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7 Dec 2021

Essential Oil Perfume: A DIY Gift Idea

The holidays are a wonderful time to give something that the receiver wouldn’t normally indulge themselves in. Something pretty, or something sentimental, or something handmade. An essential oil perfume recipe checks all those boxes! Crafting a unique scent is a fun way to show care to the receiver, and to pull in special memories through the power of aroma. Depending upon your personal life experiences, certain smells may evoke particular memories. Walking into your Grandma’s house and taking a deep breath of warm ginger. Childhood memories of smelling cinnamon simmering on the stove. Or your first place, all on your own, adorned with calming lavender throughout your cozy space. The link of smell to memory is a powerful one. 

placing essential oil drops into jar to make perfume

Crafting Your Own Essential Oil Perfume

Do you make your own perfume? Essential oil blends are not something new, but turning those into a perfume blend might be. Base notes and tips on how to make your scent’s aroma last longer are “essential” when crafting your own blend. 

The key to making your own perfume blends last is natural essential oil fixatives. A fixative slows down the evaporation of those important volatile oils (Worwood, 1991). This will help retain the scent of your blend and when using natural essential oil fixatives; they also bring their own unique fragrance. This is a win, win! Here’s a short list of some essential oil fixatives you can choose from: frankincense (Boswellia carterii), clary sage (Salvia sclarea), cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), sandalwood (Santalum album), and vanilla (Vanilla plantifolia). 

The best thing about natural fixatives is that they can also double as important notes in your perfume recipe, namely the base note. Most DIY perfumes call for a base note—this scent has staying power. A middle note is the heart of the fragrance. Lastly, the top note is one that fades quickly, but tends to be the most aromatic of the group. Typically the ratio used is 3:2:1, but even a 1:1:1 ratio can be used (Worwood, 1991). Your nose will know!

supplies to make essential oil perfume

Two Approaches to Handmade Perfume

Alcohol vs. Oil Base

Both types of bases have their benefits. An alcohol-based perfume is one we are all typically familiar with. Alcohol-based perfumes are the ones that you will typically find in the perfume aisle. If you test one out, the first spray is a powerful one. The air around you fills with an intense scent. The alcohol base in perfumes gives a stronger first impression. However, there is a downfall. This approach, although initially strong, will evaporate quickly. The staying power is much less than the next approach, oil-based. 

Pouring oil into small glass jar

Oil-based perfumes are generally used as roll-ons, or in my case, bottled up in cute vintage perfume jars and dabbed onto the skin. Since the blend sits in an oil base, when applied, the perfume will have staying power. Rather than the evaporation of the alcohol-based perfumes, oil sits on top of the skin and will remain there much longer. The flip side to these is that they have a more subtle scent. Unless you have a sensitive nose, you may not detect these perfumes unless you are locked into a warm hug with the wearer. Speaking of a warm hug, I’ve created two blends using the two methods below. These are an easy approach to creating your first essential oil perfume and will be perfect as gifts this holiday.

finished bottle of essential oil perfume

Essential Oil Perfume Recipes  

To start creating your own perfume blends, you will need a few days and a lot of smell tests. I made two variations, a warm spice perfume blend, and an invigorating medley. 

Warm Hug Perfume Blend Ingredients

A warm, earthy base with a hint of spicy sweet. This is a holiday favorite, bringing in the familiar smells of the season. This blend uses the 3:2:1 ratio.

Ingredients

12 drops frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil (base note)
8 drops cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) essential oil (middle note)
4 drops sweet orange (Origanum majorana) essential oil (top note)
3 ounces sweet almond oil, 3 ounces
3 drops vitamin E oil 

Directions
  • Begin by adding your base note(s) to a bottle, swirl, and smell. Though this recipe calls for a single base note (frankincense), you will want to let this sit for a day if using multiple base notes. Make sure the base notes blend well together and you like the smell. In this recipe, you will add frankincense first. 
  • Next add in your middle note(s) to the bottle, swirl, and smell. Again, let them blend together for a day as you swirl and smell before adding in the next fragrance. It is a key step to allow your blend to settle together since they take on different aromas when mixed. For this recipe, you will now add cinnamon. 
  • Add in your top note(s), swirl, and smell. Cap the bottle and leave for a day. For this recipe, you will add in the sweet orange. 
  • Before adding in the oil base, you can add in more essential oils to balance out your final blend. This is where I also recommend adding in a few drops of vitamin E oil. This will help prolong the shelf life of your perfume by preventing the oxidation of the oils. 
  • Slowly pour in 3 ounces of sweet almond oil to your bottle, swirl and cap the bottle. This blend will need some swirling for the next day or two to really get all of the oils to infuse together. 
  • The perfume blend will be ready to be applied by the 5th day of this process. Some perfumers will let it sit much longer, however, five days is typically the minimum. 

To use:

An oil-based essential oil perfume can be bottled up in rollers or little vintage perfume bottles. You can either roll or dab onto your skin, such as behind the ears, along your wrists, and the sides of your neck. As a general rule, I typically estimate that oil-based perfumes have a shelf life of about a year. A noticeable off-smell will begin to form and you will know it is time to toss.

vintage bottle of essential perfume

Uplift Perfume Blend Ingredients

A vibrant blend of invigorating scents that meld together to create an uplifting perfume. This blend uses the 3:2:1 ratio

Ingredients

12 drops cedarwood* (Cedrus atlantica) essential oil (base note)
8 drops clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil (middle note)
2 drops rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) essential oil (top note)
2 drops lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil (top note)
3 ounces 190 proof alcohol

Directions
  • Begin by adding your base note(s) to a bottle, swirl, and smell. Let that sit for a day if using multiple base notes. Make sure they blend well together and you like the smell. In this recipe, you will add the cedarwood first. 
  • Next, add your middle note(s) to the bottle, swirl, and smell. Again, let them blend together for a day as you swirl and smell before adding in the next fragrance. It is key to allow your blend to settle together since scents take on different aromas when mixed. For this recipe, you will now add in the clary sage. 
  • Add in your top note(s), swirl, and smell. Cap the bottle and leave for a day. For this recipe, you will add rosemary and lemon. 
  • Before adding in the alcohol base, you can add in more essential oils to balance out your final blend. Using high-proof alcohol like Everclear will make for a powerful scent with a long shelf life. The high-proof alcohol acts as a preserver of your blend as well. 
  • Slowly pour in 3 ounces of high-proof alcohol to your bottle, swirl and cap the bottle. This blend will need some swirling for the next day or two to really get all of the oils and alcohol to infuse together. The first day it will smell mostly of the alcohol, but as the blend matures, the fragrances will emerge. 
  • The perfume blend will be ready to be applied by the 5th day of this process. Some perfumers will let it sit much longer, however, five days is about the minimum. 

*Can replace cedarwood with vetiver for a more sustainable option.

To use:

An alcohol-based essential oil perfume can be bottled up in small perfume spray bottles. Be sure to do a test spot to make sure the blend is not too harsh for your skin. The shelf life of an alcohol-based perfume is typically 3 to 5 years. 

gift box of essential oil perfume bottles

In Closing, 

The beautiful memories attached to smells and scents can be crafted and bottled up…and giving an essential oil perfume offers the opportunity to form new, pleasant memories! In any case, giving this gift to someone special will make for a memorable holiday. Each time a dab is applied or a spray hits the air, they will think of you. If you find the world of perfume interesting, there is far more in-depth knowledge and approaches in the Herbal Academy Natural Perfumery Course

Essential Oil Perfume: A DIY Gift Idea | Herbal Academy | The memories attached to scents can be crafted and bottled up...and giving an essential oil perfume to someone will make a memorable holiday.REFERENCES

Worwood, V. (1991). The complete book of essential oils and aromatherapy. Novato, CA: New World Library.