What is the Difference Between Essential Oils and Natural Fragrance?

February 09, 2022 4 min read

What is the Difference Between Essential Oils and Natural Fragrance?

What is the Difference Between Essential Oils and Natural Fragrance?

The skincare and beauty industry as a whole is absolutely filled with buzzwords. These buzzwords can get thrown around so frequently and in so many differing situations that it can become confusing sorting fact from fiction. Furthermore, meaningless and even intentionally misleading claims such as “botanical” and “clinical strength” can further throw consumers off the scent. 

So how can we know what to look for when shopping for skincare products? Today, we will examine one specific instance as we explore the similarities and differences between essential oils and natural fragrances.


What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are naturally derived oils from plants. The reason why they are called “essential” is that they are meant to encapsulate the essence of their source plant. For thousands of years, essential oils have been used in aromatherapy and as simple perfumes. This is due to the naturally potent fragrance which is found in most essential oils.

Common examples of essential oils which are used in skincare products include eucalyptus essential oil, lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, and much more. Because essential oils are naturally concentrated, they are generally diffused into other products or enjoyed merely as a fragrance.

It is a common misconception that other natural oils such as coconut oil are essential oils. Not all natural oils are essential oils. Many are considered “carrier” oils instead, which typically means that they are less potent and less concentrated.


What are Natural Fragrances?

On the other hand, natural fragrances may refer to any fragrances derived from a natural source. All essential oils can be considered natural fragrances, but all natural fragrances are certainly not essential oils. Many natural fragrances are organic, healthy, and pleasant smelling options for skin and beauty products.

The issue arises when we realize that the subset of ingredients which may be considered “natural” is nearly infinite. There are literally thousands of natural ingredients which are irritating or even harmful to humans. While the vast majority of natural fragrances available on the market today are perfectly safe, it is difficult to know for sure exactly what you are putting on your skin.


Why we Prefer Essential Oils to Alternative Natural Fragrances

You have probably seen products being touted as “all natural”. And we think that is great! As we discussed above, the problem with labeling an ingredient simply as a “natural fragrance” is that consumers don’t get much information from that distinction. Are we talking about natural fragrance from a sunflower or natural fragrance from a bear liver?

Many individuals have sensitivities to certain natural ingredients. Rather than source fragrances from any natural ingredient, we choose to carefully label our products with the exact essential oils you can expect to find in your soaps, shampoos, or other products. In this way, we believe in allowing our customers to make the choice which best suits their needs!

As a side note, you may sometimes see claims about “chemicals” in your health and beauty products. These claims are meaningless. All matter (all substances) are comprised of chemicals. The key distinction is whether your ingredients are natural or synthetically produced.


Essential Oils and Skincare Fragrance FAQs

Are essential oils natural fragrances?

Yes, essential oils can be considered a subset of natural fragrances. The distinction is that natural fragrances may also be a wide range of other naturally sourced ingredients such as carrier oils, glycerin, and much more.

Are natural fragrances automatically safer than synthetic fragrances?

Not necessarily, no. Just as some synthetic fragrances are safe, some natural fragrances may cause issues for certain individuals. Yet natural ingredients are often safer and better for your health and even for the environment.

Instead of viewing this as a black and white issue, we prefer to view each product as an opportunity to use natural, safe, and effective ingredients. There are very few situations for which a natural ingredient cannot do the job safely!

How can I know my skincare product uses natural fragrances?

The key to understanding what goes into any product is to read the label. The front of any soap, shampoo, or other beauty product will be filled with buzzwords and great sounding marketing material. The nuts and bolts only exist on the label itself. If you recognize all of the ingredients as natural and safe, that’s a great feeling! If some of the products sound a bit more synthetic like sodium hydroxide, be sure to do your homework. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, might sound scary, but is a perfectly safe ingredient which has been used in soap for centuries.

The Yellow Bird Essential Oils for our Natural Fragrances

The Yellow Bird was founded on a simple idea: provide natural, effective products for affordable prices. We are proud to offer a wide range of artisan soaps, shampoo bars, charcoal face scrubs, and much more without ever using synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, parabens, sulfates, or GMOs. 

And we don’t just stop there. We believe that finding the best natural ingredients is just as important as keeping things natural. That is why we always use essential oils to give our products their naturally pleasant aromas.

For more information, please read about our story or take a brief skincare quiz to find your ideal skincare product match.

Nicole P
Nicole P

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