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Fragrances vs. Essential Oils: Maybe there is a Place for Both

Fragrances vs. Essential Oils: Maybe there is a Place for Both

I started in early July preparing the fall and holiday skincare products I will offer this year. When you make your own products, the earlier the better. I sometimes struggle with the product scent. Will it be a fragrance or essential oil? Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I try to keep my soap and skincare products as natural as possible, and therefore, I lean toward using essential oils. These oils are derived from raw plant material and can consist of flowers, leaves, wood, bark roots, seeds or peel. But even though the oils are “natural” does not mean they are always the perfect solution for scenting product. Here are some of the issues I face when wanting to use essential oils.

The “saponification” process of making handmade soap can really weaken the essential oil or oils which have been added for the scent. Citrus essential oils are notorious for not making it through the process. There are a couple of citrus essential oils, orange and lemon, which are able to be distilled stronger and can remain fairly stable in the finished product.

Essential Oil vs Fragrance: Maybe there is a Place for Both

The high cost of some very popular essential oils prevents their use in skin care products (unless you want to use a teeny tiny bit just to list it in the ingredients). Sandalwood essential oil is an example. I purchase my essential oils from a very large and reputable company which offers the best prices I have found available anywhere. Their Australian Sandalwood costs over $1200 for a 16 ounce container. Their East Indian Sandalwood costs over $1700 for a 16 ounce container. Wow!

But what if you want a lilac fragrance or a strawberry fragrance? There are no essential oils for these scents – and this goes for many others.

Finally, there is a list of essential oils which pregnant women are warned not to use. There are also warnings that young children should not be exposed to some essential oils. That being said, I have not seen any information on how frequently or how much of the oil being used creates a problem, only that certain essential oils should not be used by these two groups.

So what about fragrances?  They are manufactured and their ingredients are “trade secrets” so they can only be listed as “fragrance” in the list of my products ingredients. However, the developers of these fragrances are required to follow strict cosmetic regulations.

These fragrances are cost effective, and therefore, the final product which contains these fragrances can be purchased at a reasonable price by most consumers. And, the fragrances are limitless.  If you want a lilac scent, you’ve got it! If you want a soap that smells like Sandalwood, you’ve got it!

Natural Skincare Products by Betina Skin Care and Betty Miller

So, in my business, I have come to a compromise with the use of essential oils and fragrance oils. I use essential oils where I can, but if the cost is prohibitive, the final scent in a product is weakened or an essential oil just does not exist for the scent I want to produce, I choose a fragrance oil.

Nothing in the world is 100% ideal and sometimes a compromise is necessary.