Home Skincare Can You Use Fragrance Oils On Skin?

Can You Use Fragrance Oils On Skin?

by Gabbi

The unfortunate truth of the beauty community is that with every great product on the shelves, there are going to be a couple of products that may not be so great. These formulas may be filled with not-so-nice ingredients that can hurt you or the environment.

Weeding out poor products from the stellar ones can be a challenge, so we understand the public outcry for clean and simple formulas. Products with a short ingredient list, or ones that are derived from nature, are typically gentler on skin and more forgiving on sensitive skin types.

Among the list of “naturally” derived products are fragrance oils.

So, are fragrance oils safe for skin? For the sake of your skin, we would warn you to stray away from using fragrance oils on your skin. They’re not meant to be in direct contact with the human body, so it wouldn’t be advisable to implement them into your skincare regime.

Read on while we break down the dangers of using these oils, and if there are ways to bypass the danger to make them usable, as well as other options you have in terms of scented oils. 

What Are Fragrance Oils?

You may come across fragrance oils in your local store, but they definitely won’t be in the beauty section! Because of their rich, concentrated scent, they’re likely to be found in the home decor section of the market. They’re typically used to fill your house with an inviting aroma.

Fragrance oils are not to be confused with essential oils. The main difference? Their manufacturing. Fragrance oils are man-made and synthetically manufactured.

That means that they are formulated to smell like plants or other things found in nature, but that they likely don’t contain any natural ingredients themselves.

There may be some naturally derived components in fragrance oils, but the other percentage is made up of chemicals and other synthetically formed ingredients. These ingredients may be safe to inhale in moderation, but they definitely aren’t safe to use on skin.

Because of the chemical makeup, they expire quickly and are generally less expensive as they’re easier to make and put on the shelves.

A quick way to be able to tell fragrance oils from essential oils are the scents themselves. If they’re artificial sounding scents like “pumpkin spice latte” or “gingerbread house,” it’s likely they’re synthetically made. Natural essential oils typically stick to the base note: ginger, peppermint, etc.

Essential Oils Vs. Fragrance Oils

Now that we know a little bit about the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils, let’s delve a little deeper into the differences and similarities between the two!

Essential oils and fragrance oils can both be used in the house to change aroma. They can be mixed in with wax to create wax melts, can be used in diffusers, and even mixed in with spray air fresheners! 

But if you’re using these oils as ingredients in self-care products (lotions, perfumes, bath bombs, etc.), it is advised that you still to essential oils that are naturally derived, rather than the synthetic fragrance oil.

Unlike fragrance oils, you can use essential oils during massages, in aromatherapy sessions, and in the shower mixed in with your soaps and shampoos. In topical applications, they can even hold medicinal benefits.

If you’re looking for the more economically savvy buy, fragrance oils fall at a much cheaper price point. Because naturally derived oils take longer to cultivate and manufacture, they’ll be more expensive and, unfortunately, they don’t last as long in terms of shelf life.

So, let’s break all of that down:

Fragrance OilsEssential Oils
IngredientsA mixture of manmade and naturally derived ingredientsAll naturally derived ingredients
Skin SafetyNoYes
Shelf LifeAbout a half a year to a yearUp to 15 months
UsesIn wax melts, candles, air fresheners, diffusersSame areas as fragrance oils + lotions, bath bombs, perfumes, body sprays, soaps, shampoos, massages
ScentsMimicking artificial products (sugar cookie, pumpkin pie, etc.)Smells like the naturally derived product (pine, cinnamon, etc.)

Fragrance Oil Side Effects

Taking the plunge and testing out fragrance oils directly on the skin can leave you at risk for a multitude of side effects. 

Even if it’s your first time using a fragrance oil on your skin, you may find that the surface you applied it on feels warm, red, or itchy. This may also be accompanied with a burning sensation. This kind of side effect can happen evk of yourself as having sensitive skin.

However, if you do come in contact with fragrance oils and have a sensitive skin type, this itching and burning can also be accompanied by hives and swelling. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this will clear up on its own, so you’ll need medical intervention to clear your skin back up.

Don’t be surprised if you start sneezing, or if your nostrils and inner nose become irritated and itchy. The concentrated formula of fragrance oils can be overwhelming when used undiluted.

If you don’t experience any of these side effects, you may think you’re in the clear. But the sad truth is, with continued topical application of fragrance oils, you may unfortunately be directly affecting the production of your natural bodily hormones, including the slowing of estrogen creation. 

Using Essential Oils

With there being a myriad of risks involved in using fragrance oils, you may wonder if there are any alternative products you can use that can yield your desired results. Thankfully, essential oils are at your rescue!

Essential oils are meant to be used on the skin, albeit in diluted form. While they are more expensive, you can use them with a confidence you won’t have with fragrance oils. 

So, how can you safely introduce essential oils into your beauty routine? Here are some of our favorite ways:


Adding an aromatherapeutic touch to massages is something special that you and your partner would definitely appreciate!

To cultivate the purposes of an essential oil in this way, simply mix a couple of drops into your unscented body oil. 3 drops is a minimum, but feel free to add more or less depending on how potent you want the scent to be. 


You can also use the same method to add a personal touch to your own selfcare routine! Adding a couple of drops of essential oil to your body lotions is a fantastic way to boost their existing scent, or to customize the aroma of an unscented lotion.

We recommend swatch testing your creation upon first use to ensure your skin can handle it. If you’re having an adverse reaction, use more lotion to further dilute the oil. 


Noticing hair fall and thinning? A rosemary essential oil is a miracle worker in new hair growth and hair thickening, and it’s so simple to implement in your haircare routine!

Simply add a couple of drops of the oil into your shampoo and use as you typically would, with one exception! Let this mixture sit in your hair for at least 5 minutes before rinsing, and really focus the formula into your roots for best results!


A citrus based essential oil can work wonders on the skin when used in a scrub. Not only does it add a refreshing aroma to your shower, making for a more spa like experience, but citrus oils also have brightening properties that can give your skin a stunning glow.

We recommend using 3 drops at first, and to be less aggressive with your scrubbing motion in case the mixture of the two products is too harsh on your skin. 


Perhaps one of the most popular uses of essential oils is in aromatherapy. Some people claim that essential oils can naturally boost your body’s calmness, energy, and even sleepiness!

To see if this works for you, find an essential oil that comes in rollerball form (or transfer your oil into an empty rollerball container). Afterwards, apply on the warm points of your body, like behind your ears, in the pit of your arms, and the back of your knees. 


Can’t seem to find a perfume scent that’s up your alley? Why not make one of your own! Not only is this procedure perfect for the picky types, but it’s also great for those with sensitive skin.

Since you’re DIY’ing your own signature scent, you have full control over the ingredients so you can ensure they’re safe for your skin!

There are tons of tutorials online on how to do this at home, but just so you have an idea, they typically involve a carrier oil, your choice of essential oils, and of course, the perfume bottle of your choice. 

Bath Bombs

If there’s one bathtime product that can instantly boost the luxurious feel of getting clean, it’s the bath bomb.

Bath bombs are so accessible, and can easily be found in most stores, but there’s nothing quite like making one on your own! Not only do they make the perfect gift, but it’s also nice to make one that’s better suited for your taste.

While you can go crazy with choosing different scents for different purposes, there is a kind of art that goes behind choosing! 

Essential Oil Scents And Purposes

When it comes to choosing essential oils, there are some scents that are better suited for what purposes you’re looking for! Here’s a list of some of the most popular essential oil scents, and what benefits they hold (that way, you know where they can best fit in your routine).

1. Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is beloved by the skincare community for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.

Because it’s so fantastic at what it does, it’s frequently added to face and body washes and marketed as an acne treatment! Its near medicinal properties make it a savior for those suffering from athlete’s foot, dandruff, lice, and other areas suffering from inflammation.

2. Orange

Orange oil also holds anti-inflammatory properties but is less effective on acne as tea tree oil. It kills bacteria and pathogens that may irritate the skin and body and can also promote healthy blood circulation!

Because of these benefits, we think orange oils are fantastic for use on mature skin, especially since healthy blood flow can decrease the look of fine lines and wrinkles. 

3. Rosemary

Rosemary oils are meant to add some pep to your step! That could mean waking you up in the mornings, lowering stress levels, and physically stimulating your follicles to promote new hair growth. In terms of aroma, this scent is potent, and can get overwhelming if used in excess. 

4. Peppermint

Need a pick me up? Keeping peppermint essential oil in stock is perfect for those who are in constant need of a boost of energy. We particularly like this oil for those who suffer from skin conditions, particularly itchiness and hives.

When applied topically, peppermint holds great anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as yielding relief for migraine sufferers and athletes dealing with muscle pain. 

5. Lemongrass

In terms of medicinal benefits, very few essential oils stand a chance against lemongrass oil! It holds antibacterial properties, anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as antioxidant advantages.

When applied topically, this essential oil makes a wonderful toner, and can even out complexion with ease. For those dealing with fungal acne, or issues like athlete’s foot, lemongrass’ bacteria fighting properties can keep those problems at bay. 

6. Lavender

Can’t get to sleep? Whether you’re dealing with insomnia, or your brain just can’t seem to turn on the sleepy switch, there’s little more annoying than not being able to get a good night’s rest.

Lavender oil is a natural way to lull yourself to sleep, making it a lovely choice for those who would rather deal with their sleeplessness in a more holistic way. Lavender can also ease anxiety and depression better than other oils, it’s aroma acting as a natural soothing agent. 

7. Ginger

One may think of ginger as the starting ingredient to basically every single meal, but not only does this root ingredient taste amazing, it also carries an incredible amount of medicinal benefits as well.

If you deal with particularly bad period pains, splashing some ginger oil on a microwavable body pad can seriously soothe cramps and the smell can give you a boost of alertness too. It also holds anxiety relieving benefits that are near magical, but our favorite benefit has to be its healing properties.

Apply this oil to Neosporin or other scar creams to prevent infection and to keep bacteria from pestering any open wounds.

8. Chamomile

Growing older means dealing with muscle aches and pains on the regular, even if you haven’t worked out. Put that pesky discomfort at bay by adding a couple of drops of chamomile oil to your lotion.

Its anti-inflammatory benefits can sooth and relax tired muscles, while also promoting a healthy sleep cycle. If you have eczema, chamomile can also sooth itchiness, redness, and any minor swelling. 

9. Eucalyptus

You may be aware of the benefits of applying Vicks VapoRub to your chest when you’re feeling congested. Think of eucalyptus oil as your naturally derived alternative.

This is one of our favorite essential oils for aroma-therapeutic purposes, as it can aid with a stuffy nose or persistent cough better than a lot of medicines on the market. Our favorite way to use it? Dropping a couple of splashes into your hot bath water. 

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