What is Perfume Oil? A Comprehensive Guide!

The perfume you wear does not just help you smell nice but also makes a statement of taste on your behalf. It doesn’t matter how pleasant a perfume smells if everyone uses it, it loses its charm. And one of the best ways to have your signature scent that’s subtle, exotic, and far from the mainstream is to use perfume oil.

Perfume oil is a fragrant mix of perfume concentrate and blending oils usually applied to the skin with a roll-on or a dip applicator. It is more consistent across the top, middle, and bottom notes. It uses oil instead of alcohol, leading to a longer-lasting trail of understated, subtle scent. 

This article will be your extensive introduction to the world of perfume oils covering everything from major uses of perfume oils to different types of oils and their uses. You will also learn more about essential oils and whether they count as perfume oils.

If you’ve been a spray perfume purist, you’ll like the section on how perfumes compare to perfume oils!

What is Perfume Oil Used for?

Perfume oil is used on the skin or clothes as a substitute for traditional scents and alcohol-based perfumes. It usually masks body odor, helps one smell nice without having a large personal fragrance radius, making it ideal for office settings and closed quarters.

While the above covers a majority of how perfume oils are used, you can also use them to enhance the pleasant smell of almost anything, leading to the following potential uses:

1. Homemade Air Freshener

If you do not like pressurized cans and mass-produced air fresheners, you can have more control over how your space smells by using a homemade air freshener made by mixing the fragrant perfume oil of your choice with water. The best proportions for a subtle yet lasting air freshener are a quarter of a teaspoon of perfume oil in two glasses of water.

You can use long-fuse evaporation to make your room smell nice as well. One way to do this is to apply the perfume oil to a cold lightbulb and turn it on. Let the heat evaporate the oil and distribute the scent. Alternatively, you can apply it to a window and let the sun do the work for you.

2. Make Fabrics Smell Nicer

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It goes without saying that perfume oils can be applied to clothes. Many baby boomers and older Millennials prefer applying oil on their shirts compared to Gen Z and younger Millennials who apply perfume oils as one would apply perfume. 

But personal clothes are far from the only fabrics conducive to perfume oil. You can apply the oil to silk flowers and other “fake” flora and fauna at home and also dilute and spray it on your bedsheets, comforters, and mattress. Other fabrics you can apply perfume oil to include

  • Hand towels
  • Rugs
  • Socks
  • Curtains

3. Make Your Car Smell Nicer

Cars can smell strange because of a multitude of environmental changes. Whether it is a dumpster near a school drop-off or the greasy takeout that insists on lingering, a concoction of odors can start seeping into your car furniture. 

To preemptively block this, many car owners use car air fresheners. Applying perfume oil to a large cotton ball (about the size of half a tennis ball) and placing it under your car seat is a great way to automate neutralizing your car’s interior against such odors.

4. Neutralize Handbag Odor

Perfume oils are great for getting rid of the subtle odor that a stuffy handbag or wallet can end up giving off. Usually, it is because of having genuine leather sitting across one’s body during hot and humid conditions that a handbag can start smelling funny. 

But sometimes, the different things you stuff in it can leave contrasting notes producing an unpleasant mix. Putting a few drops of perfume oil on a handkerchief and dropping it into your handbag neutralizes this. For wallets, use a cotton bud to apply the perfume oil to a thick strip of cardboard and place it in your wallet, closest to the outermost layer.

5. Add a Personal Touch to Gifts and Letters

As mentioned earlier, perfume oils are preferred by people who like their fragrances to be unique to them. Since perfumes are more mainstream and a specific scent is more probable to be in possession of someone you know, perfume oil is a better bet at standing out. But that’s not all perfume oils do when it comes to helping you stand out; they give you a way to add a bit of you to your gifts and letters, even personal stationery.

Because they are oil-based fragrances, they last longer and aren’t off-putting or corrosive to thick paper or fabrics. That means you can use a cotton bud to apply perfume oil to your personal letters, interiors of envelopes, and, best of all, a gift box bow.

6. Neutralize Stink-Magnets

From sneakers to socks, laundry baskets to old blankets, there are certain items in your house that are likely to gather unpleasant odor. By using perfume oil, you can neutralize the smell before it becomes pungent, concentrated, and hard to get rid of. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean perfume oil is the right way to mask all odors forever. You will still need to care about the products’ hygiene and wash when necessary, but the frequency won’t have to be as often, thanks to the perfume oil.

Perfume Oil vs. Perfume – What’s the Difference?

Perfume oils are not based on alcohol and use oil as the blending agent for the different fragrant materials, whereas perfumes are usually alcohol-based and use alcohol to break down and blend different aromatic components. 

But this structural difference manifests in differences in effect, application, longevity, and note variation. Here are the ways in which perfume oil and regular perfumes differ.

Perfume Oils Have Lower Note Contrast Than Perfumes

Perfumers use alcohol as a canvas and fragrant elements as different paints. As a result, they get to use a wide variety of contents and blend scents that wouldn’t naturally be cohesive. That means you can apply a perfume that smells drastically different in the afternoon compared to the morning when it was applied.

A perfume oil is relatively consistent in how it smells because the oil acts more like a container than a canvas. While it can break down some fragrant components, its true strength is that of a preservative and not a mixer. Leaning into this strength, perfumers who work with fragrant oil often make concentrated mixtures of one or two notes at best.

If you feel disappointed that your perfume doesn’t smell the way after a few hours of application, you will love perfume oils. And if you like how your fragrance changes over time, you might not be a fan of stable-scent oils.

Perfume Oils Are More Subtle Than Perfumes

Alcohol vs. oil manifests yet again one of the greatest differences between perfume and perfume oils. Oils might be great at preserving scents, but alcohol is much better at distribution, which is why it is used in everything from deodorant containers to air freshener sprays. 

Perfumes containing alcohol have a wider reach because of the high vaporization rate of alcohol compared to oil. If you like to announce your arrival with your fragrance preceding you, you will love most strong perfumes. The same elements in a perfume oil will be subtle, and only people close enough to you will be able to pick up on the scent.

Perfumes Don’t Last as Long as Perfume Oils

While expensive perfumes have intentionally designed top, middle, and bottom notes, most store-variety perfumes have a high emphasis on marketing notes. The marketing notes are top notes that sell the perfume but only upon purchasing do you learn that the middle and the bottom notes consist only of disappointment.

Such perfumes evaporate rapidly, leaving you scurrying for the container to pump even more from the bottle of dwindling fragrance. Perfume oils, in contrast, are a breath of fresh air. The fragrance, albeit monotone, lasts long enough for a whole day.

Perfume Oils Are More Versatile Than Perfumes

Alcohol might be a great blending agent for various ingredients, but it is also corrosive to most fine fabrics and thick paper. This means your perfume is for your body only. Some novices end up wearing standard perfume on clothes without realizing how the alcohol affects the threads. 

On the other hand, perfume oils were applied to clothes and have only started being applied directly to the body. However, the point is that perfume oils are gentler on clothes and paper, making them ideal for adding a fragrant touch to many things. Look at the uses section above for more.

Perfumes Offer More Variety Than Perfume Oils

Perfume oils are closer to nature than perfumes since most of them come in the form of essential oils (check the section on oil types later for more). While that might be a plus in some people’s books, it also implies a lack of variety. 

Look at consumer goods around you and try to think of any product with a variety of flavors; it is most likely processed and well-industrialized.

Perfume oils are made with a straightforward extraction and blending process that limits the number of scents on the market. Perfumes, on the other hand, have hundreds of thousands of different varieties. Ironically, the effect both products ultimately have is the opposite.

Despite there being thousands upon thousands of choices, the same twenty to thirty perfumes get used most often, giving the impression that everyone smells the same.

Despite being only a few hundred in variety, fragrant oils are overlooked by the mainstream, and picking even the most popular product might be seen as an exotic find in an average American office.

Is Perfume Oil Better Than Perfume?

perfume oil kept on the table

While the differences between perfume oil and perfumes indicate what each type of fragrance is good for, you might wonder which one is better for you. You’ll figure this out best by being clear on your needs and then looking at which product fits them best.

Perfume oils are better than perfumes for purposes of longevity, subtlety (not overpowering), and versatility (can be applied to more things). Perfumes, on the other hand, perform better on note contrast and fragrance variety. 

You should buy a perfume oil if you’re looking for a fragrance that won’t create a large radius of strong scent around you but will give off a pleasant scent to those standing close enough. If you want a product that you can mix with your lotion, bathwater, laundry water, and dilute to even use as an air freshener, a perfume oil is your best bet. 

You can make it your signature scent, and once people associate it with you, you can start using it in your personal letters, Christmas cards, and of course, Christmas gifts.

You should buy perfume instead of perfume oil if you’re a fan of wildly different notes and personally prefer scents that cover a large area. You might also want to use a strong perfume and carry it on your person if you work outdoors in a hot and humid environment.

Are Perfume Oils Stronger than Perfume Spray?

Perfume oils are more concentrated than perfume spray but are more subtle if applied in the right proportion. Concentration doesn’t imply strength because you’ll not apply the same quantity of perfume oil on your body or clothes as a perfume spray. 

Perfume oils are stronger than perfume spray as they have a higher concentration of fragrant contents. Perfume spray may seem stronger as the higher amount of alcohol rapidly vaporizes the scent giving off a strong smell initially. However, perfume oils remain consistent as long as it lasts.

So, perfume spray has a stronger opening but perfume oil remains stronger for a longer period of time. One could consider this analogy – a perfume spray is a stronger sprinter, whereas a perfume oil is a stronger marathon runner.

The misconception regarding perfume spray being stronger comes from the effect people get when sampling the fragrance.

When you open the oil bottle and smell it, you’ll sense a strong scent because of the concentration. And if you apply the concentrated perfume in a large quantity, you’ll cause yourself a headache and stain your clothes.

Thus, it is a good practice to either use perfume oil in minimal quantities or dilute the perfume oil in one way or another to make sure it gives the pleasant subtle effect it is intended to.

Here are some ways in which you can subtly distribute your perfume oil without translating its concentration to obnoxious perfume strength.

Mix It With Your Body Lotion

You can apply perfume oil to your body. You can apply lotion to your body. This means the mix of two is safe for external use, and you can add a few drops of your perfume oil into a wad of body lotion. It is best if the product is fragrance neutral and only the scent of the perfume oil is noticeable.

Mix It With Water

If you’re applying perfume oil to your clothes, mixing it with water in a spray bottle is a great way to ensure an even and wide distribution of the oil. The first advantage of this is simply that the smell will be subtle, but the second one is key: your clothes won’t have concentrated oil stains.

Benefits of Perfume Oil

what is perfume oil
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Perfume oils have niche popularity and haven’t reached the mainstream. This brings up the first, and perhaps an everlasting, advantage of perfume oil: they give you a chance to stand out. Simply judging by the convenience factor, we can always bet that perfume sprays will be more popular than perfume oils. 

The previous section explains the extra step you should take for dilution. Adding one extra step means ensuring that even fewer people will adopt the product.

If you pick up a perfume oil, you’re more likely to be the only person who wears it in your social circle. That said, being rare is not the only advantage of perfume oils; here are some more.

1. Perfume Oils Moisturize the Skin

Regular perfumes have high alcohol content, which means they strip the body of moisture. If you have itchy skin, you might not take a liking to perfumes and the skin irritation they can cause. In contrast, perfume oils not only go along with your body lotion or moisturizer, they actually have the tendency to hydrate the skin, albeit negligibly. 

2. Perfume Oils Are More Personal

As covered above, when you pick a perfume oil, you’re already making a choice millions of people don’t make. By increasing the odds that the fragrance you select isn’t used by others, you’re turning the product into your personal statement. 

Add to that the fact that you can use the product in your home as an air freshener and product odor neutralizer, and you get a consistent smell that becomes an extension of your reputation. From gifts to personal items, you can make everything smell like “you.”

3. Perfume Oils Are Subtle

As mentioned earlier, even though a container of perfume oil contains more fragrance than a similar-sized container of perfume spray, the oil doesn’t have as strong a smell as a perfume spray. That’s because the oil doesn’t get vaporized as instantaneously as alcohol-based perfume, which also leads to the next key benefit of perfume oils.

4. Perfume Oils Last Longer

Finally, Perfume oils have the benefit of longevity thanks to a medium that vaporizes less rapidly than alcohol. This also means you can use perfume oils to add lasting scent to your linens, artificial plants, and clothes.

Trying to do the same with a regular perfume would lead to a complete loss of fragrance in a day or two but leave you with the disadvantage of alcohol’s harsh impact on delicate surfaces. 

Disadvantages of Perfume Oil

There’s no such thing as a product without disadvantages, and perfume oils have a fair share of theirs. But keep in mind that these disadvantages are valid only for those looking for certain things and may not apply to you.

1. Perfume Oils Can Leave Stains

If you don’t understand how to manage the application of your perfume, oil can easily end up leaving a stain on your clothes. Look at the section on dilution for guidance regarding this.

2. Perfume Oils are Hard to Acquire

While the online shopping boom of 2020 has made most perfume oils easier to acquire, they are still harder to come by compared to perfumes. You are less likely to find perfume oils at your local all-purpose store.

3. Perfume Oils Have Low Coverage

While you can apply perfume oil as much as you want, the smell will not reach people a good distance away from you, mainly because oil vaporizes the fragrance more slowly. At the same time, it might be unbearable for those near you because of how thick you have laid it on. 

Types of Perfume Oil

Perfume oils come in a variety and can be combined to produce new oils with even more unique scents that can come to represent you. Understanding different perfume oils and what notes to expect is a great way to get started with building your own perfume oil.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have recently become popular as tools for aromatherapy but have been used for decades in modern perfume oil manufacturing. They are derived from the essence of plants, flowers, and other naturally fragrant products.

Since they’re all-natural, the note variety doesn’t differ much, although some oils will have more top tendencies while others will have more heart notes.

Fragrance Oils

These oils are synthetically manufactured from artificial processes. A fragrance oil might be 100% synthetic or a mix of some synthetic elements with essential oils.

A good example of synthetic perfume is ambergris, which would otherwise require whale farming or hunting but since the compound can be made in labs, oils derived from that are more likely to be used in perfume oils than natural ambergris.

If you’re curious about the whale excrement fragrance, I have written a post about that, so check it out. The synthetically manufactured oils have higher note contrast possibility with distinct citrus ones reserved for top notes, floral and herb oils for the heart, and woods reserved for base notes.

Credit to Alesia Kozik (on Pexels) for the Featured Image of this Article

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