Difference between Deodorant and Perfume

Key Difference: Deodorant refers to the substance that is used to remove or conceal body odor. Deodorants can be produced by using antimicrobials such as triclosan or metal chelant compounds. On the other hand, perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils/aroma compounds, and solvents. It is mainly used for producing a desirable scent.

We all want to look beautiful and smell pleasant. Thus, deodorants and perfumes are integral parts of the cosmetic industry. People enjoy choosing from a variety of both. Many times we have bought these items and not really thought about the actual differences between them. This article will explain the differences between these two popular terms- deodorant and perfume.

Deodorants are known for masking or reducing body odour. These odors are generated due to perspiration. The sweat generated in the perspiration is actually odorless. It combines with bacteria and then creates awful body odor.

Deodorants do not stop perspiration but they reduce the perspiration odor. They achieve this target by neutralizing the body odor. In short, a deodorant is a product used to mask, suppress or neutralize odors. Deodorants are generally alcohol based. They can also be produced by using antimicrobials such as triclosan or metal chelant compounds. They also tend to have perfume fragrances or essential oils added to them. A deodorant can be compared to an antiperspirant to a certain extent.

Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils/aroma compounds, and solvents. The word perfume has been derived from the Latin words, "per" meaning "through" and "fumum,” meaning smoke.  The ancient perfumes were made by a mixture of natural oils. These oils were extracted by plants after pressing and steaming the plants. Later, the oil was burnt in order to scent the air. They really gained a lot of popularity during the early 16th century, after the crusaders returned from the Middle East claiming to have acquired the secret of developing fragrance from Europe.

Most of the perfumes are prepared by using a mixture of aromatic compounds and ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water. As the concentration of aromatic oil increases, the perfume also becomes more intense and the smell is retained for a longer period. Perfumes generally have essential oil concentration of around 25%.

Thus, we can say that they primarily differ in the percentage of fragrance oil and the grade of alcohol. Perfumes have a greater percentage of fragrance oils than the deodorants, whereas deodorants have a higher grade of alcohol than perfumes. Perfumes are used to generate fragrances, whereas deodorants are used to mask or reduce the body odor.





Perfumes are a mixture of fragrant essential oils/aroma compounds and solvents, and are used for generating desirable fragrances

Deodorants contain antimicrobial agents to prevent body odour


Generally on clothes

Directly on body, especially under the armpits


2nd millennium BC, Mesopotamia

1888, by an unknown inventor from Philadelphia (first commercial product was based on his formulation)

Fragrant Oil concentration

contains 15-25% fragrance oil in pure ethyl alcohol.

Fragrant oils that are 6-15% by volume in 80% solution of alcohol. 

How to apply


Sprayed or applied with roll on stick


More expensive as higher essential oil concentration

Comparatively less

How long it lasts

Around 6-8 hours

Comparatively less

Image Courtesy: pavers-retainingwalls.com.au, keralaarchitect.blogspot.in

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