The difference between essential oil & fragrance oil

On this label “fragrance” is the name given for “our blend of essential oils”.  This soap is made with essential oils not fragrance oils; to protect our proprietary blend of essential oils we only have to list the single word “fragrance”.  This may make is slightly more difficult for consumers to determine if their soaps and skincare products are truly natural!

Essential oils are the natural oils derived purely from a plant through three main processes.  Essential oils can be derived through cold pressing, steam distilling or solvent extraction.  In cold process soap, essential oils often do not leave as strong of a scent as a fragrance oil.  Essential oils have benefits associated with them, such as Lavender is believed to help with relaxation.

Essential oils can cause skin irritation if used at to high a level in skincare products, so caution must be used when applying to the skin.  They are also significantly more expensive than fragrance oils.  The range of scent is also limited to what is found naturally in nature that can be processed into an essential oil.  To date there has not been a lilac essential oil available.

Fragrance oils are synthetically created in labs using a range of chemicals and artificial additives.  Fragrance oils are less expensive than essential oils and usually longer lasting in cold process soaps.  There are many more scents available.  Fragrance oils mimic natural scents or may be a creation designed to make people think of a specific feeling, like Crisp Linen for laundry – does that make laundry sound cleaner?  What fragrance oils can not do is mimic the benefits found in essential oils.  A lab cannot make a lavender that will have the health benefits associated with real lavender essential oil, such as relaxation.  Unlike essential oils which are a pure oil of the plant,  fragrance oils are placed in a carrier oil usually soy or corn.

Some scents are not available as essential oils they are only fragrance oils.  For example, pumpkin scented soaps are traditionally made with a fragrance oil.  A Pure Naked Pumpkin Soap will be made with real organic pumpkin and either unscented or scented with pumpkin spice essential oils.  Pure Naked Soap will not smell like many of the pumpkin soaps found in commercial markets, even those in the natural food stores.

** The information in this post is not intended to substitute for medical advice, if you have a specific concern please seek advice from your doctor.  Personally I am highly sensitive to fragrance oils and cannot have them in my house at all.  The more essential oils I use the more I am able to pinpoint certain essential oils that cause issues for me.  Lavender and lemongrass essential oils both make me drowsy, while the rose geranium seems to aggravate my allergies.  I have been contemplating using some organic fragrance oils in soap, because people really seem to want strongly scened soaps.  I must research more on how an organic fragrance oil is created.


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