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Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils – How Do They Differ?

Posted by Kinga Koper on
Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils – How Do They Differ?

4 most important things you should know

With consumers being more informed and aware of their general well-being, natural remedies and aromatherapy applications are gaining traction in terms of popularity. 

However, there are instances where consumers are confused between essential oils and fragrance oils. Both are great alternatives for atmospheric scents, but there are noticeable differences when compared together. In this article, we shall explore the aspects as well as the pros and cons of these two products.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oil is defined as the volatile aromatic compounds extracted from natural sources, usually different parts of the plants such as flowers, leaves, seeds, and roots. These aromatic essences are greatly utilized in beauty care, pharmaceutics, and therapeutics for their healing properties.

Essential oils extracted via steam distillation or organic solvent extraction (cold pressing) produces the best yield for therapeutic purposes. The chemical constituents for each batch of essential oils may vary depending on various environmental factors such as season, climate, and growing conditions. 

What Are Fragrance Oils?

Fragrance oils are non-volatile compounds made up of synthetic chemicals and artificial substances that usually do not exist in nature. They contain very little to none of the authentic natural ingredients in the creation process. 

Unlike essential oils, fragrance oils do not offer any therapeutic benefits at all. It serves its purpose in atmospheric scent creations and mainly utilized in candles, soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes. 


1. Health Benefits & Therapeutic Effects

Essential Oil

Delicately extracted from the raw botanical origins itself, essential oils retain its natural constituents that are beneficial to the mind and body, thus making it perfect for natural remedies with its unique healing purposes. From skin nourishing and cleansing to promoting hair health, other notable benefits of essential oils include supporting emotional balance as well as encouraging better sleep quality.


Fragrance Oil

As compared to its essential oil counterparts, fragrance oils do not provide any health benefits. Synthetically created from chemical compounds, these oils are not suitable for skin applications or aromatherapy. Individuals who are sensitive to fragrance oils might experience side effects such as dizziness, rash, and skin irritation that could pose serious health problems.

2. Pricing & Quality

    Essential Oil

    Essential oils are usually pricey and vary depending on the type of oils. The availability of raw materials and season would affect pricing as well because extensive cost and labor is required to grow, harvest, and extract the oils. For instance, an average of 60,000 roses is needed during the complex and timely extraction process to produce 1 ounce of rose essential oil. Therefore, essential oils are of higher quality grade.

    Fragrance Oil

    Even though fragrance oils have a greater scent range, they are much cheaper in terms of pricing because they are produced without any extraction needed from raw plant materials. Climate and season changes do not affect the manufacturing process of these oils. They are categorized as cheaper alternatives to essential oils.

    3. Chemical Structure & Lasting Efficiency

      Essential Oil

      Each essential oil has different chemical compositions based on the plants' varieties, climate, and growing conditions. Thus, the aroma would vary slightly based on harvest batches. Due to its volatile nature, the aromatic essence tends to dissipate faster than fragrance oils. It is suitable for use in natural remedies, DIY skincare recipes, and aromatherapy.


      Fragrance Oil

      Fragrance oils are created with chemical compounds and have greater scent ranges. Because of its non-volatile chemical structure, the scent lasts much longer as compared to essential oils. They are commonly found in candles, soaps, and detergents to enhance the fragrance and aroma of the products.

      4. Production Method

        Essential Oil

        Conventional methods used in the industry to extract essential oils would be steam distillation and cold-pressing. Steam distillation is more suitable to extract floral and wood-based essential oils, whereas the cold-pressing method is more applicable for citrus essential oils. 

        Fragrance Oil

        Fragrance oils are created with a mixture of synthetic compounds such as aromatic agents, essential oils, and artificial aroma resins. Chemical solvents are used to dissolve the compounds to create the fragrant oils. 

        Final Thoughts

        For natural remedies that benefit your physical and emotional health, natural essential oils would be the best choice. With the gift from Mother Nature, there are limitless possibilities that await you.


        Hamid et al. (2011), Essential Oils: Its Medicinal and Pharmacological Uses
        Moghaddam and Mehdizadeh (2017), Chemistry of Essential Oils and Factors Influencing Their Constituents
        Naeem et al. (2018), Essential Oils: Brief Background and Uses
        Dhifi et al. (2016), Essential Oils’ Chemical Characterization and Investigation of Some Biological Activities: A Critical Review


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