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What are the differences in Essential Oil and Fragrance?

Essential Oil versus Fragrance Oil

Who's the winner?

Ever wonder what are the differences between Pure Essential Oils and Fragrance Oil? You may not see any obvious differences. To many of us, both are good alternatives to scent up your space.

Pure Essential Oils are natural products extracted from different plants’ parts through processes such as steam distillation, solvent extraction and expressed oils. On the other hand, Fragrance oils are manufactured synthetic scents with added chemicals to enhance the aroma. They are artificially created fragrances and they contain artificial substances.

You may ask, they are just scents to me. Is there any differences?

Therapeutic Effects

Pure Essential Oils are used in aromatherapy practice as the natural ingredients can be used in a way to achieve balance physically, mentally and emotionally. There are various ways to use essential oils, such as topical application and inhalation.They enter the body through our skin via massage or the olfactory system via a nebulizer. It may be used to enhance mood, to relieve symptoms such as pain, fatigue or inflammation, or be used as pest repellent.

On the other hand, while we can duplicate the fragrance of essential oils, they do not have the natural healing properties of essential oils. We are unable to duplicate the benefits. Fragrance Oils are great in manufacturing of cosmetics and perfumes to enhance the aroma of these products.  However, they lack of the therapeutic benefits that are beneficial for the body. For instance, you can find easily find various Lemongrass fragrance in the market, they do smell alike and have similar or longer lasting power and scent strength as compared to Lemongrass essential oil, however they are do not have any benefits. On the other hand, pure Lemongrass essential oil contains tonic and stimulating properties which also helps to soothe headaches. It is an effective insect-repellent, antiseptic, bactericide and deodorant. This definitely distinguish fragrance oils from essential oils.


Pure essential oils vary in price, depending on the type, season and availability. Some essential oils, such as Rose and Sandalwood, are always expensive because of the complex and timely extraction processes involved.  An example of this is Rose Otto Essential oil. It is said that it takes a thousand rose petals to make a drop of Rose Otto essential oil, thus the price is relatively on the high side.

Whereas, fragrance oils are much cheaper as compared to essential oils because they are synthetically made, and they are not facing issues with regards to season and harvest.

Chemical Components

The chemical components of essential oils are complex and difficult to reproduce synthetically especially when not all chemical components have been precisely identified by scientists. Thus, essential oils are considered volatile. It can be identified as a top, middle or base note oil depending on the essential oil. The chemical components of essential oils vary in the same species of plant because of seasons, location, climate and growing conditions, which means the essential oil aroma may varies slightly between different harvests and batches. Under comparison, Fragrance oils are synthetically made thus they are not volatile. Therefore, fragrance oils usually last longer than essential oils. There is also a wider range of fragrance oils compared to essential oils because almost any fragrance can be duplicated in a laboratory.

Uses of Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils

 Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy practice for their therapeutic properties. In addition, essential oils are used in perfumes, body products, soaps and detergents. Fragrance oils are commonly used in soaps, perfumes and body lotions as there are a wide variety of fragrances available and they are cheaper than essential oils so they can last longer. While some essential oils can also be used by soap and candle makers, they are not as commonly used for these purposes due to cost, inconsistency and complex blending procedure.

Both essential oils and fragrance have its drawbacks and benefits. Choose wisely and make a decision based on your needs.