Did you know that the world’s first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Etruscan, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia? She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times. source
This got me thinking… if Etruscan could do it back then, I can do it now — and so can you! So, I decided to search my archives for the best Do It Yourself perfume-making recipe. I love this specific one because it explains all about notes (top, base and middle) and gives examples of essential oil scents you should use for each note.
Also, check out the article I wrote with perfume expert, nose of Coty and co-founder of olfactive branding company 12.29, Dawn Goldworm, who dishes on the top 10 tips for how to pick the scent that’s right for you. Click HERE to have a read at Interview Magazine.
Now, onto the DIY fragrance fun:
Perfume consists of a mixture of essential oils in a base oil, together with alcohol and water.
1/2 ounce jojoba oil [compare prices] or sweet almond oil [compare prices] 2-1/2 ounces ethanol (e.g., vodka)
2 tablespoons spring water or distilled water (not tap water)
dark-colored glass bottle
25 drops essential oils (buy them at a health store or online [compare prices] or distill your own)
7 drops base note essential oils
7 drops middle note essential oils
6-7 drops top note essential oils
couple of drops of bridge notes (optional)
The essential oils that you use form the basis of your perfume. These essential oils are called the ‘notes’ of the perfume. The base notes are the part of the perfume that lasts the longest on your skin. The middle notes evaporate a little more quicky. The top notes are the most volatile and disperse first. Bridge notes have intermediate evaporation rates and serve to tie a scent together. Sometimes other substances are added to a perfume, such as sea salt (ocean scent), black pepper (spicy), camphor, and vetiver. Since the essential oils evaporate at different rates, the way a perfume smells changes over time as you wear it. Here are some examples of common base, middle, top, and bridge notes.
base notes: cedarwood, cinnamon, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, moss, lichen, fern
middle notes: clove, geranium, lemongrass, neroli, nutmeg, ylang-ylang
top notes: bergamot, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lime, neroli, orchid, rose
bridge: vanilla, lavender
The order in which you mix your ingredients is important, since it will affect the scent. If you change the procedure, record what you did in case you want to do it again.
Create Your Perfume
Add the jojoba oil or sweet almond oil to the bottle.
Add the essential oils in the following order: the base notes, followed by the middle notes, then finally the top notes. Add a couple of drops of bridge notes, if desired.
Add 2-1/2 ounces of alcohol.
Shake the bottle for a couple of minutes then let it sit for 48 hours to 6 weeks. The scent will change over time, becoming strongest around 6 weeks.
When the scent is where you want it to be, add 2 tablespoons of spring water to the perfume. Shake the bottle to mix the perfume, then filter it through a coffee filter and pour it into its final bottle. Ideally, this will be a dark bottle with minimal airspace, since light and exposure to air degrade many essential oils.
You can pour a little perfume into a decorative bottle, but in general, store your perfume in a dark sealed bottle, away from heat and light.
Label your creation. It’s a good idea to record how you made the perfume, in case you want to duplicate it.
It takes experimentation to get the scent you want, but you can get started in the right direction by keeping in mind the type of scent associated with essential oils:
earthy: patchouli, vetiver
floral: geranium, jasmine, neroli, rose, violet, ylang-ylang
fruity: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, orange
herbal: angelica, basil, chamomile, clary sage, lavender, peppermint, rosemary
sea: sea salt
spicy: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger, juniper, nutmeg
woodsy: cassia, cedar, cypress, pine, sandalwood
If the perfume is too strong, you can dilute it with more water. If you want your perfume to retain its scent longer, add a tablespoon of glycerin to the perfume mixture.