Aromatherapy, the art of using essential oils to help naturally alleviate a spectrum of health issues, is a practice that is centuries of years old. Essential oils were also an alternative to perfume. In ancient Greece, essential oils were part of health, beauty, and trade, just as they are today. Aromas have a way of transporting us. Remember, however, that the journey is personal, meaning scents are subjective. Layering essential oils is a science. So how do we blend the perfect essential oils to create our perfect scent?
The Science Behind Essential Oils
Essential oils are simply liquids containing volatile or easily evaporated chemical compounds from plants. Aromatherapy uses these essential oils to effectively stimulate receptors in the nose. The receptors then send messages via olfactory cells to the brain. The olfactory cells recognize specific scents as distinct aromatic molecules that fit into the cell receptors and, in response, cause powerful mood changes.
Layering Essential Oils: Creating a Perfume
Essential oils are layered on a scale of how volatile they are or how easily they evaporate. In the 19th Century, Piesse, a Frenchmen, took it a step further and classified odors of essential oils according to musical scales. He referred to them as top, middle, and base notes. Top notes are the first scent you smell and tend to evaporate quickly. Middle notes, otherwise referred to as heart notes, form the body of the layering. Base notes are known as fixatives, meaning they hold the other ingredients together and remain on the skin the longest.
The best essential oils for perfume top notes:
- Cinnamon - This leaf oil gives a spicy, musky scent.
- Grapefruit - Refreshing grapefruit essential oil gives off a sharp, citrusy smell.
- Sage - Sage oil has a sharp, herbal smell.
- Spearmint - This has a similar aroma to peppermint oil, but it's slightly sweeter.
- Tea Tree - This oil has a lightly spicy but pungent aroma.
- Verbena - Lemon verbena oil has a citrusy yet sweet fresh aroma.
The best essential oils for middle notes:
- Chamomile - Chamomile essential oil has a sweet, apple-like fragrance.
- Geranium - Typically, geranium has a floral aroma, a hint of mint, and an apple undertone.
- Hyssop - Hyssop oil has a sweet, warm smell.
- Lavender - Lavender oil, maintaining a less watery viscosity, works well as a middle note. But, it has a light, fresh floral aroma, which also works well as a top note.
- Rosemary - This oil has an unmistakably potent yet refreshing herbal smell.
The best essential oils for bottom notes:
- Frankincense - Frankincense has a woody, spicy, smell combined with a camphoric scent.
- Ginger - Ginger gives off a spicy, sharp, warm smell with a hint of lemon and pepper.
- Jasmine - Jasmine has a sweet, exotic, and deep floral smell.
- Sandalwood - This oil has a lingering woody, exotic yet subtle aroma.
- Vetiver - Vetiver has an earthy, musty, but pleasant smell.
The science behind how these oils affect our brain is vital when wearing them like perfume. Mixing essential oils to create a signature scent is fun, individualized, and saves you money in the long run.