Mother Nature continues to surprise and delight us with botanical solutions that readily replace cruel practices of animal exploitation, and this is also true when it comes to perfume.
With the widespread bounty of botanicals on offer it’s clear that out-dated, inhumane and quite frankly, ridiculous common practices of procuring secretions from animal glands and fecal deposits for use in non-vegan perfumes, are completely unnecessary.
DIY vegan perfume: experiment with the bounty of botanicals
The great news is that we do not have to sacrifice that sensual, musky fragrance in the name of animal welfare; because the intoxicating scent of natural musk is readily available in the likes of the Ambrette seed, available as an absolute or oil extraction from the tropical hibiscus plant.
Why not have a go at making your very own vegan perfume or re-creating your favourite big brand perfume by yourself? You can search online to find which essential oils are used in your chosen scent and have a go at replicating it. Even if you don’t manage to get the exact same scent, you may well be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
Here is a general guide to making your own vegan perfumes at home.
The basic DIY vegan perfume recipe
What you will need:
~ 80-90% proof vodka
~ A selection of pure, vegan, essential oils (labelled safe for cosmetic use)
~ An assortment of glass bottles (spray bottles are handy)
- Blend 1 part of your desired essential oil with 20 parts alcohol (be prepared to experiment with this as different oils have different potencies).
- Perfume should be sealed tightly in a glass bottle and stored anywhere between 2 weeks to 1 month (or even to one year if you’re serious!) to age. The longer is stands, the stronger it will be, but I’ve found after 2 weeks the perfume is wearable and pleasant, it may just need to be applied more often.
- Try to remember to shake the mixture daily.
To your cup of vodka you will first want to add base notes. Base notes are the rich bottom scents, which create depth to a perfume and help to hold and solidify the middle and top notes. The combination of base notes is important as it affects how the middle and top notes are perceived by the nose. Having large molecules that take the longest to evaporate, base notes are the ones that linger longest on skin. Popular base notes include: sandalwood, cedarwood, rosewood, patchouli, jasmine, frankincense, vanilla, vetiver, myrrh, ambrette seed musk and clove.
Next you will want to add middle notes. Middle notes provide the main body of the scent. They are slightly mellower and help to ‘round off’ the scent of the bottom notes. Popular middle notes include: lavender, rose, cardamom, chamomile, juniper, ylang ylang, rosemary and pine.
Finally you will want to add top notes. Top notes are the strongest smelling fragrances that are first perceived when you notice a scent, being the smallest molecules, which evaporate the quickest. They therefore determine the first impression to the nose. Top notes include: cinnamon, mint, cajuput, verbena and citrus scents such as: mandarin, lemon, lime, bergamot and grapefruit.
You can always slightly adjust the ratio of notes by adding extra base, middle or top notes (in the correct order from base to top) if you want to adjust the scent.
Be sure to make a note of the combination of oils you are using and how many drops you have used of each. You won’t want to forget your ratios when you hit on the perfect combination!
Here are some tried and tested vegan perfume recipes for men and women, for your enjoyment:
DIY vegan perfume recipes for women
Musky and Spicy
1 cup vodka 3 drops of clove 6 drops of lavender 1 drop of bergamot 3 drops of ambrette seed musk
Rich and Floral
1 cup vodka 5 drops of patchouli 3 drops vanilla 10 drops of ylang ylang 5 drops of rose geranium
Earthy and Calming
1 cup vodka 3 drops sandalwood 2 drops cedarwood 4 drops frankincense 3 drops rose 3 drops ylang ylang 2 drops lavender
DIY vegan perfume recipes for men
Warm and Sensual
1 cup vodka 3 drops of lavender 2 drops of rosemary 10 drops of orange or lemon and bergamot – any combination! 3 drops of ambrette seed musk 5 drops of rose geranium
1 cup vodka 2 drops ginger 4 drops vetiver 2 drops juniper 1 drop clary sage 2 drops grapefruit 2 drops pine
Remember to add the oils to the vodka in the correct order (starting with the base notes first) and mix together.
Once you are happy with the balance, transfer the perfume into a glass bottle, seal the bottle well then shake the mixture. Store for 2 weeks to a month in a cool, dry and preferably dark place. Fragrances last longer when stored in the fridge!
Please note that you can adjust the ratios of the perfume recipes mentioned above according to your liking. For example, you may want to increase the ratio of essential oils if you desire a stronger scent that will last longer.
Also, be aware that essential oils can differ in scent from supplier to supplier, so be prepared to take the time to shop around for the scents that appeal to you.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive please be aware that some essential oils should be avoided, so make sure to do your research.
And lastly, have fun with this! There is no substitute for experimentation.
You can pick up ornate or simple glass bottles (with a spray tops or roll-on tops) for cheap at your local thrift store or on Amazon/ eBay; and what could make a more unique gift (for others, or yourself) than your very own signature scent presented in a cute little bottle?
Cover image: Shutterstock.