Are Perfume Oils Safe? (Read This First!)

Perfume oils come in a wide range of fragrances. Some are soft and lovely, others are earthier and have more depth. But are you harming your skin when using perfume oils?

For some people, perfume oils are actually a safe alternative to perfume sprays because the oils don’t contain any alcohol. As long as they’re properly diluted with a carrier oil, you can apply perfume oils to your skin without experiencing irritation.

Keep reading to understand the best practices for using these fragranced oils.

Are Perfume Oils Safe

What Are Perfume Oils Made Of?

At the most basic level, perfume oils are a combination of fragrance and a carrier oil. 

Either an essential oil or fragrance oil can be used to create the scent. Both are highly concentrated and should not be used alone.

This is where the carrier oils come into play. Carrier oils dilute the concentration levels of fragrance and/or essential oils. This prevents the fragrances from burning your skin or causing lesions.

They may sound elaborate, but carrier oils are quite common. Usually, it’s a vegetable oil, but it can also be a mineral oil. In some cases, glycerin is added as a solvent.

You may also find additional elements in the mixture, dried flowers. For instance, if you come across rose perfume oil, there might also be dried rose buds floating around in the mixture. 

These are the most common ingredients found in perfume oils. The formula is pretty simple, especially when essential oils are the fragrance source.

Can Perfume Oils be Harmful?

When improperly diluted, it is possible for perfume oils to harm your skin. This is why, whether you’re making the oil yourself or purchasing some that’s been pre-mixed, you have to pay attention to the proportion of fragrance to carrier oil.

I would suggest reading the ingredients list on the bottle or online listing. If some type of carrier oil is the first ingredient listed and fragrance is towards the end, then you are likely looking at a properly diluted perfume oil. 

Ingredients are listed in proportion to the amount that’s been added to the product. So there’s more of whatever’s listed first and least of whatever’s listed last. But even though perfume is added in low quantities, remember that it’s concentrated. The scent will still be strong – sometimes even lasting longer than perfume that’s sprayed on.

One of my favorite perfume oils is French Rose Body Oil by Olivia Care.

When reading this ingredients list, you’ll notice that coconut oil is the first ingredient and dried flowers are the last. There are actually two carrier oils plus glycerin in this formula. My skin has never been irritated when using it, and I think that the flowers add a nice touch.

But everyone’s skin is different, so let’s take a closer look at the most common ingredients used to make perfume oils.

Are Perfume Oil Fragrances Safe?

Perfume oils can be safer to use than perfume spray because it has a shorter ingredients list.

Alcohols, synthetic ingredients, unnatural solvents, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates are typically excluded from perfume oil formulas. With little to no chemicals and more natural ingredients, you might begin to prefer perfume oils to perfume that’s sprayed on. 

But there is a difference between the scents used to perfume these oils. Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils. 

Can Essential Oils Harm the Skin?

Essential oils are completely natural and offer many health benefits, but only when used properly.

In terms of applying them directly to your skin, undiluted, this should be avoided. These oils are extracted directly from plant matter. Because essential oils are so heavily concentrated, a substance that’s intended to be helpful can turn out to be harmful.

If you plan to make your own perfume oil, be sure to research the essential oil to learn what percentage of it should be combined with a carrier oil for proper dilution. The American College of Healthcare Sciences offers a starter point for determining dilution ratios.

If you’re pregnant, you will want to speak to your obstetrician or dermatologist before applying perfume oils to your skin because essential oil can potentially harm the fetus.

If you’re allergic to the pollen found in certain flowers, then you might experience cross-sensitivity when using a perfume oil that’s made with that flower. Chamomile is an example given by the University of Minnesota.

Even when diluted, you might be sensitive to perfume oils that contain chamomile. So be mindful of any allergies that you might have and try to avoid buying perfume oils that are made with those specific flowers or plants.

Can Fragrance Oils Harm the Skin?

Also labeled as “parfum” fragrance oils can be a natural-synthetic blend or completely synthetic – most often it’s the former. 

The government doesn’t require fragrance oils to be approved before going to market, but they are regulated to the extent that companies are required to ensure that they’re safe for consumer use.

Due to protection of company trade secrets, we will not know exactly what’s included in a fragrance formula, but companies can be held legally responsible if their products cause harm.

So broadly speaking, fragrance oils are safe to use on the skin but at the same time, you wouldn’t know how your skin will react to the oil until it’s used due to the fact that you won’t know exactly what’s in the formula.

Just as with natural ingredients, like essential oil, fragrance oils might cause some irritation to certain skin types. 

If you are prone to skin irritation, you might want to stick with perfume oils that are made using essential oils that you know won’t cause irritation for you.

Overall, though, fragrance oils are safe so long as they’re well diluted.

Are Carrier Oils That Are Used to Make Perfume Oils Safe?

Without carrier oils, we wouldn’t be able to apply concentrated fragrances to our skin. So in a way, it’s because of carrier oils that perfumes oils are safe.

Also referred to as massage oils, carrier oils most commonly used for the body include:

  • Apricot oil
  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Olive oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Sesame oil

These oils literally carry the fragrances across your body, sinking into your skin cells. In addition to that, these vegetable and plant oils often offer a wealth of other benefits to your skin.

For instance, you can find an abundance of vitamins B and E in jojoba oil. Rosehip helps heal skin discoloration. Avocado oil also contains vitamin E. It’s calming, protective, and highly moisturizing.  You can find vitamins A, C, and E in rosehip oil.

This is just a brief overview, but all of these oils contain healthy fats that can help soothe and replenish skin cells. Most of them are anti-inflammatory, but all of them are safe moisturizers.

Can Glycerin Harm the Skin?

Scientists have found glycerin to be a safe ingredient in cosmetic skin care products.

Glycerin is a naturally occurring compound that is derived from plants, animals, and even petroleum. The glycerin that’s used in perfume oils is usually vegetable glycerin, but it’s also possible to produce glycerin in a lab.

It’s odorless and colorless, so when it’s added to perfume oils, this is done to aid in longevity of the scent.

If you buy a perfume oil that’s made with glycerin, it’s almost certain that that scent will last for hours and hours. 

Safe Use of Perfume Oils

Most perfume oils are made with carrier oils that help nourish the skin. Not only are they safe to use, oftentimes, they’re safer than traditional spray perfume. This makes perfume oils a great solution for those with sensitive and/or dry skin.

With fewer, mostly natural, ingredients, you can apply perfume oils to your skin without being concerned with safety.

Spray-on perfumes work best when applied to moisturized skin. One of the benefits of using perfume oils is that it is a moisturizer. The scent doesn’t just sit on top of your skin. Your skin absorbs the oil and fragrance. It lasts longer and even strengthens when your body heat increases. 

The scent might be too strong for some people. If you’re new to using perfume oils, then you might want to apply an unscented moisturizer to your body, and then apply the perfume oil to specific areas of your body. 

Another way to soften the fragrance, is to consider perfume oil roll-ons instead of body oil. This way, the fragrance will remain in whatever areas you apply them to – your wrists, neck, behind the ear, etcetera. If you prefer a faint but lasting perfume made with natural ingredients, give a perfume oil roll-on a try instead.

Whether you massage the oil into your skin or roll it on your pulse points, perfume oils are gentler on your skin, even when they’re made with fragrance oils, usually there aren’t loads of synthetic ingredients or alcohols that can potentially irritate your skin. You can feel safe using them.


Hello and welcome to Fragrance Advice! My name is Grace Young, and I’ve been drawn to fragrances since I was a little girl. There's just something about scent that brings me so much joy! 

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