Alcohol Vs Oil-Based Fragrances

The battle of the scentury.

On paper, the difference between a fragrance oil and an alcohol-based fragrance is minimal at conception. It’s in the distillation process, however, that things get interesting for the discerning fragrance shopper. The method a perfumer employs to get said fragrance into your hands – whether they use oil or alcohol – is what affects the final result.

Where alcohol-based fragrances tend to be more dramatic, fragrance oils are considered to be closer to the purest expression of the fragrance. If you’re on the hunt for a new fragrance and tossing up between oil or alcohol-based fragrance, it’s worth keeping several considerations in mind and noting that, as with so many things, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy a fragrance.

ALCOHOL-BASED FRAGRANCES

Alcohol-based fragrances are far more common than their oil-based counterparts - they’re often what you’ll see lining the shelves of department stores in droves. There’s a lot to like about an alcohol-based fragrance, and a well-made fragrance is still capable of producing a sublime experience for the wearer. Their ease of application makes for a more streamlined experience, however, the risk of overdoing it remains high. A ‘one and done’ approach is highly-advisable.

That’s because alcohol sharpens certain elements of the fragrance, bringing forward each note individually. Alcohol-based fragrances tend to be sharper and announce themselves with more gusto. They can also be a little more volatile, so practice caution - avoid rubbing them or mixing with other scents as this can tarnish the fragrance.

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OIL-BASED FRAGRANCES

For several reasons, oil-based fragrances are often touted as being the superior choice. As its name would suggest, fragrance is applied to the skin through the use of an oil base, making for a much more pleasurable experience for those with sensitive or dry skin. Without the added projection alcohol provides, oil fragrances hug the skin a little tighter, making the scent subtler and less intrusive in close quarter situations.

With an oil-based fragrance, you won’t be getting quite the same flair as you would with an alcohol-based scent, with all notes working in harmony on the wearer.

There is a depth and subtlety to the fragrance craft that goes beyond abstract descriptions of a bouquet. At the end of the day, your fragrance choice should be determined by how you want to present yourself to the world around you. If you want to announce your presence and turn heads for all the right reasons, opt for an alcohol-based fragrance. If subtlety is more your speed, an oil-based fragrance will nicely service your needs.

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