How to Create Your Own Perfume or Cologne

Do you want to make your own signature perfume or cologne scent? Or maybe you’re looking for unique homemade gift ideas for friends, family or even co-workers.

You can make your very own exciting scents with ingredients from the grocery store. Even nature itself can provide essential ingredients for this ambitious and fun project. Why spend a fortune on perfume or cologne when you can make your own for far less then it would be at stores specializing in this product?

Brand name perfume/cologne can cost from $50-200 and much, much more if you shop at a high end retailer. Why spend that much when you can create your own fragrance which is personalized just for you and gives off the fragrance that matches your personality perfectly!

So, know let’s go through the process in designing and creating your own personalized perfume/cologne.

Know the different notes. Perfumes/colognes are a blend of different levels of scent, also called “notes”. When you spray a fragrance on your skin, it moves through these notes in the following order:

  • Top notes are what you smell first. They are also what disappears first, usually within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Middle notes appear as the top notes die off. These are the fragrance’s core, determining which family the scent belongs to – for example, oriental, woody, fresh, or floral
  • Base notes accentuate and fix the fragrance’s middle notes, also known as its theme. They comprise the fragrance’s foundation, making the scent last up to 4 or 5 hours on your skin

-Familiarize yourself with popular top notes.

  • Popular top notes include basil, bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lime, mint, neroli, rosemary, and sweet orange.

-Familiarize yourself with popular middle notes

  • These include black pepper, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, fir needle, jasmine, juniper, lemongrass, neroli, nutmeg, rose, rosewood, and ylang-ylang.

– Familiarize yourself with popular base notes

  • These include cedarwood, cypress, ginger, patchouli, pine, sandalwood, vanilla, and vetiver.

– Know the ratios

  • When mixing a fragrance, first add your base notes, then your middle notes, then finally, your top notes. The ideal ratio for blending notes is 30% top notes, 50% middle notes, and 20% base notes. Some people recommend combining a maximum of 3 to 4 dominant notes

-Find out what notes your favorite perfumes contain. If you’re unsure of how to structure a perfume, have a look at the ingredients of your favorite commercial scents. If you have trouble finding the ingredients or separating them into notes, the Basenotes website is a great resource for breaking down the notes in popular perfumes.

– Buy dark glass containers. Many people recommend using dark glass containers because the dark glass helps protect your perfume from light, which can shorten its lifespan.

  • You’ll also want to make sure your glass containers haven’t previously contained any food items, as any residual scents will transfer to your perfume.
  • The exception to this would be if you actually wanted to use the scent of what was in the glass container before. (Warning: peanut-butter-banana-chocolate perfume might taste better than it smells!)

-Buy a carrier oil. A carrier oil is what carries the scents in a particular fragrance on to your skin. These are generally unscented, and are used to dilute concentrated oils and aromatics that can otherwise irritate your skin.

  • Your carrier oil can really be anything. You can even use olive oil if you don’t mind the scent.
  • One popular perfumer simmers rose petals in virgin olive oil, then combines it all with vitamin E oil to stabilize it.

-Buy the strongest alcohol you can find. A common choice amongst many DIY perfumers is a high-quality, 80- to 100-proof (40% to 50% alc/vol) vodka. Other DIY perfumers favor 190-proof (80% alc/vol) alcohol. Popular choices for 190-proof alcohol include organic neutral grape alcohol and the much cheaper Everclear (a strong American alcohol) which is a grain spirit.

-Select your scents. Your perfume can be made out of a wide variety of ingredients. Common aromatics for perfumes include essential oils, flower petals, leaves, and herbs.

-Decide on a method. The method for making perfume will vary slightly depending on your materials. Two common aromatics used for perfume are plant materials (flowers, leaves, and herbs) and essential oils; the methods vary for each of these.

-Obtain a clean glass container. The type of container isn’t as important as the material: just make sure that a) it’s clean and b) it’s glass. The container also needs to have a tight-fitting lid.

  • As mentioned before, perfumers generally recommend using dark glass, which can lengthen the fragrance’s life by protecting it from light.
  • Avoid using jars that have previously contained food items, even if they’ve been washed out, as the glass might pass the scent on.

-Obtain an odorless oil. Popular choices for use in perfumes include jojoba oil, almond oil, and grape seed oil.

-Collect flowers, leaves, or herbs whose scent appeals to you. Be sure to collect plant materials when the scent is strong and the leaves are dry. Letting them air out can leave them limp and with a less effective scent. You may want to collect and dry more plants than you need, just in case you want to add more to strengthen the oil’s scent later on.

-Remove any unwanted plant materials. If you’re using flowers, use only the petals. If you’re using leaves or herbs, remove any twigs or other bits that might interfere with the scent.

-Bruise the plant materials lightly. This step is optional, but may help to bring out the scent more. You’ll just want to lightly press on the plant materials with a wooden spoon.

-Pour some oil into the glass container. It need only be a small amount – just enough to properly coat and cover your petals/leaves/herbs.

-Add the plant materials to the oil and shut the lid. Ensure that the lid is closed tightly.

-Let the jar sit in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks.

-Open, strain and repeat. If the oil doesn’t smell as strong as you’d like it to after one to two weeks, you can strain out the old plant materials and add new ones to the scented oil, then store it once more.

  • You can repeat this process for several weeks or even months until the oil has reached the desired strength.
  • Be sure to keep the oil! It’s the old plant materials that you want to discard

-Preserve your scented oil. Once you’re happy with the oil, you can add 1 or 2 drops of a natural preservative such as vitamin E or grapefruit seed extract to your scented oil to help extend its life. If you’d like to turn the oil into a lip balm, you can also add some beeswax to it, melt some beeswax in the microwave, combine it with the perfume, then dump the whole mixture into a container to cool and solidify.