When I was a little girl my sister and I used to try and make perfume by crushing Grandma’s flowers in water and then dabbing it on ourselves. Did anyone else ever do that?
Of course, making perfumes and potions has been something people have doing for nearly as long as men and women have walked on this beautiful planet. Before essential oils were distilled and used to make perfumes, people would rub themselves in crushed up plant matter, bath in water with scented petals or even add leaves and flowers to fats and oils to anoint their bodies with. Humans have created perfumes and potions for all kinds of reasons not just to smell divine but to raise our spirits, harmonise our emotions and even in the hope of attracting love. I mean who hasn’t wondered if there really IS a Love Potion Number 9, right?
Why make your own perfume?
For me, it’s because I still want to smell breathtakingly beautiful, but without the phthalates and other nasty endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals that are in most commercially bought perfumes. As a matter of fact, these toxins aren’t only found in perfumes. They can also be found in makeup, soap, aftershave, nail polish, hairspray, cleaning products and pretty much any product that has the word “Fragrance” on the label. If you don’t believe me, check out this video called “What’s under your sink.”
Where do I start when making my own perfume?
Firstly, you begin by choosing which essential oils you will use to scent your perfume. Essential oils each have unique characteristics that have the ability to affect us on many levels, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Furthermore, the effectiveness and even the aroma of essential oils may be enhanced when blended with other essential oils in a particular order. Each essential oil contains different molecules, both large and small. Each molecule within an essential oil has its own role in creating a harmonious perfume. However, a good perfume blend will contain a mix of different molecules, called notes, which we will talk about more in a moment.
What is Aesthetic Blending?
This type of blending is used in the perfume industry and aims to create a pleasing fragrance. The blender chooses essential oils that smell nice together, based on how well they harmonise and complement each other. This type of blending was categorised in the 19th Century by a Frenchman named S. Piesse who likened the evaporation rate of an essential oil to the concept of scales in music, with top, middle and base notes. Accordingly, he believed that a balanced blend would have top, middle and base notes.
The lighter, smaller molecules in essential oils are more aromatic, but their fragrance is short lived. For example, if you were to apply orange essential oil to the skin then it would smell sweet but the aroma would be gone in an hour or so. Therefore, teaming these with the larger, heavier molecules that are less aromatic but have a longer biological half-life, extends the fragrance and their beneficial action lasts longer too.
Interestingly, the molecules which make up the top, middle and base notes evaporate at different rates, so we can smell the different parts over time. I certainly notice this when I apply a blend in the morning. At first, I can smell the citrusy, floral scents, but by the end of the day I am left with the woody, earthy ones of the base notes.
Which essential oils are which note?
Not everyone agrees on which oils fall into which category and you will come across books which put the same essential oils into different categories. This reflects the individuality inherent in essential oils and in practitioners. So some essential oils may act as a top note when blended with other essential oils, but in other blends they act as the middle note. While some may even extend across top, middle and base notes. Examples of this are Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Rose and Neroli.
Top Note Essential Oils – Soprano
These are the essential oils made up of smaller, lighter molecules which evaporate into the air quickly, usually within 24 hours. They are the first note which you smell in a blend and don’t last long. Top notes have a sharp, fresh, light quality. They’re obtained from flowers, leaves and fruits. Top notes usually make up about 30% of the perfume.
Examples of top note essential oils include:
Middle Note Essential Oils – Alto and Tenor
Middle Notes are the essential oils made up of medium size molecules which evaporate at a moderate pace, usually within 2-3 days. Generally, these essential oils are obtained from flowers, herbs and leaves. Middle Notes are the key to any blend, making up the majority (50-60%) of it. Examples of Middle note essential oils include:
Base Note Essential Oils – Bass
These are the largest, heaviest molecules and the slowest to evaporate into the air. They can last up to one week. Some base notes may not be detected when the bottle is first opened and can take up to a few minutes to smell, for example Sandalwood. When you smell it from the bottle it can be quite faint, but then when applied to the skin it reacts strongly and the scent can linger for hours.
Base notes fix the fragrance of the other oils in the blend, causing them to evaporate slower, not to mention making the blend last longer. They have a rich, heavy and pleasant scent. Base notes are mostly obtained from woods and resins. They usually make up 5-15% of the blend. Examples of base note essential oils include:
Then there are also what we call fixative and bridging notes, but this is probably more for the seasoned perfumer. I cover these in my Perfume and Potions Ebook. The ebook also gives you ten gorgeous recipes so you can create timeless, elegant and breathtaking perfumes yourself.
Crafting your own perfect perfume
The way to create a perfect perfume is to blend the essential oils together first and then to leave them to develop for up to 4 days. Next, add these to the alcohol (I talk about which alcohol to choose in my Perfume and Potions ebook). Then wait another 2 days before adding a splash of distilled water. Because if you add the distilled water too soon or too much distilled water your perfume may go cloudy.
A few recipes for you to try
Sweet Summer Rose
30ml glass bottle (best of all you can get a beautiful glass perfume bottle for free this month with any Essential Rewards Order over 250pv).
10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
1 tsp clear Mexican vanilla
1/4 tsp Gold Mica Powder (optional if you want it to shimmer)
Then top up with alcohol and a splash of distilled water.