The art of anointing ourselves with fragrance has been part of human culture for millennia. Myrrh and sandalwood, for instance, are among 700 aromatics mentioned in the Vedas. And the ancient Egyptians used oils like cedar and frankincense for both purification and perfumery.
Modern aromatherapy emerged in the mid-20th century, founded on extensive knowledge of the healing properties of essential oils and their systematic use. Extracted from plants’ cellular tissue, essential oils’ complex chemistries adapt and harmonize with our own multi-faceted natures, promoting well-being on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Sweet orange oil, for example, stimulates digestion and evokes joy; eucalyptus relieves congestion while uplifting the spirit.
Feeling inspired to take part in the ancient aromatic arts? Here’s how to blend your own signature fragrance—indulging your senses and sense of wellbeing in the process.
A carrier or fixed oil. Food grade nut and seed oils, such as sweet almond or apricot kernel, are rich in proteins and nutrients and suitable for all skin types. To keep from oxidizing, add vitamin E or jojoba. Jojoba has natural antioxidants and makes an excellent carrier oil by itself.
Fragrant oils. Look for pure essential oils—wild or organic where possible, and “therapeutic grade” if you want the highest quality. Read the properties for information on contraindications and safe use.
. You’ll need an amber glass bottle and a cap with a reducer, available from most essential oil suppliers. Using recycled supplies? Be sure to sterilize with boiling water and dry thoroughly.
Blending is more art than science, and balancing the “notes” is key. Top notes like lemon and eucalyptus lighten and lift; middle notes such as lavender and geranium are the heart of the fragrance; and base notes, such as vetiver and patchouli, ground and resonate. Use precious oils, such as rose and jasmine, sparingly. Whatever combination of essential oils you choose, try building your fragrance a few drops at a time, testing as you go. A total of 10 to 12 drops per 10 milliliters of carrier oil will make a richly perfumed blend.