I adore fragrance, but can’t stand having to pay hundreds of dollars on a few bottles of perfume. To combat the costliness of perfume, I’ve begun making my own using pre-blended fragrance oils. By using these oils and a carrier, you can create beautiful fragrances for a fraction of the cost. I hope this guide helps you to learn how to make perfume using fragrance oils!
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Understanding Perfume Formulations
Well-formulated perfumes are like songs; dancing with the natural notes of your personal scent. The notes of a perfume are organized into three categories: top, mid, and bass notes. The heat of your body and the way the notes interact with your environment determines how you smell throughout the day. Some perfumes only consist of top and/or mid notes, and are usually formulated as body sprays or eau de toilettes.
Before you learn how to make perfume, you need to understand how it is formulated. An important aspect of perfume formulation is the creation of a perfume’s notes. You’ll immediately smell the top notes of a perfume when you first apply it. They are short lived and light. You may also smell the mid notes, which become most prevalent after the top notes have faded. Mid notes are longer lasting than top notes, and make up the body of a fragrance. Bass notes are the heaviest scents, the musk, resin, and sandalwood types. They often smell luxurious, and make a perfume smell strong and full. Because the bass notes’ molecules are physically heavier than the mid and top notes, they are the last to dissipate, and can be smelled several hours after application.
Perfumes are categorized by fragrance concentration, too. For example, you may have seen “eau de toilette” fragrances, “parfums”, and “colognes” at your local department store. These names relate to the percentage of fragrance components that are concentrated within them, and can offer insight into the kinds of notes you may find. The smaller the concentration of fragrance components in a formulation, the more likely it is to contain mostly top and mid notes. Eau de toilettes, body sprays, eau fraiche, and colognes fall into this side of the fence. They can still contain a small amount of bass notes, but most likely will not have a large amount of them. If you’re looking for deeper, more resinous scents, I suggest exploring parfums and eau de parfums.
I personally enjoy both top/mid note formulations and a blend of all three notes, but find that eau de toilettes tend to “burn up” too quickly on my skin and require a lot of reapplication. However, my friend doesn’t have this experience at all, and can wear my favourite eau de toilettes all day with much less frequent reapplication. Body chemistry plays a big role in the longevity of perfume, and can even impact the fragrance itself. Our natural pheromones interact with fragrance and create a blend unique to you!
Perfume Formulation Cheat Sheet
Body sprays typically require reapplication every 3 hours. They contain 1-3% worth of fragrance components. They are heavily water and alcohol based. They are characterized by mostly top notes.
Eau Fraiche formulations typically require reapplication every 3 hours. They contain 1-3% worth of fragrance components. They are characterized by mostly top notes.
Balms infused with fragrance components are usually the least aromatic, and require reapplication every 3 hours. They usually contain 1-5% perfume oil content.
Eau de colognes (EDC) typically require reapplication every 4-6 hours. They contain about 3-5% worth of fragrance components. They are not only traditionally masculine scents. They are characterized by mostly top notes.
Eau de toilettes (EDT) typically require reapplication every 4-6 hours. They contain about 5-15% worth of fragrance components. They are characterized by mostly top notes with some mid notes.
Eau de parfums (EDP) typically require reapplication every 6-8 hours. They contain between 15-20% worth of fragrance components. They are not exclusively traditionally feminine fragrances. They are characterized by a strong presence of mid notes.
Parfums typically require reapplication every 8-12 hours. They contain 25-40% worth of fragrance components. They are characterized by a strong presence of bass notes.
Making Your Own Perfume
When I worked at Sephora, I remember falling in love with several fragrances and being heartbroken by their costs. I found my favourites and learned all about their notes, but refused to buy more than one or two bottles during my time there. By preparing your own using pre-made blends, you can customize your fragrance wardrobe and save tons of money. If you enjoy using different perfumes for different occasions, you can make several options to use!
Before you make your perfume, you’ll need to choose a carrier oil. I like to use light, quick absorbing oils like hempseed oil, sweet almond oil, and argan oil, but you can use something heavier such as fractionated coconut oil or light olive oil, too. Just make sure to choose something with minimal to no fragrance on its own.
Choosing Your Fragrance Oil
After that, choose your fragrance oil from a supplier. I personally use Bramble Berry, Midwest Fragrance Co., and Nature’s Garden for all of my fragrance oil needs! There are many shops that focus on making dupes for expensive perfumes that you can use in soaps, lotions, and yes, in perfumes. To find out if a fragrance oil is safe to use on skin in a perfume formulation, look at Category 4 (fine fragrances) on the fragrance’s IFRA sheet. This will give you the maximum percentage you can use in your formulation based on its ingredients. You can find these sheets on the websites (usually within the description) of your fragrance oil. If you can’t find it, try asking the seller to send it to you directly.
You can use up to that percentage of your fragrance oil in your formulation, but may want to use less if the scent is particularly strong or sensitizing. Some ingredients, like limonene, for example, are more likely to cause reactions than other fragrance components. I would start with using 10-15% worth of fragrance oil and keep the rest as your carrier oil.
How to Make Your Perfume
I recommend measuring by weight and not volume. If you are making 1 oz worth of perfume and are using 15% worth of fragrance oil, measure out 0.15 oz of your fragrance and add .85 oz of your carrier oil. Mix very well and dispense into a rollerball, dabber bottle, or spray bottle. I got these adorable crystal-filled rollerballs on amazon to give to friends and family (I premeasured the amount of oil that would fit into them so I could formulate correctly)! You can create a larger amount of perfume and store it in a dark bottle and in a cool place to keep it from being degraded by light and heat.
Here are some options for storing and using your perfume! For more tools and supplies that may be relevant, check out my post all about what you need to make and store herbal infusions.
If you make any perfumes using this method, I’d love to hear from you! What are your favourite fragrances to use? Let me know in the comments!
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