Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils in Soap Making

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What is the difference between Essential and Fragrance Oils?

Today I want to talk to you about essential oils vs. fragrance oils. As a new DIY cosmetics maker, it’s important to know how much and which type of fragrance to use in your next project. 

Keep reading to learn more about each!

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are natural oils that are removed from a variety of plants. The most common way to extract essential oils is by using steam distillation. You can check out this wonderful video to see exactly how essential oils are made. 

What are Fragrance Oils?

Fragrance oils are created in a lab using a blend of natural oils, synthetic materials, and nature-identical chemicals.

Over 3500 ingredients have been approved for the manufacturing of fragrance oils. But the combination of a particular fragrance is considered a trade secret according to US and EU laws. So, fragrance manufacturers are exempt from the full disclosure of ingredients.

Fragrance oils that are used in skincare items must be skin safe and have different guidelines than ones used in candle making or potpourri.

Difference Between Essential Oils vs Fragrances Oils

There are a few significant differences between essential and fragrance oils. 

Essential Oils

  • Comes from nature
  • Holistic benefits may transfer to a handmade product
  • Some oils like Jasmine or Rose can be extremely expensive
  • Cost more than fragrance oils 

Fragrance Oils 

  • Made in a lab using a combo of natural and synthetic ingredients
  • Cost less than essential oils
  • Have a variety of fragrances not found in nature like Plumeria or Hot Chocolate

Both fragrance and essential oils smell amazing. However, it’s up to you on what you feel more comfortable in using. 

How do they appear on a cosmetic label?

When you’re checking out a label you will see different information for essential oils and fragrance oils.

Essential oils are listed using their INCI names, International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient. These names are used in the US, EU, Japan, and China to identify cosmetic ingredients. 

For example Basil Essential Oil from India

INCI Name= Ocimum Basilicum Oil

Fragrance oils are listed as either Parfum or just fragrance.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Essential and Fragrance Oils

Here’s a list of the most commonly asked question about fragrance and essential oils. 

1. Can you mix essential oils and fragrance oils together?

Yes, you can blend essential oils and fragrance oils together for cosmetics including soap. Just make sure they are both skin safe and you stay within IFRA total suggested usage rates.

2. Are fragrance oils bad for you?

Even though fragrance oils are man-made, I don’t feel that they are bad for you. But just like essential oils, you must use them properly otherwise you can cause yourself or others harm.  

3. Are fragrance oils safe for the skin?

Fragrance oils and essential oils should never be used directly on the skin. Skin-safe fragrance oils can be used in cosmetics or bath and body products at the correct IFRA usage rates. Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil like almond oil. 

4. Can you use fragrance oils in a diffuser?

No. Diffusers are used for aromatherapy purposes along with essential oils. Fragrance oils are made with a combination of unknown ingredients. Using fragrance oils in a diffuser could potentially cause you harm.

5. What amount of essential or fragrance oils can you use in cosmetics?

The IFRA gives you suggested usage rates of both essential oils and fragrance oils. Ideally, you would use 0.5 to 1.0 ounces per pound of soap.

However, this amount will vary depending on the type of oil used and what your final product is going to be.

Since I live in Germany I follow EU guidelines, which is typically a lower usage rate than the US.

6. Are essential oils or fragrance oils safe to use in candles?

Yes, you can use essential oils or fragrance oils to make candles. Just follow the manufacture’s guidelines.

Wrap Up: Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils

Essential and fragrance oils are a wonderful way to make your DIY cosmetics smell good. 

I absolutely love the smell when I open up a bottle of essential oil. It’s just so refreshing and uplifting. But I also love the smell of my soap when I use my favorite fragrance oils. 

Either way, I hope your questions have been answered about essential oils vs. fragrance oils for your next DIY bath and body project.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What do you think about essential oils vs. fragrance oils? Do you prefer one over the other? Please leave your comment below.

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