Making Botanical Perfumes & Colognes

Did you know that most perfumes and colognes are manufactured using synthetic chemicals, even petroleum? Many of these ingredients do not need to be listed on the labels, but are known allergens, hormone disruptors, and irritants. The majority have never even been studied for cosmetic use! This is pretty scary, but the good news is that we can easily create our own perfumes and colognes from natural ingredients. Not only are they safer, but many botanicals also have therapeutic properties that are grounding, energizing, relaxing, stimulating, uplifting, and balancing. True, these fragrances will need to be reapplied more often than their chemical counterparts, but they are much better for our minds and bodies.  If in need of a little sprucing up during the day, carry a small bottle of your favorite aroma in your purse. You can even make special formulas like a relaxing blend for stressful situations or something energizing for afternoons that drag. The options are endless!  Below are several blends that I have played around with, but feel free to concoct your own special recipes.

DIY botanical perfumes and colognes

Orange Spice Cologne

A warming, spicy, and exotic blend that will lift spirits, invigorate senses, alleviate stress, mental fatigue, and tension. The aroma is delightfully reminiscent of Chai tea.

Crush spices in a mortar and pestle. Combine with Vanilla Bean pieces, Orange peel zest, and vodka in a glass mason jar. Cap tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain the spices and pour the infused liquid into a glass bottle with a mister top. Simply add more spices if you desire a stronger cologne.

Citrus Cologne

A fresh citrus scent with herbal notes, this uplifting aroma is stimulating and revitalizing.

  • 1 fresh organic Lemon peel – zest only
  • 1 fresh organic Grapefruit peel – zest only
  • Organic essential oil of choice, examples: Basil, Chamomile, Lavender, or Peppermint
  • 8 oz Vodka

Combine Lemon and Grapefruit peel zest in a glass mason jar and add vodka until the liquid rises above the peel zest by at least 1”.  Cap tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain out the citrus peels and pour the resulting cologne into a glass bottle with a mister top. Add 2 drops of essential oil for each tablespoon of finished cologne. Add more essential oil if you desire a stronger cologne.

Fresh Floral Cologne

This relaxing cologne can be made with fresh blossoms straight from the garden! The flowers help ease depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, hyperactivity, irritability, tension, and exhaustion.

Combine all ingredients in a glass mason jar and add vodka until the liquid rises above the flowers by at least 1”. Cap tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain the flowers and pour the resulting cologne into a glass bottle with a mister top.

DIY woodland perfume

Woodland Perfume

I love this blend! It truly smells like the forest. Uplifting, grounding, meditative, and comforting.

Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil, and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.

Sweet Summer Perfume

A relaxing and warming blend reminiscent of summer, with a lightly floral aroma complemented by hints of spice and cedar. Especially useful during times of stress, anxiety, irritability, or depression.  A great lift-me-up during the cold and dark winter months!

Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle, and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.

Refreshing Perfume

Rejuvenating, uplifting, energizing, and stimulating. This blend is good for mental clarity, lack of focus, and fatigue.

Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.

 ***

Please leave a comment to share your own perfume and cologne recipes, we’d love to hear about them!

~ irene

35 Responses to “Making Botanical Perfumes & Colognes”

  1. avatar organic says:

    A night of refreshments and scented delights : )

    Going to do the Floral one soon!

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  3. avatar Camille says:

    I love patchouli and bergamot with a touch of vanilla. These recipes sound so yummy! I especially like the Woodland Blend! Thanks!

  4. avatar jmcaree says:

    Hi. I love these ideas and cannot wait to try a few. I am wondering the difference between the bases of vodka and jojoba oil. Can you explain why one is better than another? Thanks.

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi jmcarree,
      Thank you for the great question! Jojoba oil is typically used when creating concentrated perfumes that are applied directly to the skin, and vodka is used when making colognes or perfumes that are less concentrated and misted onto the skin or clothing.
      I hope that this helps!
      ~ irene

  5. avatar Firefly says:

    Irene, just double checking, but does that quality of the alcohol matter when making colognes? I know it does when you are actually going to drink it, but just checking. :)

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi Firefly (love your name!),
      Thank you for the wonderful question! I think that a lower quality of alcohol would be appropriate when making colognes, I honestly don’t believe that the quality will make much of a difference in the finished product.
      If you try making your own colognes and perfumes, we’d love to hear how they turn out!
      ~ irene

  6. avatar Y.K says:

    Hi I’m interested to make my own fragrances without the use of alcohol, is there a particular method to do so, or it’s simply the same as using spring water to make air fresheners?

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi Y.K,

      Thank you for the great question! If you used water instead of alcohol in the cologne recipes, then the mixture would begin to ferment within a few days. However, you can use Witch Hazel Extract instead of the alcohol in these cologne recipes. The Witch Hazel Extract will not draw as much fragrance out of the botanicals as the alcohol would, but it would be perfectly suited for creating air fresheners or lightly scented cologne. You could also turn any of the perfume recipes into room sprays by omitting the Jojoba oil, and adding the essential oil blend to 3 oz. water and 1 oz. Witch Hazel Extract.

      We have several recipes for making aromatherapy sprays on our blog, here are links to the recipes:
      Winter Spice Aroma Spray: http://mountainroseblog.com/homemade-gifts/
      Late Summer Aromatherapy Spray: http://mountainroseblog.com/savoring-summer/
      Vanilla Aroma Spray: http://mountainroseblog.com/decadent-vanilla-recipes-2/

      Thank you again for the thoughtful question, and best of luck with all of your aromatherapy adventures!

      ~ irene

      • avatar Sarah says:

        Hello, Thanks for all the great information!
        I am having a hard time finding comprehensive information on using and choosing witch hazel.

        Is Thayer’s Witch Hazel considered witch hazel extract? Does alcohol vs alcohol free matter when blending with essential oils?

        What is the difference between adding witch hazel extract and mixing witch hazel with water?

        Sorry to have so many questions! Any light you can shed would be much appreciated!

        • avatar Kori says:

          Hi Sarah~Thank you for all your questions. My understanding is that Thayer’s Witch Hazel is considered an extract, but it is alcohol free. You can use witch hazel for blending with essential oils and it works just fine. The witch hazel will not draw out as much as the fragrance from the essential oils as the alcohol base will, however. Our witch hazel extract is 14% alcohol so it is not just witch hazel with water. The more water in your creation, the shorter the shelf life. Additionally, water just doesn’t have the ability to extract the scents and properties the way alcohol does. You can create light mists and sprays, however, using witch hazel as your base. You might find the books we carry on essential oils and aromatherapy helpful as you learn more about blending and creating perfumes and colognes: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/catalog/home-goods/books/aromatherapy Good luck and Cheers! ~Kori

  7. avatar Y.K says:

    Thanks so much for the informative reply Irene, you’re a great help! :)

  8. avatar Bluesky1000 says:

    Hi! Just wondering what the shelf life of these are? Especially the colognes. Cheers! x

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi Bluesky1000,
      Thank you so much for your question, and for reading our blog! The colognes will last for years since they are made with a base of vodka. If kept stored in a dark-colored bottle with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dark area, then most alcohol-based colognes will have an indefinite shelf life.
      Thank you again, I hope that you enjoy making your own botanical colognes!
      ~ irene

  9. avatar kajinek says:

    Hi, if I use Witch Hazel Extract and water,according to your recipe for a room spray, what the shelf life would be?
    Thank you,

    Alena

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi Alena,

      Thank you for your question! The shelf life would be at least 6 months, and most likely longer. The scent may lessen over time, but the sprays shouldn’t spoil or go bad (especially if you use distilled water).

      Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns, and thank you again!

      ~ irene

      • avatar kajinek says:

        Hi Irene,

        I’m starting a perfume business. Can I list as an ingredient-perfumery alcohol or is it better as denatured alcohol?

        Alena

        • avatar Irene says:

          Hi Alena,

          Oooh, staring a perfume business – how exciting!

          I have only used vodka as a base, and have never experimented with perfumery alcohol or denatured alcohol. As far as labeling is concerned, I’m not sure if there are any specific labeling requirements for perfumes. I would check with a perfumery trade organization and would look at the labels of other perfumes to see what other companies include on their list of ingredients.

          Thank you for your question, and best of wishes for your new venture!

          ~ Irene

  10. avatar kajinek says:

    Thank you Irene! Yes, I do have another question.What would be the best to use for these air sprays, if I plan to sell them at the local market:
    1. Grain alcohol only
    2. Grain alcohol + distilled water
    3. Witch hazel + distilled water
    4. Witch hazel only
    I’m concerned about the lasting scent and shelf life.
    I would really appreciate your advise again.
    Thank you.
    Alena

    • avatar Irene says:

      Dear Alena,

      Thank you for your reply! Selling air sprays at your local market, how exciting!

      If you’re planning to offer these to the public, then I would recommend making test batches and carefully monitoring them before you begin selling them. This will allow you to know which base you prefer, and will also help you determine the shelf life of your product.

      Thank you again, we wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!

      ~ irene

      • avatar kajinek says:

        Thank you Irene. So I guess it’s possible to use all 4 recipes. I was not sure about using the Witch hazel only.

        Alena

  11. avatar special_k says:

    Alena
    I have gastric health issues so I often make tinctures to help my gut, I couldnt help but noticing that the perfumes with a vodka base, ferment 2-6 weeks and I wonder if I could use the same process that I use to make tincture to make a large batch of perfume for gifts this Christmas.
    Basically what you do is add your herbs finely ground into a mason jar and then add a fine(?) alcohol and place the entire mason jar in a pot of boiling water to reduce the alcohol content(?) a hippie girl taught me how to do it and I have only made two very small batches since it is only for me in two years but I wonder if it would reduce the time of (?) infusion? of the herbs and essential oils. I was thinking of the Summer one with the cardomom pods and the floral one. I just wondered if you have ever tried it to reduce the time needed to infuse??
    Also I read what you posted about the witch hazel and in heat in the summer I think it would evaporate, in addition in my family we use it as an astringent for acne and cleansing the face but I know that there are tucks that use it for a certain medical condition.
    Thanks for your wonderful tutorial!!

    • avatar special_k says:

      Sorry I thought it was Alena not Irene who posted the tutorial, forgive me.

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi special_k,

      Thank you for your question, and for reading our blog. What a fun Christmas gift!

      I’ve never infused tinctures in the method that you described, but you can certainly experiment with different methods of preparing the cologne recipes. I would add any essential oils after removing the jar from the heat, once that the liquid has cooled.

      I hope that your colognes turn out wonderful!

      ~ irene

  12. avatar special_k says:

    Thank you, Thats really cool, I will will try a small amount since essential oils are so pricey.. but the citrus orange and floral ones will be the ones I will try.
    Those I can afford to mess up I’ll really just be out vodka!

  13. [...] Mountain Rose Herbs has a great post about how to make perfume from actual herbs, plants and flowers if you’d like to go that route. [...]

  14. avatar Pxies mom says:

    Hi,
    I’m in need of some advise.
    I want to make an oil based perfume with some preschoolers. We have glass bottles with rollers to fill. However I wanted them to experience using the actual flowers, plants and herbs in the process rather than just essential oils.
    Can you advise of a recipe we can do… the class is this thursday.

    Thanks in advance.

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi there~Well, it sounds like a very fun project! If you are using actual flowers, it is difficult to get a strong scent unless you infuse the flowers in a carrier oil and that takes several weeks. You might consider adding a few drops of essential oil or hydrosol in the same scent as the flowers you are using in addition to the flowers. You will want to make sure you are using dried flowers, as fresh ones will have too much moisture and might mold or mildew if they are put directly into the oils. You may notice that we suggest using alcohol as the base as this works very well. The Orange Spice, for example, uses herbs and spices and you wouldn’t need to infuse any oils. I hope this points you in the right direction and good luck with your project! ~Kori

  15. avatar Talha says:

    Hi
    I am making perfume using oil base method . I used almond oil pure but its not work well due to thick and somewhat bitter odor , i like olive oil and it blends with essential oil very well . kindly give me some receips for perfume making .

  16. avatar Fred Shultz says:

    So many people have said that vodka is odorless, yet I detect a strong odor of alcohol. It over powers whatever I add to it. Does that eventually go away or am I buying the wrong kind of vodka?

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Fred~Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. If you are buying high quality, flavorless vodka, it should work well for your infusions. You may just be more sensitive to the smell of alcohol than some of us :) You can always try a pure grain alcohol like Everclear for your infusions and see if that works better for you. We so appreciate you reading the blog and good luck! ~Kori

  17. […] Mountain Rose Herbs Perfume Recipes […]

  18. avatar naturals says:

    Hi,

    Are your cologne recipes safe to use over the perfume ones during pregnancy? What would you suggest during pregnancy with regards to using scents? Thanks

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hello! Implementing the use of essential oils into your lifestyle shouldn’t cause paranoia or undue worry, however when one is pregnant extra caution is called for, and for that reason we cannot recommend the use of any herbal products during pregnancy or guarantee that using them will be risk-free for the mother or the unborn child. The best advice we can give is that a pregnant woman who would like to use herbs–for either medicinal or cosmetic purposes–while she is pregnant seek the advice of her midwife, aromatherapist or doctor before doing so. We apologize for not being able to be more helpful in this instance! Thanks so much for reading the blog. ~Kori

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    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
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