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What Is Eau Fraiche?

By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Updated May 21, 2024
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Eau fraiche is a scented substance worn in a manner similar to perfumes and other fragrances. It is a very diluted product compared to other types of fragrances. The term eau fraiche, which comes from French, translates literally to "fresh water" in English.

Fragrances are labeled based on the percentage of essential oils they contain. The highest percentage, for example, is true perfume, which has about 22 percent essential oil. This formulation has only about 1 to 3 percent essential oil, making it the lowest essential oil percentage of all fragrances available.

The fact that eau fraiche has such a low percentage of essential oil works to the consumer's benefit in terms of cost. The more essential oils a fragrance contains, the more expensive it usually is. The fragrance works well for people who might not be able to afford more expensive products.

The downside to eau fraiche is that, as with any other product, a person gets what she pays for. These fragrances are not nearly as long-lasting. Translated into actual use, people who buy this formulation typically find they have to apply it more frequently than the typical four-hour recommendation for fragrances. Of course, this depends on the activities the person engages in, as well as their skin type. All fragrances essentially act as moisturizers that the skin can absorb, so to make the product last longer, it's a good idea to put an initial layer of unscented moisturizing lotion on the skin to prevent absorption of the fragrance.

Many individuals see the need to reapply eau fraiche as a negative. At the same time, others wear it specifically because the scent it provides is so subtle. It is a good choice when a wearer needs to be in confined spaces with others, especially if the people around the wearer have known sensitivities to perfumes and scents. It also can work as a slight enhancement to a person's natural smell.

Similar to any fragrance, eau fraiche has what are known as "notes," which refer to the individual scents a fragrance passes through when worn. The "top" notes fade quickly, sometimes within minutes. The "middle" notes usually last about an hour. "Base" notes can last several hours and are the foundation for the overall smell of the product.

"Fresh water" scents can come in any size bottle, with larger bottles usually the cheapest. Regardless of the size of the container, wearers must store the product properly by putting the bottle in a place that does not have extremes of hot and cold and which is not exposed to sunlight. It also means ensuring the cap is absolutely tight to prevent evaporation.

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Discussion Comments

By Mor — On Jan 09, 2015

@MrsPramm - I found a store a few years ago that would do this for you. Basically you just asked for a particular mixture of scents and they provided the base and the oils and mixed them together. I made a lovely perfume for my mother.

Unfortunately, I think they went out of business, but there are still places online where you can do this.

By MrsPramm — On Jan 09, 2015

@clintflint - Essential oils are actually quite tricky to use and can be dangerous if people just throw them together without taking precautions. There are a lot of pure essential oils that will burn your skin, for example, if they aren't diluted and putting them in water isn't necessarily going to do that.

Look up a good recipe and learn how to handle the oils before experimenting with your own scents. And make sure you get oils from a reputable source and that you know how pure they are. It's not necessarily a bad thing to get diluted oils if you're only going to be putting them with water in a spray bottle, but it's still good to know what percentage of the mixture is the actual oil and what is just a filler substance.

By clintflint — On Jan 08, 2015

You can make your own eau fraiche by putting a few drops of essential oils into a small bottle of filtered water. This way you can pick your own scents as well (although I would experiment first to make sure the scent of each oil goes together and goes with you).

Just shake up the bottle before you spray, since there won't be any additives to keep the oils mixed with the water. And make sure you know how long the mixture will last as that varies depending on the kind of essential oil you use.

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