Scents-able Applications

64 Arts

Have you ever made your own perfume? Do you know how simple it is, really, to create your own signature scents?

If you did last week’s scent exploration exercise then you’re totally prepared for this week’s project, just grab your scents notes and your car keys (or your computer mouse if you prefer to shop online) and gather a few simple ingredients.

What you’ll need:

Carrier oil–sweet almond it very common and very popular, you can also use pharmacy grade olive oil, as well as others on the market
Essential oils or Fragrance oils
Decorative bottle

What’s the difference between essential and fragrance oils?

Some would say cost, others would say quality, still others say availability–it all comes down to personal preference. Essential oils are distilled from the scent-giving item in question (rose petals, sandalwood, oranges, etc.) and are the concentrated essence of that fragrance. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are created chemically to mimic natural scents.

The upside is that fragrance oils are generally cheaper and more widely available since they don’t have to worry about scarcity of the original item (which is why sandalwood essential oil, for instance, can be harder to find and more expensive than it’s chemical counterpart). Essential oils, however, lend a connection to nature and a purity that you may find more desirable. And since so little is used in each application, a small bottle can go a long way, making the cost less prohibitive over time.

Regardless, neither fragrance oils nor essential oils should be applied directly to the skin! Not only could these concentrated scents cause skin irritation, in the case of essential oils certain ones can cause very bad things to happen–seriously, do your homework if you’re going to really get into them!

To make your perfume of choice, add the essential or fragrance oils (a few drops at a time) to your carrier oil and place in a pretty glass bottle.

Added to small, stoppered vials, these would make lovely gifts for a group of new moms on Mothers’ Day, wedding gifts to your attendants or a sweet anytime gift to your girls night out pals. (Of course you could also make some personalized cologne for the men in your life, too.)

You can also buy refillable atomizers and spritz to your hearts content rather than dab on your chosen perfume.

Thinking Beyond the Bottle

  • Citrus essential oils make great additions to homemade lotions and toners.
  • Citrus, again, works great in homemade household cleaners (depending on your ingredients, of course–it might take quite a bit to overcome the scent of a vinegar-based cleaner).
  • A few drops of scented oils on a handkerchief or scrap of fabric and tucked into a drawer make a wonderful sachet. (Care should be taken that the oil itself doesn’t come in contact with your clothing–it could leave an oily residue.)
  • Use some of the leftover oils to make your own reed diffuser.
  • Scent your own soaps or candles with the combination of your choice.

Question of the Day:

What other ways do you use perfumes, essential oils or fragrance oils around the house?

Choosing a Signature Scent

64 Arts
Mom's Perfume Bottles, by Nancy JonesFrancis

image via Flickr, annieo76

Now that we’ve talked about scent memories and how (or how not to) wear perfumes, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about how to CHOOSE a perfume!

Your first instinct when you want to choose a new signature scent might be to head off to your favorite department store and start sniffing away, but I’d caution against that for one minute while I talk about something completely unrelated to perfumes–or is it?


I love wine. Taking a road trip and see a winery sign? Chances are pretty doggone good that we’re going to take a detour if there’s any possibility of a tasting (a free tasting is best, but we’ve paid nominal fees for tasting flights, too). And I used to love going to the monthly wine tasting at the local ABC Liquors back in the day.

But here’s the thing: after a dozen different wines pass your palate, chances are you’re not tasting much of anything new with each sip, you’re just feeling no pain. And there’s really only so much that chutney over cream cheese and wheat thins can do to cleanse your palate.


If you think it’s tough to get a bad taste out of your mouth, have you ever tried un-smelling something unpleasant?


While there are ways to refresh your sniffer after a long day at the perfume counter (lemon slices and coffee grounds come to mind–but not together!), most f0lks aren’t going to be able to tell much about perfume #10 in a row and how it’s different from #1 or #3. And if you’ve tried them on your wrist or arm you could end up smelling like roadkill instead of roses.

What’s a girl to do? Her homework!

But this is the fun kind, and I’ve got a way to make it super simple so you know where to start your search without overpowering your schnoz.

Step 1: Pick 2 perfumes you’re already familiar with, one you like and one you don’t.

Step 2: Head over to or a similar site and search for your 2 known perfumes. Look in the descriptions for the notes (the individual scents that make up the overall bouquet of the perfume or cologne) of each perfume and print them out or write them down.

Step 3: Use these notes of notes as your cheat sheet for choosing perfumes to try and those to avoid. The notes found in your least favorite perfume will be notes you want to avoid or be wary of when looking for a new signature scent.

Step 4: Search for the notes that sound most appealing from your favorite perfume and look at the other options that come up.

For instance: a favorite perfume of mine is Clinque’s Happy which has, among others, ruby red grapefruit top notes. Now, if I do a search for ruby red grapefruit I get a couple dozen possibilities to check out. But, if I look at the notes for each (or just some that appeal to me via their packaging–you gotta start somewhere, right?) I notice that one of these perfumes has a note I most definitely do NOT like: patchouli. Therefore, I know there’s no point in trying out B Exquisite. Daisy, though, might be a good choice except I’d have to see (smell) how potent the gardenia notes are–those can easily overpower.

At any rate, with a little searching under your belt, you’re now ready to head to the perfume counter or your local Sephora for a few well-curated choices.  You can start with spritzes on test strips and then choose 2 to try on yourself (one per wrist) to see how they interact with your own body chemistry.

This might not be the quickest search, all things considered, but with the price of a good perfume being what it is, it’s worth spending a weekend or two trying out a couple of new perfumes at a time before investing in a bottle you may regret.


Question of the Day: How do you go about picking a new signature scent?

Keep It Simple and Scents-able

64 Arts

Wearing perfume is a balancing act between making a statement and making a stench.

One girls ideal scent may make another sneeze, and the scent that smells fabulous spritzed in the air or on a test strip may smell like–well, let’s just say very unpleasant when it’s actually on.

So here’s a few guidelines for smelling like roses instead of road-kill:

  • Never wear a new scent out before a test-run at home. Scents react with our skin and body chemistry and change slightly from what’s in the bottle. Put it on and give it about an hour and then see what it smells like before committing it to your personal arsenal.
  • Scale up the scent based on the sort of occasion you’re wearing it for. Wearing only a spritz or a dab for work compared to all the pulse-points for a date, that sort of thing. And even then, figure that others will be wearing their own scents so the more people you’ll be around, the less scent you would want to wear to cut down on the olfactory cacophony.
  • Using multiple products (body wash, lotion and perfume) amplifies the amount of perfume you’ve put on and can get overpowering, fast.
  • We become accustomed to our own immediate area when it comes to scent. With that in mind, just because you can’t smell the perfume as strongly as you used to, doesn’t mean others are in the same predicament. If the bottle’s fairly new and hasn’t been stored in a sunny window or other heat-prone place, trust that it smells just fine and err on the side of caution.
  • Smoking and other factors can also dampen your sense of smell, making you prone to put on too much scent and overpower those around you.
  • There’s something to be said for having a signature scent, but don’t be afraid to change it when it becomes tired or your tastes change.

Now, two stories about perfume gone wrong and why it’s so important to be sensible about scents, both from the office.

We had a client come in, one day, who preferred natural products and essential oils. This day in particular she was sporting quite a lot of patchouli and, as the scent wafted it’s way back to my office (about, oh, 15 feet from the front counter and through my open doorway), I was overcome with a fit of coughing so bad I had to go back out to the alley for a breath of fresh air.

It’s quite unfortunate to have to excuse yourself from client interactions but sometimes the best thing is to just be upfront and try to stand upwind.

And it’s not only women that face these issues!

We used to rent space to another company in the our building and one of their salesmen was notorious for piling on the cologne in the morning. You could smell him coming 2 minutes before he walked in the door and 10 minutes after he left!

I once read that Jackie Kennedy spoke in a soft voice so that others would have to lean in to hear her, creating a feel of intimacy in their interactions. Perfume should be like that, too, I think. You lean in for an embrace and leave a subtle scent behind rather than shouting your presence to everyone in the room.


Do you have any tips or personal rules for wearing perfume?

the 19th Art: Perfume

64 Arts

After quite a long stint on the jewelry arts of 18 and 20, we’re hopping back in the middle of them to pick up the (lost?) art of perfume…


And now back to our regularly scheduled programing. The next art in the pursuit of the 64 Arts is

Art 19: The Preparation of Perfumes

But let’s take this from a different angle and start with the wearing of perfume and then get around to making it. After all, you can’t make it if you don’t know what you like, right?

Perfume–scent of any kind–was practically forbidden when I was growing up. Mom is very sensitive to any sort of scented products. No scented candles, floral air fresheners–even unscented hairspray was too smelly. A Sunday School teacher sold Avon and would sometimes hand out those little sample tubes as prizes for different things–I hoarded them like treasure. For me, they were.

The one scent Mom didn’t mind was baby powder and so, in Christmas stockings, I’d sometimes get a little bottle of Love’s Baby Soft. While some scents from childhood may evoke an idea of nostalgia and longing? This one, not so much. Still, you work with what you got.

Now, you might think that now that I’m an adult I could wear whatever perfume I wanted, right?

Have I mentioned that I work with my Mom?

And the only time, since high school, that I haven’t lived or worked with her I was working as a pastry chef–another time when wearing anything scented is a big no-no.

Recently I realized, though, that wearing perfume is something I miss. Not in the I used to do it and now I don’t manner, but more of a when I remember to–for going out or on weekends–sort of thing. Putting on perfume was reserved for special occasions but I started to think isn’t everyday special? Wouldn’t it be awesome if I treated the days at home as more than just a break from the office, more than just work at a different desk, but days for me, for my projects, for my opportunity.

Wearing perfume? It’s for me.

So these days I try to remember, even if I’ve got the luxury of spending of spending a Saturday in my pajamas drawing or crafting or researching my current projects, to spritz on a perfume to remind me that these moments are special.

These days my favorites are Mary Kay’s Velocity (part of their teen-focused line, but the citrus smell is fantastic!) or something from Clinique’s Happy line.


For the comments:

  • Do you wear perfume or think of it only after the fact?
  • What scents do you like or wish you wore more of?