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Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils: What is the Difference?

Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils: What is the Difference?

Fragrance and essential oils are very popular types of scented oils. These two types of oils are very similar, for example, both are used in candles, perfume and other scented cosmetics. However, there are a few key differences between them. In this blog post, we will discuss how these two types of oils differ, as well as what they are, how long they last, their benefits and more!  

What is perfume oil?

All perfumes contain perfume oil. Essentially, perfume as we know it, is this type of oil diluted with other ingredients, (e.g. alcohol). There are two types of perfume oil, synthetic fragrance oils and natural fragrance oils. Natural fragrance oils have been around since ancient times, and over time we have advanced our practices and been able to develop synthetic fragrance oils.  We will discuss these types in more detail below:

Synthetic fragrance oils

Synthetic fragrance oils are a broad term used for various types. Generally speaking, synthetic fragrances are artificially created in laboratories. Full synthetics are fully man-made products. Semi-synthetic use both natural and artificial scents. Natural isolates are created from synthetic and natural products. Synthetic fragrance oils are long-lasting, and the scent lingers for longer than natural fragrance oils.

Natural fragrance oils

Natural fragrances are scents that are created from natural ingredients from nature. Popular scents include types of wood, trees, plants and flowers. The process of extracting natural oils is difficult, and can often go wrong, therefore wasting resources and money. This can have a negative impact on the environment. So, some natural scents are recreated as synthetic oils. Natural fragrance oils last for between one and two years, whereas synthetic oils can last for up to five years.

Perfume oils can also be bought and used as scents. It is believed that the smell lasts for longer than using spray perfumes. We will discuss some other uses for fragrance oils below.

What are some uses for fragrance oils?

There are various uses for fragrance oils, here are some of the most popular applications for both synthetic and natural oils:

Home uses for fragrance oils

Perfume oils can be used to make your home, office or space smell pleasant. There are a few easy ways to achieve this.

  • Create your own air freshener: simply add a few drops of the oil to a plastic spray bottle, and then fill it up with water. Shake well, and then you are ready to use the scent in any room.
  • Add to oil burner: place up to five drops of the oil with a splash of water on the top of an oil burner. Then light a candle and place it on the base of the burner. The water and oil will evaporate, and the room will have a delicious smell in no time.
  • Add to a fabric sheet: add a few drops of the oil to a fabric sheet, and then place it in your wardrobe or drawers to make clothes scented.

You can also enjoy the scent by adding the oil to a diffuser, candles or potpourri. 

Personal uses for fragrance oils

Fragrance oils can also be used for personal use, beyond dabbing a few drops on your skin, here are some more creative ways to get the most from it:

  • Add to shampoo or body lotion: take an unscented product and add up to 10 drops of oil. This will create a delicious-smelling product.
  • Create a bath bomb: a fun project is to make your own bath bomb with your favourite scents.

How long do fragrance oils last?

The average lifetime of fragrance oils once opened is one year. However, it depends on how you store the oils while in use. Here are some top tips for fragrance oil storage:

  • Keep out of direct sunlight and artificial light, and in a cool and dark place.
  • Ensure that it is kept in a place with a consistent temperature.
  • Keep the bottle sealed until you are ready to use it, and ensure that it is closed when not in use.
  • Store in an air-tight container.

Popular scents used in perfume oils

One of the most popular scents used in perfume oils is wood. This is a natural ingredient, but it can also be artificially produced, which is now more common due to climate and deforestation concerns. Wood brings a robust and complex smell to a fragrance and tends to be long-lasting. Common types of wood scents include cedarwood, frankincense and vetiver.

 Another popular scent used in perfume oils is flowers. Floral scents range from light to complex and long-lasting and are extremely popular in women’s scents. Some of the most popular floral perfume oils include black rose and lavender.  

Fresh and citrusy smells are also very popular scents used in perfume oils. These offer crisp and light notes to a fragrance, so are commonly combined with stronger floral scents to create something with depth. Popular fresh and citrusy scents include spearmint, lemon and eucalyptus.

What is an essential oil?

Essential oils are 100% natural. These oils are extracted from nature, such as from a plant, flower, wood and more. Extraction is difficult and is achieved either through distillation or cold-pressing. These oils are not mixed with any other ingredients or additives. Also, they cannot be artificially created, as the source has hundreds of chemicals that are obtained through natural occurrences (e.g. changing of the seasons) that can’t be reproduced.

For thousands of years, essential oils have been used in a practice called aromatherapy, which aims to improve physical and mental health. Today, essential oils are particularly popular for easing anxiety and stress.

How long do essential oils last?

Every essential oil is different. A general rule of thumb is that essential oils last for up to two years before the chemical composition begins to break down. Experts suggest that you should replace your essential oils at most every three years to be on the safe side. Similarly to fragrance oils, the lifetime can be extended through correct storage. Follow the same tips to get the most from your oils.

Popular essential oils and their benefits

Essential oils have many physical and mental benefits for the user. It is important to keep in mind that you should never consume or swallow these oils. They can be applied directly to your skin, which absorbs them and allows you to enjoy the benefits. Or, the oils can be inhaled in a safe and proper way.  

If you are unsure of whether using essential oils is the right decision for you, you should seek advice from a medical professional.

 There are approximately 90 types of essential oils, here are the most popular:

  • Peppermint offers a boost of energy and can also help with digestion.
  • Lavender is known to relieve stress and help you get to sleep more quickly. This is a great essential oil to start with as it is gentle.
  • Sandalwood is used to help reduce anxiety, and it can help you focus easier.
  • Bergamot is also known to help reduce stress, and can even help with skin conditions (e.g. eczema) when applied directly to your skin.
  • Rose and chamomile can be used to improve your mood and reduce negative feelings, such as stress or anxiety.
  • Tea Tree can be used to improve your immune system.
  • Lemon can help with digestion, as well as mental benefits such as improving your mood.

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