If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to essential oil based perfumes, this post is for you.
First of all: great choice. Commercially available perfumes are a cocktail of ingredients that we spray onto our skin, over the thyroid gland and near our face, every single day. We’re breathing it in, absorbing it through our skin and pumping it into the air. It’s incredibly important to be opting for low-tox alternatives of this product, and essential oils are a great alternative because you can create your own signature scents (dozens of them even!) for the same price as a bottle of perfume from the pharmacy.
Why make the switch
If you switch nothing else around your home, make it perfume. It’s a cocktail of ingredients that we spray onto our skin, over the thyroid gland and near our face, every single day. We’re breathing it in, absorbing it through our skin and pumping it into the air. Most of us have been doing it since our early teens, so what’s the big deal?
Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that’s used in perfumes (and other cosmetics) to make them last longer and is the reason you can spray some on in the morning and still detect it in the afternoon. Among other concerns, phenoxyethanol is linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity, skin irritation and headache. While most of us are probably used to living with phenoxyethanol around, there are serious concerns about its use with newborns and while we might not spray perfume on our infants, we do tend to hold them close for substantial amounts of time. Babies can be exposed through skin to skin contact or inhalation. In addition to the above preservative, perfumes contain “fragrance”.
Fragrance isn’t actually a thing. It’s not a specific product or single chemical. It’s a cover term for any number of hundreds (thousands, even) of products and the fact of the matter is, we usually don’t know which ones. As consumers, it’s important to know what’s in the products we’re buying. Because maybe we’re fine with the “fragrance” ingredients of one company but not of another: the point is, how can we possibly know?
If your perfume brand doesn’t reveal the ingredients in that pretty little bottle, it’s time to make the switch and it’s going to be one of the most fun things you change in your home. In addition to smelling incredible, essential oil perfume blends have wild benefits – think: stress relief, lowering of blood pressure, improved immune function, calming, mood boosting and head clearing.
While blending essential oils is a bit of a science, there are some tools that we can use to help us lay folk understand how to blend essential oils to create beautiful perfumes.
Every essential oil has what’s known as an aroma note and understanding where each oil sits will help you create a balanced perfume.
When we play the piano, each chord has a top, middle and base note. In a similar way, when we’re blending oils, we want to have a top, middle and base note oil in a blend. You can get away with just two different notes, but ideally, you want to be blending all three.
Top notes are characterised by their sharp tone and a strong first impression which doesn’t last long.
Base notes give body to the scent and are characterised by strong, long-lasting scents.
Top note oil examples: lemon, lime, bergamot, peppermint, spearmint, thyme, basil
Middle note oil examples: lavender, chamomile, geranium, ylang ylang, rose
Base note oil examples: sandalwood, frankincense, cedar, myrrh, patchouli
The reason you wouldn’t want to use all the same note oils for a perfume is because they’ll be “fighting” each other and you really won’t have a balanced blend.
For example, citrus oils are considered top notes – they have a really sharp scent and the scent doesn’t last for very long; it’s that first jolting impression that you might get. If you were to blend 3 citrus oils – let’s say lemon, orange and lime – they would all be fighting each other for your attention and you’re going to really struggle to pick one of them, particularly if you’re using the same amount of each oil.
However, if you put lemon with lavender, you’re definitely going to be able to distinguish the two scents in the same blend. Adding a third base note oil will give this volume and longevity.
A great resource I use to figure out if an oil is top, middle or base, is the English Aromatherapist app. You can use it to blend by notes and by condition (ie, if you want a blend to help with headache or oily skin or stress).
Another way to help you figure out if a blend is something you’ll probably enjoy wearing is to pop the oils in the diffuser. If you love the scent and continue to love it throughout the day, it’s a safe bet that whatever you’ve put in the diffuser will make a great perfume.
What you’ll need
To make your own essential oil perfume, you’ll need a roller bottle (you can reuse an old essential oil bottle and put a roller top on), some carrier oil and your essential oils of choice. For information about carrier oils, CLICK HERE.
Here are some beautiful essential oil perfume and cologne blends to try. These recipes are all based on using a 10 mL roller bottle. Add your essential oils and then top with carrier oil.