Q: What is the difference between essential oils and perfume oils?
A: Thank you for your interest in aromatherapy. The difference is that essential oils are natural and perfume oils, also known as fragrance oils, are synthetics. This is the conventional way of using these terms, although some people and companies may not always comply with the conventions. Almost all essential oils are derived from the steam distillation of plant material. A few plants won't "give up" their oils easily, so they are solvent extracted - these are called absolutes. In contrast, fragrance oils are manufactured scents which include artificial compounds and are often designed to mimic natural scents. Fragrance oils are most often used in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, candles, etc. Synthetic fragrances (fragrance oils) are not aromatherapy and can be irritating to the skin.