How to Make Perfume with Essential Oils

People often ask us how to make perfume with essential oils. It is so magical to take light citrus, uplifting floral, and warming woody essential oils, mix them with alcohol and a fixative, and transform them into stunning fragrances. Creating these perfumes can take a month or more.

However, when you compare the cost of perfume to the big Design Houses, taking that extra time can be a significantly cheaper option. However, you still have a fabulous, luxurious product at the end of the process. Handmade perfumes with essential oils are perfect for gifting to friends and family.

Today we’ll learn:

    • A professional aromatherapist’s tips and tricks guide you to success.
    • Top, Middle, and Base notes and how to use them to construct a scent worthy of any design house.
    • The best ways to use different perfumes and make them last as long as possible. 
    • The process of selecting different kinds and strengths of perfume.

Jump in and delve into the world of sumptuous scents and fabulous fragrances. Learn this simple process, and we are sure after this article, you will always come up smelling of Roses after this article.

The Power and Perils of Fragrance 

The Power

Nothing has the power to transport us more powerfully than fragrance. It can whizz you back through time to the scents of your childhood, your Mom’s baking, your grandfather's cologne, or your Dad smelling of garden and bonfire.

It has the power to transport us back to the fabulous places we have been, the fresh, vibrant smell of Sicilian Lemons or the heady, almost musky cinnamon in the markets of India.

The Perils

As much as fragrance can evoke wonderfully pleasant memories that we can envelop ourselves in, it can also stir physical reactions. Strong odors generally create solid responses and can even cause nausea. So, we must think carefully about making a perfume with essential oils, especially if we intend to give it as a gift.

Another peril, according to longstanding aromatherapist Jill Bruce, can be that  “if there is no alcohol in the formulae, it will evaporate too fast both in the vessel and upon the skin.” (Bruce, 92)

Therefore, we must consider preserving and prolonging the fragrance we have worked hard to construct.

Learn the Composition of a Scent

All commercial perfumes are formulated around the same principle of having top, middle and base notes; it is similar to how music is composed of varying notes. We can create a harmonious cacophony of fragrances if we understand how to construct one from scratch.

Firstly, we need to understand the tenacity of essential oil. According to (Aftel, 01), it is “the length of time they remain fragrant on our skin.”

Top or Head Notes

Top notes are the scents that are the lightest and most fleeting, so these scents fade the fastest. Generally, the first notes you recognize when you smell a perfume make the first impression. Some are so brief, ethereal, and fleeting that they disappear quickly, without a trace. You may question, why bother? But without their floatiness, perfumes can seem flat, lifeless, and dull. They are an essential part of the whole construction and the definition of the final scent.

Some examples of top notes: Many of the citrus families: bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, and lime, fall into this category. Green notes appear here, mints, galbanum, and rosemary. Spicier offerings from coriander, pink pepper, and cardamom. Floral scents would include rosewood and lavender.

Middle or Heart Notes

These give the perfume body and greater depth. It is the part that makes your blend come alive and sing.

Though sometimes the florals that appear here, such as rose, jasmine, gardenia, and tuberose, can verge on the narcotic, care is needed to balance these wonderful but deliciously heady scents.

Clary sage and verbena weave their way into this heart note space, offering a greener scent at a slightly more profound level, so it can be beneficial for adding that broad definition to a scent.

Base Notes

Base notes underpin the whole composition, the oils that last the longest. These are the headier, stronger scents at our disposal.

Generally, base notes are scents collected from the oils of barks, resins, grasses, and roots to name a few. Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Frankincense, Myrrh, Patchouli, and Benzoin are all base notes.

There are also scents from pods and beans like Vanilla and Tonka Bean, which are very popular in the global perfumery market.

Benzoin is also an excellent fixative to help your scent last longer, and I cannot recommend it in your formulae highly enough.

This should always be your starting point, starting with the strongest scents and layering upon them. If you start with the lightest scents, it can easily overpower them accidentally.

What Does it Mean to ‘Dry down’?

Your scent and final blend change with the ‘dry down.

Dry down is where you smell the top/head notes first, which quickly disappear, then the middle/heart notes, which slowly fade, and finally, you are left with the base notes that last the longest.

It smells one way when you first apply it, and all the head notes are singing. Twenty minutes later, the heart notes come to the fore as the head notes dissipate, and an hour later, the base notes are left to sing the swan song on your skin.

This is how it is meant to work; they are expertly designed this way. It is something that you should consider when formulating your special blend.

Types of Perfume

There are different types of perfume. Do you know which one’s your favorite?

Citrus perfumes are born from history's earliest Eau de Colognes. Cologne’s are one of the lightest perfumes available, with low essential oil and high alcohol content, lasting about two hours. Generally, they consist of a mix of citrus fruits and herbs.

Today, more intense and concentrated citrus perfumes are a popular choice in their own right. Enlivening, fresh, and bright, they make wonderful scents to start the day.

Green perfumes evoke the wonder of natural leaves and grasses, the freshness of a violet leaf, or even green tea. Vibrant, focusing, and balancing make a good scent to wear to work.

Floral perfumes are a cascade of flowers like rose, jasmine, neroli, violets, lavender, and rose geranium. They are often underpinned with those base notes from woods, resins, and such. Scents like this are perfect for special occasions and celebrations.

Oriental perfumes can be wildly exotic; their purpose is to entice us with their decadence. The layering of spices, florals, and unusual roots like Orris gives one the impression of luxuriousness and invites you to sink into it. Best saved for those more intimate and sensual dates.

A relative newcomer is Ozone perfumes, reminiscent of freshly washed linen, they smell clean and bright, but at times they can be quite sweet with aromatic base notes.

What Essential Oils Can be Used as Perfume?

Most essential oils can be used in perfumery. Still, as with any essential oil preparation, you must follow the safety data and only use the recommended percentage of essential oil in the perfume base.

Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Perfume

How to Make Perfume with Essential Oils that Last Longer  

Perfumery requires some form of alcohol in the ingredients, or it will evaporate too fast. That would be a terrible shame when you have gone to such trouble.

As I mentioned, Benzoin is a wonderful fixative, and I would always recommend it in any formulation for this purpose. It is not obtrusive; while deep and resinous, it leaves space for those top notes to sing still. Indeed, it helps them do that for a long.

Orris root has been a fixative in still rooms worldwide for centuries. Widely used in the perfume industry, it is another tempting option to consider here.

I love Orris's depth, mystery, and luxuriousness, but I feel Benzoin is a better all-rounder when you want to make lighter, brighter perfumes. There is also a substantive difference in cost.

How To Make Essential Oil Perfume

As a British writer, I have worked with the metric system that I know and feel comfortable with. You, of course, may convert any measures to suit yourself if you feel confident to do that. Just make sure that they are proportionate at every stage.

It must be noted that when dealing with large quantities of essential oils, weighing them would be more accurate, but that could make the process seem overly complicated. I want you to read this and feel it is something you can easily achieve.

What You'll Need

    • 500ml Perfume grade alcohol - Ethyl Alcohol 99.5% Denatured 40-B 200 Proof Alcohol
    • Selection of Essential Oils
    • 1 tsp Benzoin resin (Styrax Benzoin)
    • Stainless steel stirrers
    • Blotting paper cut into small strips. You can also buy ready-made “Scenting strips.”
    • Pipettes
    • 500ml Distilled Water
    • A selection of dark glass beakers, bottles, or jars with evaporation-proof lids.  
    • Stainless steel Funnel
    • A beautiful Vessel for your final masterpiece blend.


We talked about how important it is to have alcohol in your blend, to reduce how fast your essential oil fragrances dissipate. Using top-grade perfumers alcohol is highly recommended, though you could use a high-proof vodka. This would be a shame when weighed against the cost of the essential oils, though.

The alcohol will make up two-thirds of the final blend, and the essential oils one-third.

Your essential oil selection should contain a range of top, middle and base notes. You should have all the safety data and know the maximum percentages you should add. It is easy to get carried away in the fun of the fragrance and forget. 

Benzoin is going to act as your fixative for the fragrance blend.

Blotting paper is so you can smell the fragrance blend without applying it to your skin to give a true reflection of the scent. You do NOT want to try it on your skin yet at these early concentrations; use the blotting paper only.

Pipettes are so you can take tiny amounts of your blends to mix them, rather than mixing the whole batch and potentially losing, or spoiling, a large number of oils.

You will need a selection of dark glass containers with lids, one for your tincture, one for your top, middle, and base note blends, you may want a few spare to experiment with and a master vessel for your final blend to mature in. The size depends on how much you make in the first place, as you can scale the recipe up or down proportionately.

Following these instructions, you will need at least:

    • 4 x 150ml dark glass bottles (Benzoin tincture, top, middle, and base note mixes).
    • 1 x 1000ml dark glass bottle (Final blend of all notes and tincture).
    • 3 small glass or stainless steel pots/beakers to test your combined note mixes.

You will also need to decide what kind of perfume you will make and how much the final product will give you. Then you can work out how many bottles of your preferred size you will need when it comes to bottling time. See the ready reckoner below for an overview.

A stainless steel funnel will make life much easier and help save your precious perfumes from spillage. They won’t create any cross contamination if cleaned properly too.

Then you will need a beautiful vessel to store your final fabulous fragrance. Dark glass bottles will keep your fragrance blend in top condition for longer. Store it in a cool, dry place with a consistent ambient temperature.

Also Read: Homemade Scented Candle Ingredients and Recipes

DIY How to Make Perfume with Essential Oils

Are you ready to delve into the most exciting and vibrant part of this magical process?

Take my hand as I lead you to step by step in making your perfume.

If you are using resin.

1. Add 1 tsp of benzoin resin (Styrax benzoin) and top up to 100ml. The alcohol should dissolve the resin entirely, but it can be strained. This can take between a week to a month. Shake every day.
2. Pour 100ml of alcohol into a dark glass, lidded container; this will be for your base notes. Carefully choose your selection of base notes. After adding every essential oil, it is worth checking the progress, using a small strip of blotting paper to waft it gently under your nose. DO NOT try it on your skin at this concentration.

If you are creating your blend, write EXACTLY what you have added at each step.

3. Follow the same process as above with a new glass container for your middle or heart notes.
4. Follow the same process with a new glass container for your top or head notes.

You should now have a container with your benzoin tincture for each top, middle and base note. Four containers in total.

5. This is where the art of the master blender comes to play. In a new container containing 50mls of alcohol, I recommend you take a minimal drop of each top, middle, and base note and blend them.

You can break down this process even further. Mix just the base and middle notes to see if that is harmonious, or mix the middle and top notes, and so on.

Use the blotting strips to assess how the fragrance is developing.

Don’t forget to add a tiny drop of the benzoin tincture because it will have a small effect at this stage that will help you define the outcome when it is added.

If you find the blend balance is wrong, you waste only a small fraction of your oils, and the blends can be adjusted accordingly.

Remember to write exactly what you added if you adjust your top, middle, or base blends.

You can also try adding each of the notes in different proportions, for example,

    • 3ml base note oils (3%)
    • 10ml middle note oils (10%)
    • 15ml top note oils (15%)

I know I sound like a broken record, but please jot it down; you will likely forget it.

Generally, you would want more concentration on top notes than base notes, so they do not get overpowered by those stronger, heavier, denser scents.

6. When you are truly confident in your blend, that is when you can mix them all to become one final incredible blend, following your ‘tried and tested’ ratio.
7. Add 2 tbsp. of distilled water to a 300mls mix of alcohol and essential oils. (If your blend ratio means there is less than 300ml, top it up to 300ml with alcohol). Shake this every day for one week.
8. This is the point to decide what perfume you make.
          • For Eau de Cologne, add 100ml of distilled water for every 100ml alcohol/oil mix
          • For Eau de Toilette, add 50ml of distilled water for every 100ml alcohol/oil mix
          • For Eau De Parfum, add 35ml of distilled water for every 100ml alcohol/oil mix
9. Add the benzoin tincture as your fixative.
          • For Eau de Cologne, add 50ml of Benzoin tincture
          • For Eau De Toilette, add 75ml of Benzoin tincture
          • For Eau De Parfum add 100ml of benzoin Tincture

10. Now is when you need to be patient; give the oils a month, time to intermingle and weave their fragrant magic around one another. Time to meld and mature into a sublime scent of distinction. That decision is entirely down to you, your preference, and your nose.

Use blotting paper to assess the fragrance again at this stage, but it is now safe to apply to your skin. ALWAYS do a small patch test on the inner of your elbow or at your wrist, leaving it 24 hours before going wild with the dabbing.

11. You may find you want to give your blend a bit longer to mature, and that is fine to do. Just check it every few days because it will change over time.
12. It is time to bottle your master blend, the fragrance you have designed and created. Remember that dark glass bottles will help the perfume from essential oils last longer. Decant, carefully and slowly using an appropriately sized stainless steel funnel.

Here is a ready reckoner for working out the final volume of your chosen perfume when following this process and the amount of bottles you will need when bottling it all to make those wonderful gifts.

Perfume Type Amount of
Distilled Water Added +40ml
Amount of
Benzoin Tincture Added
Amount of
Final Product (ml)
Amount of
100ml Bottles Needed
Amount of
50ml Bottles Needed
Eau de Cologne Add 100ml of Distilled Water for
Every 100ml alcohol/oil mix.

300+300+40= 640ml
Add 50ml of Benzoin Tincture.

640+50= 690ml
690 6

With 90ml surplus

With 40ml surplus
Eau de Toilette Add 50ml of Distilled Water for
Every 100ml alcohol/oil mix.

300+150+40= 490ml
Add 75ml of Benzoin Tincture.

490+75= 565ml
565 5

With 65ml surplus

With 15ml surplus
Eau de Parfum Add 35ml of Distilled Water for
Every 100ml alcohol/oil mix.

300+105+40= 445ml
Add 100ml of Benzoin Tincture.

445+100= 545ml
545 5

With 45ml surplus

With 45ml surplus

13. Labeling your perfume is important to detail the percentage of alcohol in the final mix.

          • For Eau de Cologne 50%
          • For Eau De Toilette 57%
          • For Eau De Parfum 66%

You should also list the active chemicals. You don’t have to give away your Top Secret formula; you can list the main chemical constituents of the oils used. E.g. neral, geraniol etc.

You can find these by searching “chemical constituents” of the essential oils in your blend.

Also Read: Best Natural Essentials Oils For Deodorant

A Recipe Blend for You to Try for Yourself

Safety data percentages are provided here for your convenience.  Remember the percentage (%) stated is for the OVERALL recipe, including the distilled water and the benzoin tincture being added.

It is NOT for just 100ml of alcohol you are adding here.

I have left the room in the formula for you to add more if you want to tweak it to your taste.

Make sure that you are working within the safety data percentages.

Base notes to add into 100ml of alcohol.
Remember that the Benzoin Tincture also adds to your base note composition.
Essential Oil Safety Data Limit Amount to add in
100ml of Alcohol
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) 3% 7.5ml
Vetiver (Vetiveria Zizanoides) 3% 7.5ml
Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) 3% 5ml
Middle notes to add into 100ml of alcohol.
Essential Oil Safety Data Limit Amount to add in
100ml of Alcohol
Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata) 0.8% 8ml
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium asperum var roseum) 3% 20ml
Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum Grandiflorum) 0.85% 5ml
Top notes to add into 100ml of alcohol.
Essential Oil Safety Data Limit Amount to add in
100ml of Alcohol
Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia) 0.4% 8ml
Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum) 3% 10ml
Lime (Citrus Latifolia Tanaka) 0.7% 10ml

Give it a go and see what you think of this blend that lifts you in a citrus burst to bring you into an intense floral hug and finally envelop you in those delicious heady base notes.

Remember to note every change you make, what you add, how much, and at what stage.

If you create something so wonderful that everyone asks for a bottle, you will be pretty miffed if you come to make it and realize you cannot replicate it because you did not note the changes you made to the formula.

How To Wear Your Aromatherapy Perfume

After being patient and waiting for your perfume to mix, meld, and mature, you will be excited to use your new perfume the moment it is ready.

Generally, it is said to focus on your pulse points, anywhere where the veins run close to the surface of your skin. It is warmer here, and the perfume is ‘amplified’ by that extra warmth.

You have pulse points at your wrists, inner elbows, behind your knees, and your ears.

Dabbing, or a little spray, behind your ears and on the wrists is most popular, but resist that urge to rub it in. It can ‘crush’ the scent, especially those fleeting top notes. Leave it on your skin as it is, to meld with your body’s natural oils; it will last longer too.

Some people recommend using a dab of petroleum jelly on your skin and applying perfume to help fix and make it linger longer.

Layering perfumes

We can bolster our scent without overpowering it by introducing other perfumed products to our fragrance regimen. When formulating our perfume, we can introduce it into body oil, talcum powder, and body lotions or butter.

Imagine bathing with a fragranced bath or shower gel, dusting off with matching talcum powder, and nourishing those drier bits with sensual body oil. All this before applying your perfume can create a long-lasting, mysterious perfume profile and a deeply luxurious element of self-care to your routine: pure decadence and no better way to treat yourself to something wonderful.

Final Thought

Perfumes are so personal; they change according to your skin's makeup; what smells one way on could smell completely different on your best friend.

When making perfumes, go with what you know you like and what has worked well. Make what you know you will wear. If you are going to experiment, base it on what appeals to you and only introduce one or two new oil profiles each time until you get used to them and how they interact. Remember, over time, this WILL change as it matures.

When making perfumes for gifts, stick to the trusted recipes and formulae provided; keep it simple, and you cannot go far wrong. When the recipes are simple, they tend to be more appealing to a wider group of people.

You can find some of those tried and tested essential oil perfume recipes in Liz’s book  75 Quick and Easy Aromatherapy Christmas Gifts Ideas: Essential Oil Recipes For Handmade Personalised Gifts (The Secret Healer Oils Manuals.

Hopefully, this has made you feel comfortable and confident that you can have a go and make your perfume with essential oils. Enjoy creating your scent profiles, and let us know how you get on. If you experiment with how to make perfume with essential oils, why not share some of your successful formulas with us?

Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

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