Essential oil or Fragrance oil?

Essential oil or Fragrance oil?

My holistic pet range has been designed by myself and formulated using only natural, chemical free ingredients. I blend all products to order, and they are all handmade in small individual batches.

I am often asked if I can make a product with a particular fragrance, however if this fragrance is artificial and not derived from an Essential Oil, I always decline.

I’m going to look briefly at Essential Oils here and explain some of the benefits of using them, and also touch a little on the differences they have with Fragrance oils – just to help explain why I won’t use them in my pet range.

What is the difference between an Essential Oil and a Fragrance Oil?

Essential oils are steam-distilled pure plant extracts used for scenting, flavouring, or healing applications in aromatherapy, whereas fragrance oils are synthetically made chemical scent compounds. Fragrance oils can be problematic because of these synthetic compounds, and can be drying and irritating to the skin, both for humans and dogs.

Essential oils are made with 100% natural substances, and are used in aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine that employs plant extracts to support health and well-being.

Fragrance oils are created in a laboratory. Synthetic fragrance oils are completely man-made from chemical compounds that do not exist in nature, some may contain a small percentage of Essential oils, however this does not mean they can be classified as ‘natural’. Most fragrance oils don’t provide the same health benefits as essential oils, as they’re designed purely for the purpose of fragrance. Their fragrance throw, for example in a candle, will be much stronger than the more subtle scent obtained from a candle made using an Essential oil, however they do not provide the same benefits.

What are essential oils  

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and essence, of their source. They are obtained through distillation, either via steam, water or cold pressing. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use. The way the oils are made is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils.

How do essential oils work?

Essential oils stimulate our sense of smell and are believed to have medicinal effects when absorbed. Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is the part of your brain controlling emotions, behaviours, sense of smell, and long-term memory. The limbic system also supports several unconscious physiological functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. From this it is believed that essential oils can have a physical effect on your body.

There are over 90 commonly used essential oils, and each brings with it its own health claims.

My top 5 go-to oils are:
Lavender: used to relieve stress/anxiety and help with insomnia. It has been estimated that over 40% of people who suffer from stress & anxiety use some form of alternative therapy to help relieve their symptoms
Lemon: used to aid digestion, uplift mood and ease symptoms of headaches
Peppermint: can help alleviate muscle soreness and headaches. Recent studies have observed reduced headache pain after applying peppermint and lavender oil to the skin.
Tea Tree: used to fight infections and boost immunity
Frankincense: considered the “king of all oils”, especially useful for supporting memory and uplifting the mood.

What should I use for my dog – essential oils or fragrance oils?

Please always be aware of safety when using Essential oils, especially when applying them to your pets. There are many oils that can be poisonous to dogs and, as with humans, there are many contraindications and any products used must be diluted at an appropriate and safe level.

Dogs have not only have a different pH level to humans, their epidermis is also very delicate (only 3-5 layers thick, compared to 10-15 layers in humans), both of which make their skin more penetrable than ours and products will be absorbed more quickly. Strong fragrances can easily strip away the protective barrier and cause irritation and allergies, it is therefore important to use gentle, natural ingredients which have been carefully selected and safely blended, and why shampoo and conditioners made for people can cause a dry coat or can irritate a dogs skin.

Please also remember that a dogs nose is much more powerful than ours. What we find appealing may actually be unpleasant or too strong for dogs, which is why my products are all diluted appropriately.

Lots of suppliers are now advertising pet items as 100% natural & chemical free, please check the ingredients label carefully before you decide which to use!