Not all essential oils are created equally. Learn about the differences between natural essential oils and synthetic oils.
Essential oil newbies and experts alike might feel a bit overwhelmed by the motley terms that get thrown around for classes of oil. What, for instance, is “really” the difference between a carrier oil, essential oil, and fragrance oil? And what the heck are blends? Each is a distinct product with unique characteristics, and you should definitely … for your own health and empowerment … understand the differences between them.
What Are Fragrance Oils?
Fragrance oils are … to be blunt … fake. They are a combination of synthetic and natural compounds blended to produce a perfume with a precise aroma. They have their place. They are inexpensive, for the most part, and are used to put the sea breeze in your laundry soap and the spring freshness in your car deodorizer. They contain fixatives, solvents, and sometimes allergens. Sure they smell good, but they don’t have the natural compounds that benefit the body through aromatherapy. They also often contain animal byproducts, like musk and civet (scraped from the anal glands of the respective animals), and all sorts of harsh manufactured chemicals and hormone disrupters that mimic natural smells. All in all, not something you want to be spreading on your skin or spewing in the air around your family.
What Are Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils are cousins to kitchen oils (and some kitchen oils can be used as carrier oils!) They are moisturizing and neutral plant oils used, as the name suggests, to carry more potent and more expensive essential oils to the skin. They are naturally sourced from seeds (like grapeseed) and fruits (like coconut). These fatty oils are extracted at natural strength, and are deeply moisturizing to the skin. Use a teaspoon or two of carrier oil plus a drop of two of essential oil for a perfect topical application. Some carrier oils absorb easily, other remain longer on the skin and work well for massage. Some have a slight, mild scent. Others are completely scent free. Experiment with the different types of carrier oils as you blend and apply essential oils. You’ll quickly tap your favorites.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated, natural products that come from leaves, bark, resin, roots, and petals of plants. Essential oils are most commonly extracted through distillation or expression. These concentrated essential oils can be diffused in the air, applied topically, used in aromatherapy, inhaled, used in massage, and substituted for chemical household cleaners. They are a versatile, functional, and green way to create an environment that is healthy and free of manufactured products. They also offer numerous health, beauty, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Plus, they smell good. Examples of essential oil include Peppermint, Lavender, Frankincense, Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, and Chamomile, among many others. Reputable companies offer essential oil products that aren’t diluted with synthetics or lower-quality fillers.
What Are Essential Oil Blends?
Blends are a combination of pure essential oils mixed to achieve certain purposes or benefits (mood, health, or emotional balance, for instance). The natural benefits of each oil is augmented by building on each other’s’ strengths. Sometimes blends are sold undiluted (or “neat”), and can be used in a diffuser or for household application. Other times they are pre-diluted with carrier oil and ready for topical application. Look at the product information or label to find out what is in the blend, and whether or not it has been diluted.