A Boutique GMP Factory That Makes Handmade Natural Products. Formulated By Pharmacist


Essential Oil vs Fragrance Oil in Cold Process Soap.

Essential oil? Fragrance oil? What's the difference? Let's start with essential oil.
Essential oil is the extract from the natural plant. Example lemongrass essential oil is produced through distillation to extract the oil from the plant. Same goes with flowers etc. Now bare in mind that since it's the extract from the plant (Whether the flower, leaf or bark), the scent is not stronger than the plant ( despite popular belief that it should). It's beneficial as what the plant should do however, in terms of how it works in the cold process soap, it's very subjective.
Reason being is that the percentage of eo you put into the soap is very minute to a point that no one is sure how much its absorbed by the skin. Plus cp soap needs curing of 4-6 weeks: is the eo stable enough to stay that long in high ph and heat? In term of smell, different species produces different smell so what happens in 4-6 weeks after curing also varies. Its supposed to be extract of the plant hence beneficial to the skin but is it really beneficial when you put it in the soap ( let's say maximum of 5%- even that's very expensive), wash yourself with the soap and rinse it within 2 minutes, how much do you think its really absorbed? I personally feel that it's a waste to put EO into cp soap. It's probably better to be used in lotions and creams that stays on your body rather than soap.

Fragrance oil on the other hand is synthetically produced and is not at all 'organic'. For years now there is this misconception that fragrance oil= bad! in Malaysia, most of the fragrance oil sold is made for candle making; ie it's not safe for skin. A lot have used it on skin even when there was a label clearly stating; do not apply on skin. When this happens, skin sort of becomes red and inflamed causing rashes and other skin conditions. I know this because back when I was working in the hospital there were so many cases of rashes due to this. Even when I started soap lab there were hardly any reputable supplier when it came to fragrance oil in Malaysia. This made me purchase my supplies from the U.S. Where this particular supplier is worldwide soap makers favourite and ever since using their FO, I've never turned back.
Today, I can proudly say that soap lab carries about 100 fragrance oils from this supplier ( they've got 3000 scents! Oh the dream to get all of them here in malaysia!), most of them does not accelerate trace so you have some time to beautify and colour your soap. In terms of benefits: fragrance oil does not give any benefits whatsoever to the skin. The only thing it does is it gives nice scent. But the good thing is its strong smelling so you hardly need 2-3% in your cold process soap, and 1-2% in your hot process soap or liquid soap. It's cheaper and it smells so good! Also since its synthetically made, it's made to withstand heat and high pH. Also, make sure that when you are making cold process soap, ensure that your fragrance or essential oil  are suitable for soapmaking or your soap will trace so fast that you wouldn't be able to mold it! When I started there were not much information on the net regarding this and I had lost like thousands of ringgit on the EO and 100's kilos of soap. Don't make the same mistake I did:)
so to summarize, this are the pros and cons of EO and FO (IN CP SOAP MAKING)

Essential oil:
1) herbally or naturally derived
2) suitable for sensitive skin ( do your own research on this. Some EO are photosensitive- causing skin to burn under sunlight) 

1) expensive! (Rose essential oil are about RM 300/10ml)
2) not stable in extreme conditons ( heat and pH)
3) skin reaction ( some eo like citrus and sandalwood)
4) smells only like the natural herbs (not stronger) 
5) unpredictable scent after soap curing.
6) Limited selection ( only few eo in the world (less than 50) 

Fragrance oil
1) cheaper
2) predictable scent and longer lasting
3) more scents flavor ( more than 3000 FO)

1) might cause skin sensitivity ( depending on supplier. Do Not Get candle making scents to make soap!)
2) not natural so you can't call your soap organic

Click here to read more about the stability of essential oil scientific review done in 2013: 

So whats your thoughts on this? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Tq.

Click here to checkout the current Essential Oil/ Fragrance Oil Promotion we have in Soap Lab Malaysia.

Thank you for reading Soap Lab Malaysia.
If you are one of those who wants to understand why certain ingredient is in your skincare/ cosmetics, learn how to make and formulate your own cosmetics, do contact us on our next class. We also have business courses for those interested to start a business in handmade cosmetics.


  1. Hi..i hv been using EO in my cold process soap. I knw it is expensive and agree with u a waste as our skin may not even absorb the oils. My question is: If i switch to Fragrance oil purchased from u, will I be able to make soap that is as gentle to sensitive skin? U mentioned that your fragrance oils are different frm others in the market. How is that so? Tq. If i can get answes, I would be very interested to buy fragrance oils from u.Then, my soap won't be called organic handmade soap anymore

  2. Hi dewi. Ours are from US and are made specifically for cold process soap and for sensitive skin as its used in cosmetics widely in the US. The reason y we said ours is different is because most of the fragrance found in malaysia is mainly for candle making hence contains alcohol and is not made for skin. So when use on skin will cause iritation, and when use in cold process soap will accelerate trace and harden fast before pouring into mold. Ours is not. As for organic, did u knw tht having even 1% organic ingredient in the sooa it can be called as organic? Ill do a write up on it soon. So yes fo if u use in ur soap u cant call it 100% organic, but its still 99% organic:)

  3. Hi...
    I've been using EO for about 6 months. I love to use it with diffuser. My question is, can i mix EO with your fragrance oil n use it in my diffuser?

  4. Hi beldandy. U can try if u like the smell; sure:-)

  5. Really good info! :) Thank you!


Please Whatsapp Us at 0126643817 for any enquiry



Should i register my natural handmade products with KKM?

Hi. Good morning. Heres another question that we get asked a lot so i thought of enlighten you with the answer to this question. S...