Essential oil vs. Fragrance oil

Essential oil and Fragrance oil

As essential oils have been becoming popular, confusion about essential oils has also increased. More specifically, many consumers are not sure what marks the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils. Both products have got lovely smell-isn’t that all that matters?

Few topics in the differences between essential oils and fragrance oils can bring so much discussion, debate, and controversy.

Many consumers confuse the terms “fragrance oil” and “essential oil” because people often use them interchangeably without knowledge. 

However, essential oils and fragrance oils differ in many ways. Though two types of oils can sometimes be used for the same purpose, they are chemically different, different in price, and have different properties.

What is Essential oil?

If you love natural scents, the essential oil is a good choice. They are extracted from herbs, flowers, and plants usually by steam distillation. This involves heating the components until the gas is released and then condensing the gas back into the liquid phase. This is a gentle process to ensure that sensitive compounds won’t break down.

What is fragrance oil?

Fragrance oils are synthetic. They are a mixture of aroma chemicals and natural ingredients such as essential oils and extracts

One single fragrance oil can be composed of 40-80 materials, and luxury perfumes occasionally contain 5 times that number.

What are the differences between essential oil and fragrance oil?

Essential oil and Fragrance oil

How they are produced

What mainly marks the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils is how they are produced. Essential oils are collected through an elaborate distillation process that collects extracts of flowers, fruits, herbs, and other natural ingredients.

Essential oils are natural oils that contain the “essence”, valuable compounds of plants. They are liquids (or resins sometimes) distilled, pressed or extracted from different parts of the plant. Those parts may include leaves, blossoms, bark, berries, roots, needles, seeds, beans, peels, cones, wood, stems, etc. 

For example, the orange essential oil is extracted from the skin of fruits, while neroli is extracted from flowers, and petitgrain from leaves.

Normally, essential oils are extracted by distillation. Some essential oils though, are usually obtained by expression or solvent extraction. And the extracting method of citrus oil is cold pressing.

While fragrance oils are produced from synthetic compounds that contain few or no natural ingredients. This is not saying that synthetic products have no value. The problem is that the fragrance oils manufacturers have not yet claimed the composition of natural compounds. Neither do they claim any specific benefits fragrance oils can bring with.

Natural vs Synthetic

How natural essential oils are? Julia Lawless, in her book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, says, “When we peel an orange, walk through a rose garden or run a sprig of lavender between our fingers, we are all aware of the special scent of that plant. But what exactly is it that we can smell? Generally speaking, it is essential oils that give spices and herbs their specific scent and flavor, flowers, and fruit their perfume.”

When the fragrance oil contains ingredients such as plumeria oil, it is a synthetic product that follows the aroma of the plumeria extract, not the extract itself.

Another sneaky way fragrance oils suppliers list their synthetic oils is by naming them natural-sounding names, such as lavender, cactus flowers, and cloves, to muddy the water. Though they can perfectly reproduce the odors, fragrance oils usually contain little or no natural components. Therefore they do not have the benefits that essential oils could provide.

You also need to exercise caution for the names of the floral scent of Japanese cherry or freesia, fruit scent of strawberry, watermelon or banana, and abstract names like rainy days — they are generally synthetic.

Capability in aromatherapy

The main purpose of diffusing essential oils is to obtain physical or mental benefits from them. And, if you buy pure essential oils from reputable suppliers, they will provide you a GC analysis, so you will know the chemical compounds in them. However, with synthetic fragrance oils, you don’t really know what you are diffusing. There may be some petrochemical compounds with no therapeutic value.


Essential oils are volatile and, The chemical components of essential oils vary in the same types of the plant due to period, environment and growing conditions, which cause the essential oil aroma differs slightly in between batches

Fragrance oils are comparatively stable since they are synthetically made. Thus, fragrance oils normally last longer than essential oils

Which has more health and well-being benefits?

Essential oils have many uses in aromatherapy to alleviate muscle pain, skin issues, and also other physical problems. The factor essential oils are so valued is its use in skin and hair conditioning, skin hydrating, and also eczema relief, and also on stress and migraine alleviation. Essential oils can conditionally be taken internally while fragrance oils can not. Many individuals apply diluted essential oils to skin or use it during their bathrooms. Others might apply it through an olfactory system, such as a  diffuser.

Fragrance oils can not provide the same benefits as essential oils, as they’re designed for imitating scents only. 

Nature is complex and, essential oils contain more than just scent elements, which is why they are so difficult to recreate. When we only separate aromatic elements from a plant, we lose out on the potential advantages the plant might provide. However, fragrance oils do strengthen the scent of several cosmetics products along with candles (they hold a far better aroma in warm temperatures).

Pros of essential oils 

100% pure
Can create blends for more variable scent.
The foundation of aromatherapy practice.

Cons of essential oils 


Essential oils vary significantly in price, depending upon the type, season. Some essential oils, such as rose as well as sandalwood, are expensive because of the timely extraction processes involved. 

It takes numerous, typically thousands of, plant materials to make a pound of essential oil. For example, making a pound of lavender essential oil needs around 200 pounds of lavender.

If an essential oil is cheap, it is more likely adulterated, a common method used by some manufacturers to gain a greater profit margin while supplying a “fake” item. As an exceptional case, citrus essential oils are normally not expensive as a result of the ease of extraction.

Fewer scent types.

Not all plants produce essential oils that can be used for scents. Top of mind examples consists of apples and strawberries. So if you got a so-called “strawberries essential oils”, exercise caution.

This is because the majority of essential oils are generated via steam or water distillation (though citrus oils are commonly cold pressed), and neither procedures could extract oils from apples or strawberries.


Some may fade in cold process soap, some can not be used in leave-on items, others should not be used under certain health conditions

Pros of fragrance oils

Enormous sorts of scent, come in more than 200 varieties

Occasionally they are formulated to smell like something natural (e.g. lavender, pineapple, strawberries). In some cases, they are formulated to scent like a completely new creation or concept (e.g. waterfall, mega blast, winter wonderland.).

The variety of fragrance oils is much wider than essential oils due to the fact that any fragrance can be made in a laboratory. So its scent types are not limited to natural resources that generate essential oils. Actually, most aromas are available as a fragrance oil. Scent examples can not be found in essential oil formats include banana, strawberry, watermelon, apple, and strawberries. 

More stable in cold process soap.

Some fragrance oils are skin-safe and also can be made use of in soap, bath products, and more.

Lower price.

Fragrance oil, unsurprisingly, is much cheaper due to much lower material cost,   the convenience at which they are synthetically made, as well as no requirement for extraction (usually a costly procedure).

Cons of fragrance oils


And that is why essential oils always come with the term “skincare”, while fragrance suppliers would only promise that their product are “skin-safe”

Some can accelerate the fading procedure of cold process soap.
Incapable in aromatherapy.

Uses of essential oils

Essential oils can be used in making candles as well as making soap. And you would find them in many other items like room sprays, creams, bath salts, balms, massage oils, and so on. They are also, undoubtedly, the foundation of aromatherapy practice.

Essential oils are frequently used in aromatherapy practice because of their therapeutic properties. Furthermore, essential oils are used in perfumes, body products, soaps, house cleaning stuff and also as flavors in food and drinks.

Some individuals might care about the safety of essential oils– and rightly so. Essential oils are effective natural chemicals. But the same care needs to be taken whether making use of fragrance or essential oils in your soap and candles. Chemicals are chemicals whether they’re manufactured in a lab, or created in nature. Just because something is totally natural does not indicate it’s always secure to be used in or on your body. So make sure you use essential oils properly.

Uses fragrance oils

Fragrance oils are commonly used in perfumes, soaps and also body lotions. Additionally, craft makers prefer to choose them due to their scents variety.

So Which Is Better?

Essential oil and Fragrance oil

They both have their own proper uses, cautions, as well as advantages.

Though both experiences bring with sensory pleasure, essential oils can provide deeper levels of satisfaction and may help your overall health. On the contrary, fragrance oils may only provide short-term enjoyment and are often harmful to your health. Although fragrance oils are used in many fields yet, they do not provide many benefits that essential oils may offer. No wonder why essential oils become more and more popular.

Though we sometimes find it hard to track down the real thing of essential oils, you’ll really feel the benefits to do so when you’ve integrated these products right into your aromatherapy routine. If you’re just seeking something that smells nice, then, of course, buy fragrance oils. If you’re seeking the real thing to improve your life and well-being, the right choice is totally clear.

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