I’d recently went to one of the vegan markets near where I live with a friend of mine (she was on a mission to find fresh raspberries before they went out of season 😂), and while we were there I started chatting with one of the ladies who had a stall set up, she was selling her own homemade perfume. I asked her about what she used and what got her into making perfume in the first place, and she shared with me how in the past, she had used conventional perfumes and fragrances (as most of us have done), but she’d started to get very sick. Eventually, she nailed it down to the specific toxins and chemicals used in the perfumes she was buying, and so started creating her own. Ever since then she’s noticed considerable improvements in her health.
This inspired me to go about making my own too as I didn’t want to put all these awful chemicals into my body (as your skin can absorb them when sprayed on, and you can also breathe the toxins in from the perfume in the air), and I also wanted a cheaper option that I could customise to my liking! A fascinating fact about scent is it’s intimately tied to memory, making it one of our strongest senses for bringing up memories. Whenever I smell a musty aroma, it reminds me strongly of my Grandparents house, or the smell of rain on pavement reminds of the days when I was a kid running and splashing around in puddles, dressed in my raincoat and gumboots. Good times 😉
One of the reasons I was looking for perfume in the first place was I wanted something that would help me to smell nice aaaaaaall day long, not just for the morning. As usually, the case with me was I’d spray a beautiful perfume on in the morning (and I’d be smelling fabulous for that time period), however by the time it came afternoon, it’d have worn off. This was quite unfortunate for me as by the afternoon I’d be needing it most because instead of smelling like flowers, I’d be that smell people scrunch their noses up at cause I’d have sweated it out all day (particularly in the summertime being outside and all). Nuff said.
Is Perfume Toxic?
Many conventional perfumes contain a lot of chemicals that do not have to be listed on the label. So there are many toxic chemicals in these perfumes that we’re unaware of.
Essential oils like jasmine, neroli, patchouli, rose, sandalwood and ylang ylang, have long been used when making perfume. However, essential oils are quite pricey and some perfume-makers prefer to use cheap copycat synthetic scents instead.
As I’ve been making many of my beauty and personal care products myself, I felt certain I could make my own perfume too. And I was determined to use essential oils as a more natural fragrance option, and also for its aromatherapy benefits!
How to Make Your Own Perfume
Most perfumes are a mixture of scented oils in an alcohol or carrier oil base. Perfume is made up of three different parts; base fragrances, mid-tones, and top notes. When you smell a perfume, often the first thing you’ll detect are the top notes, then the mid tones, followed by the base notes.
When making perfume, you select and add them in order from base to top notes.
To give a quick overview of what they are:
- Top notes – This is where your first impression of the fragrance will tend to come from. They’re typically the lightest of all notes, and fade the quickest. These scents can include citrus, herbs, light fruits such as berries, cinnamon, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, orange, neroli, and peppermint.
- Middle notes – This is the “heart of your perfume”, and you’ll often smell them once your top notes evaporate. These tend to last longer and have a powerful influence on the following base notes. These scents can include lavender, geranium, rose, lemongrass, cardamom, fennel, pine, chamomile, juniper, and marjoram.
- Base notes – These are the final aromas that appear once both other notes have completely evaporated. These blend with the mid tones to create the entirety of your scent. These scents are often quite rich and will last for hours. Some good choices include vanilla, musk, cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver, ylang ylang, sandalwood, frankincense, jasmine, and myrrh.
The alcohol used also changes the composition of the oils, so as the different fragrances meld, they change quite drastically.
This is one of the recipes I use below, but the key is finding what works for you. Which scents you prefer, what aromas you love most, what goes well and what doesn’t. It’s all about experimenting and having fun with it! I recommend adding a few drops at a time of each one and then keep a note (either on your phone, computer, or in a journal) of how many drops of each you’ve added. Once you’ve discovered your favourite blend and written it down, you can easily make more of it.
Homemade Natural Perfume Recipe
These were the oils I used for each level of fragrance…
Alcohol/Carrier Oil Base:
- If I use alcohol as the base in my perfume recipe, I tend to go with vodka as it’s quite pure and there’s no smell to it.
- If I’m using a carrier oil as the base, I’ll often go with jojoba oil (but grapeseed or sweet almond oil work well too) as it’s quite close to the skin’s natural sebum (oil), and holds smells really well.
- Vanilla (2/3 tsp – use a vanilla extract with alcohol in it, or alternatively you can use a homemade version)
- Vetiver (4 drops)
- Frankincense (12 drops)
- Lavender (12 drops)
- Wild Orange (6 drops)
If you want to try many different oils, but are concerned about the expense they might bring, ask a friend who’s really into essential oils if you could borrow some of their’s, or get some tester samples from the store (as you really only need a bit of each).
Things to keep in mind when making your own perfume:
- Use a dark (not transparent or clear) bottle to keep perfume from going rancid over time or store in a cool, dry place that isn’t exposed to sunlight
- Make sure your lid is firmly attached to prevent oxidation
- The purer the alcohol for the base the better
- Test a little of the essential oils on your skin first to ensure no reaction
- Mix the ingredients together in a glass bowl/container to avoid metal or plastic interfering with the smells
- Add base oils first, then the mid notes followed by the high notes
- Bottle and leave for a month to let the scents meld together before using.
- 4 drops vetiver
- 12 drops frankincense
- 2/3 tsp vanilla extract (homemade or one with alcohol base)
- 12 drops lavender
- 6 drops wild orange
- 30 ml of alcohol to preserve and meld scents (I used pure vodka)
- Mix all the oils together (from base to top notes) in a glass container to get the scent you like. Let this mixture stay in the bottle alone for a few days to let scents meld together.
- Add the alcohol and cap tightly (ensure it is airtight).
- Shake to combine and store in a cool, dry, dark place for at least a month (preferable). This is optional but helps the alcohol scent fade and the scents of the oils to intensify.
- Shake a little before use.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products.
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What are your favourite scents? Do you have any memories that are conjured up by smells?
Wells, Katie. (January 23, 2019). DIY Herbal Perfume Recipe. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/26194/diy-perfume/
Gale, Ela. (November 24, 2015). Homemade Natural Perfume Recipe – free of nasty chemicals. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvGlsSKaL6w
Gerber, Stephanie. (September 27, 2017). How To Make Your Own Perfume With Essential Oils (+ 5 Recipe Blends). Hello Glow. Retrieved from https://helloglow.co/essential-oil-perfume/