Your guide to the different men’s perfume types

Eau de Cologne

Originally, ‘cologne’ referred to a traditional recipe which consisted of citrus and herb notes with subtle base notes for anchoring. It is the oldest term for men’s perfume and is often used in North America for masculine scents. Colognes usually last for around two hours and typically come in bigger bottles as the wearer will use more of it. They are great for a ‘freshen up’ type of wear and tend to be used in fragrances for younger people.

Eau de Toilette

Originating from the French term “faire sa toilette” which means ‘getting ready’, eau de toilette is one of the most popular types of men’s perfume. It is often considered as daywear because of its lightness, with approximately 5-15% pure perfume essence dissolved in alcohol. Because of this lighter touch, an eau de toilette fragrance is usually sold in spray bottles as the wearer can apply more liberally.

Eau de Parfum

The best term used to describe a fragrance, perfume is historically genderless and can be used to describe either a women’s or men’s perfume. Though they are made to last all day (approximately 5-8 hours), perfumes are designed to be subtle and not too overpowering. They contain 12-20% pure perfume essence and are thought to be better for sensitive skin than other fragrance types.


Taken from the Latin ‘per fumum’ which means ‘through smoke’, parfum is the most concentrated of all men’s fragrance options, which makes it the most expensive. Because of this, it is often sold in ‘stopper’ bottles as it is too strong and expensive to use as an all-over spray. It is composed of 20-30% pure perfume essence and is slightly oilier with more sillage, which could transfer onto someone else with a hug. Often considered good for sensitive skin as it contains far less alcohol, so is less likely to dry out the skin.

Aftershave Lotion / Splash

An aftershave lotion comes strictly in liquid form and traditionally contains bay rum. This alcohol base provides a stinging sensation when it comes in contact with open wounds but this should only last a few seconds before it becomes refreshing and cooling.

Most aftershave lotions are scented and have great antiseptic properties, but if you have dry skin you can also opt for an alcohol-free version. Some also offer base ingredients of witch hazel and aloe vera which will help close pores and even out skin tones.

Before using an aftershave lotion, wash your face with cold water to help close your open pores and make sure your skin is free from dirt, hair, lather and shaving oils.

Aftershave Balm

With a thicker consistency and usually containing natural nourishing ingredients, aftershave balms’ primary use is to moisturise and nourish your skin. They are a milder option compared to an aftershave splash.

Usually, alcohol is not used as a base ingredient as it can be drying and instead, carrier oils such as coconut, castor and jojoba are used. These oils are featured widely in the beauty world because of the benefits they provide to the skin.

Many may be cautious to try an aftershave balm because of these oils – there are assumptions that it will make your skin shiny and extremely oily, or perhaps will cause acne. However, quality aftershave balms made of all-natural ingredients will absorb into your skin just minutes after the initial application, creating a moisturising effect rather than a shiny covering.

Some balms include witch hazel due to it being a natural astringent and having skin toning properties. Mostly, they are scented for a subtle fragrance.