Synthetic vs Natural Fragrance:  What's the difference?

Synthetic vs Natural Fragrance: What's the difference?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to the 1990s when interesting smells flooded high school hallways: Cucumber Melon, Plumeria, Country Apple, and Sun-Ripened Raspberry. While these scents may bring back olfactory memories, they all have one thing in common: they’re filled with synthetic fragrances.

These classics may be in the vaults, but added fragrance lives on in millions of cosmetics and body care products on the market. The synthetic ingredients in your favorite products are lumped into one listing on cosmetics, simply named as “fragrance.” Don’t let the simple name fool you – it’s a generic name for dozens of petrochemicals that are fine in small doses but may be harmful to your health in large quantities.

Not all good scents are made the same, though. You can still enjoy synthetic-free smells of rose, coconut, lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus in your sugar scrubs with essential oils and natural fragrance oils. Learn the difference between natural fragrance vs fragrance (the term usually used for synthetic fragrances) with our simple guide.


The synthetic fragrance is a chemical-based mixture used in perfumes and beauty products to provide addicting smells we enjoy. The ingredients in synthetic fragrances are considered trade secrets and most companies protect their trade secrets by simply listing them as “fragrance”. Most companies closely guard the formula of their signature scents and for good reason.  Can you say Chanel No. 5? Synthetic fragrances are also known by these chemical names: Diethyl phthalate, Amyl acetate, Benzaldehyde, and Ethanol. Say that 5x fast!

For the most part, synthetic fragrances are harmless, other than the sickly-sweet versions in some inexpensive body care products. But synthetic fragrances can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and respiratory problems when exposed in large doses. If you have sensitive skin, synthetic fragrances may make it worse.


Even with the potential concerns with synthetic fragrances, folks just love to smell good. That’s why we love essential oils and natural fragrance oils in body care, including all our smell-good scents. The difference between essential oil and natural fragrance oil:  An essential oil is the entire fragrance molecule of a plant.  Natural fragrance oil is extracted from a plant but is not the entire fragrance of the plant, just certain molecules that are then combined with other natural molecules to create a fragrance oil.

Natural, plant-derived ingredients make up essential oils and natural fragrance oils. We love using essential oils because you don’t just get great smelling aromas: these fragrances come with a whole host of benefits for your skin and mental health! Essential oils can provide antibacterial properties to ward off bacteria on the surface of your skin that causes acne or body odor. Need a good nights’ sleep or a pick-me-up? Essential oils have your back. Another score for synthetic fragrance vs natural fragrance!

Essential oils are also an excellent choice for people who have sensitive skin or deal with allergies because they’re free from synthetic ingredients. One of our favorite essential oils here at Scrub Me Good is lavender, which is known to reduce anxiety and even promote better sleep.


The oils we use in our sugar scrubs and other products have either very little scent or a natural scent that enhances any other essential oil or natural fragrance that we add.  And for sensitive skin, our unscented version, which doesn’t include added fragrance, has a light coconut fragrance thanks to the virgin coconut oil we use as a base. These oils not only smell great naturally but have plenty of benefits for your skin.

Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer and leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and supple. It also has antibacterial properties that kill harmful bacteria on the surface of your body – think acne-causing bacteria. Sweet almond oil helps your skin by preventing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and age spots. Antioxidants in almond oil provide a healthy glow.

Avocado oil is another moisturizer with plenty of benefits for your skin, like the other oils mentioned here. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so it can help relieve dry or irritated patches on


Will you choose synthetic fragrance vs. natural fragrance? Do synthetic fragrances belong in your body care? Well, we don’t think so. At Scrub Me Good, we choose the natural route: high-quality essential oils, natural fragrance oils, and pure natural base oils. Treat yourself to some great smells you can feel good about adding to your skin

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