Perfume is a passion, one that is difficult to explain, but which fills you with inspiration and beauty. Since you’re here, I am guessing you already share in this passion. But you may not have known how to go about making perfumes, especially those that lay just outside the world of essential oils. If you’re new to the world of creating perfume, welcome to the journey!
As I stated in the HOME page, this is a site to aid in the creation of perfume composed of diverse materials, some natural, some not. However, there is a misconception that perfumery components that are not considered an essential oil are therefore synthetic. Some are, but many are not. A great example of this is the aroma-chemical known as Linalool, contained in a large percentage of perfumes. Linalool is a component of, among others, the essential oil Rosewood (in fact, Rosewood is about 90% Linalool). Linalool is present in over 30 essential oils, including Lavender, Basil, Neroli and Bergamot. Linalool is then extracted from an essential oil and used in perfumery. This means you can add to your perfume creation the scent imparted by Linalool, without having to add the other scents associated with the parent essential oil. Essential oils are made up of hundreds of different constituents, such as Linalool. Isolating a constituent allows for freedom of perfume creation. But there is synthetic Linalool and there is natural Linalool. Which one you ultimately choose is up to you and your budget. This is the same with various aroma-chemicals though, by all means, not all.
Another misconception is that essential oils are all safe to use, while aroma-chemicals must be avoided at all costs. If only it were that simple…. In the aromatherapy world, there are many oils known to cause allergic reactions. Lemon, Bergamot and Cinnamon oils are just a few examples. In fact, a rather large book by the name of The Essential Oil Safety is dedicated to this issue alone.
All of this said, if you want to delve deeper into the art of making perfumes containing a variety of materials, then this is the place for you!
How do you go about getting started?
Not easily, which is why I created this site. If one is looking to make natural perfumes, there are dozens of books easily found on Amazon. However, if one wants to create perfumes containing materials other than just essential oils, like those you can purchase at a perfume counter of a store, then this is where it gets tricky. Books are scarce, and many are very expensive and read like a chemistry textbook. The perfume industry is enshrined in a veil of silence, a niche not easy to break into. Secrets are not shared, knowledge is sparse and finding formulas is as good as finding gold buried in your back yard.
But perfumery is not impossible to learn….
Let me say this from the start and get it out of the way: if you’re looking to learn perfumery in a month and jump into starting a business, forget it. I am not kidding, I have seen some beginners state this in the perfumery forums. Learning the art of perfumery takes years, if not a lifetime. And if you’re past the age of 30, the chances that you will land into a perfumery school like Givaudan are slim. They get their trainees when they’re young. Some of it has to do with the sense of smell being at its best at a younger age, and some has to do with how long you can contribute to the perfume industry once trained. Who can blame them? It takes years of dedication to train a perfumer, and schools only chose a handful a year, if that many. It is a return on investment. If you just want to mix some bath gels to sell as a business, you can always buy pre-made fragrances and get on with it on Etsy. Many people do it.
But this is not why we’re here.
Now that I got this out of the way, let me say something else: why shouldn’t you learn perfumery if this is your passion…at any age?! I always say that Laura Ingalls Wilder got started in her 60’s, when she wrote her Little House series of books. I got started with perfumery in my late 40’s, not counting that I started working with aromatherapy in my early 20’s (see my About Me page). Perfumery is an art and one I deeply respect.
The first thing you need to get started is passion. You have to have a passion for scent, for perfume and for creating beauty. I figure since you’re here, you have all that already.
The next thing you will need, unfortunately, is money. This is NOT a cheap hobby. You need to set up (see more about this in the Perfumer Setup page), and that takes time and money. But this does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t do it. After all, let’s say you’re taking up painting. You’d need paint, brushes, easels, canvas, books… Much of that is somewhat costly (and if you go straight to the professional stuff, like Kolinsky brushes, it can get very costly). Perfumery is no different. You really can’t start with three aroma-chemicals, two essential oils and expect to create a finished fragrance. Most perfumes have anywhere between 50 to over 100 ingredients. As of this writing, I currently have about 600 essential oils and aroma-chemicals, and that is considered by some to be a medium sized collection! However, with time, you’ll get there. Obviously you do not want to get started with 600 ingredients, because it would be massively overwhelming to figure everything out. Let’s do this one step at the time.
So then, the next thing you need is patience. When learning perfumery, this is huge. You cannot cut corners. Making a perfume takes time. Once you mix your components together, they have to blend together (it is chemistry, actually, and you’ll find many perfumers are actually chemists — not me though!), which takes weeks. Once in alcohol, your compound will have to evolve, which takes months. And this is just a start. Tweaking comes next. Then more months of wait. Personally, I find this is part of the beauty and magic of making perfume. I do not do it to speed through it, I do it to enjoy it. The journey is what is important, not the destination. Keep that in mind. In fact, type it somewhere and print it out, because you will need to remind yourself of this quite often.
On the other hand, my purpose here is to help you save a little time by finding the right books, websites, material providers and ideas to get you going and moving forward. Do remember, again, that the journey is the fun of it. Enjoy it, otherwise, why do it?
The Perfumer Setup page will help you do just that. And this is the next step in getting started: your setup.