An oil dropper next to an amber glass bottle with lavender in the backkground

Essential Oils Vs Fragrance

As a cosmetic formulator I am often asked about essential oils and fragrances. 

Is there a difference?

Which one is better?

Is there even a better one?  Let me first start off by telling you there's a significant difference between both. 

So fragrance oils: defined as any natural or synthetic substance or substances used solely to impart an odour into a cosmetic product. Fragrance oils are in  everything from our fresh laundered clothes, to our candles, plug-ins to our hair products and more. We seem conditioned to want to smell like anything artificial. Basically, a fragrance is manufactured and synthesised in a lab. This is what we call an artificial ingredient.

This is why our fabric conditioners are marketed as "Summer breeze" or "Fresh cotton". It's a product that as been made to mimic the scent we believe it to be. Scents can trigger memories, special moments, or certain people.

Essential oils on the other hand are made from the distillation of plants. Essential oils are highly concentrated liquid components of plant extracts. These plant extracts come from many different sources including flowers, leaves, bark, resin, and fruit peels. They are called ‘essential’ because they contain the essence of a plant. There are a variety of ways to extract essential oils, the most common are steam distillation and cold pressing. However to be pure essential oils, it needs to have 100% pure plant oil, meaning no additives. Not only do they smell divine they also have therapeutic benefits to them which is another added benefit of their use.

Fragrances and fragrance oils are made with just the scent in mind. These powerful plant extracts also provide many health and wellness benefits.

The most widely known benefits of essential oils include:

For example, Lavender essential oil is calming and aids sleep with a lovely natural scent. The flowers and plant matter create the essential oil. You can also have a Lavender fragrance oil and a Lavender essential oil that can smell similar, but the fragrance oil will not have the therapeutic qualities that the essential oil will. Personally I feel you can tell the difference between a synthetic fragrance and pure essential oil. However this is a totally personal choice and if you have certain allergies you have to be sympathetic to this. 


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