Enjoy this guest post about DIY perfume from contributing author, Ashley Lipman!
If you look on the dressing table of any woman, you are likely to see a collection of perfumes. Whether fancy, crunchy, or anything in between, most women enjoy perfume. Then there are those of us who cannot even think of NOT wearing perfume. We are hardcore perfume junkies. We are the ladies who have perfume for everyday wear, perfume for going to the market or to run errands, and the “good” perfume. The good perfume is very expensive so you wear it sparingly. It is for weddings, major holidays, and going to a wonderful restaurant for your anniversary.
The perfume junkie
Until I became interested in the world of essential oils, I gave zero thought about what was actually in the heavenly scents I was putting on my body. Casual perfume wearers might be more careful. But a perfume junkie is likely to overlook what’s on the label to get the scent they want. Someone could hand you a sample vial of a great perfume with a warning, “this perfume has a base of sulfuric acid so do not put it directly on your neck.” And perfume junkies like us would reply: “But it won’t stain my clothes, right?”
The problem with that is that you might never actually really know what’s in a perfume, since so many synthetic fragrance blends are trade secrets, which are not required to be listed on the label. And because these blends could literally contain hundreds of individual synthetic chemicals, the ingredient list likely wouldn’t even fit on the box.
Why didn’t anyone tell me I could make my own perfume?
Yes, it is true. You can make your own perfume and customize the scent. It is a fraction of the cost, you can make how much you want anytime you want (so you never run out), and it is made with all-natural ingredients. Why didn’t they tell you? Frankly, they never told you because they want your money.
In this article, we will focus on the basics of how to make perfume, and what ingredients and supplies you need. But, keep in mind–natural perfumery is an art form in and of itself, so we encourage you to do your homework and practice, practice, practice! You will find tons of recipes that are wonderful online, and some that closely resemble popular brands. Start with these recipes, but do not be afraid to add a few drops of something different, so you customize your perfume, your way.
Tip: make notes of additions you added, and give your perfume a name. It will help you recreate it for yourself or someone you want to present with a charming gift.
What do you need to make DIY perfume?
While the images of perfumery shelves filled with essential oils, blends, absolutes, concretes, and artistic bottles may imply that you need a lot of ingredients and supplies to make DIY perfume, you can get started with just a few key items. In fact, I suggest starting with just a few essential oils until you get to know their aromatic profile, as you can always add more later as your perfumery skills get more seasoned.
You will need:
Bottles for your DIY perfume (these come in roll on, glass apothecary-style jars with droppers, fancy bottles with atomizers, etc)
A dropper or pipettes
Vials or small beakers
Alcohol (Grain alcohol is preferred) or jojoba oil for your base
At least 3 different high quality essential oils
Tip: Buy only quality essential oils that are pure and highly rated. This will keep your perfume smelling nice longer.
Essential oils for DIY perfume:
Base notes are the first type of essential oil you will need. These are usually heavier oils or resins, with earthy, woodsy, naturally muskier scents, and natural fixative properties. This is the foundation of your DIY perfume aromatically, and keeps it smelling great for longer, naturally, and after the top and medium notes fade, the base notes remain. Frankincense, benzoin, vanilla, and oak moss are examples of base notes.
Medium notesare essential oils that add body to your blend. Their aromas aren’t always individually detectable, though they add body to the others, and are very important for the cohesiveness of the entire blend. Medium notes are often herbaceous, floral, or earthy. Some popular choices are lavender, geranium, or elemi.
Top notes are the first you’ll smell, but they are also the first to fade. These are often fruity or minty, the most common ones being your citrus, spicy, and minty aromas. Some common top notes are thyme, grapefruit, petitgrain, andpeppermint essential oil.
Making your DIY perfume mixture
Note: use a vial or small beaker and your dropper or pipette
Start with 15 ml of jojoba oil or grain alcohol in your container
Add 10 drops of the base you chose.
Add 10 drops of your medium essential oil (note).
Add 10 drops of the top note.
Stir gently (you can use a stainless steel or glass stirrer), and bottle.
Using your DIY perfume
Your oil blends will last for a very long time in the bottle, as long as you store them properly. As soon as you have arrived at your perfect blend, bottle it and store it in a cool, dark environment. You can use it right away, but if you allow it to sit for two to four months it will allow the aromas to “marry,” which will bring out the mellow properties of all the ingredients. Shake well and apply wherever you normally apply your perfume. If you also make your own skincare products, you can use your own safe and natural DIY perfume to scent your products in place of toxic synthetic fragrance oils.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today, and by the time the holiday season rolls around, you’ll have some great DIY perfume gifts to give.
Have you ever made your own DIY perfume?
How did it come out? Have you had any DIY perfume fails that you were able to fix? Please share in the comments below!
About the author:
Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver quality content through various niches.
Aromatherapy. It’s such a lovely sounding word, isn’t it? The word itself evokes a kind of magic, similar to the word “alchemy.” The idea that one can become relaxed, stress-free, and healthier simply by inhaling pleasant-smelling essential oils is quite appealing–especially considering how unpleasant many conventional health therapies are.
Though I was first introduced to aromatherapy many years ago when I studied Horst Rechelbacher’s work, I didn’t start working with essential oils until years later when I started making my own skincare products. This was also about the same time that many of my health coach colleagues began to get involved with multi-level marketing (MLM) essential oil companies. I had a friend introduce me to a rep, and I’m not gonna lie–I drank the kool-aid and bought in hook, line, and sinker.
I started using essential oils for just about EVERYTHING, because I was told they were so pure and safe.
I ingested them in water and capsules because I was told it was safe. I used them “neat” (undiluted) because I was told it was safe. I didn’t seek outside information, because I was told that everything I needed to know was already available via the company’s website and partner websites.
Things were fine for awhile. I loved using my essential oils, and I loved using them especially in my skincare products. My skin loved them too. But then a few things went wrong. I tried treating a cold sore with an undiluted essential oil and ended up having a horrible reaction. I gave an undiluted blend to a friend with the usage instructions I’d been taught, and she ended up getting a severe migraine. Even though it was the “right” oil for her symptoms, it was the wrong oil for her. My own husband can’t be in the same room with me if I use one of the company’s popular blends, because he gets physically ill.
So I pulled back. I started going through research from brand-neutral resources and realized that I was WAY in over my head. I was also frustrated that the company I was with provided inadequate–and inaccurate–training and usage instructions. I ended my relationship with that company and became much more cautious and conservative with what I said–and wrote–about essential oils.
Essential oils are powerful substances.
Though essential oils come from plants, they do not have the same effect that an infusion or extract of the plant has on the body. They are far more concentrated and contain volatile compounds. The study of aromatherapy isn’t some weekend workshop either–it includes extensive information about the chemistry of the oils, and how they act with different people’s body chemistries. This crucial to understand when using oils for yourself or suggesting them for other people. They are natural, but essential oils deserve the same level of caution that one would give to pharmaceutical drugs.
I also began to study more about herbalism and plant conservation through organizations like United Plant Savers. Though the influx of herbal remedies is a good thing, it’s also a scary thing, because over-harvestation is a very real concern. Essential oils require extensive amounts of plant matter to create a tiny amount of oil. Using them undiluted and liberally is not only potentially unsafe (and completely unnecessary), it also puts certain plant species at risk for extinction.
I am not yet an aromatherapist.
It’s definitely on my bucket list, but until I have the time to complete the necessary education, I only take essential oil advice and guidance from registered clinical aromatherapists. In my course, Create Your Skincare, I’ve brought on Anna Doxie, a registered clinical aromatherapist. She oversees all aromatherapy-related content and so I can be sure that what I’m recommending in terms of how much essential oil to use is safe and accurate. I also recently had the opportunity to interview aromatherapist and organic skincare formulator, Andrea Ellsworth, of Andrea Ashley Co, to discuss this matter in detail. Part 1 of our interview was more about self-image and self-love, but in Part 2, Andrea offers must-know information about essential oils. Whether you’re brand new to aromatherapy or have been using oils for some time, this is excellent information.
Find out what what Andrea says about essential oils here:
Click HERE to subscribe to my podcast and download the audio of this interview, FREE on iTunes.
About Andrea Ellsworth:
Andrea Ellsworth has an educational background in advanced skincare, organic skincare science, and clinical aromatherapy. She has over 10 years experience in the holistic health and spa industry. Andrea has brought together her many passions to create Andrea Ashley Co, a holistic aromatherapy and custom skincare company.
Andrea prides herself on providing pure, quality essential oils. She creates truly custom, one-of-a-kind products based specifically on each of her clients’ individual needs.
Check out all of Andrea’s resources, online shop, book a 1-on-1 aromatherapy consultation with Andrea, and subscribe to her online magazine, Andrea Ashley, at www.andreaashley.ca. You can also connect with Andrea on Facebook and Instagram.
I am often asked for advice on what the best natural remedies and solutions are for a variety of needs including:
Skin issues like acne, rosacea, eczema
Ailments such as sore throats, ear infections, and common bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
Natural solutions for house and home
Melaleuca (commonly referred to as tea tree) essential oil is the most common solution I recommend. Many of the essential oils have inherent antimicrobial properties that make them effective for these many uses, but melaleuca has consistently shown positive results across the board.
Melaleuca is backed by scientific research.
Many of the highest quality essential oils have been studied in recent clinical trials. This research has demonstrated that melaleuca is highly beneficial in a vast array of uses. Studies have revealed that melaleuca (specifically Melaleuca alternifolia) have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, and insecticidal properties. This is one of the reasons it is so effective when used in homemade household cleaning products and insect repellants, acne products and regimens, and also to treat fungal conditions like hand warts, athlete’s foot and dandruff. In fact, one study even illustrated how melaleuca is as effective as benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne, without the irritant and potentially toxic side effects.
Here’s a great tip for parents: put a few drops of melaleuca essential oil into your child’s shampoo and conditioner (make sure your child keeps his or her eyes closed during shampooing and conditioning) to prevent the infestation of lice. I know no one likes to talk about lice, but let’s face it, if you have kids in school it is definitely something to try to avoid! I first found out about using melaleuca to treat and discourage lice infestation at our old preschool. If there was any suspicion of lice, the entire school was treated with melaleuca, which helped to prevent infestation. It worked like a charm.
Melaleuca is also very soothing because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This is also great for treating irritant and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and rosacea, as well as histamine-induced rashes and other forms of dermatitis. It’s also great for helping minor scrapes, cuts, and burns heal.
Other studies have identified more compelling benefits and properties of melaleuca, including its potential to inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma and other cancerous cells. Let’s be very clear that I am not saying that using melaleuca will cure cancer. However I think the research that has been published has shown enough promise that more studies should be conducted in this area.
Melaleuca as an internal supplement
Melaleuca is approved for oral use as a food additive or flavoring agent by the Food & Drug Administration.* However, I don’t recommend taking it internally as a dietary supplement or home remedy, because doing so can be toxic. Some protocols for systemic fungal infections, like Candida Albicans (which can cause yeast infections like oral and vaginal thrush in additions to other infections and inflammatory conditions), do recommend taking melaleuca internally in very small doses for a short period of time (not for children). However, this should not be done without the expertise and guidance of a registered aromatherapist or licensed healthcare practitioner who is well-educated about essential oils and their properties.
It is also very important to note that not all essential oils are equal, and not all are suitable for internal consumption. The FDA does not regulate essential oils in terms of purity and quality, or where/how the oils are sourced the same way certain other countries do (Australia does have a government agency that regulates essential oils for purity and quality). What this means is that any essential oil company can claim that their oils are “pure”, without having to provide evidence of those claims.
Additionally, melaleuca comes in several different species. Some have therapeutic benefits, others do not. Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia, is the species to which studies have linked the best results.
Topical and aromatic uses
Melaleuca is best used topically for most conditions, but is also very effective when inhaled. Undiluted melaleuca can cause skin irritation after prolonged topical use. I personally recommend diluting a few drops in some coconut oil (also has great soothing and antimicrobial properties) before applying it to the affected area.
Facial oils are all the rage now in the world of holistic skincare and green beauty. They got their start as a traditional herbal remedy. Herbalists have been using gorgeous plant-based oils to nourish, soothe, and protect the skin either in blends of different fixed...
I have a confession–and you might get a little bit mad at me after you read this: I absolutely CRINGE every time I see someone recommend coconut oil for skincare online. Especially when I see it recommended topically for someone with acne prone skin.
You see it everywhere too, don’t you? The majority of health and wellness websites and publications out there recommend coconut oil for a myriad of things–and I’m not talking about just as a baking substitution (I actually have a blog post about that myself!) or as a skincare ingredient. I’ve seen articles and heard from ‘experts’ that coconut oil can do everything from protect skin from the sun, fight fungal infections, help you lose weight, draw out toxins from your mouth through oil pulling, and even make gray hair grow back its original color. It’s really the most common panacea ingredient out there in the world of green beauty and wellness.
The truth? These results don’t happen for most people.
Of course it’s not black and white–it depends on the type of coconut oil you’re using, as well as your skin type.
Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to toss your jar of coconut oil in the trash–I still cook and bake with it often, and it does have many benefits. But I want to talk about what you can really expect to get from using coconut oil for skincare. Here’s the scoop.
Oily skin: beware!
If you have acne prone skin or are prone to clogged pores, coconut oil is not your skincare ingredient soulmate. Because of its large molecular size, it doesn’t get completely absorbed for many people with already oilier skin. When an emollient ingredient (whether a carrier oil, natural butter, wax, or petrochemical) sits on the surface of the skin without being absorbed, it forms what’s known as an occlusive barrier, which keeps your skin from breathing and may hinder other important skin functions. This may lead to breakouts for many people.
While studies that determine comedogenicity of a topical ingredient are largely outdated and based on animal experiments in simulated environments with unnatural levels of exposure, we do know that different oils work differently depending on a person’s individual skin and body chemistry. While many studies may point to antimicrobial and soothing effects of coconut oil in theory, they don’t translate to real results for many real people due to its slow absorption.
While there are numerous oils I prefer over coconut for oilier, or clog-prone skin, two that I’ve found to be student and client favorites are grapeseed and jojoba. These are easily absorbed by the skin, and are less likely to form an occlusive barrier. Grapeseed in particular works well for those prone to acne because it is high in linoleic acid, which has been shown to help with acne breakouts. I know it sounds too good to be true–an oil that moisturizes AND reduces breakouts. Jojoba is one of my personal favorites, and is known to be very similar to our skin’s own sebum (the oil produced by the skin’s oil–sebaceous–glands), thus it absorbs very readily. Jojoba oil is also far more shelf stable than fractionated coconut oil for topical skincare and aromatherapy preparations.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, using coconut oil for skincare still may not work for you.
Earlier I mentioned that some people use coconut for its drawing properties, as an oral cleansing ingredient. This drawing effect also happens on the skin, which may benefit some people, but if you’re someone with dry or sensitive skin, this may perpetuate dryness and even lead to irritation and scaliness.
Learn from the past: don’t overuse!
Tree nut allergies and sensitivities are becoming more common now due to overuse. They’re in just about everything! I think about phenomena like gluten intolerance, which affects such a large percentage of the population today. You could use the argument that the wheat today is different from the wheat 100 years ago due to the prevalence of glyphosate and other toxicants leading to increased body burden–however, gluten itself, in one form or another, is in just about every processed food as an inexpensive way for food manufacturers to meet protein requirements. We know that processed food consumption is higher than ever before in history, so I think it’s logical to say that too much is just too much.
The same thing is happening with nuts in general (the dairy-free trend is largely responsible for all the processed nut food products in our food supply now–even our “healthy” food supply). Our bodies aren’t used to this many nuts in the diet. If you think of the way of predecessors ate, nut trees were probably few and far between. They didn’t have orchards of them, and they certainly weren’t eating them 365 days a year. (I feel like there’s someone out there reading this who is doing the Whole30 diet and just hating me, because roasted almonds are probably the treat they’re looking forward to.)
Anyhow, many scientists agree that eating some nuts is healthy, and some nut oils and butters do benefit the skin topically. But because so many companies are now using coconut oil or coconut oil derivatives such as coco glucoside, decyl glucoside, caprylic acid, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sodium laureth sulfate, just to name a few–as an ingredient in their products (whether heavily processed or not), we all have to be careful not to overdo it. Coconuts are considered tree nuts, and are not always labeled as such, which may lead to severe irritant and allergic reactions either from the whole ingredient, or one of its derivatives.
Virgin vs. fractionated coconut oil for skincare
You may have been using coconut oil on your skin and getting great results. If that’s the case, you might not need to change a thing. But do make sure you’re using virgin coconut oil, which receives the smallest amount of processing.
Fractionated coconut oil undergoes heat, chemical processing, or pressing to yield a coconut oil that is liquid at room temperature (virgin coconut oil solidifies below 76 degrees F) and thus easier to incorporate into formulations. It may be further refined to remove impurities. One drawback to this is that through the fractionation process, you lose much of the lauric acid, which is key to coconut oil’s benefits such as its microbial properties.
Now I know fractionated coconut oil is more popular and user friendly as a carrier oil for skincare and to dilute essential oils, but trust me and get the good stuff–organic, cold pressed virgin coconut oil–if you’re going to use it at all!
Here’s a place where we have some good evidence for coconut oil’s effectiveness. As mentioned, lauric acid in coconut oil has antimicrobial properties. When I say antimicrobial, it essentially means anti-anything-small.
There’s one study that testified to coconut oil’s ability to reduce fungus–specifically strains of candida. The study measured its effectiveness against a few different strains of candida, which had varying levels of responsiveness. Overall, coconut oil was determined to be an effective anti-fungal agent. Still, check with your health provider, because not all fungi are the same!
Still hoping for coco-nutty miracles?
While coconut oil does show evidence of antimicrobial activity, and may work well as a moisturizer, let’s keep expectations in check. Expecting it to make your gray hair turn back to that color of blonde you achieved that summer you worked as a lifeguard is a little overly optimistic.
And we’re not even going to get into the sun protection thing here (but we can talk about it HERE), but don’t under any circumstances rely solely on coconut oil for sun protection.
It’s easy to get excited about natural ‘cures’ or ingredients that seem to just do everything. But remember that marketing money has turned wheatgrass into a something people order shots of, has turned acai into a magic berry, and has people sprinkling turmeric on their food and praying it will make them invincible.
It’s not that these foods aren’t healthy and magical in their own right, it’s just that they’re not the ONE THING that will fix everything. They have some compounds that bring benefits to the body, but they don’t work miracles, and overusing them can cause problems.
In skincare we see the same thing, the same touting of ingredients that are better than the rest.
So if you applied coconut oil this morning thinking it would make your cheeks rosy or your eyes brighter or your wrinkles completely disappear, I get it. And if it works for you, that’s great! But if you’re one of the many people (and I hear stories from people like this all the time) that bought a magical product containing coconut oil–even that special type of coconut oil that’s supposed to NOT clog pores (again, this is marketing, people) but you experienced a breakout, redness, or scaly, itchy rash–you’re not alone. And there’s nothing wrong with your skin. It just means that your skin (and perhaps your diet) needs something other than coconut oil to be healthy.
Want to learn more about using the right DIY ingredients for your skin?
If you want to learn how to use the right oils and other natural ingredients for your skin, you can check out my free online skincare class. I’m not here to crush coconut oil dreams, I just want people out there to know how to use oils to make their skin seriously glow. Click HERE to sign up!
Tell me your coconut oil story:
Is coconut oil your friend? Or are you one of the many who react to coconut oil in skincare? Please share in the comments!