Back in 2014 I went to my first herbology conference. I attended so many amazing lectures, and most of them completely blew my mind. One that I had a lot of fun in was a class that taught us how to make our own perfumes.
In that class, I learned how each perfume had different notes, or layers, and that made so much sense to me. Similar to using spices when cooking, these aromatic layers blend together to tell the whole story of a fragrance.
The top notes are the ones you initially smell when you spray a fragrance blend, be it from a fancy perfume or, in our case today, an essential oil blend that you create yourself. These top notes are usually floral, fruity, or aromatic and are what initially pull you in. Because of their low molecular weight (yeah, I’m getting all science-y on you), they tend to dissipate pretty quickly and not linger for very long.
Middle notes have a bit more weight to their molecules, which makes them the elements that stick around longer. These scents are usually in the fruity or spicy families.
Finally, the base notes are the ones that remain the longest. These types of notes are generally found in oils made of resins, wood, vanilla, and amber.
Now that you understand the ultra basics of fragrance layering, it’s time to play!
There are a few ways to make your own blends. You can choose essential oils based on their effects (such as soothing, energizing, etc.), or you can go strictly based on how they smell.
I’m very sensitive to fragrances. The wrong scent can give me an instant headache that feels like someone’s thrown an icepick into my forehead. I’m not even exaggerating on this. If you’re like me, or even just slightly so, you might need to put the “notes” principle aside and just go with what scents don’t bother you.
Once you’ve determined all of the oils you’d like to use, the fun begins. Choose one, two, or three essential oils that you think might blend nicely together.
Let’s pretend you’re drawn to using jasmine, vanilla, and orange. Take off all of the lids (keeping track of which one goes with each bottle), and bring all of the bottles to your nose. Do you like how they smell as a group now that you have them all up in your face? If not, mix and match until you find something that’s more pleasant.
There have been times when my brain thinks a blend will be delightful, only to have them together and the scent isn’t that great. You’re not married to any combination, so mess around until you find the combo (or solo oil) that fits your needs.
In my example, the jasmine is the top note, the orange is the middle, and the anchoring vanilla is the base note. That means that the jasmine will float away sooner than the other two, and the vanilla will be more dominant.
When I am first creating EO blends, I’ll put some water in a squirt bottle and then begin slowly adding the oils. Don’t overthink any of this. If you’re like, “I totally don’t understand the notes thing,” ignore that part and just experiment with the number of drops of each oil until you get the blend the way you like.
FYI this isn’t a matter of using 20 drops of oils. In this case, more isn’t better. You can create a glorious blend by using a couple drops of one oil, one of another (especially the base note), and then three of another – or any combo that makes your nose happy.
Keep track of your measurements when you’re in the creation process (amount of water and number of drops of each oil). That way, once you find the combo you like, you’ll be able to replicate it in the future.
Remember, if you’ll be putting your creation on your body, use a carrier oil, be mindful of the potential for skin irritations, and pay attention to sun reactivity. Photosensitive oils include bergamot, cumin, lemon, lime, tangerine, orange, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, ginger, grapefruit, neroli, and patchouli. This isn’t a complete list, so do more research if you’re planning on using a blend and going out into the sunshine. The last thing you want is to get fried because of your fragrance blend.
Also, anytime you’re working with essential oils, be sure to check with your doc before using, especially if you’re on meds, if you’re pregnant or nursing, or if you’ll be using around kids or pets.
Have a fun time making magical blends, and please share your creations in the comments below.