As we all know, choosing the right perfume is tricky. With an ever-increasing range of scents to pick from, many of those purchasing their first scent or looking for a new perfume can find the process overwhelming.

One of the first choices to make when choosing a scent is between alcohol-based and oil-based perfumes. We want to help you make the choice that’s perfect for you, so we’re taking a close look at the pros and cons of each.

Oil-Based Perfumes

Advocates for oil-based fragrances say that oil-based scents are better because they are natural. Fragrance oils are indeed pure natural oils, and if you make it a rule only to purchase all-natural products, the choice should be a pretty easy one for you.

Oil-based fragrances also tend to last a little longer than alcohol-based perfumes. Alcohol is a volatile substance, meaning it evaporates quickly. Natural oils don’t break down as quickly, so they linger longer. This doesn’t mean the scent will last all day, but there’s not as sudden a potency drop-off as there is with alcohol.

Oil-based perfumes boast a highly desirable secondary benefit. Not only do you smell great, you also feel great. Essential oils make great moisturizers. As it evaporates, alcohol takes moisture with it, causing dryness and, for some, irritation.

Finally, oil-based perfumes tend to cost more than alcohol-based scents. To produce that wonderful smell, perfumers have to use the purest oils (and more of them). For oil-based adherents, though, it’s definitely worth the extra cost.

Alcohol-Based Perfumes

Though they can’t claim to be all-natural or organic, alcohol-based perfumes are every bit as great-smelling as their oil-based counterparts. The vast variety of alcohol-based perfumes means that choosy consumers have a wider range of options than they do with oil-based fragrances. No matter what your preference or mood, there’s an alcohol-based perfume to match.

Alcohol does dry out the skin, but perfumes are only one part of a beauty regimen. Most people already use moisturizers, and it’s easy enough to ensure that you’re moisturizing the areas where you apply your perfume.

Alcohol evaporates, diffusing scent into the air when it does so. This means that a little bit goes a long way. Oil-based perfumes generally have to be applied more liberally to get a similar effect.

Finally, alcohol-based perfumes are flammable, but, as long as you’re not applying or storing your perfumes around an open flame, the risk is negligible at most.

Oil-Based vs Alcohol-Based Perfumes: Which is Better?

In the end, it comes down to which of the pros and cons discussed above carry the most weight. If variety is all-important, alcohol-based perfumes will be your best bet. If you strongly prefer-all natural, organic products, you’ll probably gravitate towards oil-based scents.

Here’s a handy summary of the pros for each:

Oil-based perfumes:

  • Great for those who are allergic to certain chemicals who still want to wear fragrance
  • Less harsh
  • Nourish, moisturize, and smooth skin
  • All-natural
  • Non-flammable

Alcohol-based perfumes

  • Broader variety
  • Easier to locate (available almost everywhere)
  • Most instantly recognizable brand-name scents are alcohol-based
  • Easier to apply
  • Less expensive

If you’ve always used alcohol-based perfumes, we recommend you try an oil-based one (and vice versa). The new scent might surprise you. Both alcohol- and oil-based perfumes smell great, but both also have their draw cards and their drawbacks.

In the battle between the two, there’s no clear victor. As with all things perfume-related, it comes down to a matter of preference and priorities.