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What is the difference between Deodorant and Cologne?

  • 3 min read

What is the difference between Deodorant and Cologne? | Fragrance365

Here are the highlights for those short on time:

  • Deodorant: Main use is to neutralize and 'cover-up' natural body odors. Fragrance concentrations are typically very low, usually in the 1-3% range, but no industry standards exist. Applied directly to locations of excess sweat (i.e., armpits). Can be alcohol based or all-natural based. 
  • Cologne: Main use is to add a layer of fragrance and basically 'smell good'. Fragrance concentrations are typically low, usually in the 2-5% range, but no industry standards exist. Applied to neck and wrists (most frequently) and other areas of the upper body. Can be alcohol based or all-natural based. 

Deodorant and Cologne products are often used by people in a similar manner without realizing that there is a significant 'intended use' difference between them. Despite a similar chemical composition (both being solutions with added fragrance concentrations), Deodorants and Colognes are meant for two very different purposes and should be used accordingly (unless you like to break the rules of course).

In short, Deodorants are meant to neutralize the body's natural odor. This naturally produced tart and bitter aroma is frequently referred to as "B.O." We at think this is an unnecessarily ugly acronym for a naturally occurring bodily process but we digress! Back to the point - Deodorants were created cover-up and neutralize this natural bodily odor. In fact, deodorant-like products can be found mentioned in literature all the way from Pre-Spanish Mexico to early Chinese dynasties! The modern-day concept of Deodorant (the one we think of today) actually stems from the late 19th/early 20th century marketing efforts! In the late 1800's, American were sold on the 'everyday use' of deodorant. Marketing efforts associated 'BO' with the poor and working classes dealt with and smelling of your own natural body odors became something of which to be ashamed. These marketing efforts still hold strong today but we often don't know any better! Back to the functionality, Deodorants help to reduce any 'bad' odor that your body naturally produces throughout the day by using bacteria fighting agents (usually alcohol) to fight any odor-causing bacterial growth throughout the day. Some brands add extra fragrance oils and some use essential oil-based solutions to kill the odor-causing bacteria but there really is no industry standard. Fragrance concentrations for Deodorants are typically very low, usually in the 1-3% range and are applied directly to locations of excess sweat (i.e., armpits), but again, there is no standard on fragrance concentrations or how to use! And one final note, Deodorants are NOT Antiperspirants! That is a whole different topic.

Colognes (commonly refers to any fragrance for men including: Eau de Colognes, Eau de Parfums and Eau Fraiche) on the other hand are meant to add extra fragrance to your body in order to smell better. It does not have any odor neutralizing properties but instead, masks any potential body odors. In terms of concentration, Colognes are toward the low end of fragrance concentrations with a concentration level of approximately 2-4%. It is important to note that there is no industry standard for concentration levels so each brand will be slightly different in what levels they choose. Alcohol used (if any in) in Colognes is typically a 70% grade of alcohol. The lasting power of a Cologne is directly related to its concentration level and whether it is synthetic or all-natural. We won't dive into the topic here but synthetic based Colognes last longer than all-natural Colognes. In regards to 'intended gender', there is no such thing. Yes it is true Colognes are frequently associated as being 'for men' but that is simply not true. The term Cologne references the fragrance concentration levels and has nothing to do with the indented audience. Colognes are applied to the neck, wrist and general upper body areas for maximum display of the scent.  

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