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.
It’s no secret that I am obsessed with roses, I’ve written about my love for roses and using roses for skincare many times, and I also named rose as my favorite plant during my Herbal Skincare Summit talk. And I wasn’t alone, because MANY of the other Herbal Skincare Summit teachers and attendees also named rose as their favorite.
Today I’m not going to tell you why I like using roses for skincare in general because I wrote an Ingredient Spotlight about rose several years ago, which you can read HERE, though I will add that the petals absolutely do have soothing and astringent skin benefits, in addition to their signature aromatic and aromatherapeutic properties. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance also wrote a Carrier Oil Close-Up of rosehip seed oil which you can check out HERE.
Instead, I want to answer a question that many people have asked me over the years and emailed in about during the Herbal Skincare Summit–what’s the best way to use roses for skincare? I don’t think there’s really a “best” way to use roses for skincare, because they all have value–different extraction methods and solvents extract different properties from the plant; but I definitely wanted to tell you some of my favorites. Here we go!
My favorite ways to use roses for skincare:
Rose glycerite is a type of rose extract that uses glycerine as the solvent, rather than alcohol or something synthetic. Glycerine is a water soluble, natural byproduct of the soapmaking process in case you didn’t know. The glycerine is able to extract the water soluble properties of the rose petals and/or hips (depending on which parts you use in your glycerite), including rose’s cooling, soothing (rose is a natural anti-inflammatory), astringent properties, tannins, and B vitamins; and the majority of the vitamin C found in the hips. The glycerine is also able to capture the aroma of the rose petals, and is gentler than extracts made from stronger solvents. I use rose glycerite in the water phase of many of my lotion cleansers and creams, as part of the base to my gels, and also add it to some toners.
This is not the same as rose essential oil or rosehip oil–what this is is a carrier oil (I usually use jojoba for this) that has been infused with rose petals and rosehips for 4-6 weeks in the hot summer sun–or, if it’s winter, I use my Magical Butter (affiliate link) machine. Since this oil is not steam distilled and has not been cold pressed from the seeds, it will not have all of the essential fatty acids or antioxidant profile of rosehip seed oil (unless you use rosehip seed oil itself as the base). However the combination of the jojoba oil plus the gentle heat will gently extract any oil soluble properties from the rose parts, including its fatty oils, organic acids, flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants (carotenoid antioxidants are precursors to Vitamin A), and Vitamins D and E.
Rose and rosehips infusion.
There’s no simpler way to use roses for skincare than making a cup of tea! Making tea with rose petals and rosehips brings out the water soluble constituents of the rose similar to how rose glycerite does, with the addition of boiling water, which in some cases may bring out more properties, or conversely, may kill off others. Rose infusion is a versatile ingredient because you can take it internally to help build healthy skin from within–rose tea is known to deliver strong amounts of Vitamin C (especially if rose hips are used), and also help support healthy digestion which is crucial for healthy skin. Topically, though, rose tea is a lovely addition to any water phase, or may be used as a toner or to reconstitute a dry clay mask.
Rosewater or hydrosol.
The term “rosewater” is a fairly loose one. It can refer to a rose infusion, or a rose flower essence (rose petals soaked in spring water overnight under the full moon), or water that has been scented with rose essential oil, where the oil soluble components have been broken down into tiny droplets, which have been suspended into the water. It’s also possible that it’s a water that has been artificially scented with synthetic rose fragrance, or even with the natural phenyl ethyl alcohol derivative of rose petals, which is a known perfume fixative, though it’s naturally derived. Rose hydrosol, on the other hand, is one of the byproducts of the steam distillation process used to make rose essential oil. It retains rose’s beautiful aroma, and the water soluble benefits obtained from the distillation process, while the volatile compounds are what go into the essential oil. Rose hydrosol is an excellent way to get many of the benefits of rose essential oil, in a less concentrated and safer way. I use rosewater and rose hydrosol as toner, replacement for distilled water in my water phase for lotions and creams, as a cooling compress, and to reconstitute masks.
Rose C02 extract.
Supercritical C02 extraction is a newer way to extract phytochemicals and aromatic compounds from plants in a form that is concentrated like essential oils. It does not use heat, so it is able to extract some of the constituents that are normally harmed by the high heat needed for steam distillation, and the aroma is often closer to that of the actual plant. While it does not extract all of the same compounds as steam distillation, because of the lack of heat, it is a more sustainable way to obtain a concentrated oil soluble form of the plant, as it uses much less plant matter than is required for steam distillation. While rose C02 still should be diluted, it is often considered a safer topical application than steam distilled rose essential oil, and comes at a lower price. Unlike rose absolutes, waxes, and concretes, it contains no potentially harmful chemical solvent residues. I use rose C02 extract to add more natural rose scent to my herbal skincare products and soaps.
Want to learn how to make even more herbal preparations to use for skincare, and choose the right herbs for your skin specifically? I teach it in my Create Your Skincare online courses! Check them out HERE.
Rose is just one of the many amazing plants nature has provided to help us maintain healthy, clear, gorgeous skin. What’s your favorite way to use roses for skincare?
Please tell me in the comments below! And by the way, I offer a fabulous herbal skincare recipe that uses roses in different ways in the Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book, which you can get along with all the Herbal Skincare Summit videos, audios, and bonuses when you purchase the Herbal Skincare Summit Kit. Get yours HERE!
A good DIY facial mask is one of my most popular “do you have a good recipe for a ______?” requests. For a long time I wondered why. Masks aren’t typically part of a daily skincare regimen. I used to respond with “why do you want to make a mask? Why not a cleanser or toner?” The most typical response to that was something along the lines of “Oh I could never make something like that. Masks look simple.” And that’s true–you can make a good DIY mask out of just about anything you have in your kitchen, pantry, or garden. You might just need to add a few little extras like clay or seaweed powder, but even those are optional.
Simplicity is definitely one of the draws of the DIY facial mask.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that the reason people love masks so much goes beyond simplicity.
Daily skincare regimens typically consist of cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. They are most often rushed upon waking in the morning, and performed sleepily at night. They are seen as more of a necessity to keep skin in check, rather than something that’s actually pleasurable.
The facial mask is different. There’s nothing rushed about it, since it needs to sit on the surface of the skin for a period of time before being removed. You can’t just slather it on and then run out the door because well, it’s usually green, gray, brown, or opaque white. You apply the mask at a specific time of a skincare regimen–after the cleansing, toning and maybe exfoliating, and before the moisturizer–so there it does require more of a ritual than a typical daily routine. You’ve got to plan for it.
The facial mask moves skincare past the daily regimen and into a self-care ritual.
That’s why people ask for it–it’s a subtle request for more self-care and pampering in their lives. Not everyone can indulge in a spa treatment or other typical pampering excursion on a regular basis, but we all need and deserve pampering. A DIY facial mask is the perfect way to give yourself a treat, an opportunity to slow down for a bit and enjoy some nourishment, and enjoy the lovely glow that follows.
My favorite way to make a truly nourishing DIY facial mask is to start with a freshly blended green or fruit smoothie or juice, and add clay.
Here’s one of my favorite DIY smoothie facial mask recipes:
2 cups baby spinach (rich in A vitamins and essential fatty acids)
1 cup diced pineapple (contains bromelain–an enzyme that promotes gentle exfoliation)
1 kiwi (Rich in Vitamins C and E)
1 avocado (Naturally moisturizing with healthy fats, and rich with carotenoid antioxidants)
Juice from half a lemon (Vitamin C, citric acid)
1 cup of spring or filtered water (hydrating, also may contain minerals depending on the source)
1 tablespoon of mineral-rich Bentonite, Rhassoul, French green, or white kaolin clay (or a combination of clays–but use the kaolin if you have drier, or more sensitive skin)
Click HERE to read more about different clays and muds.
Add all ingredients into a high speed blender, except the clay. Set aside 2 tablespoons of smoothie in a small prep bowl, and pour the rest into a glass or mason jar.
Add your clay to the smoothie in the prep bowl, little by little, until you get an opaque, paste-like consistency.
Apply it to the entire face and neck, avoiding the eye area and lips
Leave it on for 15 minutes, and drink the remaining juice or smoothie while it sets
Remove gently with a soft cloth and warm water.
Tone, and apply moisturizer
I hope you try this smoothie facial mask recipe yourself!
Please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes.
Here’s a picture of me in my own DIY facial mask. I’d love to see yours! Post it on Instagram and tag me @rachaelpontillo 🙂
If you liked this recipe, click HERE for a similar one.
Also, if you want to learn how to up your mask (and other skincare product) making skills, check out my online course, Create Your Skincare!
I began receiving stone medicine when I was a child–although I had no idea that’s what was happening. Rocks, minerals, gems, crystals, stones…these gifts from Mother Earth became my earliest more-than-just-a-hobby passion back when I was about 10 years old. We had a geology unit in my 5th grade science class, and my teacher laid out stone specimens on our desks and we got to walk around and examine them, and I just fell in love. I loved them all–igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary rocks…fossils, amber, petrified wood…they all became my “friends,” and I remember spending afternoons at a local rock shop just oohing and aahing over their stones, and saving up my allowance to add pieces to my growing collection.
My childhood home had a glass display cabinet built into the wall at the base of the staircase, so whenever I’d come downstairs first thing in the morning, my stones would greet me, and that made me happy. Whenever I felt sad, sick, or stressed, I’d instinctively peer into one or just hold it, and I’d feel better. To this day, I still have many of those stones I started collecting during that 5th grade science unit.
My Lemurian quartz crystal made into a beautiful pendant by my cousin.
Much later on, when I was pregnant with my older daughter, I took a gemology course as my “pregnancy” project. I’ll admit it–I kind of got addicted to Jewelry Television, and started buying parcels of loose gems. I made jewelry out of some, but still have trays of them that I haven’t identified yet, though I bought all the equipment necessary to do so.
What can I say? When I go into a hobby, I go all in. Anyone who’s seen my rock collection, polymer clay collection, yarn stash, or apothecary cabinet will attest to that. But rocks were my first love, and to this day, they’re one my greatest, and I find ways to incorporate them into my daily life, whether it’s sleeping with them under my pillow, using gemstone elixirs in my skincare products, or just surrounding myself with them so I can see them when I work.
Stones are powerful healers.
Stone medicine may seem unfamiliar to you, but it’s as old as the Earth, and as Sarah Thomas, my guest on today’s podcast interview will tell you, its wisdom even predates the Earth. And just like other ancient healing modalities like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and herbalism have seen a strong resurgence here in the western hemisphere, stone medicine has also grown in popularity. We find stones incorporated in spiritual healing circles, sold in health food stores right alongside the organic produce and homeopathic remedies, and in the past year we’ve seen a huge increase in the presence of stones in spas.
Some of the more holistically minded product lines have introduced products and protocols utilizing gemstones and stone elixirs, and I’ve even seen main stage lectures about stones and skincare at spa conferences. Jade rollers and gua sha are particularly popular, as well as water pitchers with gemstones in the glass.
I even teach how to make and utilize gemstone elixirs in the bonus module of my online course, Create Your Skincare–that’s how strongly I feel about it!
How does stone medicine work on the skin?
The adaptogenic ocean jasper I got from Sarah at the conference
I initially believed that gemstones and gemstone elixirs work on the energetic levels of the body, rather than the physical, similar to how plants do. However when I last attended the Midatlantic Women’s Herbal Conference, I attended a stone medicine seminar with Sarah Thomas, where I learned how they can also affect one’s health physically.
In fact, Sarah taught that one stone in particular, ocean jasper, is known to have adaptogenic properties on the body, meaning it helps it adapt to stress more effectively, similar to how an herb like ashwagandha or holy basil would work. That intrigued me, and to be honest, Sarah’s whole class kind of blew my mind.
As you’ll notice in our interview, Sarah teaches from a very spiritual place, as well as from science (we actually talked about some elements on the periodic chart), and I probably said the words “fascinating” and “mind-blowing” too many times. I think you’ll agree!
Learn about stone medicine from Sarah Thomas below:
Click HERE to subscribe to my podcast and download the audio of this interview, FREE.
The fluorite I purchased immediately after Sarah’s class
What did I tell you? Mind blown, right? My two favorite parts of the interview were:
Sarah’s metaphor of a desperate leprechaun holding vacuums to describe how fluorite helps protect you from other people’s energy at 12:50 (which I was excited to then compare to free radicals at 15:05), and…
Sarah’s very simple clear skin apache tears elixir remedy, which she describes at 16:30.
Apache tears obsidian, cleared and ready to be made into a skin-clearing elixir.
There are many other “gems” (yeah I just did that) in the whole interview, including how to find the best stones for you, how to know how to use them, how to clear them before use, and more. I’d love to know what your favorite part was. Tell me in the comments below!
About Sarah Thomas:
Sarah Thomas, BS, MAc., LAc., Dipl. Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and owns Clarity Acupuncture in Asheville, North Carolina. She earned her Masters in Acupuncture from Maryland University of Integrative Health.
Sarah studies extensively with Jeffrey C. Yuen and other master healers and has been steeped in stone and crystal medicine, clinically and academically, for several years. She developed North Carolina’s first Studies in Mineral Healing Program at Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, teaches yearly national earth and herbal conferences, certifies “stonalists” in a yearly intensives, and leads rockhounding trips for the public into the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Tao is to assist in the dissemination of the vast knowledge and uncharted potentials of healing with stones.
One of the greatest challenges when you want to make your own all natural skincare products is finding the right top quality DIY skincare ingredients, that have been ethically and sustainably sourced, in small sizes, with as little research as possible. Don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of natural skincare ingredient “one stop shops” online with high quality natural ingredients, but I know from experience that when a brand new handmade skincare enthusiast goes to one of these sites, one of two things happens (and please let me know if this has happened to you in the comments below!):
Complete and utter overwhelm at the amount of herbs, carrier oils, hydrosols, clays, essential oils, extracts, and so on. You start reading the descriptions, and select a few…then you keep looking and within a few minutes your eyes begin to glaze over. They.all.start.looking.the.same. You panic, close your window, and that’s the end of it. Out of sight, out of mind.
You’re like a kid in a candy shop. You get excited by all the gorgeous descriptions of how magical each ingredient is (because natural ingredients truly are magical), enraptured by exotic oils and butters that you can’t pronounce but that have been THE beauty secret of X Indigenous Tribe in the remote forests of Y Country, and you must have it. And the herbs and essential oils…how can you possibly narrow them down? All of the sudden there’s hundreds of dollars of ingredients in your cart. You buy them, and find that there’s no way you can go through all those before they spoil. And you also likely have to hire a closet organizer to create space to display all these ingredients that you’ll never use.
The struggle is real, my friend.
In my course, Create Your Skincare, one of the most important components is that I teach my students how to choose the right ingredients for their unique skin (you can get a preview of that in my 2-part e-book system HERE) and then guide them on where to purchase top quality ingredients. But I’m often asked if I know of anyone who sells kits of DIY skincare ingredients in sizes large enough to experiment with, but small enough that they won’t go to waste. Up until now, the answer has been not really.
The main reason is because ingredient selection is a very individual thing, and different people will need different ingredients. But the problem is also that most places that sell organic, non-GMO, sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients sell in quantities that are too much for someone who isn’t sure if they’re the right ingredients for them quite yet. And let’s be honest–top quality, certified ingredients like these aren’t cheap–with skincare ingredients, you do get what you pay for in terms of quality in most cases.
Well, experimenting with DIY skincare ingredients just got easier.
The herbs in the jars are my own and don’t come with the kit 🙂
I was SO excited when I was contacted by my new friends at Oleum Vera–a new DIY skincare ingredient kit company that curates kits of small experiment-friendly, top quality, plant-based DIY skincare ingredients and reusable glass bottles, plus a booklet of recipes for inspiration.
I really love this concept, because not only do they provide you with ingredients, bottles, and recipes–but they’ve already done the work to find top quality organic, non-GMO, and sustainably-sourced ingredients. Their kits are all certified USDA Organic, and also by ECOCERT, and retail for $74.95. And for that price, you get a LOT of ingredients to work with. They also ship internationally which is awesome.
What’s in Oleum Vera’s DIY Organic Face Moisturizing Kit
The DIY Organic Face Moisturizing Kit they sent me came with a variety of oils that I would consider to be “performance oils” because they are so antioxidant rich–and are normally quite expensive. I got pomegranate seed, tamanu, jojoba, Vitamin E, and marula oils in addition to glycerine, and lavender, tea tree, geranium, and frankincense essential oils (those are the 4 most common essential oils I happen to use).
The kit also came with a little funnel, and a spray bottle and two serum bottles with droppers that are glass on the inside. All the bottles–the ones for the ingredients themselves, as well as the ones intended to package the products you make, are reusable and can be easily cleaned out and sanitized between uses.
A little note about the packaging–since the bottles are opaque, you will have to measure out your ingredients in a glass beaker to be sure you know how much you’re using. Also, though the bottles come with stoppers, I’d love to see orifice reducers (funny name, yes, but that’s what they do!) on the essential oil bottles to make them easier to pour. They way they are now, if measuring drops (which the recipes do call for), you’ll have to use a separate dropper.
One of Oleum Vera’s DIY toner recipes.
The kit says it comes with enough ingredients to make 3 toners and 3 oil serums, but I will point out that the toner recipes do require the purchase of additional ingredients such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, green tea, with hazel, honey, and vodka. The ingredients from the kit that are used in the toner recipes are the glycerine and Vitamin E.
Though the vodka may help with natural preservation, any of these toner recipes would need to be kept in the refrigerator and used within one week; as is the case with any product containing water and perishable ingredients unless a broad spectrum preservative is used (I teach you to do that safely and naturally in my online course Create Your Skincare, by the way). So to clarify, for the toners, there is enough glycerine and Vitamin E to make three, but you’ll need to hit up your health food or grocery store (and the liquor store) for the rest of the ingredients.
I personally made a toner with green tea, cucumber hydrosol, glycerine, Vitamin E, and my own rose tincture (made with organic vodka, organic red rose petals, and the sun).
The serums are much more straightforward, because to make an oil serum, you really only need carrier oils. The essential oils are a great addition (though I don’t recommend using them in an eye serum), and the Vitamin E is an excellent addition because its antioxidant properties help to prevent rancidity and maintain the integrity of the phytochemical constituents of each ingredient. There’s easily enough product in the kit to make three different serums–and honestly you could also use these as cleansing oils as well.
All of the serum recipes that come in the booklet are ones I’d recommend. I personally made a serum for my 12 year old daughter with the jojoba oil, marula oil, Vitamin E, and tea tree, and geranium essential oils.
Overall I think the Oleum Vera kits are a great idea, and I was very pleased with the quality. I look forward to watching this concept grow, as I think it’s a very user-friendly and affordable way to get top quality DIY skincare ingredients into the hands of many, and spread the joy of boutique skincare goodness to all!
Want to learn more about how to get started making skincare in a free mini e-course?
Click HERE to sign up for Boutique Skincare Basics.
For more information about Oleum Vera, and to get your own kit, click HERE.
Alright, you’ve created the perfect skincare product. You’ve mastered the emulsion, you’ve gotten the right level of moisture, you’ve even figured out the exact ingredients make that your skin glow like it’s never glowed before. You’re almost done! Now, for the perfect natural fragrance.
Most people prefer to use skincare that has a lovely fragrance. A bad scent can be a dealbreaker, even when you otherwise love the product! Fragrance is also a deeply subjective matter. A fragrance that one person loves can totally repel another person. I once made a skincare product for a client that I thought smelled fine, but when she tried it she had a different experience. She emailed me that she loved the product itself but asked (very kindly) if I could remake it for her so it didn’t smell like boiled hot dogs. Eeeewww! Of course, I obliged.
This is one of the things I love most about making your own skincare though—not only can you choose the best ingredients for your unique skin, you can truly create your own signature natural fragrance. Even if you’re not making your own skincare, you can still make an essential oil blend and wear it in place of perfume.
Why you should avoid ‘fragrance’
When companies list ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ as an ingredient in their product—whether it’s a perfume, a face wash, or a lotion — they don’t have to tell you what’s actually in it. That’s because fragrance is considered proprietary information. That one ‘ingredient’ could contain dozens of different chemicals—but they don’t have to tell you what’s actually in it. Not all of those undisclosed ingredients are going to be harmful, but how will you know if they’re not listed? The truth is that a fragrance–even a natural fragrance–can be made of hundreds of undisclosed (often synthetic) individual ingredients.
In 2010, the Center for Safe Cosmetics set out to unveil the perfume industry’s mysterious fragrances. They did a chemical analysis of 17 different perfumes and found a total of 38 chemicals not listed on the ingredient labels. Some of these preservatives and other additives were considered generally safe… But others were skin irritants and worse, others were chemicals that have the potential to interfere with normal hormonal function. Yikes!
Even if you’re not worried about chemicals being a part of your daily scent routine, there are other reasons to opt for essential oils instead.
Essential oils are extracted from plants with a high quantity of volatile oils, which have special properties that benefit the plant (i.e., pest resistance) and often times benefit us when we use them as well. Many of these benefits—whether it’s lifting the mood, helping you be more energetic, or even acting as an aphrodisiac—can be enjoyed simply by smelling the essential oil. This, in essence, is aromatherapy.
Essential oils: where to start
So you want to create your own essential oil-based natural fragrance blend, and there are dozens upon dozens to choose from. Where do you start?
Here are what I see as the main ways to choose your essential oils:
Start with one essential oil you love and build on it using scents that complement it.
Decide on the aromatherapy you want to experience, such as calming, energizing, clarifying, or even the unleashing of your inner child, and let this guide you towards the right essential oils to use.
Once you have one or two oils in mind, you’ll want to build a cohesive, complementary blend.
How to create a well-rounded essential oil blend
Creating an essential oil blend follows the same basic principles as the creation of any perfume. You want top notes, middle notes, and base notes in order to create a well-rounded blend. Here’s what all of those things mean: One of my favorite natural perfumers, Mandy Aftel, recommends building your fragrance from the bottom up, starting with your base notes.
Top Notes – This is what you’re likely to smell first, thus creating the initial impression of the scent. These scents evaporate in 5-30 minutes, typically come from flowers and leaves, and often have aromatherapy that’s energizing or uplifting. These should make up about 10-30% of the blend.
Examples: basil, neroli, peppermint, and grapefruit.
Middle Notes – Once the top notes evaporate, the middle notes surface, typically lasting for a few hours. These full-bodied notes represent the heart of the fragrance and should comprise about 30-60% of the blend.
Examples: chamomile, rosemary, cardamom, and lavender.
Base Notes – Base notes provide the final impression, evaporating slowly and lingering for a day or more. These scents tend to be grounding, helping to promote relaxation and counteract nervousness and anxiety. These scents should represent about 15-30% of the blend.
Examples: Peru balsam, frankincense, sandalwood, and vetiver.
In her book, Essence and Alchemy, Mandy recommends building your fragrance from the bottom up, starting with your base notes.
Putting your natural fragrance blend together
How much essential oil you put in your product will obviously depend on the volume of your product to begin with. One important thing is to add little by little so you don’t end up with too much scent. No matter how good it smells, if there’s too much in there you will not want to be putting that stuff on your face—essential oils are extremely powerful, and can cause irritant skin reactions like sensitization and even burns when used overzealously! Go little by little in order to get it just right.
In my online course, Create Your Skincare, our aromatherapy instructor, Anna Doxie and I recommend no higher than 2% concentration of essential oils in most facial skincare products. We also advise against using essential oils in products intended for the eye area, since the skin there is more sensitive.
A few of my favorite natural fragrance blends
I have SO many favorite essential oils and blends, as I’ve been making my own products, blends, and perfumes for quite some time now. Some of my favorite go-to blends are:
Bulgarian rose, frankincense, lavender, and carrot seed essential oils
Rosemary and ylang ylang essential oil (one of the members of my Handmade Skincare Enthusiasts group on Facebook actually recommended this one—it seemed like an odd pairing but it really works! I especially like this one for natural deodorant. Get my recipe HERE).
Benzoin, rose, jasmine, and lime (easy on the lime, though!)
I have many more—and of course when I select essential oils to use in skincare products, I consider the benefits of their chemical constituents as I consider their fragrances.
I’d love to know—what are your favorite natural fragrances?
Please share with me in the comments below.
Also—if you want to learn more about how to create and customize your own range of all natural boutique skincare products (naturally fragranced with essential oils only–nothing synthetic), check out my course, Create Your Skincare.