Difference between Fragrance Oils and Essential Oils

Key difference: The basic difference between the two oils is based on their method of preparation, components, uses and the source. Also, fragrance oil is a synthetic product, whereas essential oil is a natural product.

Often, people are known to confuse the terms ‘essential oils’ and ‘fragrance oil’ and are seen using them interchangeably.  Although, both the oils, at times, are used for similar purposes, they are chemically different. They also vary in their prices and properties. This article further differentiates between the two oils.

Essential oils are liquids that are extracted from the different parts of the plants. These liquids are naturally removed from flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, roots, and other tissues of the plants. However, these liquids are not really oils; they are just volatile and aromatic substances that are gathered from the botanicals. Which are why, these liquids undergo a really long and tedious process of steam distillation to produce essential oils.

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthesized products that are sometimes derived from essential oils. They are usually made by using petroleum and coal tar. And, they are specifically designed to mimic the scent of natural products. They are also referred to as perfume oil, aromatic oil or manufactured scents.

Essential oils are widely used in medicines because of their aromatic properties, and the intoxicating scents of these oils are considered as great mood lifters that bring about a positive effect in physical, mental and emotional health. While, as the name suggests, fragrance oils are primarily used in the making of scented perfumes, cosmetics and candles. Now, in terms of chemical composition, the components of the essential oils vary according to the season, climate and plant species, because the aroma of these oils mainly depends on the specified plant. Though, such is not the case for fragrance oils, as these oils are artificially made in the laboratory, it is possible to infuse a huge variety of aromas for fragrance oils. 

As essential oils are made from natural products, they known for their volatile nature and prized effects on the body such as skin softening, skin moisturizing and rejuvenation, anxiety dissipation, tension relief, stress relief, pain relief, migraine relief, etc. While, fragrance oils are widely recommended for their aromas in candles, perfumes, etc, they are not safe to apply on the skin.

Another important factor is fragrance oils are known to last longer than essentail oils because of thier non-volatile and volatile properties respectively. Though, this is also one reason for the price difference between the oils, which make essential oils costlier than fragrance oils. Further differences can be read in the table below.

Comparison between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil:


Fragrance Oil

Essential Oil


They are synthesized in a laboratory.

They are liquids extracted from the plants.

Made by

  • It is made by using petroleum and coal tar.
  • It may also use essential oils as a part.

It is made by using plant seeds, barks, roots, and other tissues.


  • It is non-volatile in nature.
  • It lasts longer. 
  • It is volatile in nature.
  • It does not last for long time.


  • It has small number of components.
  • There are may types of aromas for fragrance oils.
  • The ‘essence’ is artificially created.
  • It cannot be applied to the body.
  • It has less side-effects.
  • It has large number of natural and chemical components.
  • It has limited aroma types.
  • The ‘essence’ is provided by the specific plant.
  • It can be safely applied to the body.
  • It has more side-effects based on allergic reaction of the specific oil.


It is cheaper than fragrance oils.

It is expensive than fragrance oils.

Used for

It is used in scented candles, soaps, air fresheners, cosmetics, perfumes, etc.

It is used in skin rejuvenation, aroma therapy, oil massages, etc.


  • Key Lime Pie Fragrance Oil
  • Pink Sugar Fragrance Oil
  • Lemon Fragrance Oil
  • Ajwain oil
  • Basil oil
  • Jasmine oil

Image Courtesy: oneclickbeautycare.com, simplysoapsupplies.com

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