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What is the difference between essential oils and fragrances?

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Publication date: 03/21/2018

In aromatherapy there are many products that we can use, however we must take into account that these are natural so as not to harm our skin and organism. The use of essential oils are necessary when doing these relaxation and meditation exercises.

On the other hand, we find the term essence that we confuse with fragrance. Many times we use it badly and we think they are part of aromatherapy. The term essence is very broad and is not well defined. For example, the smell of the plant is called essence before going through the distillation. Also, synthetic products that serve as imitation are essences. They are also those products that are mixed. The word "essence" is used ambiguously.

For this reason, we must discard the essence products to perform aromatherapy. In contrast, essential oils and fragrances are products for holistic therapy.

Although both have a similar appearance and consistency, fragrances and essential oils have different uses and benefits for our skin and beauty:

Essential Oils

  • They are extracted by the process of steam distillation of the same plants, that is to say that they are the soul of the plants.
  • They are volatile, not greasy and can be easily affected by light and temperature.
  • Essential oils can not include fragrances because its a pure product. If this is done, it loses its properties.
  • The oils have a real impact at a medical level in our body. Example: relieves headaches, arthritis, osteoarthritis, muscle pain.
  • It can be inhaled or applied directly on our skin without any inconvenience, depending on the percentage of purity. Even many can be consumed.


  • They are artificial aromas made in laboratories, imitating nature.
  • They are not volatile because they are made synthetically, therefore they last longer than essential oils.
  • The fragrances in its preparation may include some essential oils to form a new product.
  • The fragrances lack therapeutic capabilities, although there is the option of being able to use them in aromatherapy to activate our senses.
  • The fragrances can not be consumed and its not advisable to put on the skin due to the components that it has.

Fragrances can be stored in transparent containers and only the name is indicated on the labels.

To better understand these differences we give you an example. A real lemon and lemon candy. Lemon has benefits for health, body, and beauty, plus it comes from the tree directly. On the other hand, lemon candy is already processed with other chemicals and components. Lemon helps us as antibacterial and antiviral because it contains citric acid, vitamin C, pectin and limonene. This last component can also be found in Palo Santo, it has limonene, that is why it is the woody citrus smell.

Its also necessary to remember that fragrances are cheaper than essential oils because of the way they are obtained. The prices of essential oils are higher because they are pure and of high quality.

Although essential oils are considered natural, they must be handled with care, especially in homes where there are children and animals. Remember that ingesting these oils in excess can cause intestinal gastric damage and cause discomfort in other parts of the body.


  1. Both essential oils and fragrances can be used for traditional aromatherapy techniques. Many come in incense sticks, incense cones and even rods.
  2. Both can be used as complements of other manufactured. For example you can make handmade soaps.

All these Ecuadorian products are made with artisanal elements. We support the work of Ecuadorian artisans. And you support this work?

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