Essential oils have been used for centuries as a means of healing; however, they have also been valued for their exquisite aroma and have been cherished as perfuming agents throughout history. With the onset of less expense synthetic options in the late 19th century, commercial perfumes changed forever. Today however, natural perfuming with essential oils is returning, and consumers are making their own fragrances at home.

From a health perspective, there are multiple benefits in replacing your commercial perfumes with the DIY formulas using 100% pure essential oils. Although perfumes today may contain a trace amount of natural essence, they predominantly contain dozens of potentially hazardous, synthetic petrochemicals. In order to protect trade secrets, many of the chemicals used are said to be “proprietary” so they are not required to disclose the actual ingredient list. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) noted that the average fragrance product tested contained many undisclosed chemicals that have a propensity to accumulate in human tissues with possible carcinogenic implications.

Alternatively, essential oils do not build up in tissue and organs, and when applied to the skin they typically leave the body within three to six hours.

Following a few simple rules, perfuming with essential oils can be fun and effective.

  • Choose essential oils by their “notes”, top note, middle (heart) note, base note; a few examples:
    • Top notesfirst impressions, first to disappear
      • All citrus, basil, eucalyptus, juniper berry, thyme, lavender
    • Middle (heart) notesthe body of the formula
      • Most flowers; rose, jasmine, geranium, neroli, ginger, clove, nutmeg, caraway, rosemary, roman chamomile, lavender, cinnamon
    • Base noteslong lasting full bodied fragrance, mingles with middle or heart notes
      • Vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli, frankincense, myrrh, helichrysum, cedarwood
  • Ideally your formula should contain 30- 40 % top notes, up to 50% middle notes, 20% base notes (Note: A 10ml bottle will hold a maximum of 25 drops)
    • Once you have chosen the essential oils for each note; consider 15 drops as the total number that you will use and start to add single drops of each note into the glass container (10ml bottle with a roller ball is recommended)
      • 1 drop top, 1 drop middle, 1 drop base. Considering the percentages recommended for each note grouping. If 15 drops is the maximum total drops used, your formula may look something like this:
        • 5-6 drops top notes (30-40%)
        • 6-8 drops middle notes (up to 50%)
        • 3 drops base notes – (20%)
      • Typically more than one EO is used per note group i.e. your top notes may include, lemon, lime and grapefruit; divide each of the EOs selected for that group with the total number drops allowed for the formula; i.e. – 5 drops total = 1 lemon, 2 lime, 2 grapefruit.
      • Once all notes and drops are added and you are satisfied with your formula, fill the remainder of your 10 ml roller ball glass bottle with Jojoba Oil and enjoy the final results. Jojoba oil is the only carrier oil used in perfuming as it does not go rancid.

The last word on essential oils is looking at the difference between organic and non-organic oils. Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Non-organic flowers, plants, roots, bark that are used for manufacturing EOs are typically not exposed to large amounts of pesticides and/or toxic weed control chemicals. Inherently, these plants have their own defense mechanisms that protect against such issues.
  • In the extraction of oils from most flower and plant material, the process of “steam distillation” is used and any pesticide residue that may exist, simply does not transfer over into the finished product.
  • Citrus oils are sourced from the outer layer of the skin or peel and they are extracted through a process called “cold pressing”. This extraction method does not offer the same protection against the transfer of pesticide residue and if you cannot confirm the manufacture’s testing practices, then organic is certainly an option to help ensure “pesticide free” citrus EOs.
  • Organic oils may be preferred for many personal reasons; however, if quality and purity is the reason for choosing organic over conventional consider the points made above and seek out the manufactures who are providing extensive test results to ensure purity on every possible level.

Making your own perfumes using essential oils is not only gratifying, but also allows for unique expressions and impressions through scent.

By: Marva Ward CNP