doesn't last or just would like a stronger strength. They contain 8%-15% of the perfume oil, and these can last pretty much all day.
The Eau de Parfum is fairly rare in Men's fragrance, but not as rare as the pure perfume. Givenchy does one in their Pi range, as does Yves Saint Laurent in the Opium Homme range.

You can also get Men's body splashes and sprays, in which the strength can vary quite a bit, typically 1%-4%.

Thank you for reading this Guide. I hope this has helped you understand the difference in the men's fragrances.


Aftershave is most commonly associated with pain; that mean sting from the alcohol in the aftershave applied to just shaved areas. In the old days, when barber shops shared razors there was a general lack of cleanliness, aftershave was necessary to prevent bacteria from causing infection of the shaved regions. Today's aftershaves are not just about providing pain in exchange for infection protection, but also give a number of additional aids for the areas subject to the razor's edge.

A good aftershave should have three properties: an antiseptic to kill bacteria, a pleasing scent for the wearer, and a moisturizing element to soften skin. Razor burn most often results from a lack of moisture on the face during and after shaving. Aftershave can provide the moisture for skin after the shaving process.

Advances in chemistry have developed milder astringents and antiseptics than straight ethyl alcohol. As far as scents go, most major perfume and cologne lines offer an aftershave product, but these may not include specialized compounds for sensitive skin or dry skin. Finally, many aftershaves now include moisturizing compounds such as aloe vera, and other skin calming essences and oils.

To choose an aftershave, begin with analyzing the skin. Is the skin prone to acne, dryness, oil, or combination? Does the shaved area regularly suffer from razor burn? If so, look for after shaves specially formulated to address these skin issues.

Second, consider a scent either within the regular cologne line of the wearer, or one that will match well with it. Many of the aftershaves for sensitive skin or specific skin issues are scent free, so they will match any scent profile. Do not confuse eau de cologne products with aftershave; the high alcohol content of eau de cologne will make the mix up a very painful experience not soon forgotten.

Third, make sure there is a moisturizing aspect of the aftershave. The common myth out there is the alcohol in aftershave will close pores, preventing razor burn or rash. This is ridiculous, since when are closed pores a good thing? In fact, the alcohol content of aftershave is meant to perform an antiseptic role only. Unfortunately, the alcohol also dries out the skin, and causes the skin around pores to shrink. Closing pores actually causes razor burn, as it creates a barrier for hair trying to grow back, resulting in unsightly bumps or ingrown hair. Therefore, moisturizer is absolutely crucial to a well-functioning aftershave.

In conclusion, aftershave is not a luxury product, but a crucial step in the shaving process. Aftershaves provide safety from bacteria infecting small cuts. Aftershaves can also provide relief from common skin afflictions such as dry skin, razor burn, and calm skin after the trauma of shaving. Most popular cologne brands will have an aftershave product available, and be careful to not confuse aftershave with eau de cologne. To find the right aftershave, start by looking for one to address any skin issues, match the scent or go scentless, and be sure the product includes a moisturizer.

A couple of articles I found that I thought were interesting if not contrary.
antdad said:
Eau de Toilette should be put on the 'pulse points'. These are the area's where the veins are near the skins surface and you can feel a pulse (ie. Neck, Wrist, Chest... ) which will last longer. Because of the higher perfume content, Eau de Toilette lasts much longer than an Aftershave (around 6-8 hours) so its ideal if you want your fragrance to last all evening.
Thanks Antdad, very informative and also rather reassuring about aftershaves. I tend to favour aftershave over moisturising cream these days. I like the 'sting' and seem to get less irritation afterwards.

As regards pulse points, if I use EDT I tend to spray it on my torso before putting on a shirt. That way the EDT doesn't evaporate as quickly as if it was exposed to the air so in theory it should last longer. Just an idea and I might be barking up the wrong tree.
Both articles offer differing opinion about the effects of alcohol on the skin. I don't know whether aftershave closes the pores and if it is desirable. If an AS contains astringent then I suppose it would but could it also replace moisture as claimed?

No wonder chaps are confused...whatever AS does just splash it all over.

As we are in confessional mood, just neck and wrist for me but the scent seems to disappear fast.
Thats a great post, thanks Antdad.

In the pre DE days I thought AS didn't work with my 'sensitive skin' - which I actually don't have I now know :roll: But the benefits of it are so much more than just fragrance, and the improvements it brings to my shave now make it an essential part of the shaving routine.