the perfume page


go to  
creating
a scent
  or  
close this
window

i'm using this page to explore the development of the full-balance fragrance [perfume].
 
although one of the approaches i take in making a perfume is to start with a formula -- (based on the perfume families* for "women's fragrances" or "men's fragrances") -- and build up from there...
 
* (the formulas for these families are mere approximations based on [some of] the characteristics and identifiable notes of the family and the limitation of the essential oils available [to me]. in some instances, there are characteristics of the individual families that are not achievable by the natural perfumer ...i.e. using only essential oils and no synthetic aroma chemicals.)
 
...the "perfumes" listed below have as their heart (middle) notes some of my favorite blends (either as is or modified) from the "fragrance formulas" page. these heart notes have been further developed by combining them with "top accords" and "base accords" to create full-balanced perfumes. in addition to the formulas, i've including some comments on how i arrived at each formula and why i made the decisions i did.
 
note: the formulas below (as well as those on the "fragrance formulas" page) are constantly in flux ...i'm always tweaking them to suit my changing needs and perceptions. besides, these, (as with most any formulas), are just suggestions, starting points. you'll probably want [and are encouraged] to make adjustments based on your personal preferences and the materials you use.
 
men's vs. women's scents: on this page, i reference men's and women's fragrance categories. on the "fragrance formula" page, i make mention of certain blends as being masculine or feminine.
 
the whole idea of separate scents for men and women was basically a marketing decision made in the 1930s. before that, there was just perfume. some perfumes appealed to men, some to women, some to both sexes. the choice, however, was left to the individual.
 
women have worn so-called men's fragrances for some time. so should a man, being confident in his masculinity, not need the endorsement of a marketing demographic ...nor be confined by its limitations. be adventurous in your fragrance choice(s), and try wearing what you like, what works for you, without regard to the "category" in which it falls.
women's fragrance families
this is a list of the women's fragrance families, broken down into ten categories.
the formulas (if listed) are approximations, using only essentials oils to give an example of the fragrance type, a starting point for the further development of a thus-classified perfume:
 

chypretop notes


drops lavender, french
drops fir needle
drop bergamot
middle notes
drops jasmine (10%)
drop ylang ylang
bottom notes
drops oakmoss (10%)
drops cedarwood, atlas
scents in this family are noted for their contrast between the mossy (oakmoss) and the citrus (bergamot), a woodsy-mossy bouquet that can include notes of lavender, patchouli, and clary sage.

citrustop notes






drops lavender, french
drops bergamot
drops black pepper
drops grapefruit, pink
drops palmarose
drops petitgrain
drops rosemary
drops tangerine
middle notes


drops litsea cubeba
drops neroli
drop geranium
drop rose, bulgarian
bottom notesdrops clary sage
scents in this category are light and fresh and include the aroma of lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot ...with a sprinkling of light herbs.

floraltop notes
drops bergamot
drops lavender, french
middle notes



drops rose, bulgarian
drops neroli
drops jasmine (10%)
drops ylang ylang
drop chamomile, roman
bottom notesdrops sandalwood
this type of fragrance is characterized by a variety of floral scents ...usually the abundance of rose and jasmine, supported by ylang ylang and tuberose. it can be further differentiated as being "green" -- having notes that add a woody base with a top grassy note (from lavender, basil, chamomile, galbanum); "fresh" -- having fresh citrus top notes; or "ambery" -- having an amber base with fruity, spicy top notes.
 
two sub-categories of the fragrance type are:

floriental
(floral -
oriental)
top notes

drops bergamot
drops orange, bitter
drop black pepper
middle notes
drops jasmine (10%)
drops ylang ylang
bottom notes20 


drops benzoin (50%)
drops cistus, aka. labdanum
drops sandalwood
drop vanilla absolute
this sub-group combines the predominant aspect of the floral (rose and ylang ylang) with an ambery oriental note and a citrus top.

single
note
floral
top notesdrop coriander
middle notes

drops rose, bulgarian
drops geranium
drops litsea cubeba
bottom notesdrops sandalwood
as the name implies, this type of fragrance is built around one dominant floral note ...in this case rose.

fruity this fragrance type is obviously built on fruit aromas. these are clean, fresh citrus-like scents, with a smooth, warm base note.
 
a few fruity odors (bergamot, mandarin, neroil) are available as essential oils, but others (apple appricot, melon, passion fruit, peach, pear, pineapple) can only be achieved with synthetic aroma chemicals. for this reason, this type of scent offers limited creative options for the natural perfumer.

greentop notes




drops fir needle
drops juniper berry
drops lavender, french
drops tangerine
drop coriander
drop rosemary, verbenone
middle notesdrops rose, bulgarian
bottom notes
drops sandalwood
drop cedarwood, atlas
green fragrances contain dominant notes of fir needle, juniper berry, and pine needle blended with sweet basil, hyacinth, galbanum, lavender, rosemary and sage. they can be described as being "sharper" than florals, conjuring perceptions of dewy meadows, fresh-cut grasses, and new green leaves.

orientalbasic note20 

drops benzoin (50%)
drops cistus, aka. labdanum
drops vanilla absolute
this deep, heady, intoxicating note gives this type of fragrance its exotic flavor. start with the oils listed above, which is the basic formula for "amber". blend this with benzoin and vanilla, and combined that with a citrus top to form an "ambery oriental". blend it with patchouli and vetiver for a dry base, and combined that with a spicy top (black pepper, cardamom, clover, coriander and/or ginger), to form a "spicy" oriental.
 
this is the heaviest of the [women's] fragrance families and is most apporpriate for evening wear.

spicytop notesdrops cardamom
middle notes10 



drops lavender, french
drops allspice
drops cinnamon
drops ginger
drops rose, bulgarian
bottom notes
drops sandalwood
drop vetiver
these fragrances incorporate the spicy character of oils like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and ginger, as well as floral oils like carnation and lavender, which have spicy notes.

modernthese fragrances are based significantly on aroma chemicals. one group of aroma chemicals, aldehydes, add sparkle, amplifies other scents in the blend, and causes the fragrance to intensify as it's warmed [by the skin]. most contemporary fragrances contain aldehydes.
 
marine/oceanic fragrances, (which resemble the smell of the sea, fresh mountain air, and just-washed linen), are included in this modern category.
 
these "modern" scents are not achievable by the natural perfumer; their odors are dependent on aroma chemicals.

men's fragrance families
this list shows seven categories into which men's fragrance are grouped.
the formulas (if listed) are approximations, using only essentials oils to give an example of the fragrance type, a starting point for the further development of a thus-classified perfume:
 

citrustop notesdrops tangerine
middle notes
drops neroli
drop litsea cubeba
bottom notesdrops frankincense
the fresh brisk scents in this citrus family include bergamot, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine.

fougèretop notesdrops lavender, bulgarian
middle notes
drops geranium
drops ginger
bottom notes

drops sandalwood
drops cedarwood, atlas
drop vetiver
lavender is a key accord in the fougère (pronounced fooz-hare) family of fragrances. these scents are fresh and erotic and defined by their herbal notes of lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin. notes of geranium are also often detected.

lavendertop notes
drops lavender, bulgarian
drops bergamot
middle notes

drop clary sage
drop fir needle
drop naiouli -- or helichrysum
bottom notesdrops sandalwood
this oil, obtained from the lavender, lavandin, and spike lavender plants, is one of the oldest scents in the fragrance world. it's widely used in aromatherapy for it's calming and relaxing effect. although it's shows up as a component in many fragrances, it anchors its own class of fragrances for men.

leatherbasic note


drops cade (1%) -- or [1 drop] juniper berry
drops clary sage
drops oakmoss (10%)
drops vetiver
leather scents are smoky, pungent, woody, warm, somewhat sweet, and very potent.
 
although two major components of this aroma, (cade from juniper trees, and birch tar from Finlandian birch trees), are available as essential oils, most leather fragrances depend heavily on additional aroma chemicals. this formula uses only essential oils, but provides a sense of what is at the heart of this type of fragrance.

spicytop notes

drops bergamot
drops tangerine
drops black pepper
middle notes
drop basil, sweet
drop litsea cubeba
bottom notes

drops bay, rum
drop cinnamon
drop patchouli
this has been a highly popular scent family for men for a very long time. these fragrances feature notes of basil, bay [rum], black pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and olibanum.

woodytop notesdrops juniper berry
middle notes

drops pine needle
drop chamomile, roman
drop rosewood
bottom notes


drops cedarwood, atlas
drops sandalwood
drops myrrh
drop vetiver
while this family is defined as encompassing fragrances based on cedarwood, rosewood, sandalwood, and vetiver, those fragrances may feature dominant notes that place them in another category.

modernthese fragrances are based significantly on aroma chemicals. one group of aroma chemicals, aldehydes, add sparkle, amplifies other scents in the blend, and causes the fragrance to intensify as it's warmed [by the skin]. most contemporary fragrances contain aldehydes.
 
marine/oceanic fragrances, (which resemble the smell of the sea, fresh mountain air, and just-washed linen), are included in this modern category.
 
these "modern" scents are not achievable by the natural perfumer; their odors are dependent on aroma chemicals.

base accords
the base (bottom) accord is the first complement chosen for the heart note. it enriches, adds depth and body, and anchors the whole perfume. it's a substantial component of the dry-down ...although it should not be the only thing that's left during the dry-down, but an aspect of the main theme.
 
this is a list of some base note blends, so-named for the character they impart:
 
amber: 20 parts benzoin - 50%, 4 parts labdanum (aka. cistus), 1 part vanilla absolute
-- note: the % represents the dilution of the resin.
chypre: 2 parts ambergris fragrance oil - 10%, 2 parts dark musk fragrance oil, 1 part oakmoss - 10%
-- note: the % represents the dilution of the full-strength oil or resin.
mossy: 2 parts lavender absolute, 1 part labdanum (aka. cistus), 1 part vetiver
smoky: 8 parts amber blend, 3 parts sandalwood, 2 parts cade - 1%, 2 parts musk fragance oil, 1 part ambergris fragance oil - 10%, 1 part patchouli, 1 part myrrh
-- note: the % represents the dilution of the full-strength oil.
sultry: 2 parts balsam peru - 33%, 1 part oakmoss - 10%, 1 part vanilla absolute
-- note: the % represents the dilution of the resin.

top accords
the top note [accord] is important for lift, brightness, and / or sweetness. this is especially needed with "natural" perfumes ...which don't benefit from the use of aldehydes or any of the other "bright" aroma chemicals.
 
this is a list of some of the compounds that i've explored:
 
citrusy: 3 parts grapefruit (pink), 2 parts bergamot, 1 part bitter orange
dry: 4 parts cedarwood (virginia), 2 parts juniper berry, 1 part coriander
flowery: 3 parts lavender (french), 1 part grapefruit (pink), 1 part rosewood (aka. bois de rose)
green: 6 parts lime, 5 parts fir needle, 1 part spearmint
spicy: 9 parts tangerine, 3 parts black pepper*, 2 parts coriander
sweet: 4 parts bergamot, 2 parts grapefruit (pink), 1 part black pepper*
*citrus oils are used extensively in top notes. when appropriate, adding black pepper to these compounds has a very iinteresting effect. without being obvious in and of itself as a spicy note, the black pepper enhances the citruses and allows them to "sing".

the perfumes
ajantop note: uses 15 parts of the "sweet" blend which is composed of (4 parts bergamot, 2 parts grapefruit, 1 part black pepper).
middle note: uses 15 parts of the unmodified "ajan" blend as listed on the fragrance formula page.
bottom note: uses 5 parts of the "sultry" base blend which is composed of (2 parts balsam peru - 33%, 1 part oakmoss - 10%, 1 part vanilla absolute). note: the % represents the dilution of the resin.
comments: vanilla and sandalwood combine in this oriental fragrance with a rich, warm, and slightly-sweet undertone. the jasmine and ylang ylang of the heart note combine to create a more exotic than a floral character. this would be classified as an evening or formal scent. the richness of the base note actually softens the heart note. the sweet top note lifts the blend and brings of the vanilla [absolute] in the base note. the perfume maintains a consistent character throughout all three phases. it has good throw and tenacity.
 
i first blended the heart with a higher proportion of base note, which produced a very nice, rich, warm blend, but after curing, i found that the original character of the "ajan" had almost disappeared ...and i didn't want that, so i increased the ratio of heart to base from 2:1 to 3:1.
 
i also noticed immediately upon blending in the top note, that it greatly sweetened the blend and enhanced the vanilla of the base so much so as to give the perfume a really feminine quality. i wanted to tone this down ...with the reduction of the top note ...but found that upon curing, the top note settled and it's effect wasn't so pronounced. this gave me precisely what i wanted so no adjustment was necessary. however, a highly feminized version of this scent might be produced with an appropriate increase in the top noted.

arieltop note: uses 10 parts of the "sweet" blend which is composed of (4 parts bergamot, 2 parts grapefruit, 1 part black pepper).
middle note: uses 5 parts of the unmodified "ariel" blend as listed on the fragrance formula page.
bottom note: uses 5 parts of base note which is composed of (8 parts of the "smoky" base blend -- [which is itself composed of 8 parts amber blend, 3 parts sandalwood, 2 parts cade - 1%, 2 parts musk fragrance oil, 1 part ambergris fragrance oil - 10%, 1 part patchouli, 1 part myrrh], plus 2 parts dark musk fragrance oil). note: the % represents the dilution of the full-strength oil.
comments: this fragrance might be described as light and playful, with an etherial quality that is citrusy and fruity and at the same time green and grassy. this is contrasted and complemented with a slight smoky undertone.
 
at first the various components of this fragrance don't want to play nicely together, but upon curing they do settle into an interesting and harmonious melange of colors. the aroma is at first very bright, but gradually mellows as the base note emerges.

coriantop note: uses 10 parts of top note which is composed of (3 parts tangerine, 2 parts bergamot - bergaptine free, 1 part black pepper)
middle note: uses 10 parts of the unmodified "corian" blend as listed on the fragrance formula page.
bottom note v1: uses 5 parts of base note which is composed of (5 parts "mossy" base blend -- [which is itself composed of 2 parts lavender absolute, 1 part labdanum - aka. cistus, 1 part vetiver], plus 2 parts musk fragrance oil)
bottom note v2: uses 5 parts of base note which is composed of (5 parts "mossy" base blend, plus 1 part musk fragrance oil, 1 part bay laurel)
comments: the heart of this perfume is "corian", which has two variations (cladn and monteverde), which are both listed on the fragrance formula page. each of these variations has a full range (top - middle - bottom), so this perfume is yet a third variation.
 
for the base note i started with the "mossy" base blend, but later added "musk", since the drydown needed a little sweetness. i then experimented with bay for spiciness and warmth. for the top note, i started with "spicy" blend, but since coriander is already the dominant character of the heart note, i altered the top by omitting the 2 parts of coriander from the "spicy" formula and adding 6 parts bergamot. i used bergaptene-free bergamot because it's slightly sweeter with a less "green" note than the regular.
 
the result is a slightly-spicy, masculine scent with an outdoor quality.
 
the alternate base note uses bay laurel to expand on the spicy note. when using the bay, at first it takes over and is much too prominent, but upon curing, it settles into a nice harmony, adding additional spiciness and warmth.
 
version 1 is greener and sweeter. version 2 is warmer and spicier. both versions are most pleasing.

leathertop note: uses 6 parts of top note which is composed of (4 parts bergamot, 2 parts coriander, 2 parts grapefruit, 1 part black pepper)
middle note: uses 3 parts of middle note which is composed of (4 parts allspice, 3 parts bay rum, 3 parts clary sage, 1 part nutmeg)
bottom note: uses 24 parts of base note which is composed of (4 parts "leather" note -- [which is itself composed of 2 parts cade - 1%, 2 parts clary sage, 2 parts oakmoss - 10%, 2 parts vetiver], plus 4 parts musk fragrance oil, and 4 parts sandalwood) note: the % represents the dilution of the full-strength oil or resin.
modifier: uses 4 parts modifier, which is composed of (8 parts bulgarian lavender, 1 part geranium).
comments: the base notes of this fragrance actually form the heart, not the middle notes. the basic leather note is sweetened with musk and warmed with the woodiness of sandalwood. the middle notes add spice, but are kept subtle, being brightened ever so slightly by the sweet and spicy top note.
 
this is an example where the quantity ratio of base to middle to top totally defies the basic rule.

provencetop note: this perfume doesn't take any additional top note since the lavender from the "provence" blend fills that requirement.
middle note: uses 8 parts of middle note consisting of the "provence" blend, with a modification to the formula*, (as listed on the fragrance formula page), by increasing the ginger from 2 drops to 4 drops.
bottom note: uses 4 parts of the "mossy" base blend modified by substituting dark musk for the vetiver (2 parts lavender absolute, 1 part labdanum - aka. cistus, 1 part dark musk fragrance oil).
modifier: uses 1 part geranium.
comments: *as indicated above, i altered the formula for the "provence" blend used in this perfume. for the blend, the ginger is adjusted to retain the subtle interplay between it and the lavender. however, in the perfume, the spiciness of the ginger was too subdued, so i had to increase it to maintain the masculine sensibility intimated in the original blend.
 
since geranium is frequently a note detected in fragrances from the fougère family (as this might be classified), i added a small amount as a modifier.

rhómmetop note: uses 20 parts of the "sweet" blend which is composed of (4 parts bergamot, 2 parts grapefruit, 1 part black pepper).
middle note: uses 10 parts of the "rhómme" blend modified by reducing the lime [from 8 drops] to 2 drops and omitting the vetiver.
bottom note: uses 8 parts of base note which is composed of (6 parts "sultry" base blend -- [which is itself composed of 2 parts balsam peru - 33%, 1 part oakmoss - 10%, 1 part vanilla absolute], plus 1 part musk fragrance oil and 1 part sandalwood). note: the % represents the dilution of the resin.
comments: the rhómme blend (as listed on the fragrance formula page) is crisp and spicy ...perhaps too much so for body application. the "sultry" base note mellows the blend, smooths out the edges, and introduces a hint of sweetness. this is complemented by the "sweet" top blend, which returns to the spiciness the lift that was softened by the base note. the addition of the musk and sandalwood warms and rounds out the fragrance.