What is the difference between Essential and Fragrance oils in Soap Making?
As a DIY cosmetic maker, the choices for ingredients can be overwhelming. There is literally an ingredient for anything that you want to make but not all ingredients are created equal.
Today I want to talk about essential oils vs fragrance oils. These oils can be found in various bath and body products. However, if not used correctly they both can be dangerous.
Keep reading to learn more about each!
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What are Essential Oils?
Essential oil is an oil that is extracted from trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and flowers. The oil is found in different areas of the plant; such as, roots, leaves, stalks, seeds, or resin.
Steam distillation is the most common way to get the oils from the plant.
Here’s a wonderful video that shows 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 full disclosure of ingredients.
However, the regulatory body of the fragrance industry, IFRA, does provide safe suggestions for product use and amounts.
Fragrance oils that are used in skincare items must be skin safe and have completely different guidelines then ones used in a candle or potpourri.
Difference Between Essential Oils vs Fragrances Oils
The biggest difference between the two is that essential oils are from nature and fragrance oils are made in a lab.
Also, it’s thought that using essential oils in cosmetics you retain the benefits of that particular oil.
On the flip side, making a Jasmine or Rose scented soap with essential oils would be extremely expensive.
So, it’s better to buy a fragrance oil that mimics those scents without hurting your wallet.
Using fragrance oils is not only cheaper but they come in scents that you won’t find in nature. My family’s favorite soaps are scented with Black Raspberry Vanilla or Plumeria.
They both smell amazing but are totally made up scents.
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. INCI, International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient, are names used to identify cosmetics ingredients. These are used in the US, EU, Japan, and China.
For example, Basil Essential Oil from India
INCI Name= Ocimum Basilicum Oil
Fragrance oils are listed as either Parfum or just fragrance.
All ingredients on the label are listed in descending order. Biggest amount of ingredient to the least.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Essential and Fragrance 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?
I don’t feel that fragrance oils are bad for you as long as you use them properly. Even though they are man-made. However, essential oils are from nature but if you misuse them, they can cause you harm. It’s a personal choice.
3// Are fragrance oils safe for skin?
Fragrance oils and essential oils should never be used directly on the skin. Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil like almond oil. Skin-safe fragrance oils can be used in cosmetics or bath and body products at the correct IFRA usage rates.
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// How much essential oils 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 ounce 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 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 in your next DIY bath and body project.