Sunday, August 01, 2010

Ask The Perfumer - Sunday, Aug 1, 2010

You can submit your questions about perfumery all day today, August 1, 2010.  I hope I can help you solve your scented dilemma.


  1. Hi there, can you please tell me the general process in point form that you use to make a perfume from start to finish. I'm having a hard time visualizing the process beginning with the actual materials used (including different types, i.e. eo's, concretes and absolutes) all the way to ending up with a clear liquid extrait. Thank you very much

  2. What does the word "gourmand" mean in perfumery?

  3. Hi Kay:

    That's a HUGE request, and far beyond the scope of a Q&A on general perfumery topics, sorry.

    There are a number of basic perfumery courses you could take, some are printed materials you study at home, others are online. I offer online, and will have the printed home study in a month or so. You can research other courses, and I encourage you to do so.

    Learning perfumery is a real process, it takes several years, and a lot of dedication and passion.

    You may also consider joining a huge Yahoo group I host on natural perfumery

    You will get bits and pieces of your query answered there, but it doesn't substitute for real study with an instructor. I do encourage you to seek out an instructor who has acclaimed perfumes and good references.

  4. Marmee, gourmand means it smells like some kind of food, often vanilla, or chocolate, but fruit and jammy, tasty scents qualify also.

  5. HI ANYA!

    In my country it is 21:55 so I hope I am not late for question haha.

    Since I am absolute beginner in natural perfumery, I bought cheaper EO's and I have 20 of them right now.

    I fear that with them I am not able to make any scent that could actually smell anything close to "perfume" - everything smells more like massage centre (rosemary, cedar, patchouli, lime, lemongrass, palmarosa, thyme, lemon, rosewood...).

    My question is: Are my blends so not "perfume" because I don't have those notes such as: rose, jasmin, lotus, vanilla etc. or I am not good enought yet to make something out of these 20 (earthy, herbal, green) essential oils...

  6. Hi Anya,

    I make aromatherapy products and I've recently started creating wearable aromatherapy. I use very high quality EOs, but my challenge is that - once applied to skin - the scents don't last very long! I've experimented with roll-ons and a couple of carrier oils such as jojoba and grapeseed, but neither seem to do the trick. Even when I increase the proportions of EOs it don't seem to prolong the scent either. I know the blending of the notes is also critical, but is there a special carrier oil you would recommend? Would a solid base be better than liquid? Help! :)

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

  7. Hi Anya. I've been wondering about benzoin this week. In your chat group, someone mentioned Aftel's amber accord with benzoin, labdanum and vanilla. And I've been asked to make a scent for someone who likes amber. I made up a base accord with benzoin, labdanum, vanilla, patchouli and sandalwood...but I'm concerned about the benzoin and safety. It seems like it's such a common ingredient, but am I remembering correctly that it's a strong sensitizer? And if it shouldn't be used in perfumes, are there other vanilla-ish notes I can substitute which are safer? Many thanks. I know how busy you are, and I appreciate this gift every week.

  8. Hi Bellatrix:

    You already know the truth - the oils you got are too herbaceous, assertive, medicinal and lacking in florals. You're also lacking good base notes to anchor the scent.

    To save money and stretch your essences when you do spend on the more expensive florals and such, why not dilute them to 10% for your experiments? Also dilute the ones you already have on hand, but I'd avoid thyme because it's very tricky to use in a a perfume. The aggressive ones, like patchouli, lemongrass and rosemary can be diluted even more , maybe 5% and use them sparingly. HTH.

  9. Gyrlapple, you have to start using base notes to "anchor" the scents. They evaporate slower than the top and middle notes, and give the perfume longevity. You can also add some glycerin, up to 5%, in the blend, and that helps slow evaporation. When using alcohol, you can add 5% benzoin, vanilla, or other base notes before you even begin to blend, and they will "fix" the alcohol a bit. I don't have experience with glycerin or using the benzoin, vanilla et al in "fixing" oil, so I can't comment on that.

  10. Hi Urban Eden:

    Some people are sensitive to benzoin, others aren't. I would do a patch test on the person who wishes to have the amber perfume made. Mix some benzoin at the percentage you want to mix in the perfume, in the same carrier, and put a small amount in the crook of their arm, cover with a band-aid for 24 hours, and see if there is any redness. Then, it is a decision by the person whether to proceed or not. Do not make the decision for them, let them make it.

    Benzoin is beautiful, and I encourage you to attempt to use it. If you ever make a commercial perfume with it, use a warning label and suggest the skin test.

  11. Thank you so much, Anya. That's a great idea. And if she loves the accord but has some sensitivity, I might continue with the blend with the caveat that she only use it to scent her hair. She usually wears a sandalwood/vanilla blend in her hair now, so this wouldn't be foreign to her.

    I love what benzoin does to a blend, too. So I'm happy to hear you suggest I keep working with it.

  12. You are more than right. Thank you for the comment and help! All your suggestions are really helpful. What is making my process even slower is the fact that I need to order almost everything outside of my country which makes it even more expensive...

    Thank you once again!

  13. Thank you, very much, Anya! I will definitely work on the blends.


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