How To Make A DIY Roll-On Perfume + Where To Apply It For Maximum Effect

How To Make A DIY Roll-On Perfume + Where To Apply It For Maximum Effect Hero Image
Photo: Twenty20

Making your own DIY perfume is downright glorious, and what's more, it'll give you a renewed insight into your olfactory tastes, which is always very revealing.

First, choose your favorite of the five perfume categories:

  • Woody (cedar, patchouli, sandalwood)
  • Floral (rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang)
  • Citrus (bergamot, lemon, neroli)
  • Spicy (clove, ginger, black pepper)
  • Green/Fresh (galbanum, violet leaf, rosemary)

In making your own blend, first decide which of these categories appeals to you most. Then, you choose your perfume's top, middle, and base notes—notes are the combination of smells that form your perfume. If you think of your perfume blend as a great song, there needs to be lyrics (top notes), a tune (middle notes), and a great beat (base notes). The song will feel like it's lacking something if it doesn't have all three elements, and so will your scent.

Base notes

The smells that stick around the longest and fix the lighter smells in place.


Middle notes

The main body of your perfume, they linger for a good while.

Top notes

What you smell immediately when you sniff a new perfume, but the ones that evaporate the fastest.

Note: A good rule of thumb to go by is that 50 percent of your blend should be made up of base notes, and the other 50 percent is divided between middle and top notes however you see fit.

In my DIY perfume recipe I've gone for a sexy, woody scent using four essential oils I can never be without (just ask the editors here at mbg). You can use as many different oils as you like—there are no hard and fast rules—but since we're just starting out, less may be more!

  • Cedarwood (base)
  • Patchouli (base)
  • Rose (middle)
  • Bergamot (top)


I love using grapeseed oil as my base, but you can use jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond (as examples), too.

  1. Grab a mixing/measuring cup and some pipettes. We're going to create 1.5 ml of perfume blend per 10 ml of base oil. This will give you a strong perfume, containing 15 percent oils. FYI, you don't need to be scientifically accurate as this is supposed to be fun!
  2. Add your perfume blend drop by drop to the mixing cup, until you have the required amount (2.25 ml), and then carefully add your chosen base oil.
  3. Now mix up your blend and base oil, cover it with some foil or plastic wrap if it's in a bowl, or screw the lid on if it's a bottle.
  4. Now's the time for some patience. I like to leave mine to "blossom" for at least a week. If you decide to use an alcohol-based dilutant (like organic vodka) instead of base oil, you'll need to leave it about a month to give the alcohol time to marry with the fragrant oils.
  5. Now your perfume is ready! Do you still like it? Does something smell off? Use this as an experiment to see what you REALLY love, not just what you think you do. Sometimes, scents just go awry, and that's OK! Truly. Get alchemic and keep going until you get a cacophonous chorus of "Ooooooh, what you wearing miss?!"

I've learned from my studies at NYIOA, where I'm in training to become an aromatherapist, that you just play—and play it really is! When I make this blend, I like to close the redolent circle with a drop of vanilla oil behind your ears, on your wrists, the small of your neck and just between your collarbone—C.O. Bigelow's lasts for an eternity. Frédéric Malle, the architect behind Editions de Parfums—a collection of 19 original scents created in collaboration with the world's top noses, says, "Perfume is not an intellectual thing. It's very primal. You have to use what you already know about someone, but you also need to trust your instincts."

I think this mix will make you feel humid, narcotic, a bit unsettled even, and I think you'll like it. Caution: Marinate for a good half an hour before stepping out.

Explore More