Beauty Edit
5 Essential Oil Perfume Recipes to Make You Smell Amazing, Naturally

5 Essential Oil Perfume Recipes to Make You Smell Amazing, Naturally

Perfume is like lingerie. It’s one of those deeply personal things that sometimes only you know about. You may wonder what the point of perfume is, if it’s often subtle and mainly known to the wearer. Well, perfume can boost your mood, make you feel more confident and attractive, and even have therapeutic benefits.

If you’re looking for an option that does double duty by making you smell great while providing some aromatherapy, you probably want to choose a natural perfume made with essential oils. Synthetic fragrances can often cause allergic reactions and could potentially be the cause of other long-term health concerns, too, and many commercial fragrances don’t list their ingredients.

Besides worrying about the integrity of your perfume, it can be hard to find your own signature scent that works with your unique body chemistry. When you create your own custom blend, you can stand out as different and match it to your exact taste. In this guide, we’ll share some guidelines for creating a well-balanced perfume and give you five recipes to try to get you started.

The Layers of a Fragrance

Perfumers typically build their perfumes to take advantage of the three layers of fragrances notes: the top, or head, note; the middle, or heart, note; and the base note. Keep in mind that you can choose more than one essential oil for each note.

The recipes in our guide will be simpler, with only three oils each, to reduce cost and complication, but you may want to experiment with combining more in the heart or base notes of your fragrance.

Top Notes

The top note won’t last long but creates a big initial impression. It tends to evaporate after only a few minutes of wear.

Lighter floral and citrus scents are some of the most common, though some herbal scents can make excellent top notes as well. Think sweet orange, lavender, or basil for that initial flush of fragrance.

When blending your fragrance oils, your top note should make up about 30% of your scent by volume. Very light scents can be pushed up to a slightly higher percentage, but remember that this is just the opening act.

Middle Notes

The middle notes are the star of the show for many perfume blends, and they often determine the character of the blend. Their scent is strongest in the first hour or two of wear.

Choosing something a little more robust, whether it be woodsy, spicy, or floral, is popular. You can even choose a juicy fruity scent to be at the heart of your blend. Jasmine, pine, cinnamon, and raspberry could all be used as heart notes.

The middle note of your choosing should be about 50% of your blend, though some perfumers boost it as high as 70% to help the middle note linger even longer.

Base Note

Your base note carries the rest of your fragrance and sticks around long after the rest has evaporated, sometimes lasting over 8 hours, depending on the oil.

You want to pick denser essential oils that carry heavier fragrances as your base note so that it has the necessary staying power to extend the life of your perfume. Vanilla, cedar, tonka bean, or a musk are all great choices. Patchouli is a controversial choice, but you can’t argue with its potency.

Your base note only makes up about 20% of the blend because it is so strong. Too much can crowd out the most delicate top and middle notes.

Single Note Fragrances

If you don’t feel like doing a mini chemistry project or complex blend, you can always make a single-note fragrance. Simply dilute the essential oil of your choice into a carrier oil, shake well, and dab it on your pulse points. Depending on which scent you choose, it may not last as long as a blended oil, but you can always carry it a roll-on bottle to reapply it throughout the day.

A light fragrance. like lemon, which is typically a top note, may need more frequent reapplication than vanilla, which has more staying power, making it a common base note.

Making Your Perfume

Now that you know some of the theory of scent, you need to know the nuts and bolts of how to actually make this stuff. You don’t need any special tools, although a small funnel might be useful when filling your bottles, and pipettes can help you measure your essential oils more precisely if your bottle doesn’t have a dropper top.

Here are a few things you do need to make a fantastic perfume at home.

Carrier Oils

Essential oils are very strongly concentrated, so you don’t want to apply them to bare skin. Some can be too harsh and cause irritation. Undiluted, the fragrance may also be too strong. Instead, you’ll need to choose a carrier oil as your base.

Sweet almond oil and Jojoba oil are two of the most popular carrier oils for three important reasons. First, they don’t have a strong scent like olive oil can. Second, they are liquid at room temperature, keeping your perfume easy to apply. And third, they are great for your skin. Very few people are allergic to either oil.

We recommend an 80% carrier oil to 20% essential oil ratio. This works out to about 2 teaspoons of carrier oil to half a teaspoon (about 40 drops total) of essential oils. If your skin is very sensitive, or you simply like a lighter scent, you can always reduce the concentration to 15% essential oils.

Choosing Your Essential Oils

If you have the chance, browse the essential oils collection at your local health food store. Sometimes they will have tester bottles that allow you to smell the product or even try a drop of it diluted on your skin. You don’t want to lay out the money for an oil you hate the smell of or that you are allergic to.

Essential oils aren’t cheap, since they are very deeply concentrated, but some are more expensive than others. Rose and vanilla are two beautiful and popular scents that can be quite expensive. Sometimes you can buy these from a wholesale supplier online at a lower price, or you can buy them pre-diluted in a carrier oil.

This is fine if you intend to use them as a single note perfume, applied directly to the skin, but you must take the percentage of dilution into account if you are creating a blend with them.

Choose Your Packaging

The recipes in this article make a little less than 1 fluid ounce of perfume, and these recipes can be scaled up or down as necessary by simple multiplication or division. You need to have space in whatever bottle you choose so that you can shake your perfume well when you create it, but also a little bit before each application to ensure that the oils are evenly distributed.

Most essential oils are sold in glass bottles that are tinted brown or blue. This is because these natural compounds are photosensitive, meaning that light can degrade them.

We recommend storing your homemade perfume in a tinted glass bottle as well to keep it smelling fresh longer. Plastic tends to slowly dissolve over time, filling your perfume with microparticles that can change the scent of your perfume. Plastic absorbs smells, so it could be hard to reuse a plastic bottle for another blend later.

It’s fine to mix your scents in a plastic container, but for storage, we recommend something like these amber bottles with a dropper top. The dropper makes it more convenient for application as well, since you can deposit precise little drops on your wrist, neck, or wherever you want.

If you want to pack a small amount of perfume to keep in your purse or overnight bag, you might like to purchase a roll-on bottle that also has tinted glass.

Essential Oil Perfume Recipes

Now that you know how to build and blend a scent, here are five sample recipes for you to try. Each one combines three oils, one for each of the main notes. As you get more confident in your skills as a perfumer, you can experiment more and create more complex blends that use multiple complementary oils in the various notes.

Get to know different oils, and if your nose tells you that something might go well together, give it a try. You can always build up your blends gradually by pausing, giving them a shake, and then smelling them. From there, you can make minor adjustments to amp up certain elements, or further dilute it, if it’s getting too strong.

Since this is your personal perfume blend, there is no right or wrong: just whether or not you’re happy with it.

1. Tea in the Garden

This light and simple blend is fresh, feminine, and a little sweet since the base note of vanilla comes through. It uses lemon as a bright top note and rose as a lush middle note to evoke the feeling of being in a beautiful garden sipping lemon tea.

  • 2 tsp carrier oil
  • 12 drops of Lemon Oil
  • 20 drops of Rose Oil
  • 8 drops of Vanilla Oil

Shake vigorously to combine and decant into bottles.

2. Wood Nymph

Whimsical and unique, this blend starts out with sharp bergamot, evolves into relaxing jasmine, and lingers with the earthy, almost leathery, wood musk of vetiver. It’s mysterious and a little otherworldly, combining citrus, floral, and wood notes to give you the full forest experience.

  • 2 tsp carrier oil
  • 12 drops of Bergamot Oil
  • 20 drops of Jasmine Oil
  • 8 drops of Vetiver Oil

Shake vigorously to combine and decant into bottles.

3. Femme Fatale

A little dangerous and seductive, sharp citrus notes start this blend off, then spicy aromatic cardamom and warm sweet tonka bean come through as the scent evolves. It’s a powerful scent to wear in the boardroom or on a night out.

  • 2 tsp carrier oil
  • 12 drops of Blood Orange Oil
  • 20 drops of Cardamom Oil
  • 8 drops of Tonka Bean Oil

Shake vigorously to combine and decant into bottles.

4. Modern Love

This vibrant scent is wonderfully androgynous and unexpected. The deep, herbaceous sage note starts it out, but green tea is crisp, clean, and fresh. Musky, slightly sweet sandalwood adds depth to the blend.

  • 2 tsp carrier oil
  • 12 drops of Sage Oil
  • 20 drops of Green Tea Oil
  • 8 drops of Sandalwood Oil

Shake vigorously to combine and decant into bottles.

5. Farmer’s Market Chic

For a fresh and unique blend that isn’t too feminine or masculine, this blend borrows some favorites from the vegetable patch. Carrot oil has a surprisingly complex scent that is a little spicy, woodsy, and even sweet. Support those notes by blending it with sweet and bright basil, and musky, earthy patchouli.

  • 2 tsp carrier oil
  • 12 drops of Basil Oil
  • 20 drops of Carrot Oil
  • 8 drops of Patchouli Oil

Shake vigorously to combine and decant into bottles.

Get Out There and Smell Awesome

Creating your own perfume might seem intimidating, but perfumers aren’t alchemists; they just know the basic formula and build from there. You can do that, too, by trying out one of these five fun DIY recipes.

After you build your confidence, there’ll be no stopping you as you create your own personalized perfume collection or just one signature scent that announces your arrival in a room.

About the Author

Odessa Denby

Odessa Denby is a writer and editor born in the wilds of Pennsylvania. After studying abroad at Oxford University she caught the travel bug and ended up living in South Korea for 4 years. There, she learned about the wonders of skincare and started blogging. Now living in New York, she maintains a YouTube channel where she demonstrates how to create clothing and costumes by hand to have a more sustainable and personalized wardrobe. Encouraging more educated and conscientious consumption is one of her main passions. Her creative writing work has been published in a number of literary journals including Slipstream and Outside Culture. You can find more of her non-fiction work on Medium. When not writing, she fills her hours with tea snobbery, bubble baths, and period dramas.

Browse posts by Odessa Denby