Fragrance FAQs

Don't know your eau de toilettes from your eau de parfums? We make shopping online for fragrance a doddle with answers to your burning questions.

What's the difference between cologne and perfume?

It's all about intensity...

Eau de cologne

A small amount of perfume oil (about 2-5%) mixed with alcohol and water makes this the lightest, most refreshing scent.

Eau de toilette

A low percentage of perfume oil (4-10%) mixed with a higher alcohol content makes this good for everyday.

Eau de parfum

A more intense, expensive scent, perfect for evening wear. It contains a higher concentration of perfume oil (8-15%) mixed with alcohol.

Parfum absolute

Usually the most expensive, this is a powerful, concentrated blend of perfume oil (15-25%) and alcohol.

What is a fragrance 'note'?

Fragrances are made up of different notes, a bit like a piece of music.

Top notes

You'll be hit by these when first smelling a fragrance; usually the lightest and first to fade. Take the well-known fragrance Yves St Laurent Opium as an example: its top notes include mandarin orange, coriander and pepper.

Middle notes

The heart of the fragrance; often a combination of floral or fruit notes such as rose, jasmine or neroli. Yves St Laurent Opium's middle notes include jasmine and rose.

Base notes

You'll smell these after about an hour; maybe sandalwood, patchouli or musk, they are richer and leave a lasting impression. With Yves St Laurent Opium, these include myrrh, cedarwood and sandalwood.

How do I work out someone's fragrance 'type'?

There are eight different 'families'. Chances are they'll be drawn to one in particular.


Zesty, cooling, easy to wear; perfect for sporty types.


Ultra feminine types will love these pretty fragrances.


Intense, warm, sultry and spicy; for those who like to make a statement.


A fusion of floral and oriental, great if she likes to feel seductive.


Warm, dry fragrances with musky, mossy notes; for those who like to stand out.


Earthy and dry, often with a spicy, fruity or herby undertone; these tend to be quite masculine and work for men and women.


These have 'edible' notes like caramel, chocolate or vanilla, perfect for people who love cosying up in the colder months.


Ferny, green fragrances for those who like traditional, masculine scents.

Not sure where to start? The Boots Fragrance Finder tool can help you find something in the right fragrance family.

Why buy a limited edition?

It's a simple way for someone to try a variation of a fragrance they already love, they have an exclusive, collectable feel. Most are a twist on the original, with different top, middle or base notes, but the essence is usually similar which is why they make perfect gifts if you know what perfume they usually wear.

How do I get something they'll love?

It's simple! Make a note of their favourite body lotion or usual fragrance – or, even better, sneak the bottle out of the house if you live together – and let one of the qualified sales assistants recommend something new with similar notes.