I Always Get Compliments When I Wear This Expensive-Smelling Perfume

Gift me an hour alone in central London and you'll find me in one place only: Liberty London's Fragrance Lounge, sniffing and spritzing every bottle in my vicinity. A playground for scent lovers, being let loose on the myriad of new and classic perfumes, toilettes and extraits is akin to Christmas morning. And as a fragrance-obsessed beauty editor, it never gets old. Which is why, when I spotted more and more of this type of scent popping up, I was intrigued. Let's talk about extraits.


(Image credit: @leatngu)

So, What Is An Extrait?

Extrait, quite simply, means extract in French and refers specifically to the very concentrated oil extracted from the raw materials used to make perfume. Now, though, the term is usually used to refer to a fragrance with a high oil concentration.

"For context, an eau de parfum is around 20% to 25% oil concentration and an eau de toilette is around 10%," Alex Verier, perfumer and founder of fragrance brand Foras explained to me. "An extrait, on the other hand, is a fragrance concentration above 40%. It's bolder, more intense.

Are Extraits More Concentrated And Stronger Smelling?

It makes sense, then, that an extrait would be louder and have increased longevity when compared to an eau de parfum. However, that's not always the case.

"It's not as simple to say that a higher [oil] concentration will result in a longer wear time and stronger scent," Josh Carter, a co-founder of fine fragrance platform Fiole and fragrance expert trained under Roja Dove, says. "There are several factors that can affect a fragrance's performance. The main one is how the ingredients [in the fragrance] behave. Bergamot, for instance, is very volatile. While it has incredible projection, it evaporates very quickly, even at 100% concentration. Oud, though, has a softer and more intimate scent but can continue to emit scented molecules for a very long time."

Rather than think of extraits as the brash, overpowering cousin to elegant eau de parfums and delicate eau de toilettes, think of them as a third variation, a way to play with the way fragrance smells by tinkering with the concentrations. Some are even suitable for everyday wear, it just depends on the notes that come through strongest. An oud or leather-heavy extrait may be best suited to eveningwear or events while one formulated with citrus notes could transition between hot summer days and nights very well.

How Do You Pick An Extrait?

As with all fragrances – highly concentrated or otherwise – my best advice is to smell it in person. First, by spritzing it onto a blotter, noting the time and smelling it at fifteen or thirty-minute intervals for a couple of hours – as the scent develops you'll discover the heart and base notes and find out if you like them once the top notes have sloughed off. Next, pop some on your skin. The way it intermingles with your natural scent will be a good marker of whether or not you should go for it. It seems arduous but, in my humble opinion, there's not much worse than a full bottle of perfume sitting on the side going to waste, simply because the way it dried down was so different to the way it smelled at first spray.

Now Shop the Best Extraits, According to a Beauty Editor:

1. Byredo Casablanca Lily Extrait De Parfum

2. Byredo Tobacco Mandarin Extrait De Parfum

3. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

4. Maison Francis Kurkdijan Amyris Femme Extrait De Parfum

5. New Notes Talco Extrait De Parfum

6. New Notes Queen of the Sea Extrait De Parfum

7. Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajád Extrait De Parfum

8. Guerlain L'art & La Matière Bergamote Fantastico Extrait


Morgan is a Who What Wear contributor and freelance beauty editor published in Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and more. She is the former beauty editor of Stylist Magazine. When not tapping away at her keyboard, Morgan is usually found interviewing brand founders and celebrities or creating beauty and skincare content for brands or for her own social media channels.