While both oil-based and alcohol-based perfume formats are a wonderful way to experience fragrance, they differ in the way that they are experienced by the wearer and those around them. Both oil and alcohol are perfect carriers for aromatics, but if you prefer a more intimate fragrance experience, you may find that you prefer perfume oils.
Oil perfume represents one of the oldest perfume formats, and they are a unique way to experience scent. Due to the oil format, you will typically experience oil-based perfume differently than alcohol-based perfumes. In addition, because of how oil interacts with the skin, the aromas incorporated into the fragrance will often unfold in a slightly different way than alcohol-based fragrances. There are several ways that perfume oils stand out as unique from other fragrance formats.
One of the first differences that you may notice in perfume oils is the unique dispersion of the notes trio. There are often subtle differences in the way that both compositions perform concerning the disbursement of the base, middle, and top notes. Oil-based perfumes tend to be more nonlinear as they unfold on the skin, so if you enjoy experiencing a fragrance that morphs and blossoms, you may find yourself drawn to perfume oils.
Because of this unique blooming and morphing effect, you’ll probably find it interesting to keep checking in with your fragrance as it drys down and goes through its changes. In a well-blended perfume oil, you will be able to detect an array of notes rising and falling as it dries down, with some notes appearing more perceptible and tenacious than others. Most perfume oils reach their crescendo after about 30 minutes, at which point they settle down into their final form.
In most oil-based perfume, the top notes burn off more quickly than they do in Eau de parfum, Eau de toilette, or other alcohol-based fragrance formats. The carrier oil base tends to give the aromatics within a storied and blossoming effect, like petals of a flower slowly opening up to reveal the layers beneath. In this process, the top notes tend to bloom and settle down more quickly than in an alcohol-based fragrance, which favors more sustainability to the top notes. Perfume oils also age differently, veering off more into the depths of the base and middle notes with time.
Perfume oil also differs from alcohol-based fragrances in the areas of sillage and longevity. Oils wear much closer to the skin and hover closer to the body. Compared to an alcohol-based perfume, their unobtrusive nature can make them preferable for those who favor a more intimate perfume that won’t infringe on the personal space of others. For a perfume with a more dramatic presence that announces its arrival with heightened aplomb, you will want to opt for an alcohol-based perfume. If you find mystery and magic that lingers within your aura more appealing, opt for perfume oil instead.
Perfume oil longevity is often shorter than alcohol-based fragrances, but this is not set in stone and will vary based on the composition of the particular perfume. Perfume oils with a lighter overall scent profile (think: fruit, citrus, candy, more delicate greens) will have less longevity than a resin-heavy blend, for example. If a perfume oil is displaying lower longevity than you prefer, it can be reapplied throughout the day every five hours or so, or you can use other methods like layering to increase longevity.
Finally, the way that oil and alcohol carriers perform on the skin are very different. Oil-based perfumes are inherently moisturizing and can soften the skin in addition to their performance as a fragrance. Depending on the carrier choice, you will also reap the benefits of the specific carrier oil. For example, Black Baccara uses a fractionated coconut oil carrier. Fractionated coconut oil absorbs easily into the skin, has excellent moisturizing properties, an extremely long shelf life, and a nearly imperceptible scent profile, making it perfect for staging a creative fragrance in oil form. Ideally, a perfume oil will have a virtually odorless carrier that doesn’t interfere with the fragrance profile.
Choose a perfume format that best suits the occasion or your mood. You can also layer your oils and alcohol-based fragrances for the best of both worlds. Both oil and alcohol-based fragrances can dance together as a part of a well-rounded fragrance collection.