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Natural Perfumery: Guidelines and Suggestions

By Mindy Green
December 22, 2010
File under: Aromatherapy, Essential Oils, Saving Money


Part Three

Now that you have a solid basis for the principles of blending, here are the guidelines that categorize the essential oils into groups from which to blend. The ‘notes’ are based on evaporation rates. High evaporating oils are at the top of the scale, with the slowest and thickest oils at the bottom.

The Essential Oils

Top Notes
The most quickly evaporating essential oils are the top notes, sometimes referred to as head notes or peak notes.  In a perfume blend they are the scents that hit you first and dissipate early.  Top notes tend to be light, fresh, sharp and penetrating or distinctly hot or cold.  These top note essential oils are the perfume’s first impressions and can last up to 30 minutes but may dissipate more quickly.  They should comprise five to 20 percent of your blend.

Therapeutically speaking top notes are fast acting, stimulating and are used for depression to uplift the spirit.  Examples include citrus, eucalyptus, mints, cinnamon and clove.

Middle Notes
Middle notes, also called bouquet or heart notes are the main body of the blend.  They round out the blend to create soothing, soft tones and marry the scents together.  The middle notes unfold up to three hours after application and may comprise 50 to 80 percent of the blend.

Therapeutically, middle notes are harmonizing and balancing to the body. This category includes chamomile and marjoram as well as balancing oils such as lavender and geranium.  Middle notes also tend to affect digestion and include carminative seed oils such as dill, celery, fennel and anise, among others.

Base Notes
Sometimes referred to as dry or fond notes, no blend is complete without base notes.  They provide deep, warm, sensuous characteristics and provide a long lasting quality your blend.  These fixatives slow the faster notes’ quick evaporation and should be used rather sparingly.  Base notes are often not very pleasant scents when used alone or at full strength, but when used in proper proportion can add great depth and intensity to a blend.  Base notes predominate after several hours of application and usually make up five percent of the total blend.

Therapeutically, sedating base notes are often used for anxiety, stress, impatience, insomnia and relaxation.  They include most woods, resins and gums and tend to be among the most expensive essential oils.  Some of the more pleasing of the base note scents include, atlas cedarwood, sandalwood, frankincense and jasmine.  Base notes that you may choose to use more sparingly include, spikenard, vetiver, myrrh, cistus and patchouli.  Some single essential oils are so complex they may fit into two categories. This explains why some references may list rose in a top or middle note category, or ylang as base or middle note.

Carriers for Perfume Blends
Jojoba is a good choice as it does not become rancid, but any good vegetable oil may be used with 10 percent wheat germ and Vitamin E added as antioxidants.  Water may be used as a carrier if you want to make a light body mist.  Don’t forget to shake well before spraying since the oils will separate from the water.  Pure grain alcohol works well for blends with resinous essential oils.  In the perfume industry, the only difference between cologne and perfume is the amount of alcohol used.

Once made, perfumes should age for several weeks.  This provides enough time for all of the single essential oils to meld together, emerging as a unique cohesive blend with individualized character. Your perfume blend should have volume and a full-bodied character that should not appear “thin” or “tinny”.  Carefully constructed perfume blends will be representational through all three phases of the fragrance life.

Wearing your perfume blend
If your blend contains an essential oil that is photosensitizing, wear it on an area of your body that won’t be exposed to sunlight.  Be aware that some ingredients can stain clothing.  Never wear too much perfume; it is better to be understated.  The desired result is to entice those around you to come closer, to be drawn into your aura of scent.  A successful perfume blend imparts a sense of wellbeing with a fragrance that is not overbearing.  The blend must be appropriate to the surroundings, have staying power, unfold evenly and be skin-safe.

Perfumes are wonderful for enhancing a mood.  Perfumes for the office, a casual party, or sports should be light, fresh or fruity.  For an evening date you may prefer something heavy, warm, sweet or sensual. Allow your intuition to guide you and keep in mind the rules of safety.  Enjoy the creative process and delight in your artistic endeavor. Most of all, know that with every inhalation of your blend your intention for its purpose reverberates in your being.

Mindy Green is a nationally recognized authority on botanicals and co-author of Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, 2009 Facebook Mindy

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