DIY Herbal Perfume Recipe

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Herbal Perfume Recipe with Essential Oils
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I’ve been fascinated by perfume since I was a kid. Scent is intimately tied to memory and I realized that my earliest memories were tied to particular scent: my great aunt’s hand lotion that I would smell when she sang me to sleep, the smell of medicine I had to take as a baby, tempera paint from crafts my mom used to do with us when I was two years old, and so many others.

When I was six, my friend and I decided we wanted to start our own perfume business and we proceeded to try and create perfumes from flowers, water and other things found in nature. We soon discovered that mixing live plants and water in a closed jar was a great way to create a smell… just not a good one!

Fast forward to high school, and I had to save and spend my own money to buy perfume and became acutely aware of the cost of smelling like a movie star. I had one bottle of perfume that lasted me six years because I hardly ever wore it.

Toxic Perfume?

Now, as a mom with babies and small children, I’m lucky if I have time to get a shower most days and I’m more concerned with making sure my beauty products are non-toxic than smelling like a particular perfume.

That being said, with the whole not-having-time-to-shower mom conundrum, there are days when a natural perfume would be nice. Many conventional perfumes contain over a dozen chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on the label.

Since I already make pretty much all of our beauty and personal care products, I felt sure I could make perfume too. I figured I’d make it with essential oils so it would not only smell good, but have aromatherapy benefits as well.

This led me into a rabbit hole of research on the perfume industry and how perfumes are created. The good news is that while the final product took a lot of patience on my part, it was well worth it and it is most definitely cheaper than store bought perfumes (especially because I seem to have a gift for liking the most expensive perfumes at any store without seeing the price tag).

How to Make Perfume (at Home)

Most perfumes are a mixture of fragrance oils in an alcohol base. There are base fragrances, mid-tones and top notes. When you smell a perfume, the top notes are typically the first thing you smell, followed by mid and then base notes.

In making perfume, you select and add them in order from base to top.

Also, the alcohol changes the composition of the oils and as the flavors meld, they change drastically. I found that some mixtures I tried smelled amazing when I first mixed them but changed and I didn’t like them at all after two weeks. At the same time, some that I thought would be terrible reminded me of actual perfumes I loved after a few weeks.

I include my favorite recipe below, but the key is finding the oils and ratios that work for you. I recommend adding a few drops at a time of each one and keeping a journal of how many drops of each are added. Once you find your favorite blend and write it down, it is easy to duplicate.

DIY Perfume Recipe

These were the oils I used for each level of scent…

Base Oils:

  • Vanilla (I used 1 tsp of my homemade vanilla extract for this)
  • Cederwood (3 drops)
  • Vetiver (4 drops)
  • Ylang Ylang (3 drops)
  • Sandlewood (4 drops)
  • Frankincense (8 drops)

Middle Tones:

  • Rose (6 drops)
  • Lavender (10 drops)
  • Blue Chamomile (3 drops)
  • Geranium (8 drops)

Top Notes:

  • Bergamot ( 5 drops)
  • Wild Orange (3 drops)
  • Neroli (5 drops)

This is the fragrance I finally settled on that worked best for me. I got all of the oils here, but if you don’t already have them on hand, maybe consider asking a friend who is into essential oils if you could pay her a few dollars for a couple of drops of each of these oils….

NOTE: I photographed the perfume in the pretty glass bottle for Pinterest sake, but I recommend making and storing homemade perfume in a less-expensive dark colored bottle like this one to help preserve the pure scents of the oils. Also, my perfume looks blue green from the three drops of blue chamomile oil I added.. you can omit this if you prefer a more neutral color perfume, though this has not ever stained even white clothing.

IMPORTANT: While you can use the perfume right away, I really recommend letting the flavors meld for at least a month before using. It is worth the wait, I promise!

Herbal Perfume Ingredients:

  • Approximately 12-20 drops total of Base Essential Oils like: Cedarwood, Vanilla, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Sandlewood, etc
  • 1 tsp of [url:1]homemade vanilla extract (optional)
  • 25-30 drops of middle tone oils like Rose, Lavender, Chamomile or Geranium
  • 12-15 drops of top note oils like Bergamot, Wild Orange or Neroli
  • 4 ounces of alcohol to preserve and meld scents- I used non-GMO spiced rum

DIY Perfume Instructions:

  1. Mix all oils together in an opaque bottle to get a scent you like. Let this mixture stay in the bottle alone for a few days to let scents meld.
  2. Add the alcohol and cap tightly.
  3. Shake and put in a cool, dark place for at least a month (preferable). This is optional but helps the alcohol scent fade and the scents of the oils intensify.

 Ever made your own scents? How did it go?

This DIY herbal perfume recipe uses with essential oils and food grade alcohol for a natural alternative to conventional perfume with aromatherapy benefits.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


162 responses to “DIY Herbal Perfume Recipe”

  1. Carol Avatar

    Katie: just wondering if you could tell us what your recipe smells like? Something to give an idea of the final product if we use your recipe.

  2. Carol Avatar

    Beeswax would work. It’s what I use to ‘solidify’ my salves. I use raw, unfiltered and organic from a local beekeeper. You can also get the pastilles from Amazon, but I like mine as natural and un-processed as possible

  3. Clare Templeton Avatar
    Clare Templeton

    Thanks for article and commenters, always enjoyed. I mess around with DIY potions and added benefit: you’re never happier than when immersed in such good stuff. A couple of my perfume (making “foo foo”) staples are angelica root which you can get in small cut up particles. Steep in heated Everclear (for potency as “base”..the booze store man may say honey, be careful with this). It’s a wonderful vibration, angelica. Another is if you have access to rose petals can steam ’em, put ice cubes in the reversed pot lid to condense the steam, then strain and keep chilled for a while to preserve the scent. Red rose is too fruity, mixed pink and yellow may work and some hybrids don’t have as much scent. White rose petals are divine–I made some DIY perfume with white rose, a friend dabbed it on and had a chore at the school and kids followed her down the hall like Pied Piper. Love you Katie and all; make it fun.

  4. Chris Avatar

    She mentioned ANY alcohol can be used, as log as it is high proof, and food grade. What are some examples? Or are most drinking alcohols acceptable?

      1. James Avatar

        This is not correct. Regular drinking alcohols are not high proof. As a result, they will not properly incorporate Essential Oils, resulting in risk of sensitization.

  5. Lea Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    Absolutely love your site!!!!!!

    I’m thinking of making a solid perfume (so you can keep it in a small jar like lip balm size, to rub onto wrists and neck etc)…and was thinking about using coconut oil as a base. I live in Sydney Australia though, and the temps here would mean that most of the year it would be a liquid oily puddle rather than a solid 🙂

    Do you have any ideas of what I could use to keep it solid?


    1. april Avatar

      you could try Carnauba Wax, its a lot harder that beeswax, or maybe combine the two?
      Good luck!

    2. Tracie Avatar

      You could also try making your perfume in a lotion bar consistency. Like Katie said cocoa butter and beeswax would be great. I love my lotion bars. Good luck to you.

  6. Rachel Avatar

    Katie, if you only have store-bought vanilla extract, is it better to omit it from the perfume?

  7. Judi Avatar

    I’ve been making my own perfume for quite a while. I tend to keep them pretty simple, using just a few essential oils. My favorites are: patchouli and lavender – sometimes adding in a little vanilla, lavender and orange or bergamot, and sometimes I take a spray bottle of rose water and add in the drops of patchouli and lavender to that. This also makes a great room freshener or a quick spritzer for under the arms.

    1. jes Avatar

      I was going to ask if anyone had used patchouli and you answered my question, I want to try something with patchouli and a citrus topnote. not sure what to use in the middle though, maybe ill try lavender.

      1. Jodie Avatar

        I use patchouli in all of mine. Keep in mind it will get a little stronger as it ages. I like patchouli, lavender and Clary sage. And sometimes I add a couple drops of lemongrass to it. It comes off as a slightly woodsy sent with a little citrus note at the end.

    2. Veronica Avatar

      Hi hope all is well but this is new 4 me. So in the top where u list all of this oils. U list top, middle and last notes. Do u use ALL of the oils to make one particular perfume?? I’m just curious. I don’t want to mix up all of the oils an have to throw it away. So is that 1 recipe in itself?? Thanks for your time. Looking forward to this journey

      1. nezar Avatar

        hi, relay as I know about perfumes making you can only use one oil of each tone

  8. ragaa Avatar

    Do you know of a company who sells ready made natural perfumes free of nasty chemicals?

    1. jen Avatar

      i like to use Yakshi Naturals Botanical Fragrances Roll-On. its an coconut oil base perfume. don’t know if its organic but there ingredients list is very simple, looks to contain no nasty chemicals like most perfumes. my favorite is Cleopatra’s secret, the ingredients are coconut oil, lemon oil, jasmine oil, rose oil. i buy it at my local health store where they have testers so I’m able to try on the scents.

    2. darlene bierer Avatar
      darlene bierer

      I need a mixture for a clean fresh scent like “light blue” from a department store. Not string just like clean smelling baby fresh.

  9. Michelle Avatar

    Wow. Can I use just one kind of oil for each of the three notes? May I know the brand of the rum you use? Thanks!

        1. Nichole Avatar

          Currently the only way to avoid GMOs is to buy certified organic. Look for the certified organic symbol on the bottle, at my local ABC liquor store they have an organic vodka brand- Purus, they might have organic options in your area as well.

      1. Deb Schaefer Avatar
        Deb Schaefer

        Katie, Where do you purchase your Appleton Estates Spiced Rum? I am having difficulty finding it. Your site is such a blessing to me! Thanks for all your wisdom! Deb

          1. Maddie Avatar

            Hey Katie wondering if there is any recommendations for making a mens cologne? Im guessing a more strong base like vodka

      1. ERICA Avatar

        I’ve heard 100 proof and up is considered “high-proof”, but do you think 80 proof vodka would not work? Thanks!

  10. Fiona Avatar

    I make my own scents but with shea butter and coconut oil as a base. They also work well as a deodorant. I agree Ylang Ylang MUST be used as it is incredible. Patchouli is another favourite as is Jasmine and Clary Sage is a bit of an aphrodisiac. Orange seems to go with everything and Frankincense is beautiful but very expensive.

    I have been stopped in the street to ask about my perfumes and have turned many people on to ‘Wellness Mama’.

    1. Mindy Avatar

      Four years later from your comment, but if you see this can you reply with your recipe, Fiona? I’m guessing your is more of a roll on. I’ve tried liquid recipes before (not wellness mammas) and it did not last long at all.

    1. Kelly Avatar

      Instead of alcohol, you can just use oil, like almond oil, jojoba, or as another commenter suggested, coconut oil & share buyer, or anything else without a strong scent (don’t want the oil overpowering the scents you add).

      I’m not sure if the scent would be stronger or weaker than it would be in alcohol, but it’s always easier to add more eos than to take away.

      Then like Katie said about different alcohols affecting the smell, no doubt using an oil base would affect the perfume’s resulting smell. Just something to be aware of. Good luck!

        1. James Avatar

          No, you cannot.
          Please refrain from giving such unsafe advice.
          Water or witch hazel do not properly dilute EO.
          Dilution is of extreme importance or severe allergic reactions could take place.

  11. mel Avatar

    Perfume gives me a major headache. I can’t stand it! I love natural scents. However when a natural scent matches too closely to common perfumes my mind still associates the smell with the toxic version. Most unpleasant!

    1. Natalia Rosenlund Avatar
      Natalia Rosenlund

      Me to. But once you get the right perfume, your head won’t hurt. My personal favorite is musty leaves. Speaking of which does anyone know how to make musty leaves?

      1. Clare Avatar

        For “musty leaves”, I’d start with vetiver. Vetiver also used as a ‘bottom note’ and has preservative qualities–it’s musty for sure

        1. Jerry Avatar

          You could also try Myrrh EO, which in IMO smell extremely musty. You could also add a small amount of Frankincense EO, Oakmoss EO, or any of the Middle Eastern resinous Oud oils–which can be hard to find and extremely expensive unfortunately. As has been said previously, using a carrier oil base vs. an alcohol base is entirely up to you and what you are trying to achieve. For us, our research has shown that distilled water, denatured alcohol, and the essential/fragrance oils paired with a drop or two of Vitamin E and vegetable glycerin does very well for a natural Perfume Spray. There’s no need for dangerous chemical preservatives since the vitamin E oil acts as a natural preservative. This is what most retail perfumes are comprised of known as Eau de Toilette. Although they do not last as long as a perfume oil, their use in atomizers and lower manufacturing costs make them a convenient choice.

          Perfumes made with an oil base only tend to last much longer and have an enhanced sillage (scent throw). If you intend to “spray” these oil-based perfumes, watch for the viscosity (thickness) of the final liquid as it may clog the spray mechanism. For example, Myrrh essential oil is notorious for thickening to a dense syrup when exposed to air for extended periods. Oil-based perfumes are excellent in roller-ball applications.

          Wishing you great success in your fragrance endeavors! Cheers 🙂

        2. James Avatar

          Vetiver is not a preservative.
          It is a fixative.
          Green fragrances you can try would be Violet Leaf, Basil or Petitgrain.

  12. Naznin Avatar

    Hi Katie
    I was wondering would you ever be willing to sell your creations online.? I would love to be able to purchase everything you make by hand especially baby products. It is a hassle for me to make it myself just because I do work 60 hours a week and take care of my six month old. Please let me know if you ever plan on doing that in the future. I’m sure it would make everyone’s life so much more simple. I love your posts and always try to find time in my day to read them.

  13. Beth Avatar

    I’ve made vanilla rose essential oil perfume before and it smelled amazing! Store bought perfumes are so dangerous and overpriced I don’t know why anyone would purchase them!

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