6 Differences between Attar vs Perfumes (which is better?)

Let’s understand how attars are different from perfumes and which one is best for you!

What are Perfumes?

You must have bought perfumes or have one right now on your dressing table. They are readily available in the market in various flavors and prices. But what are these?

It is a blend of many aromatic compounds, essential oils, and solvents. One essential component is alcohol, which evaporates at room temperature to linger its scent around you.

What are Attars?

Now let’s talk about attars! These are also fragrances but they are in the form of concentrated oils. There is also no alcohol or any toxic chemicals involved, they are directly extracted from natural sources like flowers, herbs, woods, or spices.

And because these are non-alcoholic, they are very popular in Middle-east countries, but slowly they are gaining popularity in western nations including the USA, UK, and Canada.

They are been made for hundreds of years in different parts of the world, but the main production started in the town of Kannauj in India around 200 years ago. You can learn more about attars and how they are made here.

Key Difference between Attars and Perfumes

We understood what both of these are, so we will move to the 6 key differences between Attars and Perfumes. Here is a simple infographic to understand this: 

Attars vs Perfumes

Let’s now understand each difference one by one:

  1. Organic vs Synthetic: Attars are made from organic ingredients like flowers or herbs from which they get their scent, whereas Perfumes may contain synthetic chemicals for fragrance.
  2. Alcohol presence: An important distinction is Attars does NOT contain alcohol.
  3. Concentrated vs Diluted: Perfumes are diluted with a solvent and sold as a spray, but the other is in the concentrated form.
  4. Eco-Friendly vs Toxic: Attars are more eco-friendly because all ingredients are obtained from nature and are bio-degradable, but the other may have toxic chemicals added.
  5. Projection: Perfumes projects their scent to a longer distance.
  6. Longevity: Ittars last longer on the body. 

They are also applied in different ways: Ittars are applied on the skin directly (on pulse points on the hand and neck), and Perfumes are sprayed on the clothes.

Which lasts longer?

Attars are known to last longer on the body compared to most perfumes. This is because they are basically condensed fragrances that keep lingering for 8 to 16 hours in a day. Here is a guide to how long attars last.

So, Is attar better than perfume?

Attars are better than most perfumes available in the market. The main reason why people switch to the former is that these are made from natural raw materials. Nowadays, Cosmetics contain a lot of compounds with 100+ unknown chemicals. They can be unsafe for the human body as well as for the environment.

So, people want to try something that is close to nature and also eco-friendly. And when they find out that flowers or herbs are the substances from which they get their fragrance, they understand that this is a ‘pure essence’.

However, they are costlier because their production is 100% organic and the whole process is quite labor intensive. For example, to make 1ml of rose oil , it requires kilos of rose petals.

But If we look at the prices of premium or mid-range french perfumes, attars are in the same price range. Both might come in different quantities but keep in mind that only 1-2 drops of itra are enough for a whole day of usage. So, in the longer run, they are cost-effective as well, if you are using them for special occasions only.

If you are new to this product, we recommend these 5 Indian attars for beginners to start with. This includes popular items like rose, saffron, or vetiver.


We explained the 6 key differences between Attars vs Perfumes in this easy guide.