Nowadays the choice of perfumes is complicated not by their scarcity but by the huge price range. In this variety, everyone will find something decent and affordable for themselves. But some people like to be special, to show their individuality with truly unique fragrances. This can be done by purchasing perfumes from luxury brands with impressive price tags. Or you can make perfumes based on essential oils with your own hands.
Some people opt for homemade perfumes due to an intolerance to ready-made (synthetic) products. Besides, creating aromatic compositions is quite fascinating.
You have to understand that this is a special niche. These aromatic compositions differ from the usual perfumery, which feels more airy, bright, and lasting. Industrial perfumes consist mostly of synthetic components responsible for recognizable notes. Essential oils offer quite a different fragrance that comes from a complex of different constituents. They might even seem unfamiliar on the first encounter. They don’t hit your sense of smell as hard and are less lasting. But they are more natural for your body, safer (if used correctly), and have a mentally and physically balancing effect.
The benefits of essential oil-based perfume are obvious:
- They are unique; you can create any scent to your taste.
- They consist entirely of natural ingredients.
- With the right combination of essential oils, they benefit your body.
The basics of natural perfumery
To begin the process of creating the perfect fragrance, you need to know the basics. This will help you not to make mistakes when making perfume for the first time, as well as refresh your memory and provide new and useful information if you have some experience.
Safety precautions for working with essential oils
As in any craft-related project, safety precautions should not be neglected. After all, working with essential oils should involve a lot of care and knowledge. Here are the basic rules you must follow when preparing perfumes at home.
- When selecting fragrance oils for perfume, make sure that you are not allergic to any of the individual components. To do this, you’ll need to dilute the essential oils in base oil (for example, jojoba) or 96% alcohol in the ratio of 1:10, that is 1 drop of oil per 10 drops of solvent. A drop of the resulting mixture should be applied to the inside of your elbow or forearm. Watch the skin reaction during the day. If there’s no discomfort, redness, rash, or swelling, you can use this oil.
- Don’t apply undiluted essential oils to your skin.
- Try not to apply oil blends on clothes, as some oils can stain.
- To create your perfume, choose morning hours.
- The process should last no more than 45 minutes. If you can’t finish in that time, take a break and ventilate the room. Better yet, create your perfume in stages: first collect the base, another day the heart, and only then the top.
- The room where you work should have proper ventilation.
- Cleanse your sense of smell during the process. A sip of warm water or green tea is excellent for this purpose. Don’t use coffee.
- Stopper the containers tightly. Be sure to keep citrus and pine oils in the refrigerator. Others are okay to keep in a dark cool place.
- Don’t apply phototoxic oils to the skin in sunny weather to avoid burns (bitter or red orange, lemon, mandarin, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, carrot seeds).
- Apply natural perfume no more than twice a day to avoid unwanted reactions (overexposure, irritation).
Tools for creating perfumes at home
Now that you are familiar with the list of basic rules for working with essential oils, you can start preparing your workplace. The tool kit is quite small, so it won’t make you break the bank.
- Be sure to have dark glass perfume containers to protect the fragrances from direct sunlight. You can purchase suitable atomizers and other containers online or in local stores.
- Roll-on containers are handy for liquid oil-based perfumes.
- For small volumes, you can use 2 ml glass vials with a plastic cap. Compact size allows you to take them with you on a trip.
- A small container for alcohol to rinse the pipettes.
- A set of measuring cups for oils and other liquids.
- Plastic measuring Pasteur pipettes. A separate pipette should be used for each oil or you can use just one but in this case, you’ll need to rinse it with alcohol after each use.
- A glass wand. It’s very handy for mixing perfume compositions.
- A bottle brush cleaner.
- A mortar and pestle for grinding ingredients and making homemade fragrant tinctures.
- Paper towels. Use them to wipe off spills as well as to test your perfumes. To do this, drop your composition in the center of a napkin, fold it and leave it for 5-10 minutes. After that, you can smell it and decide whether it’s the scent you wanted.
- Paper blotters or watercolor paper to test different fragrances before creating a single composition.
- Precision scales. You’ll need these when creating solid perfumes.
- Use a pen and a notebook for writing down recipes for your perfumes. They would be great to use if/when you want to make the same fragrance again.
The basic set of essential oils for making perfumes
So how do you choose the right essential oils as perfume from an endless list? First of all, you need to decide what kind of perfume you’d like: playful, oriental, light, spring, invigorating, sensual, bold, evening, and so on. Based on this, you’ll be able to line up your combination of oils. You can also read the characteristics of your favorite perfume and find out what notes are present in it. This will help you navigate through the olfactory groups and choose something close to the fragrance.
Olfactory groups of essential oils
- Flowers: jasmine, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, lavender, neroli.
- Wood and bark: cedar, juniper, rosewood, sandalwood.
- Roots: vetiver, ginger, nard.
- Pine: fir, pine, spruce.
- Citrus: orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin.
- Herbs and leaves: patchouli, palmarosa, clary sage, petitgrain, verbena.
- Seeds and fruits: cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, lithium, clove, anise.
- Resins: frankincense, myrrh.
You’ve probably noticed that perfumes smell differently an hour and a few hours after application. This factor depends on the evaporation rate of the perfume components. This is the reason why you should take it into account when creating your ideal perfume composition.
According to the rate of evaporation, or volatility, the components of the perfume can be divided into three groups. However, the assignment of an essence to one or another group is relative and might be based on personal perception.
Top notes. These evaporate within 15-30 minutes. They are the ones that are felt immediately after the application of the perfume and create the first impression.
Examples: lemon, orange, bergamot, lemon and peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, spruce, pine, grapefruit, lavender, lime, mandarin, lime, neroli, hyssop, tea tree, coriander.
Middle notes (heart notes). They last for up to 2 hours. They are the most important ones in the composition. Therefore, it’s best to start with the middle notes.
Examples: citronella, lemongrass, verbena, chamomile, rosewood, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, juniper, cinnamon, clove, fennel, nutmeg, rose, rosemary, thyme, hyssop, ylang-ylang, cardamom, black pepper, lavender, marjoram, myrtle, cypress, iris.
Base notes. The fragrance of the base notes is the most persistent and lasts for many hours, up to a day, and sometimes more. They create the trail.
Examples: ginger, cedar, frankincense, myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, Peruvian balsam, ylang-ylang, clary sage, jasmine.
The same oil can belong to two or three notes at once. This is why the order in which essential oils are blended is important. By changing this order, you can get completely different fragrances.
Base products for essential oil perfumes
Essential oils are never the only base for perfumes. After all, they are volatile substances that dissolve well in alcohol. Many people, however, prefer not to use alcohol-based fragrances. Different kinds of bases like oil or wax make perfumes safe and to some extent, more lasting.
A non-alcohol base for a perfumery composition can be:
Oil. Jojoba oil or refined almond oil can be used as a base. Another option is a natural emollient that leaves a less greasy feeling on the skin.
Wax. It consists of an oil base and vegetable or beeswax in the proportion 2:1. The wax foundation can also include solid base oils: shea, coconut, cocoa, mango.
7 steps to make essential oil perfume
After you’ve familiarized yourself with the safety precautions, prepared your workplace, and learned about the composition of perfumes, you can get to work.
Here’s how you can make your own fragrance at home.
- Determine the nature of the fragrance of your future perfume: floral, oriental, spicy, sweet, invigorating, and so on.
- Apply a drop of each of the essential oils you picked to paper blotters or strips of watercolor paper. Hold them up no closer than 3 cm from your nose and identify your favorite scent. It’s best to choose the heart notes first and then the top and base notes. Or start with the base. There can be more than one essential oil for each note, so feel free to experiment! If you’re making perfume for the first time, try mixing 2-4 oils first.
- Use a pipette to mix a few drops of essential oils in a 2:1:3 ratio, where 2 is for the middle notes, 1 for the top notes, and 3 for the base notes. Note that you can mix the essential oils in any order, and depending on this, you’ll end up with completely different aromas.
- Roll the bottle between the palms of your hands to mix the ingredients. Inhale or use a cotton pad. Smell again after an hour or two and then the next day to get a feel for the composition. If necessary, the composition can be supplemented: try a drop of the finished mixture on one blotter, and the supplement on the other. Smell both blotters at the same time.
- Add a base for the perfume composition to the finished oil blend. The ratio of the aromatic blend to the base should be 1:4.
- Pour the resulting perfume into a glass container. Leave to infuse in a dark cool place for 2-4 weeks: oil-based fragrances just need 1-2 weeks and solid perfumes are ready to use as soon as they’ve set. At the same time, don’t forget: liquid perfumes should be stirred or shaken every day. The long infusion helps to mellow out the smell of the base and increases the intensity of the fragrance. Just for fun, leave it for a few months and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
- If the smell is too strong, add a couple of drops of glycerin to the composition. It will help to soften the fragrance.
Simple recipes for essential oils perfumes
Start with simple, basic blends. This will help you get a feel for how they work.
- 10 drops lavender
- 5 drops Roman chamomile
- 4 drops cardamom
- 1 drop cedar satin
- 1 drop geranium bourbon
- 3 drops black spruce
- 2 drops frankincense
- 1 drop juniper berry
- 13 drops peppermint or wild mint
- 13 drops rosemary cineole
- 5 drops lemon
- 5 drops sage
- 5 drops juniper berries
- 4 drops black spruce
- 2 drops pine needles
- 2 drops Atlas cedar
- 1 drop vetiver
- 1 drop bergamot