A client asked me the other day about the difference between alcohol-based fragrance and oil-based fragrance so I thought I would write a quick post to explain:

Alcohol-based perfume

Alcohol, as a carrier, creates a fine veil mist due to its wide vapor dispersement when sprayed. This allows you to step inside the scent and become enveloped within it. As a result, an alcohol-based perfume offers a very quick and fully dimensional idea of what a perfume smells like.  If there’s one drawback to using alcohol as a carrier, it’s that it can be mildly drying to the skin.

Oil-based perfume 

When oil is used as a carrier for the fragrance formulation instead of alcohol, the bottle often comes with a dabber or as a roll-on because oil is too thick of a substance to use in an atomizer.  

Oil-based perfumes will be more of an intimate experience with a fragrance, as it responds to the warmth of your skin and your body heat.  So instead of creating a cloud of fragrance to step into, the body becomes the warming vessel and diffuser.  Oil-based perfumes are also hydrating and retain the skin’s moisture, which in turn extends the longevity of the fragrance, compared to an alcohol-based perfume.

One of the common tips for how to make an (alcohol-based) perfume last, is to first massage unscented lotion to your skin before applying the perfume.

Which Should You Choose?

Whether you choose an alcohol-based fragrance or an oil-based fragrance is entirely a matter of preference, as each delivers the perfume uniquely upon application. If you enjoy spritzing a fine mist of your favorite fragrance that settles over you like a soothing cloud, then choose an alcohol-based perfume. If you prefer to dab an oil-based perfume over pulse points and enjoy how it emanates subtly from your skin, then choose an oil-based perfume.