Perfumes can be among the most expensive of beauty products, and rightfully so: The more exclusive the product line, the more likely it is to contain ingredients that cost the company thousands of dollars per pound. However, anyone with a good nose, a little knowledge, and a lot of patience can blend simple scents at home for bargain-basement prices.

Homemade Perfumes Using Essential oils Blend: The Basics

Even neophyte perfumers should be able to blend essential oils that have complementary odors (jasmine and lily of the valley, for instance). Later, branching out into contrasting scents (almond with citrus) can be attempted. Real experts eventually make their own fragrances out of pressed flowers and crushed spices, but starting out with a few commercially-produced oils will save time and allow the hobbyist to find out if she enjoys the process.

A good perfume (or cologne or toilet water, which will contain more carrier oil or spirits) consists of a top note, a middle note, and a base note. The base note is often woodsy and rich; the middle note should be the strongest. As the top note evaporates, the other notes will remain; so it is important to enjoy the fragrances of all of them and to learn how different scents interact with each other.

Different aromas also have different effects on the wearer. Lavender and chamomile are calming and are often used to induce sleep. On the other hand, the smell of mint or citrus is usually quite invigorating.

Aromatherapy or health food stores are a great source of reasonably priced essential oils. Never place them directly on the skin, as they can cause irritation. Instead, dilute them in a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, or sunflower. Store essential oil blends in glass containers whenever possible.

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Good Combinations of Essential Oils

Top notes: Eucalyptus blends well with lavender, mint, or sandalwood. Rose is often used with chamomile, geranium, or sandalwood. A peppermint top note works best with bergamot (or any other citrus), lavender, geranium, or sandalwood.

Middle notes: Lavender, neroli, and sandalwood go well with almost any other scents. Lemongrass blends nicely with any citrus, mint, or lavender essence. Almond makes an excellent middle note with spicy scents, vanilla, or rose.

Base notes: These have strong odors, and include vetivert, vanilla, patchouli, and spruce.

At-Home Perfume Blending Procedures

Start with one or two drops of base note in about 8-15 drops of a carrier oil (those with oily skin may prefer to use vodka as the carrier). Add 2-4 drops of the middle note and up to 10 drops of the selected top note.

Mix with a glass eyedropper or pipette. Needless to say, a separate mixer should be used for each essential oil.

Keep in a glass container with a tightly-fitted stopper; avoid exposing the scent to direct sunlight and air. Go back in a few days and see if the scent is still pleasing. If it is not, re-mix the fragrant blend using slightly different proportions. Be creative and keep experimenting.

Common Sense Precautions for Essential Oil Blending

Always work in a well-ventilated area. If the fragrance becomes too strong, simply get some fresh air. Waft the scent toward your nose with your hand; never inhale essential oils directly for a long time.

Never use cinnamon bark oil in perfumes; it corrodes the skin. Cinnamon leaf and clove oils can cause sensitivity in many cases; use them with caution. Myrrh, basil, clove, hyssop, and marjoram may react poorly on skin that has undergone hormonal changes, so pregnant women and those who use birth control pills should probably avoid them.

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Citrus, bergamot, and verbena increase the risk of sunburn, so don’t wear them outdoors. If any oil blend causes an allergic action, wash it off the skin immediately; seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

Do not use essential oils internally for any reason.

Super Easy Perfume Recipes

Here are two very simple recipes to start out with:

  • 4 ounces of lavender oil, shaken thoroughly with one pint rosewater and 3 ounces of vodka
  • 2 tablespoons of rosewater blended with 35 drops vanilla extract

It is not surprising that the components of a finished fragrance are called “notes;” for learning to blend them can produce a kind of music, which is as evocative and satisfying as the perfumer’s proficiency will permit. Just as a musician must practice constantly, so must the novice perfume-maker hone her skills through repetition and gradual improvement. Top “noses” often take years to perfect a scent, so persistence and patience are crucial to discovering that one unique blend that exactly matches the wearer’s personality and taste.