When your days are long and the daily grind is taking its toll on your body, few things are as reinvigorating as an aromatic bath infused with essential oils followed by blissful, uninterrupted sleep. Essential oils have skyrocketed in popularity because many see that they are nature’s gift to us. Essential oils are enriched with healthy antioxidants, contain naturally antiseptic properties (make them terrific cleansing agents), and they are the key aspect of aromatherapy.
However, because essential oils are a tad more expensive than fragrance oils, a number of individuals and companies opt for their synthetic counterpart to cut costs and generate mass production. For example, to get 5 ml of rose essential oil, you will need 22 pounds of rose petals.
Essential oils and fragrance oils differ on a variety of levels. Their difference is similar to the difference between natural and synthetic products. One is free of man-made synthetics and artificial derivatives, while the other is mixed with chemicals meant to either enhance certain characteristics or to save money.
The Essentials Of Essential Oils
Essential oils are a highly concentrated liquid extracted from the leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, bark, or roots of herbal trees and plants. Procured through a distillation process, these oils pack all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and scent of their source material, so much that just one drop can provide powerful healing benefits and release a burst of aroma. The distillation process separates the herb’s oil from its water-based components through steaming, resulting in a highly concentrated liquid that dazzles your senses.
The uses for essential oils are varied and diverse, but here are some of the most common.
- Aromatherapy. Diffuse lavender or citrus oil in a room and you can easily find yourself in peaceful slumber. Aromatherapy is a holistic and deeply relaxing therapy that seeks to restore balance, fight stress, and decongest muscles. It’s the art and science of using essential oils to achieve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- Clean your home. Many widely distributed detergents and cleansers contain the same harmful chemicals used in synthetic body washes and shampoos. Fortunately, many essential oils, including peppermint and lemon oil, provide antiseptic properties that helps clean counter tops, tile floors, and other household surfaces without exposure to dangerous chemicals.
- Skin enhancer. Tea tree, grapefruit, and grapeseed essential oils are just three of the many with skin enhancing benefits. They’ve been found to help fight acne, supply the skin with antioxidants, and promote glowing skin.
What Are Fragrance Oils?
Also known as aroma oils or perfume oils, fragrance oils are a mixture of either synthetic chemicals that give off sweet smells or diluted essential oils (through a carrier oil). They’re commonly used as the ingredient that gives candles, perfumes, soaps, lotions, and other synthetic beauty products their pleasant scent, but may also be used as flavoring for food. Product labels usually list them simply as “fragrance.” What that fragrance is made of is commonly not listed, because it’s also created with its own list of ingredients.
Some aroma oils are designed to capture the scent of fresh cut botanicals, while others are crafted to be completely new scents – think names like Summer Rain, Sheer Passion, or Tender Petals. Companies have been able to produce a wide range of these laboratory-made fragrances. It seems as though new perfumes are being launched every day, and the possibilities for creating new scents are endless.
What Are Carrier Oils?
A carrier oil is an oil used to dilute essential oils before they're topically applied to the skin. Its name comes from its purpose of carrying the essential oil. Although carrier oils play a supporting role, they also contain a plethora of important nutrients and provide therapeutic benefits. Examples like Avocado Oil and Olive Oil are known to nourish the body while offering skin and hair enhancing benefits. When applied in personal care products, carrier oils can also influence the product’s aroma, color, and overall potency.
Drawbacks Of Fragrance Oils
Have you ever been curious why some toiletries, personal care products, and baby products are labeled “fragrance-free”? Why are more and more brands excluding fragrance from their lines?
Most synthetic products provide the convenience of being cheaper and more accessible in large quantities, but many of them are potentially toxic due to their chemical additives. Fragrance oils are a mixture made up of essential oils, artificial aromatic chemicals, and resins. Some fragrances skip essential oils in favor of compounds that mimic natural scents, and those that do include essential oils dilute them and thus decrease their potency.
If you’ve ever wondered why perfumes don’t come with ingredient labels, this is the reason. Companies would rather hide ingredient labels because: one, they are a “trade secret”, and two, the list of hardly pronounceable chemical names can be intimidating--and scary--to look at. What’s most alarming is that the FDA doesn’t require perfume makers to disclose their ingredients because their formulations are deemed as proprietary, or in other words, secret formulas.
Babies and young children are particularly susceptible to infections and certain illnesses because their bodies have yet to develop the immunity and protective barrier that adults have. That’s why you’ll see many products like baby wipes and baby washes are labeled fragrance-free. We certainly don’t want our children to suffer from skin irritation, hormone disruption, and any other adverse effects of toxic chemicals.
The potential to expose yourself to toxins every day is very significant. For years, science has shown us the debilitating truth about the synthetic ingredients in our food and beauty supplies as well as the increasing medical problems of modern society.
Even though synthetic oils are cheaper to produce, pure essential oils have not been touched by synthetics. Yes, they may be more expensive, but once you discover the ugly side of the beauty industry, you may want to avoid applying chemicals to your body again in order to look your best. So, why not dedicate a savings jar for essential oils? It’s going to be well worth it.
What Should You Choose?
Choosing between essential or fragrance oils is similar to choosing quality versus quantity. With essential oils, you are harnessing the “soul” of plants, taking in their therapeutic and relaxing benefits through your senses. Aroma oils, on the other hand, are created in a laboratory for a singular purpose: to make soaps, creams, detergents, and candles smell like candy, flowers, or fresh fruit.
Both oils have their uses – essential oils promote positive health and can help fight stress, and fragrance oils make various products, from candles to home cleaners, smell appealing. However, using fragrance oils in your beauty routine may do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, especially when they stress out your skin, scalp, and overall health. Unless more regulations are in place to prevent chemicals from making their way into our body, chemical-riddled oils are going to be around. To protect yourself and your loved ones, you can learn what you can, study ingredients, and buy only from brands that you trust.