Organic perfumery: My Sexiest Essential Oil Picks for DIY Perfumes!

By Michèle Duquet

Featured photographer: Colette Stevenson
(Click here to visit Colette’s website; click photo for larger view)

orchid.credit

Ahhh spring! It has finally arrived, and there is definitely something in the air!

Our senses seem suddenly reawakened by the freshness of its enticing bouquet. With its perfect blend of scents and sensuality, what better time than spring to explore the seductive allure of essential oil elixirs.

One of my great passions is creating essential oil blends for organic perfumes.

Essential oil perfumery is such a sensuous art form. It involves all the senses… even the intuition… and the heart. Like a beautiful song, the right blend can make my soul sing.

A lot goes into blending and building a scent bouquet, drop by drop, harmonizing the notes, listening with the heart and ‘nose’, journaling every detail and nuance, then knowing when to let it rest, age, like a fine wine.

It is where art meets organic chemistry with an entrancing sprinkle of je ne sais quoi.

Now before I get too carried away, I first need to introduce you to the concept of “Notes”.

 

Notes:

Notes are the building blocks of any captivating blend. These are grouped into to 3 categories: Base, Middle and Top notes.

To understand how notes function in a perfume blend, think of them in terms of which scent you smell first. Those are the top notes. Let a bit of time pass, and a secondary scent appears. These are the mid or middle notes. And finally, after the mid notes seem to settle, a final scent emerges. These are the base notes, or a mix of the base and mid notes that remain as your main scent.

The basic science behind it is the size of the molecules and the rate at which they evaporate. The faster they evaporate, the quicker we can smell them.

The notes are also known as head (top), heart (mid) and base (I like to think of these as the connection to our sensuality). I love the notes seen through this imagery. Very romantic!

So let’s get you started on creating your very own enchanting bouquet!

Here are my sexiest picks for each category:

 

Base notes:

 

To start building a blend, always begin with your base notes. Think of these as your ‘fixatives’, the notes that will grab hold of the mid and top notes, enhancing the whole bouquet while giving it its depth.

1. Vetiver:
This is a very common base note you’ll find in many perfumes. It has a beautiful velvety touch when creating a perfume blend. One of my absolute favorite base notes.

2. Sandalwood:
I love the scent of sandalwood, such a sensual sexy scent. It isn’t very strong as a base note, but what it lacks in strength, it more than makes up in sexiness. It can literally make me weak in the knees!

3. Patchouli:
What?? Oh no not patchouli! I know, I hear you, but you’ll have to trust me on this one, it is a fantastic base note. A little goes a long way. You might not even be able to detect it in your blend, but the result will amaze you. It has a way of mixing with the mid and top notes that can turn a simple 5 essential oil blend into a rich complex and sophisticated scent. But ok, if you really hate patchouli, just go for vetiver.

4. Balsam de Peru:
This essential oil is special on its own in that it is already textured and layered with a soft vanilla undertone and a hint of cinnamon. But its richness and warmth, along with its ability to fix floral mid and top notes, makes it a beautiful base note to any perfume blend.

 

Middle notes:

 

The important role of the mid notes is as the heart of the perfume. It also helps to soften some of the stronger or even more unpleasant side of some base notes (Myrrh is a good example of this).

Before determining which mid notes you will choose, you’ll first need to determine which mix well with the base notes you’ve selected.

Here are a few of my favorites followed by which essential oils they combine well with (I’ve only listed those that are among today’s picks).

Use these combination lists when you choose your top notes as well.

 

1. Rose:
Rose otto or rose absolute. This essential oil, known as the queen of essential oils, is a powerful aphrodisiac. It has a rich and enveloping scent, undeniably sensual. Unfortunately, it is also very pricy. If you find one that is inexpensive, it’s not an essential oil but rather a chemical or synthetic replica made in a lab. A few milliliters should cost over $100. I include it here because it is one of my favorite essential oils for perfumery. I am positively mesmerized by its sensuality… its delicate yet rapturous scent transports me to a world of love and beauty like no other. Oops! Getting carried away again – did I mention that it’s a powerful aphrodisiac!
    Rose blends well with the base notes of vetiver, sandalwood and balsam de peru. It also combines well with bergamot, carnation absolute, geranium rose, jasmine, mandarin, neroli, and ylang ylang.

2. Neroli:
Neroli comes from the blossom of the orange tree. Many of you might not be familiar with it but it is a most delicate and intricate scent. In aromatherapy it is known to fight depression. It is a scent I am quite certain I can never live without. It has a delicate flower aroma, offering instant freshness. It reaches me deep in my soul every time I smell it.
 Neroli blends well with the base notes of sandalwood and patchouli. It also combines well with carnation absolute, geranium rose, jasmine, lavender, mandarin, sweet-orange, rose and ylang ylang.

3. Geranium rose:
This floral scent is reminiscent of an English garden. It is fresh and instantly uplifting. It has a lightness of spirit that seems to grab your attention in a most delightful and surprising way.
 Geranium rose blends well with the base notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli. It also combines well with bergamot, carnation absolute, jasmine, lavender, mandarin, sweet-orange, rose and ylang ylang.

4. Jasmine:
We cannot talk of sexy oils without mentioning Jasmine. Rich and exotic, it is a heavier mid note than the others, so I find I use it as a base/mid note that combines well with a light fruity top note like mandarin. It is known as the king of essential oils and is another powerful aphrodisiac. What a mood it creates!
Jasmine blends well with the base notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli. It also combines well with bergamot, carnation absolute, geranium rose, mandarin, neroli, sweet-orange, rose and ylang ylang.

5. Ylang Ylang:
Ylang ylang is another essential oil classified as an aphrodisiac. It has a very distinct floral scent, and can be quite a strong addition to your blend, so start by adding only one drop at a time. I find it balances very well with base notes because its scent is so ‘heady’.
    Ylang Ylang blends well with the base notes of vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli and balsam de peru. It also combines well with bergamot, carnation absolute, jasmine, mandarin, sweet-orange and rose.

 

Top notes:

Top notes are what will form your initial impression of a perfume, so keeping this in mind, ask yourself what are your preferences. Do you prefer a floral scent or a citrus scent? Citrus oils are often used as top notes but there are also some deliciously exotic floral scents, as you’ll see!

1. Bergamot:
Bergamot is used a great deal in perfumes because it blends well with so many essential oils. It has a lovely light citrus scent without being too lemony. It is a more mature bouquet than the other citrus scents, and as a top note, it is a delightful first impression while your senses await the rest of the blend to travel with the mix.

2. Mandarin:
Mandarin has a more distinctive citrus flavor than other citrus essential oils like lemon or sweet-orange. I find it both richer and more robust than the others. As such, I like to blend it with stronger mid and base notes like jasmine and vetiver.

3. Orange-Sweet:
Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh oranges! Nothing like inhaling that zesty burst of freshness. It can be a fun and lively way to top off your blend. Although this might sound counter-intuitive, I don’t recommend mixing it with mandarin, rather try blending it with bergamot instead.

4. Lavender:
Have you ever brushed against lavender flowers, accidentally experiencing the soft and calming fragrance? During my summer walks with my dog Roxy I cannot resist passing my hands over the lavender flowers I encounter along the way. This same effect is what I look for when mixing lavender into my blends. A hint of it is all I need. It is especially lovely with roman chamomile, although chamomile is not on today’s list.
My main reason for listing lavender is that it is known as an enhancer. A single drop of lavender in a synergy will enhance all the other oils. As an experiment, after your perfume is complete, add a single drop of lavender to enhance the blend’s olfactory and aromatherapeutic properties.

5. Carnation Absolute:
Ahhh at last, carnation absolute. Its rich scent is a striking blend of floral, spicy, honey and clove notes. It is expensive, but a little goes a long way. As soon as you open the bottle and sample its lavish scent for the first time, you will never forget it. It has nuances of the carnation flower, but only slightly as the flower itself has a much weaker and simpler scent. Even if it’s not in your perfumery budget, ask to sample its scent at the store, you are in for a treat!


Step-by-step ‘How TO’ blending tips:

What you’ll need:
– A journal for your perfume blend trial entries
– 5 ml dark bottle with a dropper
– Essential oils grouped in base/mid/top notes
– Jojoba carrier oil
– A small bowl of coffee beans

VIP! ….. Write everything down! Nothing like discovering an amazing scent blend only to be unable to replicate it.

Ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated area, and take frequent breaks by stepping outside for some fresh air. Otherwise you may end up feeling a wee bit too ‘euphoric’, or unable to distinguish one scent from another.

Between each smelling test you do with the essential oils, make sure it’s then followed by smelling the coffee beans. This will prevent each individual scent from losing its perceived odor intensity between your scent sampling. If only air is smelled between samplings, the odor intensity will decrease.

Ever wondered why there’s always a bowl of coffee beans next to the essential oils display in health food stores? Now you know!

 

The “lab” work:

(Here’s a photo I took of some my perfumery tests. Each number’s detail is noted in my perfumery journal, along with my impressions of the scent as it grows and changes)

pic4Blog

(1) In a clean dark 5ml bottle, add 1 drop each of your base note choices. You can choose more than one*.
(2) Add your mid note choices: add 1 drop of your mid-note choices in the same bottle, once you’ve decided on a combination you like*.
(3) Using the same method (*), decide on which top note you feel most attracted to and add 1 drop of each to your blend.
(4) Cap it and roll it in your hands vertically in a quick back & forth motion for about 30 seconds. This heats the mix slightly, just enough for you to get a better first impression.
(5) Open the bottle and smell your blend by waving it back & forth under your nose.
(6) As you smell, decide if there is anything missing, or any scent you’d like to add.
(7) Add 1 or 2 drops of these essential oils. They can come from any note group, even a base note if you feel the blend needs more grounding.
(8) Cap it and put it aside without opening it for a few hours. When you smell it again after this rest, see if you’d like to add anything else. Don’t forget to write everything down!

 

*A little trick I sometimes use is to simply open each essential oil bottle and ‘wave’ them together under your nose to pre-sample them together.

 

Bottling your potion:

Now that you’ve fallen in love with your blend, you are ready to amplify it and add a carrier oil to it.

(1) Multiply each drop you’ve chosen by 5 for a light blend, or 10 for a stronger blend. For example, a blend of 2 drops of sandalwood, 1 of jasmine, and 4 of mandarin, will have 10/5/20 drops when multiplied by 5, and 20/10/40 drops when multiplied by 10.
(2) Fill the rest of your bottle with jojoba carrier oil. Cap it tightly and store it in a dark place, away from the sun and heat.
(3) Try leaving it unopened for a few days, but if you can’t resist, go ahead and start using it!

 

Voilà! Congratulations, you’ve just created you very own personalized organic perfume!

An organic perfumer’s secret: essential oil perfumes only last a few hours on the skin, so just use a few drops of essential oil perfume on the inner seams of your darker clothes and the scent will last until the next wash!

Don’t be surprised if everyone wants to know what perfume you’re wearing… just tell them Michèle showed you how to DIY!

 

(NOTE: Essential oils are for external use only. Always consult your health care professional if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or homeopathic remedies before using any essential oil products. Keep out of reach of children and pets, especially cats and birds. NEVER use essential oils on cats or birds.)

Michèle

Michèle is a passionate advocate for high-vibration living. As a lifelong vegetarian, becoming vegan 5 years ago, she has been an organics enthusiast and environmentalist most of her life. She loves sharing with others her knowledge of all that is good for the human spirit and the planet. Empowering people to make the best choices for themselves is her passion.  She is currently finishing writing her first book, a part memoir, part spiritual guide, based on lessons learned during extraordinary mystical and metaphysical events she experienced in childhood. Michèle is a certified aromatologist, Bioenergy therapist, and actor.
You can follow Michèle on twitter.
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296 thoughts on “Organic perfumery: My Sexiest Essential Oil Picks for DIY Perfumes!

    • Thank you!
      I use either organic jojoba or organic liquid coconut oil.
      You can find vanilla either by visiting a health food store that sells essential oils, or by researching online where you’ll find many online stores that sell it.
      Note: vanilla is tricky to work with but if you read some of the other comments or questions about it in this thread, you’ll find a lot of answers in my replies.

  1. Hello! To begin with, thanks for all your tips and advice! I’d really like to know if your multiply by 5 for a light scent, or by 10 for a stronger scent applies only to a 5 ml bottle? Would it be double that for a 10ml roll on?

  2. I would like to make a fresh and citrus eau de cologne scent.. what mix would you suggest? I was thinking of patchouli, neroli, mandarin…

    • Although Neroli is also called orange blossom because it blooms from the bitter orange tree, it doesn’t have a citrus scent. It is an absolutely divine scent and would blend well with orange, but be careful with patchouli as it could easily overwhelm your bouquet.

      Scroll through the comments thread, there are a few lovely citrus blends you can try.

  3. Madam > i use my perfume ratio
    Top – 20% Mid-70% Base- 10% it is ok? ….or i need to change it ? ….
    because i am a Vedic Astrologer > ….i have to use Mid Note much as a Rising Zodiac …..for me i Use my personal astrology perfume with Orange as Major Note ………

    i want a recipe orange base with hints of some spice note >
    can you help me ?

    thanks a lot in advance >

    • I love what you are doing! I hadn’t heard of having a personal astrology perfume… it sounds wonderful.

      Try this simple blend:

      Base: Balsam de Peru (10%)
      Use as mid & top notes: clove (5%) + Sweet-orange (65%) + tangerine (20%)

      Don’t worry about what oils are ‘officially’ in what category because with this combo, sweet-orange can act as a mid-note anchored by clove, and tangerine will act as as your top-note.

      • Thanks a LOT madam.
        Balsam de PERU …….not found in india. replace > …..please ……Vanilla ?

        Personal Astrological Perfume possible ….
        Moon Sign — Top Note
        Rising Sun– Mid note
        Soul Planet– Base Note ……

        all planets relate to essence …..its also a fantastic art …..like rose for venus, like lavender for mercury, sandalwood for jupiter etc etc …..

  4. Hi there,

    Thank you for all this great info. I’m just starting out as well..I got to this place by trying so many perfumes and still not finding that ‘signature scent’ I love.
    I’d like to make a combination with Ambrette seed..I also love rose and vanilla. But I’m open to patchouli and anything that would smell sweet creamy and that lingers. Thanks!

  5. Hello,

    I have three questions,

    1. Could u please tell me what combinations would work best for men? base, middle, and top? I want it to smell somewhere in the middle (sweet and strong). Also mention how many drops if possible 🙂

    2. Can I replace jojoba and coconut with extra virgin olive oil?

    3. What brands do u use? or which brands do u like or would u suggest? 🙂

    Thank you

    • 1. What have you tried so far?
      2. No. The reason we use jojoba or liquid coconut oil is because they last up to 3 years without going rancid and don’t smell. Olive oil is much too strong a scent and would go bad too quickly.
      3. Any brand that is 100% pure and certified organic is a good brand.

  6. Hi there,

    I am so pleased that I found this article as I have been interested in trying to make my own perfume. Personally I love the slightly more old fashioned rose inspired smells and was wondering you thoughts please on the following blend:

    Vetiver, Rose, Neroli, Ylang Ylang and Sweet Orange. Do you think this would be too sweet? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I understand that Rose is very expensive, but I’m happy to sacrifice the price if I can find a blend that I love (and contains no nasty chemicals that the synthetic perfumes contain).

  7. I am creating a beard oil blend of
    Cedar and Vetiver
    Clove and Sage
    Grapefruit and Bergamot

    I am having trouble getting them in balance Iat the moment i am using 5 Cedar 2 vetiver 1 clove 1 sage and 3 Berg and 3 Grape could you help me with any blending tips to get them in harmony? I am using a 2% dilution so 16 drops total. Any help would be great! Thanks

    • Try it without the clove, and replace it with 2 drops black pepper. Also mix your blend without any cedarwood at first. If you like that blend, voilà! If it’s not quite there yet, and if you have some sandalwood, try replacing the cedarwood with 5 drops of sandalwood. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Thank you for your wonderful article! Very inspiring.

    I was wondering if you have any tips for vanilla? I know it’s come up in previous comments, but my question is regarding the actual blending, which I’m having trouble with. It’s so sticky and almost molasses-like! I’m using vanilla absolute – only a little in my blend, but it tends to separate out. Do you have any thoughts?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Vanilla does not mix with oils and will separate. If you can find a light milky unscented basic facial lotion, you could create a “lotion” perfume by mixing the vanilla and other oils into the lotion, rather than creating an oil perfume. I’ve had good success with this method as I also make my own creams and lotions.

    • I try to stay away from recommending where to purchase oils. I find that it’s better for each perfumer to source their own favorite suppliers. If you do an online search, you’ll find quite a few online companies that sell them. Some have consumer feedback that are very helpful.

  9. Hi, I want to make a scent to add to my homemade shower wash. I’ve used 30 drops of ylang ylang and 20 geranium 100% essential oils but no scent. So added another 20 drops of each and still hardly any scent. What am I doing wrong? Thanks

  10. Hi, Very nice to read your blog. Did you try to use real flowers then incorporate it into formula? would you place flowers in alcohol? or better in oil? Do you know if glycerine could be used in perfume blend somehow?
    thank you very much. Olia

  11. I am attempting to get something mysterious. Regal and untouchable. I understand the whole three notes rule and how they work. Normally I stick to the rules like glue, but I am thinking that light airy top note will squelch my attempts to reach my goal. Do I dare ignore the top note completely and just satisfy the bottom two? How do you think the following items in these proportions would work?
    (B) Musk 10%
    (M) Rose Garden 50%
    (M) Bergamot 10%
    (M) Jasmine 10%
    (B) Sandalwood 20%

  12. Thank you for this great article! It was such a pleasure to read! I’ve been using essential oils to replace households cleaners and laundry products and I really love the combination of lemon and lavender for those purposes. For a perfume though, I’d like something similar (clean and fresh) but more subtle. Something a bit softer and sweet but not overwhelmingly floral. Any suggestions for a simple, feminine and pretty scent? I’m thinking a soft floral with a subtle woody undertone and a hint of citrus to brighten it up. Then perhaps just a bit of lavender or something herbaceous to give it that freshness. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    • I think you might enjoy this simple blend: patchouli + geranium rose + bergamot. This would be exactly what you describe:
      ” a soft floral with a subtle woody undertone and a hint of citrus to brighten it up”.

  13. Hi Michele,
    Stumbled upon your blog today. I have been meaning to make my own perfume for ages & just needed a nudge in the right direction. You’re article has me inspired.
    Also, I scrolled down to your photograph & it made me smile. So natural, happy & warm.
    Thank you,
    Nolana

    • I’m so sorry but I am terribly allergic to perfumes and can’t even hug someone wearing any commercial perfumes without having to take a shower and wash my hair – let alone smell one to try to create a similar scent.

      If you search what some of the notes and essential oils are that the company used to create their blend, this would be the way to go. There are many websites that give this information. Good luck! Let me know how your search went.

  14. Hello my name is mutlu korkmaz I’m from Turkey ☪…. Some Notes (patchouli, rose, myrrh etc.) middle and base notes use … How to fix common points
    Determine the Distillation methods? Volatility rates and Determinants?

    • If I understand one of your questions correctly, re. volatility rates, you are wondering how to determine the volatility rates of essential oils? A volatility rate being the rate at which an essential oil evaporates, the scientific way would be to use gas chromatography with temperature programming. The easy way, my favorite way ;), is to use base-mid-top note classifications, knowing top notes evaporate the quickest.

      I’m not sure this answers your question as I’m not certain I’m understanding it correctly. Could you clarify further?

  15. Great article, Michele. I found it while searching for a natural DIY perfume with grapefruit.
    I love sweet and heavy perfumes, but I need an uplifting still feminin perfume for everday use.

    Do you have some advice?

    Thank you (and many greetings from germany)! 🙂

    Gaby

  16. Wow!
    What a fantastic post! Your passion and love on this words made me feel great. You are awesome!

    I’m looking for some scents to my beard, and would like as well to mix it with any soft wax or cream for modeling. Any suggestion?

    • Thank you so much!!
      I’d recommend sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood or clary-sage. They are all very nice masculine scents. But do not use clary-sage if you are around a pregnant woman in her 1st trimester (if she is your life partner for instance).

      • I did my first blend yesterday! I’m using vetiver, rose (so expensive!), bergamot and sweet-orange, just like you told us, but it lacks the sweetness I found in the comercial beard oil I´m using now, specially in the base notes. Would you recomend to add more rose, or try any other combination? Jamine would be great, but here in Brazil it is even more expensive than rose, so I’ll try to avoid it.

        In time: I read you are vegan, and it sound obvious now. Your relation with nature and the world is wonderfull!

  17. Truly, you are above the highest rank in the celestial hierarchy, Michelle! Keep shining your light to inspire people to become the best they can be. You are the One we all wish we had. Thank you for your time, effort and sacrifice donating us your talent and research. Our prayers will reward you generously.

  18. I am trying to use ylang-yland, neroli, jasmine, rose and sandalwood, vetiver to make a perfume. How many drops should I use? Thank you for your help.

  19. Hello,

    I am trying to put together a scent. I mixed Amyris, Lavender and Bergamot (Base, Mid, High, Respectively), but I can’t get it to work. When I used one drop of each, the Lavender took everything over, with a little Bergamot in the background and no hint of Amyris. So to “ground” it I added nine more drops of Amyris (one after the other of course) but I feel like the scent is just coming apart. I really like the smell of Amyris and would like to keep that as my base. What should I do? Switch Bergamot for Lemon? and Lavender for Black pepper? Also, Im trying to keep it towards masculine side. Please help

    Thank you!

    • Amyris has a lovely warm, woody scent, similar to sandalwood. Leaving out lavender and adding black pepper is a good choice. For the top note, you can add bergamot, but only if your blend feels incomplete. You can leave it out completely if you enjoy a simple blend of amyris and black pepper as this blend is more towards the masculine side.

    • Not at the moment but I am planning on including a Vlog (video-blog) to my blog at some point in the future, so stay tuned, it might just happen one day! ✨🌟💫

  20. Hi, I am very new to making perfumes with essential oils and wondered if you had a recipe for a calming perfume to help with my anxieties. Thank you.

    • Vetiver is a wonderful oil for grounding and relaxing. Lavender is another very effective oil for calming and soothing. A simple blend of Vetiver and lavender will have the immediate effect of calming your anxieties. As far as “the” recipe, I will leave that to you to determine according to your individual tastes. Start with just a few drops of each, and add more of one or the other to create the scent you prefer. 🌼

  21. giving my first go at this tomorrow. planning sandalwood base, ylang ylang/jasmine/neroli middle and mandarin or bergamot top. What about adding something minty like spearmint or eucalyptus? Too much?

  22. thank you, very informative and beautiful. I use vanilla sandalwood or simple rose geranium in my beauty business, just to have that wonderful scent in the air when my clients walk in, starts their experience with a facial. I have made some perfume blends, geranium rose blends are my favorites, but they don’t seem to last on my skin more than an hour. I have tried other organic oils and no improvement. I’m using expensive organic oils and tried different companies, but I just cannot get any staying power, even using the oils neat. What do you suggest?

    • Hello Janice,

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Not to quote myself, but well, to quote myself LOL:

      “An organic perfumer’s secret: essential oil perfumes only last a few hours on the skin, so just use a few drops of essential oil perfume on the inner seams of your darker clothes and the scent will last until the next wash!”

      The reason the scent doesn’t last is because essential oil molecules are so tiny, they quickly make their way through the skin and into your body to be eliminated.

      Try putting your perfume on the inseam of your jacket (not on white though, it will stain) or even on your scarf. It will last a long time! 😀

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