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Why Is Cologne Called Toilet Water: We Sniff Up The Reasons

Last Updated on: April 11, 2024

If you are a fragrance enthusiast, you must have encountered various fragrance bottles inscribed with ‘Eau de toilette.’ And if you’re vast in French, you will know that the phrase stands for toilet water.

You might be left wondering why toilet water would have anything to do with scents. Does it mean your favorite perfume is made from the water gotten from the bathroom? I had the same notion at first until I did research.

As a result, in this article, I will discuss what toilet water is, how it relates to the fragrance world, and what it means when you see ‘Eau de toilette’ on a perfume bottle.

What Is Toilet Water (Eau De Toilette)?

Eau De Toilette

I can understand your horror when you first noticed the French phrase ‘Eau de toilette’ on perfume bottles, which made you wonder if you had literally been using toilet water all this time. To clarify the doubt, perfumes are not made from toilet water, even if the name speculates.

Eau de toilette, the French word for toilet water, is a perfume variant intended for people who love mild or fresher fragrances. It contains a lesser concentration of essential oils with higher alcohol and water content.

I’m pretty sure you are wondering why the perfume industry uses the name toilet water to describe a type of perfume. In France, the word toilette referred to a small piece of cloth laid over the shoulders during grooming or dressing. 

As a result, the aromatic water used during grooming was called Toilette water or Eau de toilette. You might hear people refer to Eau de toilette as aromatic water. Furthermore, the French women used this toilette water as a skin freshener to mask their odor of sweat and grime. 

What Is Cologne (Eau De Cologne)?

Eau De Cologne

Eau de cologne, commonly referred to as cologne, is a type of perfume with a much lesser fragrance than toilet water. Eau de cologne, originally made from scents like herbal and citrus oils, is now inclining towards masculine fragrances. An average cologne has a total fragrance oil concentrate of 4%.

Furthermore, because it contains little to no base notes, cologne does not last as long as its counterparts. Most cologne brands target the male audience, especially the younger males who do not need to wear something intense.

An advantage of Eau de cologne over other perfume variants is that it’s the least expensive. 

Thus, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to smell nice; however, you have to reapply frequently during the day, as most colognes have a longevity of 2 hours.

What Is The Difference Between Toilet Water And Perfume

Eau de toilette and Eau de parfum are both perfume variants. However, they differ both in their essential oils concentration and uses. Eau de parfum, commonly referred to as perfume in English, is a more potent perfume variant because it contains 15-20% perfume oil concentrate, with lower alcohol content.

On the other hand, toilet water called Eau de toilette contains 5-15% perfume oil concentrate and higher alcohol content. In simpler terms, Eau de parfum has an intense fragrance; thus, more suitable for formal or night events and can last for 5 to 8 hours, depending on the brand. Eau de toilette perfume has a lighter scent, which makes Eau de toilette best suited for daytime use and has a longevity of 4 to 6 hours.

Furthermore, Eau de parfum is usually more expensive than Eau de toilette. Also, if you’re a lover of more intense and concentrated fragrances and have enough cash to spare on perfumes, I would advise you to opt for perfume extract (Extrait de parfum), which contains up to 40% fragrance oil.

What Is The Difference Between Cologne And Toilet Water

Eau de cologne is a perfume variant with a much lighter fragrance, typically targeted for use by younger male audiences. Cologne contains the least concentration of essential oils, most times 4%, and thus, has a longevity of a few hours, less than toilet water, which lasts up to 6 hours, and has a concentration of 5-15% fragrance oil.

Additionally, their lighter scent makes them suitable for day use. If you’re short of cash, Eau de cologne is your best bet as it is cheaper than Eau de toilette and Eau de parfum.

How To Use Eau De Toilette For A More Lasting Effect

How To Use Eau De Toilette

If you have ever bought a fragrance that didn’t last as long as the manufacturer claimed, there is a good chance you aren’t applying it correctly. The following advice will help you get the most out of your eau de toilette:

1. Apply Directly On The Skin

Although many believe perfumes are meant for clothes and not the skin because of fear of skin irritation and reactions, this isn’t the case. Perfumes are best applied to the skin to ensure that they last longer.

This is because the skin oils react and bind to the fragrance molecules and help diffuse the fragrance better.

2. Apply After A Shower

Your skin is damp after a bath or shower, making this the ideal time to apply perfume to your body. This is so that the Eau de toilette’s fragrance molecules may adhere to damp or moist skin more effectively than dry skin. But if you’re in a rush and can’t take a shower, using a moisturizer first would work just as well.

It’s essential you know that damp skin doesn’t equate to wet skin. Avoid using perfumes on wet skin, as this would cause the perfume to drip from your body with the water.

3. Apply To The Pulse Points

Not every body part is suitable for perfume use. There are specific locations that would ensure a perfume’s longevity when applied there. These places are the pulse points. This is because the veins flow close to the skin at these spots and thus, emit heat, which helps fragrance develop faster.

They include the inner wrist, inner elbow, base of your neck, behind your ears, and your knees.

4. Don’t Rub The Perfume

Unlike sprays, perfumes come out as a liquid, and in most cases, you might be tempted to rub it across your skin. However, you shouldn’t! Rubbing the perfume would denature the fragrance molecules due to the friction generated from rubbing your hands or skin.

5. Store The Perfume Correctly

The optimum temperature to store perfumes is between 12 to 22C degrees. The hot temperature can destroy the fragrance molecules and break the perfume structure.

Thus, if you stay in a hot or humid environment, you can store your perfume in a fridge or a very cool place in your home. Furthermore, I advise you to keep the perfume bottles in their original packs or boxes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Perfume Made From Toilet Water?

No, the perfume called toilet water is not made from actual restroom water as you think. Instead, toilet water, also called Eau de toilette, is a type of perfume variant lightly scented, with low essential oils concentration and more alcohol content.

Also, it’s best suited for daytime use because of its mild scent and can last for 4 to 6 hours, less than a more expensive perfume variant (Eau de parfum).

What Does Eau De Toilette For Men Or Women Mean?

Eau de toilette, also called toilet water, is not gender-specific. Most manufacturers of toilet water produce perfume fragrances suitable for both males and females. In most cases, the word ‘homme’ is usually inscribed on the bottle to specify that the fragrance is for males. However, when it’s not specified, it’s either unisex or for the female gender. 

Should I Buy A Perfume Or Eau De Toilette?

This decision is solely left to your preference, budget, and purpose of use. If you prefer a longer-lasting and more intense fragrance, then a perfume (Eau de parfum or Extrait de parfum) is your best option. 

However, suppose you’re on a limited budget and won’t mind settling for a lighter fragrance. In that case, I suggest you purchase an eau de toilette. Additionally, perfume toilet water is best suited for daytime use because of its mild scent, unlike perfumes, which would go perfectly well for a formal event or dinner.


So, the next time you’re in a beauty store and see a perfume bottle labeled “Eau de toilette,” you should be aware that the manufacturer didn’t use the toilet water you’re familiar with. In contrast, it’s used to inform the buyers that it’s a perfume of lighter and fresher fragrance and, in most cases, cheaper than the pure perfume of that exact brand. 

Thus, if you’re on a tight budget or prefer something of a mild scent, then the toilet water of your favorite brand is a perfect choice.

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