What are Fragrance Oils and Essential Oils?
Fragrance oils, also known as aroma oils, aromatic oils, and flavor oils, are blended synthetic aroma compounds or natural essential oils that are diluted with a carrier like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. Aromatic oils are used in perfumery, cosmetics, flavoring of food, and in aromatherapy.
Essential oils are distilled from plant material using water, steam or both. The process involves placing plant material over a grate and forcing steam through the grate. In the alternative,the plant material can be placed in boiling water. In either case, the heat from the steam and/or water causes the plant material to break apart and release an aromatic vapor. This vapor is condensed through cooling tubes into liquid form. This liquid is the essential oil of the plant, along with the hydrosol (water) of the plant. The essential oil and hydrosol are then separated from one another and separately bottled for shipping and sale. Essential oils have remarkable qualities that enhance health, beauty and well being, helping to revitalize skin, encouraging radiance and resilience. Different essential oils produce different results in different persons with different skin types and some people are allergic to EO's and/or FO's. Most people who purchase soaps with essential oils due to their purity, buy then for their scent only... essential oils have many other benefits and it is helpful to be aware of them. You don't want to buy a shaving soap with a lot of essential oil that promotes hair growth for instance......
Essential oils are gotten from citrus fruits by pressing the peel, distillation will not work in this instance. Also many flowers will only give up their scent with enfleurage. This is a time consuming process of layering the flowers in fat or oil until the fragrance is absorbed into the oil, then doing it many many more times until the oil carries the flowers scent. This can then be distilled to extract the essential oil from the fat.
Fragrance oils are different from essential oils in that they are not distilled from the plant material for which they are named. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as essential oil of such things as strawberry, peach, watermelon, kiwi, mango, fig, pomegranate or cucumber. Fragrance oils are combinations of synthetically manufactured chemicals which are designed to "mimic" the aroma of natural materials. Some fragrance oil manufacturers use small amounts of true plant oils to boost and enhance the final aroma of their oil, but for the most part, fragrance oils are composed of synthetic chemicals, However, we love fragrance oils as well for the aroma's they impart to our homes, laundry and our baths to mention a just few of my favorite things to do with with aroma. Remember, you only need to use a few drops. There could be approx 500 to 1000 drops per ounce depending on the viscosity of the oil and the size of the dropper head.
Many perfumes and colognes, including the high end ones, may have fragrance oils added as well as essential oils.. this was started because certain flowers or fruits may not give up their fragrance in the essential oil distillation process. Examples of these are Lily of the Valley and Pear. The perfume industry has created synthetics to duplicate these types of fragrances and have even expanded into scents such as the smell of salt air near the ocean. Both EO's and FO's complement each other and both are indispensible to modern perfumery.
Synthetics are chemically derived and are not natural as the essential oils are. They tend to be stronger and longer lasting fragrances usually with many more nuances and more depth. However many people are sensitive to fragrance oils and this sensitivity is never more prevalent than when used as a shaving soap as you are roughing up your skin while using them. Some gentlemen may not have a problem using fragrance oils in any other manner than in a shaving soap. Before using these I strongly recommend that you do a small patch test to see how your skin may react to these.
Interestingly enough it is not always synthetic FO's that cause skin problems.... I know a number of folks who are very sensitive to lavender. They will see anything from a bad headache at the smell to a burning sensation if a lavender essential oil product is applied to the skin. The interesting thing is that lavender is tooted for being good for headaches.. lavender is the culprit I see most often for essential oils and the dragons blood is usually the worst culprit for my fragrance oils...
There is no telling how you are going to react to any fragrance..have you ever had a cologne that gave you a headache? Sometimes instantly? Always err on the side of caution.
Do you get the 'medicinal' benefits from using an essential oil in a soap? There is a lot of controversy over this. EO's are the last thing added to the soap so that the soaping process will have the least about of degenerative affect.' Most folks use them purely for scenting. Just buying a soap made with an essential oil can mean that the soapmaker cared enough to use the best ingredients.. this is something I will always look for.
I don't know if the properties are retained. From an aromatherapy standpoint, yes they would be. From a medicinal standpoint, I don't know and especially question this as soap is rinsed back off your skin. It would be better to use eo's for their 'medicinal' claims in a stay on product such as a lotion.. where the eo would actually be absorbed and stay on your skin instead of being rinsed off.
I have seen many people benefit Highly from using homemade soaps with essential oils. I can never be sure if it is the eo or just using a natural soap that helps with the skin problems so much, but I suspect it is the soap itself being used instead of commercial detergent bars. I have seen eczema and psorriasis cleared up for some folks, many claim that jewelweed in soap will clear up poison ivy but always I see softer healthier more resilient skin that is younger looking. However this can also be attributed to the fact that you are no longer using the detergent bars on your skin which may cause or aggravate skin problems too... however I have to say that I believe that the essential oils are helping us even in soap, but this is just my personal belief.
However, soapmakers are not allowed to make any medicinal claims regarding their soaps. We can advertise it as soap and list the ingredients, but it is against the law to say that it can be used to help with any medical problems...