What Is The Difference Between Fragrance Oils And Essential Oils?

by Bella Martinez October 12, 2021

What Is The Difference Between Fragrance Oils And Essential Oils?

The holidays are almost upon us, and one way many people get into the spirit of the season is by choosing a festive aroma. One might play it safe and opt for their tried-and-true holiday aroma every year, or they may hunt for a new aroma. Our question is, will you be choosing something natural or artificial? 

It may seem like a no-brainer to go natural, but choosing natural is not always easy due to confusing marketing terms and branding companies use to sell product. One such example of this is claiming that fragrance oils, or fragrances made with essential oils, are a natural product. And in this guide, we’ll be comparing fragrance oils and essential oils, and outlining why fragrances are anything but natural. Read on to discover the truth behind fragrance oils. 

What Is A Fragrance Oil?

Found in a multitude of products, from personal care items and perfume to scented candle lines and more, fragrances plague consumers every day. On an ingredient list, ‘fragrance’ may look like just one ingredient, but oftentimes indicates a list of undisclosed, harmful ingredients. 

Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), the ingredients in a fragrance are not legally required to be disclosed, making it difficult for consumers to avoid ingredients they may be sensitive or allergic to.

Unfortunately, there are a variety of concerns that haunt fragrances, beyond being potential allergens and sensitizers. Hormone disruptors and reproductive toxins are a few additional descriptions of some of the chemicals found in synthetic fragrances. In a study done by the Environmental Working Group, 17 name-brand perfumes were tested to find chemicals not listed on the labeling. On average, 14 undisclosed ingredients were discovered, including galaxolide, tonalide and diethyl phthalate.

What Is An Essential Oil

Essential oils are the ‘essences’ of plants. In nature, they help to protect plants from diseases and insects, as well as communicate with other plants. Essential oils are obtained from plants via steam distillation and cold pressing and are used in aromatherapy for their beautiful aromas and therapeutic benefits. The benefits of essential oils vary widely, and research has shown that they have the ability to improve sleep, reduce pain, boost skincare, help hormone balance, and mitigate stress due to the naturally occurring aromatic compounds they each contain.

While many assume all essential oils to be pure and unadulterated, essential oils are actually oftentimes chemically manipulated to have consistent aromas. They’ve also been found to contain pesticides and have cheaper synthetic fragrances added, which can cut costs.

It’s for these reasons that working with reputable suppliers is crucial, and at Edens Garden, we source from carefully vetted farmers and distillers. We also do in-house and third-party GC/MS testing and analyses, along with organoleptic, refractive index and specific gravity testing to ensure our oils are always 100% pure and of the highest quality available. 

What Is The Difference Between Fragrance Oils And Essential Oils?

There are various differences between fragrance oils and essential oils, but it primarily boils down to the fact that high-quality essential oils are natural, pure and therapeutic, unlike fragrance oils. But let’s dive deeper into this comparison. 


While some companies' definition of purity varies, 100% pure at Edens Garden means that an oil is not processed in any way following steam distillation or cold pressing, and is free of synthetics, pesticides, preservatives, fixatives, additives, or any extra ingredients whatsoever. We also bottle our oils in protective, amber glass bottles to prevent light, air and heat from affecting each oil. 

Because fragrance oils are an amalgamation of natural, synthetic and naturally-derived ingredients, and because each of these ingredients may be processed and even adulterated to various degrees, fragrance oils are not considered ‘pure.’


Fragrance oils are oftentimes created for aroma purposes only. Even if a fragrance oil is made with essential oils or a natural fragrance, their therapeutic properties are likely to be diluted down by any synthetic fragrance ingredients. And while this may be fine for some, for those who want an enjoyable aroma along with benefits towards their wellbeing, essential oils are the clear choice. 


One of the primary problems with fragrance oils is that they could potentially contain harmful chemicals, and oftentimes do. This problem is especially grave when a company does not disclose a fragrance oil’s ingredients. 

On the other hand, essential oils are considered safe and non-toxic when following proper safety guidelines. 


Let’s circle back to our opening question on whether or not you’ll be choosing a natural or an artificial aroma this holiday season. You may have chosen natural, but here’s the caveat–just because a product is marketed as ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean that it is. 

And at Edens Garden, we believe that the further an essential oil is processed after steam distillation or cold pressing, the less natural it becomes. Isolates, for example, are oftentimes marketed as a natural ingredient but have been reduced down to a single molecular component through heavy processing, taking away from the complex and therapeutic character of plants found in nature. 

And while isolates or naturally derived ingredients may be more natural than a synthetic compound, this does not mean that these ingredients are safer than synthetic ingredients or better for you. 

Clearing Up Your Questions On Essential Oils Vs Fragrance Oils

Despite what you now know about the differences between fragrances and essential oils, you’re still likely to run into companies misusing these terms. That’s because essential oils are still largely unregulated in the US. Thus, companies are able to identify their products as containing essential oils when they contain very little or none whatsoever. 

It’s for this reason that many professionals in the aromatherapy industry have created standards that separate high-quality, natural essential oils from fragrance oils so that essential oil users know what to look for when searching for true aromatherapy products. According to industry standards, the following should be provided of all essential oils:

  • GC/MS test reports and analyses

  • County of origin 

  • Shelf life

This may seem like a short list, but really GC/MS testing can answer a host of questions–like is this oil a high quality, pure essential oil or is it a fragrance oil?

What’s more, Edens Garden has taken our own internal standards to the next level by including the following to our laundry list of criteria and testing for our essential oils:

  • Organoleptic testing

  • Refractive index testing

  • Specific gravity testing

  • Ethical, fair sourcing

  • Vegan, cruelty-free

  • Eco-conscious in-house practices

Act Natural

We’ve found that nature does it better, which is why we’ll always choose the real deal over a knock-off. Because we like our scents with a side of benefits towards wellbeing and not a risk of it being bad for your health. And with our ever-expanding line of pure, non-toxic essential oils and aromatherapy products, you’ll find that switching to natural is a simple way to create a world of change. Find out why Edens Garden does it better today.  


  1. Fragrances in Cosmetics. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/fragrances-cosmetics

Leave a comment (Comments will be approved before showing up)


Edens Garden

February 15, 2022 at 10:30 am

Hi Kathi! We do not have a catalog at this time. Our apologies for any inconvenience!

Kathi Shauver

February 15, 2022 at 10:21 am

do you guys have a catalogue or do we just look through all the different oils on the website. I’ve never tried this company before

Rosa lilia Pulido

November 12, 2021 at 11:39 am

I have enjoyed Edens Garden Oils for years. I am grateful for the affordable prices and their quality. Thank you.

Edens Garden

October 25, 2021 at 10:57 am

Hi Judy! We’re sorry to hear that. We offer a 30 day return policy if you’re ever unsatisfied with a product. Please contact our customer care team to initiate the return process: info@edensgarden.com

Judy komlodi

October 25, 2021 at 10:37 am

I was about to order Cinnamon but read up on it; I went with the one I never heard of;Cassia . I do not like it at all, I do not smell cinnamon .

Edens Garden

October 14, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Hi Charlotte! Yes, there are many plants which you cannot obtain essential oils from. You can learn more about how to identify ‘fake’ essential oils here: https://www.edensgarden.com/blogs/news/6-ways-to-tell-if-an-essential-oil-is-fake

Charlotte austin

October 14, 2021 at 12:41 pm

hi, are there certain aromas that can’t be made with essential oils, from plants whose makeup is too delicate to harvest an oil from? Is there a way to tell based on what aroma a fragrance is saying it is, that it’s not possible for it to be an essential oil? I’ve heard that flowers like those from honeysuckle or lilac plants are too delicate to get an essential oil from. Is that true? Are there some scents, like peach or musk that you can’t get from essential oils, or combinations of essential oils that would be a red flag when looking to buy something that claims to be using essential oils but isn’t? Sorry, apparently my thoughts aren’t coming very clearly right now. I hope you get what I’m asking. Is there a list you could make of what things clearly can’t come from essential oils to look out for to know if a company is lying or not?