Fragrance Oils Vs Essential Oils: All You Need To Know

Written By: Ahmed Farah
Reviewed By: Lisa Basso
Updated On:

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Fragrance oils are oils that are artificially made in labs, while essential oils are natural oils extracted directly from plant sources.

Within my six years in the fragrance industry, I have spent a lot of time around both essential oils and fragrance oils during the manufacturing process of some world-famous fragrances.

There are many differences and similarities between the two, and which one is better will depend on a range of factors.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils, helping you determine which is the best option for your needs.

Before looking at the differences between the two oils, let us identify them both to better understand what they are!

Fragrance Oils

Fragrance oils are man-made oils manufactured by scientists in order to imitate natural scents such as Lavender, Citrus, and Vanilla.

Dried Vanilla Frutis and Orchids

They can be classified into two subgroups.

Synthetic Fragrance Oils

Synthetic fragrance oils are artificially created from chemical compounds that do not exist naturally. They are the most common, and also the least natural of any fragrance oil, deriving completely from artificial chemical compounds.

Natural Fragrance Oils

Also known as Aromatic isolates, Natural Fragrance Oils are created by physically extracting naturally occurring scent compounds from natural ingredients.

Common examples include the extraction of Vanillin from Vanilla Beans or Orange from Orange Rinds.

Although Natural Fragrance Oils seem much more natural than Synthetic Oils, there is still often debate as to whether they can be classed as natural. As although the scent derives from a natural source and does not undergo any chemical transformation, it still requires fairly complex science to create.

Uses Of Fragrance Oils

Fragrance Oils are the most popular aroma oil in the world, and have a wide range of uses in the cosmetic industry including;

  • Perfumes
  • Scented Candles
  • Detergents
  • Deodorants
  • Air Fresheners

Essential Oils

Essential Oils are scented oils extracted directly from plants.

The aromatic (scented) parts of a plant, such as the Petals, Leaves, or Roots are steamed or pressed to extract the compound. It will usually take multiple plants to extract just a few ml of the oil. Steam distillation is the most common method used (see video below).

Essential Oils are 100% neat and natural, meaning there is no processing or diluting during manufacturing. Unlike Fragrance Oils, Essential Oils also do not require complicated science to obtain, In fact, the process is so simple, essential oils have been in use since the time of the Ancient Egyptians!

The natural state of Essential Oils means it also has many uses in Health, including;

  • Aromatherapy
  • Meditation
  • Natural Odorants, such as Perfumes, Candles, and Detergents
  • Medicinal Pill Flavouring
  • Health Benefits for Pregnant Women
  • Relieve Nausea
Warning: Since the FDA does not closely regulate the quality or purity of Essencial Oils, it is crucial to get contact a medical proferssial, or professional about a certain product before using.

To see some recipes to take your essential oils into perfumes; check out 10 Cologne recipes here, and 20 Perfume recipes here!

Differences Between Esscial Oils And Fragrance Oils


Since producing essential oils is both a timely and expensive process, Fragrance oils are generally a lot cheaper than essential oils. This would explain the widespread use Fragrance Oils have in the cosmetics industry.

Potency/ Strength

Another reason fragrance oils are used a lot more used in perfumes and cosmetic products than essential oils is that they have a lot more projection and strength. Due to the artificial nature of fragrance oils, scientists can alter the compound to become a lot more effective.


Put simply, Fragrance Oils are capable of producing scents natural oils cannot. It is impossible to naturally extract Lilac, Lily of the Valley, Gardenia, and a range of other popular scents, meaning that perfumers and manufacturers need other forms of the scent.


Despite having weaker scents, essential oils are longer lasting. Fragrance Oils have an average lifespan of 1 year, compared to Essential Oils with a lifespan of between 2 to 15 years! However, for both Essential and Fragrance Oils, how you store and treat the product plays the biggest role in its shell life. Make sure to keep your products in cool and dark spaces.

To find out how to make sure you DON’T ruin you’re cologne, check out our article here!

Health And Safety

Due to the lack of regulation around synthetic fragrances, many have been seen to cause a variety of unwanted symptoms such as migraines, dermatitis, and even issues with breathing.

And according to a 1986 report by the National Academy of Sciences, 95 percent of chemicals found in synthetic fragrances are derived from crude petroleum oil, with many others containing a wide range of carcinogenic chemical additives such as Phthalates and Aldehydes!

But since essential oils, are practically plant extracts, the range of health concerns does not exist. However, if you are allergic or sensitive to the plant the oil was derived from, it is best advised to stay away from that essential oils as well.


Fragrance Oils have been seen to include more than 200 different chemicals per bottle! And due to very little regulation, people have had numerous allergic or sensitive reactions to them.

So for people with skin sensitivities, it is greatly advised for them to opt for essential oils.

Which Is Better?

So with all the information presented in this article, it is fair to say that which of the two oils is better, will depend greatly on many factors, such as allergens, price point, desired effect, and even weather!

Today, many of the most famous perfumes and cosmetic products in the world will instead use a combination of Fragrance Oils and Essential Oils to get the best of both worlds! So it does not always have to be ‘either, or’.


So, to summarize,  fragrance oils and essential oils are different in both their manufacturing and chemical makeup. Fragrance oils often being synthetic, or at least lab-made products, while essential oils are instead the aromatic extracts of plants.

There are also many pros and cons to using either, with fragrance oils being cheaper, and stronger, while essential oils are a lot safer and longer lasting. In the end, colognes have a whole of benefits, regardless of whichever oil it’s made from.

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About The Author

A cologne lover and reviewer, Ahmed has reviewed over 45 colognes on the site. Finding the best perfumes and colognes for our audience, review and ranking them as well as looking at all types of data, from price, longevity, silage to uniqueness.

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