Perfume is such a personal thing. This is why we decided to put you in control of this DIY to create your own perfect scent. With a wealth of essential oils available, you could create a perfume for every occasion at a fraction of the cost. No more standing at the counter and sniffing endless samples. Once you’ve got the hang of it, this is simply a case of combining fragrances that you enjoy.
However, we know that it can be daunting at first. So, we thought we would give you a little bit of guidance regarding the base, middle and top notes, as well as the various base ingredients you can use.
Perfumer’s Alcohol (denatured alcohol)
Denatured alcohol is alcohol that has had poison added to it to prevent it from being consumed. This is done to protect tax revenue, despite the poisons often being carcinogenic or toxic to internal organs. The majority of the world’s perfumes are made with this ingredient, as it’s cheap and avoids alcohol taxation. So, when you enter the perfume area of a department store you are often breathing in toxic chemicals – then spraying these same chemicals onto your body. What better excuse is there to start making your own natural perfumes?
You can buy your own alcohol from a shop, which avoids having to add a denaturant since you’ve already paid the tax. The downside of this is that it increases the price of your project and the alcohol will add its own smell. The higher the alcohol content, the better it is at blending with fragrance – in the USA you can buy Everclear, or in Europe, a high strength Russian vodka is usually used.
A silicone oil like Cyclomethicone 5 works as a base ingredient – it’s used by some aerosol brands. It blends essential oils well and evaporates quickly. It is a clear liquid and makes a great substitute, although it feels very different to a usual perfume – it makes skin slick and can also stain clothing. It has some downsides, but if you’re keen on making perfume it’s still worth trying out to see what you think.
Oil and water don’t mix, so you can’t make a water-based perfume with essential oils. The easiest solution to this is to simply use oil as your base ingredient. Oil-based perfumes are 100% natural and Middle Eastern countries have been using them for years. They have some of the best perfumes in the world, but Western countries are still yet to catch on – partly because consumers simply aren’t used to seeing them in the front of department stores. Using grapeseed oil as a base will allow you to blend any essential oils and create a totally natural perfume.
The longevity of your perfume will be based on the essential oils you use. Scents, in the perfume world, as referred to as base notes, middle notes and top notes. A base note has the longest-lasting scent, while a top note has the shortest. All perfumes use a base note – patchouli and lavender are good examples – which you can then blend with top notes and middle notes to create your perfume.
To make an oil-based perfume:
The strength of your perfume will largely depend on personal preference – it’s a good idea to start with a blend and increase the ratio as you go until you reach your desired strength. As a guide, start with 5% essential oil, so 5ml of essential oil to 95ml of grapeseed oil.
Here are some good essential oil blends:
Example Men’s Perfume:
- 95 ml grapeseed oil
- 3ml cedarwood essential oil
- 2ml patchouli essential oil
- 1ml lavender essential oil
Example Women’s Perfume:
- 95ml grapeseed oil
- 3ml jasmine absolute oil
- 1ml petitgrain essential oil
- 1ml ylang ylang essential oil
- Pour the essential oils and carrier oil into your chosen bottle.
- Shake to combine, then leave your perfume for about a week to allow the scents to combine and develop.
- Enjoy making a variety of wonderful perfumes, whether for yourself or to give as gifts! Use within 12 months.
Helpful Hint: In the above blends the men’s perfume will have a stronger scent of patchouli, while ylang ylang will stand out in the women’s. Even though less of those oils are used, they have a more persistent scent than the others. The fun part of this hobby is working out which essential oils work well together, and how using different amounts changes the final outcome.
We hope you enjoy making a variety of wonderful perfumes, whether for yourself or to give as gifts.
Share your creations with us on Twitter or Facebook. If you want more recipes and ideas like this, then you can find them in our book Bright and Beautiful – Making Your Own Natural Cosmetics, available here.