Perfume Oils May Give You A Good Reason To Ditch Your Alcohol-Laden Formulas

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Choosing a signature perfume is all about finding the perfect scent — one that's distinctly you. It's not easy selecting one either, considering there's a range from light citrus to floral to rich ambers or heavy musk. The range of possibilities is as vast as our varying tastes. Even vanilla fragrance is back with a '90s revival that's much more sophisticated and grown-up than we remember, so we can throw vanilla into the mix too. 


It's not just the scent that's crucial when it comes to fragrance. The formula is also a significant part of the experience. We're used to eau de toilette and eau de parfum, and while they're classic formulations, they both tend to use alcohol as a carrier. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for some fragrance wearers, an alcohol-free fragrance is vastly preferable. (Think of those with dry skin or skin sensitivities.) This is where perfume oil enters the conversation. The formulation offers a unique way of applying a fragrance that might just outperform the traditional spritz design. It lasts longer and it can heal and hydrate your skin at the same time. 

Perfume oils tend to last longer

Perfume oils offer a concentrated form of product, so the scent lasts longer on your skin, making them superior to alcohol-based fragrances. "A perfume oil is pure parfum blended with a fragrance-free carrier oil, like coconut or sweet almond oil. They're the most concentrated way to experience fragrances," fragrance founder Rosie Jane Johnston told Fashionista. "Eau de parfums are beautiful, but they're blended with alcohol; you spray them and let them sit for a minute to let that alcohol dissipate. Perfume oil is straight-up and smells amazing."


Spraying a fragrance in the air means less exposure to the fragrance. When you use a perfume oil, you either apply it via roller ball or through a dropper, so there's no middle space where the fragrance can get wasted. Plus, since the fragrance isn't mixed with alcohol, the scent itself is stronger. Apply the oil to pulse points and enjoy a long-lasting fragrance. "They're highly concentrated and 'stick' to the skin, forming a moisturizing barrier that helps it retain scent," fragrance founder Brianna Arps told Fashionista. It's the best way to maximize the essence of the fragrance.

Oil perfumes are great for dry skin

Another plus about oil perfumes is that they're beneficial to dry skin. In fact, many quality perfume oils use a carrier oil that's hydrating and good for the skin, so you're getting both a fragrance and skincare in one. Nest's Madagascar Perfume Oil is made with baobab oil, a cold-pressed seed oil that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids and hydrates and supports the skin's barrier. Other brands like Maison Louis Marie use safflower oil as its carrier, which is popular as a topical healing moisturizer. It's commonly used on its own for eczema, thanks to the linoleic acid found in it, that hydrates and restores skin. It's worth noting that as perfume oils, these carrier oils have the added essence of the fragrance, so it's not a single-product application. Nevertheless, these moisturizing bases can benefit dry skin while providing lasting fragrance.


An alcohol-based fragrance can be irritating for certain skin types. For one, alcohol is a drying ingredient, so it can be doubly challenging to apply on dry skin. The same goes for skin that's highly sensitive — alcohol can act as an irritant whereas an oil base can be more soothing.

Perfume oils are easier for layering

Another added benefit of perfume oils is that they offer a better base for layering fragrances. One trick for making alcohol-based perfumes last longer is to apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to the skin first, since dry skin doesn't hold a scent as long. The benefit of perfume oil is that you're doing both at once: hydrating the skin and adding fragrance. The perfume oil creates a moisture barrier. "[They] melt into and condition the skin, making them the ultimate primer and layering tool," Arps told Fashionista.


So if you want to enhance the scent, you can go in after a perfume oil with a different formulation. "After you've dabbed an oil or balm on your pulse points, spritz on an eau de cologne in the same scent," fragrance founder Ineke Ruhland told The Cut. This amplifies the scent and allows for long-lasting power.

This layering technique is a famously effective way to create a lasting scent. "I always recommend layering two different mediums of perfume — like a perfume oil with eau de parfum or a body oil with a roll-on perfume," Johnston told Fashionista. "It layers the skin application with more of a mist effect." It's the perfect way to hydrate the skin and keep your fragrance all day.