Finding your signature scent at a department store can be a frustrating experience. Overwhelming scents, headaches, and high price tags can leave you feeling discouraged. Plus, commercial perfumes are made with chemicals and preservatives that can be damaging and drying to the skin. So why not make your own DIY perfume at home? It’s totally customizable, made with all-natural ingredients, and a lot easier than you think.
Do Your Research
Before you begin, make sure you’re researching the essential oils you’re planning to use. Some essential oils can cause photosensitivity and can lead to irritation or sunburn. Make sure each oil you use in your essential oil perfume is skin safe and non-irritating in small quantities.
You may also want to look into whether certain essential oil blends have aromatherapy properties that you think would be helpful for your day to day.
Finding Your Signature Scent
How do you figure out how to compose your personal scent? First, you need to understand the basic composition of perfume scents. Every perfume is made up of three different parts: the head, the heart, and the base.
The head, or the top note, is the first impression scent. It will be the first note you smell in a perfume and will be dominant for the first 10-20 minutes of wear.
Next, you have the heart, or middle note, which is the main fragrance component. Once the head fades, the heart becomes the dominant scent and can last for several hours.
Finally, you have the base notes, which provide the perfume with longevity and make the scent last all day long. These are the notes that remain on the skin after the head and heart have faded.
To compose your scent, you must decide what sort of scents you want your head, your heart, and your base to be. Essential oils will fall into a few different scent families, which are broken down below.
If you like woodsy smells, like pine or oak, choose essential oils like cedarwood or labdanum. These will give your perfume earthy, warm, dry smelling notes. Other options for woody scents are sandalwood oil, pine oil, patchouli oil, and vetiver oil. Woodsy scents made great base notes.
If you like bright, fruity scents, like lemon, lime, and orange, choose essential oils like bergamot, grapefruit, or lemon. This will give your perfume bright, warm, zesty notes that are perfect for spring and summer. Other citrus scent options are lime oil, tangerine oil, and wild orange. Citrus scents are the most common head notes.
If you tend to enjoy distinct, musky smells that are sweet, woodsy, and earthy, use essential oils like ambrette or myrrh. Musky smells tend to come from animal sources, but you can mimic them by blending a few musky smelling essential oils together. Other options include citronella or patchouli essential oils.
Florals are extremely common in essential oils, so there are tons of options if you love fresh, sweet, floral scents like rose, jasmine, and lavender. Florals are light and airy and work perfectly as heart notes. Other floral oils include clary sage, geranium, juniper berry, magnolia, peony, and ylang ylang.
Another popular scent family is the herbals, which smell fresh and earthy and make the perfume smell grounded. Popular choices for herbal oils are chamomile, rosemary, basil, cilantro, marjoram, and oregano.
If you prefer warm, spiced scents, try using oils like cinnamon, clove bud, or ginger. These will add an edge to your perfume and are perfect for fall and winter scents. Be careful with these oils; due to their spicy nature, they may be irritating to the skin. We don’t recommend using more than five drops of these scents and performing a patch test before you apply your perfume on a large area of the body.
Once you decide what scent family you want for the head, the heart, and the base, pick one oil to represent each. We recommend using only three oils for your first batch. Otherwise, the perfume can get overly complex and muddied. Feel free to experiment with scent combinations by mixing a few drops of each in a small bowl, or even combine them in your diffuser.
Selecting Your Carrier Oil
The next component you will need to select for your presume is a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a neutral oil that is used to dilute essential oils before you apply them to your body. Essential oils are extremely potent and should not be applied directly to the skin, as they can cause photosensitivity, irritation, or allergic reactions.
There are tons of carrier oils that work well for perfume making. You’ll want to select a carrier oil that is mostly neutral, so it doesn’t interfere with your other notes or dilute them. We’ve broken down some of the best choices below.
Jojoba oil is made from the seeds of the jojoba plant and is extremely nourishing for the skin. It has an extremely delicate, slightly nutty scent that will be mostly undetectable once your perfume is blended.
Almond oil is extremely moisturizing and has tons of nutritional benefits for the skin, making it perfect for any bodily application. It works well in perfume since it has a very light scent.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is made from apricot seeds and is high in fatty acids and vitamin E. It absorbs easily into the skin and has a very neutral, slightly sweet scent, making it perfect for perfume usage. As a bonus, apricot kernel oil is also thought to calm itchy, irritated skin.
Avocado oil is commonly used in cooking, but it also works amazingly when applied to the skin as a carrier oil. Avocado oil is extremely thick and is high in oleic acid, which helps to soothe dry skin. Avocado oil has a very subtle nutty scent.
Sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds and can help to calm irritated, itchy skin. Sunflower oil has an almost totally neutral scent, so it won’t interfere with the essential oil scents in your perfume.
Once you’ve selected your carrier oil, you’re nearly ready to begin making your own perfume!
Making Your Perfume
Now that you’ve selected your essential oils and your carrier oils, it’s time to gather the equipment you’ll need to start making your perfume. This is a fairly simple recipe, but there are a few things you’ll need to make the process easier.
First, you’ll need some sort of container to store your perfume in. We recommend small roller balls, spray bottles, or perfume bottles, which will provide easy application and help your scent last as long as possible.
Next, you’ll need 1-4 pipettes, aka droppers. You’ll want one for your carrier oil and one for each of the essential oils. If your essential oils already have dropper tops, you can use those.
These are important to get the ratio of perfumes to essential oils right. We recommend a 15-20% concentration of essential oils to carrier oil, closer to 15% if you have sensitive skin. If you want to be more precise, you can measure each oil by weight with a food scale.
Now, you’re ready to start blending. Start by adding 80 drops of your carrier oil to your glass bottle or roller bottle. Then, add ten drops of the essential oil you’ve selected as your base. Next, add five drops of your head note essential oil and five drops of your heart note essential oil. Then simply shake well, and you’re all done! Your own custom perfume blend right at home.
If you want to create a larger batch of natural perfume, feel free to scale up the amounts, as long as you keep the overall concentration of essential oil below 20%. For example, if you use 150 drops of carrier oil, use no more than 30 total drops of essential oil. If you're feeling really ambitious, you can even make a lotion with a matching scent.
Sample Perfume Recipes
If you’re looking for a place to start, head to this article for recommendations on diffuser scent blends, or try some of the recipes below. For each recipe, begin with 80 drops of carrier oil.
- Lavender Vanilla Perfume: ten drops lavender essential oil, five drops oleoresin vanilla essential oil, five drops patchouli essential oil
- Floral Blend: ten drops bergamot essential oil, five drops rose essential oil, five drops sandalwood essential oil
- Lemon Rosemary Perfume: ten drops lemon, five drops rosemary essential oil, five drops sweet orange essential oil
- Jasmine Lemongrass Perfume: ten drops jasmine essential oil, five drops frankincense essential oil, five drops lemongrass essential oil
- Fresh and Bright Blend: ten drops grapefruit essential oil, five drops ginger essential oil, five drops vetiver essential oil
- Warm and Cozy Blend: ten drops vanilla essential oil, five drops cardamom essential oil, five drops ylang ylang essential oil
Start with these recipes, or experiment on your own! Homemade perfume also makes an amazing gift for loved ones. Make sure to check out our blog for tons of other articles about essential oils, as well as tips and tricks on how to live your healthiest life.