I’ve been fascinated by perfume since I was young. Scent is intimately tied to memory and I realized that my earliest memories were tied to particular scent: my great aunt’s hand lotion that I would smell when she sang me to sleep, the smell of medicine I had to take as a baby, tempera paint from crafts my mom used to do with us when I was two years old, and so many others.
When I was six, my friend and I decided we wanted to start our own perfume business and we proceeded to try and create perfumes from flowers, water and other things found in nature. We soon discovered that mixing live plants and water in a closed jar was a great way to create a smell… just not a good one!
Fast forward to high school, and I had to save and spend my own money to buy perfume and became acutely aware of the cost of smelling like a movie star. I had one bottle of perfume that lasted me six years because I hardly ever wore it.
Now, as a mom with babies and small children, I’m lucky if I have time to get a shower most days and I’m more concerned with making sure my beauty products are non-toxic than smelling like a particular perfume.
That being said, with the whole not-having-time-to-shower mom conundrum, there are days when a natural perfume would be nice. Many conventional perfumes contain over a dozen chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on the label.
Since I already make pretty much all of our beauty and personal care products, I felt sure I could make perfume too. I figured I’d make it with essential oils so it would not only smell good, but have aromatherapy benefits as well.
This led me into a rabbit hole of research on the perfume industry and how perfumes are created. The good news is that while the final product took a lot of patience on my part, it was well worth it and it is most definitely cheaper than store bought perfumes (especially because I seem to have a gift for liking the most expensive perfumes at any store without seeing the price tag).
How to Make Perfume
Most perfumes are a mixture of fragrance oils in an alcohol base. There are base fragrances, mid-tones and top notes. When you smell a perfume, the top notes are typically the first thing you smell, followed by mid and then base notes.
In making perfume, you select and add them in order from base to top.
Also, the alcohol changes the composition of the oils and as the flavors meld, they change drastically. I found that some mixtures I tried smelled amazing when I first mixed them but changed and I didn’t like them at all after two weeks. At the same time, some that I thought would be terrible reminded me of actual perfumes I loved after a few weeks.
I include my favorite recipe below, but the key is finding the oils and ratios that work for you. I recommend adding a few drops at a time of each one and keeping a journal of how many drops of each are added. Once you find your favorite blend and write it down, it is easy to duplicate.
These were the oils I used for each level of scent…
- Vanilla (I used 1 tsp of my homemade vanilla extract for this)
- Cederwood (3 drops)
- Vetiver (4 drops)
- Ylang Ylang (3 drops)
- Sandlewood (4 drops)
- Frankincense (8 drops)
- Rose (6 drops)
- Lavender (10 drops)
- Blue Chamomile (3 drops)
- Geranium (8 drops)
- Bergamot ( 5 drops)
- Wild Orange (3 drops)
- Neroli (5 drops)
This is the fragrance I finally settled on that worked best for me. I got all of the oils here, but if you don’t already have them on hand, maybe consider asking a friend who is into essential oils if you could pay her a few dollars for a couple of drops of each of these oils….
NOTE: I photographed the perfume in the pretty glass bottle for Pinterest sake, but I recommend making and storing homemade perfume in a less-expensive dark colored bottle like this one to help preserve the pure scents of the oils. Also, my perfume looks blue green from the three drops of blue chamomile oil I added.. you can omit this if you prefer a more neutral color perfume, though this has not ever stained even white clothing.
IMPORTANT: While you can use the perfume right away, I really recommend letting the flavors meld for at least a month before using. It is worth the wait, I promise!
Herbal Perfume Ingredients:
- Approximately 12-20 drops total of Base Essential Oils like: Cedarwood, Vanilla, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Sandlewood, etc
- 1 tsp of [url:1]homemade vanilla extract (optional)
- 25-30 drops of middle tone oils like Rose, Lavender, Chamomile or Geranium
- 12-15 drops of top note oils like Bergamot, Wild Orange or Neroli
- 4 ounces of alcohol to preserve and meld scents- I used non-GMO spiced rum
What to do:
- Mix all oils together in an opaque bottle to get a scent you like. Let this mixture stay in the bottle alone for a few days to let scents meld.
- Add the alcohol and cap tightly.
- Shake and put in a cool, dark place for at least a month (preferable). This is optional but helps the alcohol scent fade and the scents of the oils intensify.
Ever made your own scents? How did it go?