What's the difference between essential oils and fragrance?
It is often the beautifully complex aroma of essential oils that first draws people to aromatherapy. No matter what perfume you’ve tried, nothing can quite compare to the intrinsic allure of essential oils. Despite the uptick in the popularity of essential oils, many people are still confused about the differences between fragrances and essential oils.
As is well known in the aromatherapy industry, purity is imperative to the quality of essential oils. All of EG’s essential oils are lot GC/MS tested before they are hand-poured and bottled. Fragrances, however, do not require such rigorous testing. The FDA defines “fragrances,” as it is often listed on products, as a combination of chemicals that give each perfume or cologne its distinct scent.
Fragrance ingredients may come from petroleum or natural raw materials. Typically, fragrances contain solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives and dyes. Whereas pure essential oils are derived from plant parts, fragrances are commonly a combination of synthetic chemicals.
As more people continue to uncover the power of aromatherapy, fragrance oils are sometimes confused with essential oils. To understand the difference, we can simply look at how each are produced.
Fragrance oils are synthetically made and lack the volatile components of essential oils. Rich with effective properties, essential oils are extracted from plant parts through steam distillation or are cold-pressed. Some fragrance oils do contain a small fraction of essential oil but the essential oil is adulterated and diluted.
Recently, there has been some controversy over companies claiming to carry essential oils when in fact, they sell synthetic fragrance oils or highly diluted essential oils. At EG, we encourage examining the quality of your oils before buying them.
Dangers of fragrance
Used in perfumes, colognes and personal care products, the term “fragrance” on various products includes phthalates, which have been linked to a swath of health concerns such as cancer and obesity. A report by the Environmental Working Group found that 97% of Americans have some diethyl phthalate in their system. The chemical has been linked to sperm damage.
“Similarly, a pregnant woman’s use of some fragrances and other cosmetics frequently may expose her growing fetus to diethyl phthalate (DEP), a common perfume solvent linked to abnormal development of reproductive organs in baby boys and sperm damage in adult men (EWG, Washington Toxics Coalition 2009).”
According the EWG, the average fragrance contains 14 chemicals not listed on the label. When sprayed or applied, many of these undisclosed chemicals are inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Over time, the chemicals accumulate in the body and result in health issues.
Instead of trying to read through the lines of synthetic perfume labels, use essential oils to add an aromatic touch. In addition to single oils, we offer a range of synergy blends that work as natural perfumes. Try making your own signature scent and check out our new synergy blends coming this May.
EG’s picks for natural perfumes - Mix with a carrier oil
Harmony - Ushering in a sense peace, Harmony soothes the strain of miscommunication and eases the frustrations of friction. Its tranquil aroma encourages calm and quiet while dispelling imbalance. Harmony is especially effective in instilling wholeness in your home, workplace, relationships and self.
Joy - Whatever your most joyous moments are, we all deserve a few more. Joy can help you recall those happy and beautiful moments and inspire new ones through its floral and citrusy aroma.
Love - With a floral and citrusy aroma, Love helps us hold on to acceptance, excitement and comfort.
Sunshine Spice - With a powerful citrusy and peppery aroma, Sunshine Spice is a favorite by almost anyone who encounters it. Sunshine Spice is somewhat gender neutral and is absolutely amazing in a diffuser.