Fragrance oils are a synthetic imitation of pure essential oils. While they can offer a lovely scent to a product, they don’t offer the botanical properties found in pure essential oils. Check the cosmetic database for the hazard levels of your favorite scented skin products. Not all fragrance oils are toxic but it might be worth a quick check.
Essential oils are extracted from individual plant sources and often last longer. Many even carry special antibacterial or anti-fungal properties. Essential oils scents are associated with emotions (soothing jasmine), memories (cinnamon at Christmastime), or regions (rosemary in Southern France).
Info from The Soapmaker’s Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch
Vanilla is a very popular product scent, Unfortunately, it’s extremely expensive as an essential oil. And sweet pea, another popular choice, is often found in products as a fragrance scent (hazard rating of 8 compared to a sweet pea essential oil’s hazard rating of 0).
The choice is yours. I will admit that there are some products in my cabinet that I won’t toss even though they might not be the healthiest option. At the same time, I’m enjoying the experience of falling in love with the complexity of a new essential oil (like lemongrass) when I’m in the mood to try something new. The best advantage to switching to essential oils? Your nose begins to recognize the difference between the true plant source and the synthetic imitation.