You may already be aware of the use of synthetic ingredients in skin care products. But have you ever studied the ingredients in your everyday perfume or body spray? Do you use a natural perfume using essential oils or does your perfume use synthetic fragrances?
Hidden within the word ‘fragrance’ can be an array of ingredients. This is a fantastic way to keep the perfurmers recipe blends secret, but it also means that some ingredients can be hidden from the consumer. Natural perfumes will use a blend of essential oils rather than fragrances and each of these essential oils will be listed. Not only are essential oils plant derived and 100% natural, they also provide therapeutic properties that could enhance wellbeing.
Using just a few ingredients you can make your own signature perfume with an aroma to rival any shop bought perfume. You can choose whether you want your perfume to offer therapeutic properties, be calming or uplifting for example. You can also choose what the aroma should be like, such as floral, woody or zesty. The fun bit in making your own perfume is the formulating of your essential oil blend. What’s more, no experience is necessary!
The strength of the perfume
Making your own natural perfume will involve choosing a selection of essential oils that work well together. Before we look at how to choose and blend these essential oils, let’s first look at the difference in strength of the perfume. There are four main types of perfumes and the difference between them lies in the strength of the fragrance blend.
The strongest blend is called a parfum, next we have eau de parfum, then eau de toilette and lastly with a weakest fragrance versus dilutant is a body spray. The blend for each will remain the same, however, it is the strength of the blend that will change with each. Parfum, the strongest blend, may contain as much as 30% fragrance blend with 70% dilutant. If you choose to make a parfum with essential oils not only will you need to work out the recommended dermal level for each essential oil but you will also need to work this out for their chemical components too. Working this out would be a whole blog post in itself and so for this reason the recipe that I will share with you here is suitable as a body spray only.
Eau de parfum will have a blend made up of around 10-15% fragrance and the remainder the dilutant. The scent of an eau de parfum will normally last several hours. Eau de toilette contains a total perfume blend of 5-8% and a dilutant of 92-95%. Eau de toilette is the most common type of perfume used and includes aftershaves. Finally body spray will contain a perfume blend totalling around 1-3% of the formulation.
Making a natural perfume with essential oils
The aim of your perfume is to create a blend that you fall in love with. You may want it to offer some form of therapeutic benefit or you may just want to create a blend with an aroma that makes you smile.
Blending of essential oils does not have to be challenging, it just takes patience and a lot of sniffing. By understanding a few fundamentals the exercise of blending can be made easier.
Essential oil safety
Whilst many essential oils are perfectly safe for use there are some that aren’t. Certain groups of people should avoid some essential oils, particularly pregnant women, people suffering from epilepsy and people with underlying medical conditions. If you are unsure about using essential oils then read the safety instructions provided by the supplier of your essential oils. I have written a blog post about essential oil safety and the oils to avoid, which you can find here>>
The notes system of essential oils
When describing essential oils terms such as top, middle and base are often used. These refer to the time that the aroma of the essential oil will remain present after application.
An essential oil grouped into the top note class will evaporate fairly quickly after application but will have a fresh and sharp aroma. Typically these essential oils include those from the citrus family.
Middle notes form the heart of the blend. Their aroma will emerge after the top note has dispersed, and are usually mellower and softer in their aroma than the top notes.
Finally we have the base notes. These heavier oils will have an aroma that will slowly emerge some time after the blend has been applied. Base notes can often be quite over powering on their own so tend to be used in a smaller quantity from the middle and top notes.
By combining two essential oils together you have created your first blend. When these two oils work together you have what is called synergy. That is they just work well together.
Add a third oil to the mix and you are on your way to creating a blend that works on many different levels. It is not just about the aroma, it is about combining the therapeutic properties of each oil to make a more powerful combination.
Start with a blend that consists of 30% top note, 50% middle note and 20% base note. For example, if you are making a diffuser blend for evening relaxation you could try
Lavender – 3 drops
Chamomile – 5 drops
Vetiver – 2 drops
Blending for wellbeing
Essential oils have many wonderful healing properties. Top notes are often uplifting oils that can help in times of depression. Middle notes are often used in blends to balance the mind whereas base notes are more grounding and sedating which may help with anxiety and relaxation.
If you want to take your blending even further then why not use the Blending For Therapeutic Properties download that you can grab at the end of the post. It lists all the essential oils and their therapeutic properties. From this and the notes guide you can start formulating your perfect blend.
I’ve also included a record sheet so you can write down your blend experimentations. There’s nothing worse than coming up with an amazing blend only to realise that you have no record of what went in. Frustratingly I have done this many times.
Choosing a dilutant
When making a perfume to sell you will need to use perfumers alcohol (you will also need to get your perfume tested by a cosmetic scientist and conform to the cosmetic regulations). However making a perfume for home use you have a few dilutants to choose from and no cosmetic regulations to follow.
Some common dilutants are:
Yes, technically you could use distilled water however I would not recommend it unless you have knowledge of the preservative system. Any product made with water has a shelf life of only a few days, unless you add a preservative to it.
Floral waters / Hydrolats
Like water, floral waters will need a preservative added. So again, unless you have experience with the preservative system I suggest you avoid floral waters.
Or any alcohol that you have! As vodka does not have an aroma it will not mask the aroma of the essential oil blend. This makes it the perfect choice to use. Choose a % proof as high as you can.
A carrier oil such as sweet almond oil is an ideal choice for the perfume blend. Carrier oils in themselves have many therapeutic properties for the skin. The downside of using an oil for a perfume blend is that it will leave an oily residue on the skin.
Technically not a dilutant, polysorbates allow the essential oils to mix with the dilutant. Without them you will need to shake your perfume before applying so that the essential oil can mix with the solution rather than sitting on top. I use a product called Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside which can be purchased here
Recipe for a natural perfume with essential oils
Now it is time to make the perfume, which is a very simple and easy process to do.
For this I have used a body spray ratio and will be using 2% essential oil blend to 98% dilutant. The 98% dilutant will be split as:
2% caprylyl/capryl glucoside
The essential oil blend that I am using is an uplifting and refreshing blend containing lime, vanilla and sandalwood.
To make a 100 ml body spray perfume you will need to blend together
2ml caprylyl/capryl glucoside
18 drops Lime
30 drops vanilla
12 drops sandalwood
Combine all your ingredients together and store in a steralised spray bottle. Apply as and when required.
Before using any product it is advisable to perform a patch test 24 hours before use. This involves applying the product behind the ear and waiting 24 hours to see if any redness or irritation occurs. This is particularly important for anyone sensitive skin types.