Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil - What is the Difference?

Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil - What is the Difference?

Do you know the difference between Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil?

New essential oil users may not know these terms are not interchangeable. There are differences and it is important to know them because there can be significant issues if you are trying to replace one for the other.

Fragrance Oils vs Essential Oils

Here is a quick breakdown so you can easily see where these two types of oils differ.

How Are They Made?

A fragrance oil (or perfume oil) is a synthetic, man-made product. It is a chemical combination created in a lab.

While occasionally a fragrance oil may include an essential oil in the chemical make up, they are still not all natural products, they are considered synthetic.

Essential oils come from nature. They can only be extracted from plants and plant parts that contain essential oils. These natural oils are usually obtained from the plant through steam distillation or by cold-pressing.

Therapeutic Properties

While perfume and fragrance oils have strong aromas, they do not have therapeutic properties like essential oils. They are frequently found in soap, detergents, and beauty products.

Some people can have allergic reactions to the chemical components that produce fragrances.

Therapeutic properties are what make essential oils so desirable. If you are looking to receive therapeutic benefits from an oil, essential oils are what you need to purchase.

Be sure to read bottle labels before you buy oils, it is important to know what you are getting.


Essential oil aromas are usually more subtle that fragrance oils and they are limited to what is naturally available.

Fragrance oil also has a larger variety of scents available, and the scent options are practically endless.

Synthetic oils are going to have a longer lasting aroma too. Essential oils are volatile, this means that the aroma will evaporate faster. 

Fragrance oils are not volatile because they are synthetically created, this means the aroma will stay around longer.

Shelf Life

Since fragrance oils are synthetically made, they will have a longer shelf life than essential oils. Essential oil shelf life vary from 1-5 years, depending on the oil.

Citrus essential oils have the shortest because they are more prone to oxidation, their shelf life is usually 1-2 years. Patchouli essential oils is one of the longest lasting essential oils as far as shelf life is concerned.


Fragrance and perfume oils are going to cost less than essential oils because they are a lot easier to produce. To create essential oils, it takes a lot of raw plant material to get just a bottle of oil.

So you can see that there are 5 BIG differences between fragrance oil and essential oil, be sure to buy the correct one. If you desire any therapeutic benefits, essential oils are what you want to purchase.

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Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil - What is the Difference? by Loving Essential Oils

Jennifer Lane - Certified Aromatherapist

BIO: Owner and founder of Loving Essential Oils. I am a Registered Nurse and Certified Aromatherapist that loves to look toward essential oils and aromatherapy for all natural physical, emotional and spiritual support. I love creating and sharing DIY Essential Oil Recipes & Blends. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your essential oil journey!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor is it a substitute for medical advice. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Post may include affiliate links. See full disclaimer.