June 04, 2015

Essential Oil versus Fragrance Oil in Handcrafted Soaps

When a new customer visits the soap shop for the first time, I like to give a short one-time introduction. Since there is a lot to look at, and smell, my intention is to give some guidance to the "lay of the land," and then let them explore and sniff to their heart's content.

The introduction always starts at the top shelf, and with an explanation about the differences between essential oil soaps and regular fragrance oil soaps. The primary difference is that essential oil soaps are made with a plant-based fragrance, while other soaps are made with a synthetic, or human-made fragrance. The plant-based essential oils are valued by many for their potential healing qualities. For example, lavender essential oil is said to promote relaxation, while peppermint oil is appreciated for its stimulating effects. I tell customers: "wash the kids and grandkids with the lavender soap in the evening; YOU wash with the peppermint soap in the morning!"

There are regulations that soap makers must follow when it comes to making claims about what a product can and cannot do. Thus, even though Cedarwood or Lemongrass Essential Oils are used by many as an anti-acne ingredient, we have to be careful about labeling soap as an "anti-acne soap," or making claims that a soap will remove or reduce acne. 

That said, there are many who value essential oils for their purity, and for their healing effects. As a soap maker, it is especially gratifying to hear stories from returning customers who have appreciated one of my soaps for this or that effect. On more than one occasion, for example, customers have lauded the Tea Tree Soap for keeping mosquitos away in the summer time.

At Artisan Soaps, you'll find essential oil soaps, regular fragrance oil soaps, and soaps that are made with a blend of essential and synthetic fragrances. With over 60 different scents to choose from, there's a good chance that you'll find more than one favorite scent!