Eau de toilette

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Bottles of eau de toilette

Eau de toilette is a lightly scented perfume used as a skin freshener.[1][2] It is also referred to as "aromatic waters" and has a high alcohol content.[3] It is usually applied directly to the skin after bathing or shaving.[4][5] It is considered a "weak" perfume.[6] Toilet water is defined as a dilute perfume.[7][8] It was originally composed of alcohol and various volatile oils.[9]

Toilet waters are usually named after a principal ingredient; some being Geranium Water, Lavender Water, Lilac Water, Violet Water, Spirit of Myrcia and 'eau de Bretfeld'.[10] Because of this, "toilet water" is sometimes referred to as "flower water".[11] Toilet water is designed as a "body splash" that is applied liberally, especially after showering.

Types of alcohol-based perfumes[edit]

Perfume formulas 1910

The concentration of aromatic ingredients is as follows (ascending concentration):

  • Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compounds
  • Eau de Cologne (EdC): Citrus type perfumes with about 2–6 percent perfume concentrate aromatic compounds[12]
  • Eau de Toilette (EdT): 5-15% (typical ~10%) aromatic compounds
  • Eau de Parfum (EdP), Parfum de Toilette (PdT): 10-20% (typical ~15%) aromatic compounds. Sometimes listed as "eau de perfume" or "millésime".
  • Perfume extract (Extrait): 15-40% (IFRA: typical 20%) aromatic compounds

Perfume oils are often diluted with a solvent, though this is not always the case, and its necessity is disputed. By far the most common solvent for perfume oil dilution is ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water. Perfume has a mixture of about 10-20% perfume oils mixed with alcohol (acting as a diffusing agent delivering the fragrant odor) and a trace of water. Colognes have about 3-5% perfume oil mixed with 80-90% alcohol with about 5 to 15 percent water in the mix. Originally, eau de cologne was a mixture of citrus oils from such fruits as lemons, oranges, tangerines, limes, and grapefruits. These were combined with such substances as lavender and neroli (orange-flower oil). Toilet water has the least amount of perfume oil mixture among the three main liquid "perfumery" categories. It has only about 2 to 8 percent of some type of perfume oil and 60-80% alcohol dispersent with water making up the difference.[13][14] Toilet waters are a less concentrated form of these above types of alcohol-based perfumes.[15][16] Traditionally cologne is usually made of citrus oils and fragrances, while toilet waters are not limited to this specification.[17][18]

Eaux and Eau[edit]

The word eaux, in perfumery, is defined as a solution of spirited fragrant essential oils with or without the addition of other fragrant substances.[19] It can also be distilled waters with the smells of flowers. Eau de cologne, eau de lavande, eau de bouquet are examples of the first; and eau de rose, eau de fleurs d'oranges are examples of the second. Toilet waters with the word eaux in them are confined to imports to the United States from the south of France and Italy. English toilet waters with "eau" or "eaux" in the name are generally considered inferior to those from France and Italy.[20]

Health benefits[edit]

Some toilet waters were once considered restorative skin toners and to have some medical benefits.[21][22][23] The journal Medical Record reported in 1905 that a toilet water spray restores energies lost in business, social, and domestic situations.[24][25] History shows that toilet waters have been used for cosmetic purposes.[26] During the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries a type of toilet water called "plague waters" was supposed to drive away the bubonic plague.[27][28]

Roots of women's toilet water[edit]

Cleopatra seduced Mark Antony on the banks of the Berdan River using perfumes and toilet waters.[29] Wilhelmina of the Netherlands used an entire champagne bottle of toilet water in her 7 minute baths.[29] Elizabeth of Russia was partial to having her toilet water made of violets picked near the onset of darkness specifically near the town of Grasse.[30]

In the fourteenth century Hungarian toilet water, predecessor of eau de cologne, was produced.[31] Queen Elisabeth of Hungary (1305–1380) had created a fragrant oil mix with alcohol that evaporated slowly on her skin.[32] Hungary Water was the first toilet water developed.[27] Legend has it that when 70 year old Queen Elisabeth of Hungary received this new 'toilet water' her poor health was reversed. She was then a very healthy queen that the king of Poland proposed to. This toilet water was called "eau de la reine de hongrie", and was based on rosemary.[33]

Roots of men's toilet water[edit]

King of France Louis XIV (1638–1715) used a concoction of scents called "heavenly water" to perfume his shirts with toilet water. It consisted of aloewood, musk, orange flower, rose water and other spices.[32]

Types of toilet water[edit]

  • Carbolic Toilet Water — crystallized carbolic acid, 10 parts; essence of millefleurs, 1 part; tincture of quillaya sapouaria, 50 parts; water, 1,000 parts.[20]
  • Carmelite Water – a toilet water of lemon balm, orange flower, angelica root, and spices prepared for Charles V of France, first made in 1379 by the nuns of a Carmelite abbey.[34][35][36][37]
  • Carnation Toilet Water – extract of Jasmine 2.5 pints, extract of Orange Flower 2.5 pints, extract of Rose 5 pints, tincture of Vanilla 20 ounces, Oil of Pink (synthetic) 2 ounces.[38]
  • Creole Toilet Water – to 6.75 ounces of orris root cut in small pieces put 1.5 pint of French brandy. Allow this mix to stand for 2 weeks, stirring frequently. Then filter the mix and add 3 pints of French brandy and 3 drops of oil of orange blossoms. Add 0.75 fluid ounce of oil of geranium. Distill and add a little coumarin essence.[39]
  • Eau de lavand ambre – a favorite with Spanish women who use it in their hair as well as on the skin after bathing.[40]
  • Florida Water – based on the nineteenth-century formula for a commercially prepared toilet water that mixes floral essential oils.[41]
  • Geranium Toilet Water – oil of rose geranium, 2 ounces; tincture of orris root, 2 ounces; tincture of musk, 1 drop; rose water, 8 ounces: alcohol, 4 pints.[39]
  • Heliotrope Toilet Water – heliotropine, 2 drops; rose oil, 15 minims; bergamot oil, a half drop; neroli oil, 5 minims; alcohol, 10 ounces; water, 6 ounces.[42]
  • Home made toilet waters – there are various styles, including lavender toilet water and rose toilet water.[35]
  • Honey water[14] – an old-time English toilet water. The British Pharmaceutical Codex gives the formula.[43]
  • Jasmine toilet water – made with spirits of cologne, jasmine, and alcohol.[44]
  • Kananga Water – is a "holy water" used for purification in revival ceremonies.[45]
  • Lavender water[14][46] – a formula called "upper Ten" consists of 1 fluid ounce of oil of lavender, 8 fluid ounces of deodorized alcohol, 3 fluid ounces of rose water, and 80 grains of carbonate of magnesia.[47]
  • Nosegay – distilled honey water with cloves, lavender and neroli.[48]
  • Oriental Toilet Water – an extensive list of ingredients is given in the Useful and Practical Notes section of National Druggist.[49]
  • Rose water toilet water – extract of rose 1 pint, of tuberose 1 pint, of cassia 1 pint, of jasmine 4 ounces, tincture of civet 3 ounces.[50]
  • Viennese Cosmetic Toilet Water – bruised almonds, 15 parts; water of orange flower, 62 parts; water of roses, 62 parts. Rub up the almonds with the waters, allow to stand. Later add borate of soda, 1 part; spirit of benzoin, 2 parts. Dissolve.[39]
  • White Rose Toilet Water – one ounce of triple extract of white rose, 3 drops of oil of rose, 3 drops of oil of rose geranium, 26 ounces of cologne spirits, and 6 ounces of hot water.[47]
  • Hugh C. Muldoonin submitted various toilet water formulas he called "Own-make Toilet Specialties" to the Bulletin Of Pharmacy in 1917.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Free Dictionary definition
  2. ^ MacMillan Dictionary
  3. ^ Cristiani, p. 117
  4. ^ toilet water term meaning
  5. ^ Distinguishing Colognes, Perfumes, Scents, & Toilet Waters
  6. ^ Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary definition
  7. ^ Baker, p. 262
  8. ^ Fettner, p. 102
  9. ^ Cox, p. 118
  10. ^ Ebert, p. 304
  11. ^ Lawless, p. 39
  12. ^ "Cologne". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  13. ^ perfume
  14. ^ a b c Groom, p. 329
  15. ^ eau de toil definition from the online Free Dictionary
  16. ^ Thesaurus online dictionary
  17. ^ Grolier, p. 154
  18. ^ Consumer reports, pp. 409-411
  19. ^ Hopkins, p. 874 First column near bottom, section "Toilet Waters": Eaux, in perfumery, are either solutions of the fragrant essential oils, in spirit, with or without the addition of other fragrant substances; or they are distilled waters, largely charged with the odorous principles of flowers. Eau de cologne, eau de lavande, eau de bouquet, etc., are examples of the first; and eau de rose, eau de fleurs d'oranges, etc., of the second. The application of the term is usually restricted to articles of the kind imported from the south of France or Italy, and always so in reference to those of the latter class.
  20. ^ a b Hopkins, p. 874
  21. ^ Better Nutrition magazine, Nov 1999, p. 34
  22. ^ Hiss, pp. 918-919
  23. ^ Frank, p. 414
  24. ^ Dewey, p. 55
  25. ^ Interstate druggist, Volume 7, page 333
  26. ^ Griffin, p. 283
  27. ^ a b Stoddart, p. 154
  28. ^ Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 by Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl
  29. ^ a b Current opinion, p. 93
  30. ^ Martin, pp. 10-11 The late Czarina of Russia preferred her toilet water made of violets picked near Grasse at twilight.
  31. ^ Müller, p. 348
  32. ^ a b Sherrow, p. 125 King Louis XIV (1638-1715) had his shirts scented with toilet water that included aloewood, rosewood, orangle flower, musk, and spices. The concoction was called "heavenly water" ...
  33. ^ The History of Perfume
  34. ^ Booth, p. 157
  35. ^ a b Reader's Digest – Make your own Fragrance
  36. ^ Halpern, p. 37
  37. ^ Booth, p. 82
  38. ^ Lillard, p. 33
  39. ^ a b c Hopkins, p. 875
  40. ^ Fletcher, p. 219
  41. ^ Miller, p. 99
  42. ^ Hopkins, p. 876
  43. ^ Hiss, p. 915
  44. ^ Toilet Water ideas
  45. ^ kananga water
  46. ^ Country Wisdom Almanac: 373 Tips, Crafts, Home Improvements, Recipes, and Homemade Remedies
  47. ^ a b Keppel, p. 154
  48. ^ Nosegay
  49. ^ The National Druggist, Volume 42, p. 65
  50. ^ Beauty--its attainment and preservation, p. 494
  51. ^ Bulletin of pharmacy, p. 317


  • Baker, William Henry, A dictionary of men's wear..., W. H. Baker, 1908
  • Better Nutrition magazine, Nov 1999, Vol. 61, No. 11, ISSN 0405-668X, Published by Active Interest Media, Inc.
  • Booth, Nancy M., Perfumes, splashes & colognes: discovering & crafting your personal fragrances, Storey Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-88266-985-0
  • Bulletin of pharmacy, Volume 36, E.G. Swift, 1922
  • Beauty--its attainment and preservation, Butterick Pub. Co., Ltd., 1892
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  • Cox, Nancy C., Perceptions of retailing in early modern England, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007, ISBN 0-7546-3771-9
  • Cristiani, Richard S., Perfumery and kindred arts: A comprehensive treatise on perfumery, H. C. Baird, 1877
  • Current opinion, Volume 32, The Current Literature Publishing Co., 1902
  • Dewey, Willis Alonzo, Medical century, Volume 14, Medical Century Company., 1906
  • Ebert, Albert Ethelbert, The Standard formulary, G.P. Engelhard & Co., 1897
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  • Müller, Peter M., Perfumes: art, science, and technology, Springer, 1994, ISBN 0-7514-0157-9
  • Sherrow, Victoria, For appearance' sake: the historical encyclopedia of good looks, beauty, and grooming, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, ISBN 1-57356-204-1
  • Stoddart, David Michael, The scented ape: the biology and culture of human odour, Cambridge University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-521-39561-5
  • The National Druggist, Volume 42; H. R. Strong, 1912