06-22-2013, 07:52 AM
#1
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So I see a lot of soap artisans coming down on both sides of this, but the long and the short of it is that I know very little of scents and perfumes (and have an awful nose for picking things out anyway), so what are the real, practical differences between essential oils and fragrance oils when it comes to shave soap/cream? I know EO is more expensive, and that FO is "synthetic", but beyond that it sounds a lot to me like some sort of "all natural/organic" versus "science-ey stuff" debate that comes off as a little ridiculous (and borderline pretentious) in my local Whole Foods.

Can any experienced/knowledgable folks edify me on this one?

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 06-22-2013, 08:12 AM
#2
  • daccpa
  • Weber fanboy
  • Middle Tennessee
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As I understand, FO is primarily created from mostly man made chemical substances while EO's are extracted from natural things like plants. However you are correct about individuals being pretentious when it comes to their acceptance of one or the other.

It seems to me that it is quite fashionable to embrace the EO only lifestyle and heap disdain upon the FO user.

I do know that either one can provide enjoyment and / or discomfort when used in cosmetic products.

I do believe that EO seems to be more costly to obtain in some cases and certain EO's quite rare and expensive. (i.e. Sandalwood at probably around $150 oz) . Oftentimes higher cost implies perception of exclusivity in marketing so using a scarce or costly EO is an excellent way to justify higher price.

Then again this is all just my speculation and I just made all this up . Smile

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 06-22-2013, 08:27 AM
#3
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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I can tell you this. FO's irritate my skin, EO's don't.

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 06-22-2013, 08:46 AM
#4
  • Grumpy
  • Senior Member
  • DisneyLand
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I think that the Essential Oil is what is originally derived from the harvesting of the "plant". (Be that leaves, bark, blossoms, fruit, etc.)

And I thing that an Fragrance Oil is a mixture of either a synthetic aroma compound or a natural essential oil (or both) with a carrier i.e. propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. So a Fragrance Oil by itself is diluted.

For a soap or cream it may not matter if the Fragrance Oil blend is being mixed into some other oil but, purists perfer Essential Oil and add their own carrier oils.

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 06-22-2013, 11:35 AM
#5
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Essential oils are botanical products, and some common methods of extraction are to press them from the fruit peel (lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit), or steam distill them from the leaf (rosemary, mint, tea tree), root (vetiver), flower (lavender, rose, ylang ylang), heartwood (sandalwood), twigs (witch hazel), resin (myrrh, frankincense), seed pods (tonka bean, vanilla), etc. There are other methods for obtaining fragrances from plants like co2 extraction, enfleurage, absolutes, etc. that are used in perfumery. Not all plants yield an essential oil and so if someone tells you they use lilac or melon or berry or apple essential oil (for example) they are having you on. Not all essential oils are safe to use either so just because something is "natural" doesn't necessarily mean that it's good for you or harmless to use. Some oils can cause rashes, allergic reactions, increased sun sensitivity, etc. and all oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before using on the skin.

Fragrance oils are produced in the lab (some are called "nature identical") and can be used to approximate natural scents and create others that are not available from plants, like some of the fruits that I mentioned, "ocean" scents, and food scents (bacon! cake!). Contrary to popular belief, some of the best fragrance oils are more expensive than the more common essential oils. Rule of thumb: if a plant is plentiful the essential oils will cost less (orange peel oil), if it takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of oil (rose) or is endangered (sandalwood) it will cost a king's ransom, if it grows in an area of political upheaval or weather extremes (like drought or tsunamis) it will have wild price fluctuations from one growing season to the next.

Why use one instead of the other? Many plant derived oils have medicinal qualities, some well known like tea tree oil. However, US law does not allow medical claims about any essential oil product (or it goes from being a soap or a cosmetic product to being an over-the-counter drug). Unfortunately, there are so many wild claims being made about "miraculous" ingredients that reasonable people start to be suspicious that it's all a scam. I happen to believe in the medicinal properties of many plants and so I use both eo's and fo's, depending on what I'm making and why. Many people prefer eo's because of a perceived health advantage, others just want a nice smelling product and don't care if it comes from a synthetic or a "natural" source. Some essential oils are so expensive (rose and sandalwood) that to use enough to get the desired scent would price the product out of the market and so substitutes might use a combination of synthetic and botanical ingredients. Hth.

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 06-22-2013, 11:41 AM
#6
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Thanks Michelle for the input.

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 06-22-2013, 12:53 PM
#7
  • matloffm
  • Senior Member
  • Culver City, CA
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Great answer, to the point and comprehensible. Thanks. Clap

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 06-22-2013, 01:44 PM
#8
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(06-22-2013, 08:27 AM)Johnny Wrote: I can tell you this. FO's irritate my skin, EO's don't.

Yep Sad

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 06-22-2013, 02:04 PM
#9
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Thanks for the clarification, Michelle! That's pretty much exactly what I had suspected, so I'm glad I am not totally off base with the assumptions.

I've so far only had bad reactions to one line of soaps which used FO, but that seemed to be only one particular type of FO used. Others, like Mystic or Al's or Mike's, treat my skin just fine.

On a side note, fragrance oil vs essential oil strength and longevity: is there any difference in dissipation time? It seems that, anecdotally, FO based scents I have tried seem to "fade" a little bit more rapidly with exposure to open air when compared to EO based ones. Or is this a different mechanic at play?

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 06-22-2013, 04:44 PM
#10
  • CMur12
  • Semogueiro de Coração
  • Moses Lake, Washington State, USA
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Thanks, Michelle, for your knowledgeable input.

In my own case, I have become increasingly sensitive to any form of perfumery over the last 20+ years, and FOs burn my olfactory. (Being stuck in close proximity to someone wearing cologne - especially a heavy application of it - just kills me!) EOs, which are natural scents, don't have this effect. For this reason, I can't use most commercial soaps, unless they are very mildly fragranced. "Artisan" soaps, such as Mystic Water, that offer scenting with EO have been a Godsend for me.

- Murray

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 06-22-2013, 05:51 PM
#11
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thanks, just learned something new

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 06-22-2013, 07:36 PM
#12
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(06-22-2013, 02:04 PM)explodyii Wrote: On a side note, fragrance oil vs essential oil strength and longevity: is there any difference in dissipation time? It seems that, anecdotally, FO based scents I have tried seem to "fade" a little bit more rapidly with exposure to open air when compared to EO based ones. Or is this a different mechanic at play?

Some eo's and fo's are "faders", and some essential oils like citrus oils are famous for losing their strength fairly quickly. It can depend on the flash point of the oil (at what temperature it vaporizes). Fragrance can "burn off" if the soap it's added to gets too hot. It's also possible that soap just had too little fragrance added to it when it was made, maybe because the soapmaker wanted to save money or due to an excess of caution. All scents will eventually fade, but base notes like patchouli and sandalwood stick around the longest.

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