Since ancient times, scented body products havebeen used to seduce, entice, influence and heal. The queen of Shebareportedly used aromatics to seduce King Solomon. Cleopatra usedscents to influence the Greeks and Romans. People of many differentcultures wore plant essences in an effort to prevent illness andplague. Even Napoleon enjoyed herbal scents; he reportedly used upto 60 bottles of rosemary cologne a month!
For me, making herbal perfumes, powders and oils is a way ofcapturing a little bit of my garden to be enjoyed later. Fragranceis the very heart and soul of my patch of herbs, and wearing thatfragrance is a way of keeping my garden close throughout theday.
Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there are many waysto capture and wear herbal fragrances. Essential oils and a fewingredients found at the local supermarket can be combined tocreate delightful perfumes, powders and body sprays. You can usejust one fragrance note at a time, such as lavender, rose orpeppermint, or you can combine essential oils to create yourpersonal signature fragrance.
The recipes here are very basic, but if you crave moreinformation on perfumery, several books teach the fine art ofblending natural perfumes. As you try the different recipes,remember that you always can experiment and substitute differentoils to suit your taste. That’s part of the fun.
Making your own fragrant products gives you great freedom ofchoice. Using the principles of aromatherapy, you can decide howyou want your fragrances to affect you and those around you. Forexample, you may want to wear lavender for its calming, refreshingeffects, sweet orange because it is uplifting, or rosemary formental stimulation. However, you must use pure essential oils(distilled using water and steam) or absolutes (essences extractedwith the use of a solvent such as alcohol) to reap these benefits.Synthetic fragrance oils do not offer the same results.
Some pure essential oils can be very expensive or hard to find.Attar of roses and oil of neroli can cost about $200 per ounce.(You may choose to simply omit the neroli from the solid perfumerecipe.) Other essences, such as vanilla, are hard to find in apure absolute. From such natural products, however, come superiorfragrance and less chance of an allergic reaction. Expensiveessential oils often are available in very small quantities, suchas 1/16 ounce or 1/2 gram. These tiny amounts are perfectlyadequate, however, because you only need a few drops per recipe(see sources on Page 30).
Fragrance Blend Recipes
A standard perfume — the kind you’d purchase at your favoritedepartment store — usually contains about 15 to 30 percent aromaticoils diluted with alcohol and dispersants. A perfume oil uses acarrier oil rather than alcohol. The carrier oil shows theevaporation process, and the resulting mixture holds its fragrancelonger than an average perfume.
Jojoba oil is an excellent carrier oil because it is actually aliquid wax. It does not go rancid as quickly as other oils. Jojobaoil has little or no fragrance of its own and is readily absorbedinto the skin. Sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil are goodchoices for the same reasons, but they have a shelf life of onlythree to five months. If you use one of these two oils, make smallbatches that can be used within that time frame.
Garden Delight Perfume OilMAKES ABOUT 1 TEASPOON • 18 drops grapefruit essential oil
• 12 drops lavender essential oil
• 4 drops vanilla absolute
• 60 drops jojoba or sweet almond oil
In a 1/8-ounce glass container, combine grapefruit and lavenderessential oils and vanilla absolute. Shake well and let mixture sitfor at least 1 week before adding jojoba or sweet almond oil. Dabthe oil on your pulse points to release scent. Store in a glasscontainer (plastic will absorb some of the fragrance).
Orange Delight variation: Use 8 drops sweet orange essential oiland 16 drops bergamot essential oil instead of the grapefruits,lavender and vanilla.
Spring Rain Solid PerfumeSolid perfume is simple to make, travels well and has greatstaying power when worn. It looks similar to lip balm and can bestored in a metal lip balm canister, a recycled pillbox or a smalljar. Just be sure not to accidentally use it on your lips. MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 OUNCES
15 drops lavender essential oil
• 8 drops oakmoss essential oil
• 5 drops neroli essential oil
• 4 drops rosemary essential oil
• 2 tablespoons jojoba or sweet almond oil
• 2 tablespoons grated beeswax or beeswax beads
In a small double boiler, heat all oils together until justwarm. Stir well until completely blended. Stir in beeswax. Continueto stir until completely melted. Pour into small glass, metal orplastic containers. Let perfume cool completely. To use, rub fingerover surface of perfume and then onto your pulse points or whereveryou like to wear fragrance.
Lavender variation: Use 25 drops lavender essential oil insteadof the others. The resulting perfume is very relaxing andespecially soothing if you have a headache.
Rose Geranium Dusting Powder
Body powders are an inexpensive, yet luxurious way to wear alight fragrance. They are made up of just a few ingredients foundin most grocery or health-food stores. A 50/50 ratio of rice flourto cornstarch produces a silky powder that does not cake up. Theoptional addition of arrowroot provides an extra softness to themixture. Body powder can be stored in a shaker jar, canister or asmall box with a powder puff.
This recipe calls for fresh leaves of rose-scented geranium(Pelargonium spp.). If you do not have any scented pelargoniumleaves, you may substitute the fresh petals of two very fragrantroses. For a minty refreshing powder, try substituting leaves of apeppermint-scented pelargonium (such as P. tomentosum or‘Peppermint Lace’) and peppermint essential oil for the rosescents. Mints are cooling to wear on hot summer days. MAKES 1 1/4 CUPS
4 fresh rose-scented pelargonium leaves
• 1/2 cup white rice flour
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (optional)
• 15 drops rose geranium oil
• 1 shaker jar or powder puff container
Use a paper towel to pat pelargonium leaves completely dry. Tearleaves into 1-inch pieces. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.Cover and shake well. Set aside for one week. Sift out the geraniumleaves and spoon powder into a glass shaker jar or other container.Keep container closed between uses to preserve fragrance. Keep forup to 6 months.
Body SpritzYou can duplicate fancy herbal body sprays found in boutiquesand bath shops at home for a fraction of the cost and makedifferent scented spritzes to give away as gifts. Spritzes workwell with single fragrances such as bergamot, lavender, peppermint,rose geranium or spearmint. Or you can combine two oils such aslavender and bergamot, or vanilla and rose. A peppermint spritz,kept in the refrigerator, cools and provides a refreshing lift totired skin at the end of the workday. MAKES ABOUT 8 OUNCES
• 1 cup distilled water
• 10 drops of your favorite essential oil
Pour ingredients into an 8-ounce glass or plastic spray bottle.Shake well; then spray on skin after a shower or any time you needto feel refreshed. Keeps for up to 6 months.