Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils: What Are the Differences?

Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils: What Are the Differences?

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Wanting to add growth benefits and a pleasant smell to your beard? Adding drops of essential oil is a tried and true way, but what about fragrance oils? What is the difference?

Let’s look at the main differences between the two and how to choose what you can add to your homemade beard oil.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are derived directly from plants and are 100% natural. This oil is the “essence” of the plant they came from.

Depending on the type of oil, leaves, bark, rinds, or roots could be steamed, pressed, and extracted for a purely natural finish. People use these pure oils for aromatherapy, where their properties are said to give calming and beneficial side effects when worn and inhaled regularly.

Natural essential oils have a multitude of purposes, not just for your skin and mood. They can be applied anywhere when used with a carrier oil, and most have topical properties that help promote healthy skin and hair-- they leave you smelling fresh too.

Certain essential oils are more expensive than others. This depends on how well the plant produces the scent and essence, growing seasons, and the region it's grown in. Not all plants are grown equal, so researching where they are from and how they are grown can help you determine what quality oil you’ll get.

A big part of essential oils is how breathing them in and letting them touch your skin doesn’t let harmful chemicals get into your body. It’s a natural experience with few hidden downsides to smelling good and feeling rejuvenated.

As with most things, make sure to check your allergies and do patch tests if you’re going to apply it to your skin. Since real essential oils are derived entirely from plants, there’s a chance of having an allergic reaction.

Essential oils are “neat” oils, which means nothing is diluting them. They are potent, and you should use them in moderation. Too much of a scent can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or skin irritation.

Allergic reactions can be serious, so use essential oils with your health in mind and with proper carrier oils. You can check out some of the best beard oils for sensitive skin here.


  • 100% Natural
  • Aromatherapy benefits
  • Topical properties
  • Longer shelf life


  • More expensive
  • Scents fade easier
  • Less unique scent options

Fragrance Oils

Fragrance oils are manufactured scents. They mimic essential oil scents or other popular smells. They often last longer and have a stronger overall scent, but they don’t have any of the beneficial properties of essential oils, and they are made in a lab.

Fragrances are what you usually find in soaps and other hygiene products because of the scent's longevity. It’s usually labeled as perfume, parfum, or fragrance.

If you want to smell like apple pie or ocean breeze, a synthetic fragrance is going to have that scent available. Unfortunately, beyond the smell, there isn’t much benefit to a fragrance oil if you’re looking for beard growth or skincare.

There are two main types of fragrance oils that you need to be aware of before applying them to your skin. Your beard is obviously on your face, close to your nose. You should learn what is okay to breathe in on a daily basis and to apply repeatedly to sensitive skin.

Synthetic Fragrance

A true synthetic fragrance is made entirely from chemical compounds to mirror a scent you’d experience in the world. Many foods and other specific smells are purely synthetic since their source isn’t a plant that can be reduced to oil.

Synthetic fragrances are best for soaps, candles, or perfumes that need to last a long time. They are purely cosmetic and often have harsh or harmful chemicals in them which shouldn’t be breathed in or placed topically on the skin in general.

Pay attention to the ingredients in any fragrance oils you want to incorporate into your beard-care routine. The last thing you need is to do more harm than good and damage your skin.

Natural Fragrance

Natural fragrances are still manufactured in a lab, but their base component is a natural scent, many of which are common essential oils.

These are the types of scent you need to look out for when looking for an essential oil; they might brand it as “Lavender Extract,” but it’s synthetically made lavender.

Once again, these scents might smell like the real thing and have a base of the natural extract, but it doesn’t have any real benefits.

The scents are strong and come priced far cheaper. Companies are sneaky, and many of the “essential oils” you’ll find for a great price in a local store are actually natural fragrances.

Unless the ingredients list says otherwise, most soaps and sprays will use a fragrance rather than a true essential oil.

All synthetic scents are far cheaper to produce on a mass scale, and with the popularity of essential oils nowadays, it’s easy to label and sell them.


  • Lasting scent
  • More variety of scents
  • Less expensive


  • No aromatherapeutic properties
  • Various chemicals
  • No hair growth benefits
  • Potentially damaging to skin.
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Final Thoughts

Pure essential oils come with natural benefits and topical properties. They tend to be higher in price since it takes more time and resources, and they depend on the season to produce a neat extract.

Fragrance oils are synthetically made and can mimic popular essential oils or yummy smells from everyday life. They’re cheaper and have a longer-lasting scent due to the chemical makeup.

Putting together your personalized beard oil should include only the benefits for your skin, beard, and health. It’s pretty clear that pure essential oils are the best addition to your daily routine.

The types of essential oils and their benefits are extensive, and it’s up to you to choose your own handcrafted beard oil. Since everyone’s body is different, you might need a different essential oil than the next man. Now, you’re informed and ready to make your own choice.