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Sit down, get your pencils out and get ready to learn, class is in session. Here we are going to discuss the basics of perfume making and give some important tips that will help you create the very best custom fragrance for you. Be sure to view our video tutorials at the bottom as they are extremely helpful in guiding you along and pointing out important tools while using our custom perfume builder.

Topics Covered: The Basics Fragrance Families Getting Started General Guidelines & Tips Our Custom Tools Video Tutorials

The Basics  
A fragrance is normally made up of three notes that unfold over time (Top, Middle and Base).

Top notes: Also known as "Head notes", these are perceived immediately on the application of a perfume and evaporate quickly. They form a person's initial impression of a perfume.

Middle notes: Also known as "Heart notes", these emerge just prior to the dissipation of the top note. It forms the main body of a perfume and acts to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time.

Base notes: These appear close to the departure of middle notes and are the main theme of a perfume. Base notes bring depth to a perfume and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application.

When creating a custom perfume it is ideal to blend scented oils from each of the note types, this will give you the most balanced perfume. We include this information in the building process. A good rule is to have about 25% base notes, 45% middle notes and 30% top notes. Perfume creation is definitely a subjective process so you are always free to blend whatever you like, these are only guidelines to help you get started and give you the info needed to build an exquisite signature fragrance.

note pyramid
Fragrance Families  

Fragrance families are classification systems that assign individual fragrances into olfactory groups based on their predominant characteristics. The most common use of the classifications is to help people find fragrances they might like, even when they may not be able to smell the fragrance. Fragrance Families can generally be divided into the following categories:


Floral: Pretty and feminine, florals are the most popular family used in fragrances. Think of fresh cut flowers. In this family, many perfumes are created with only one type of flower – such as rose, violet or jasmine. Floral fragrances tend to have a distinctive feminine quality, although many fragrances containing floral notes are appearing in men’s cologne. They combine wonderfully with oriental, aquatic or fresh green families. This family can also be further divided into five subfamilies, such as floral fruity, floral oriental, floral water, floral green, and floral aldehyde. Some other popular floral scents we carry are plumeria, gardenia, lilac, lily of the valley, tuberose and ylang ylang.


Oriental: Warm and sensuous, oriental fragrances are reminiscent of the exotic spices and sweet resins of the East. Fragrant clove, cinnamon, caraway, black pepper mingle with the sweetness of vanilla and hints of amber. Oriental fragrances also combine these spicy notes with floral accords such as jasmine and ylang-ylang, creating scents that wrap you in the magic of far away lands. Guerlain's Shalimar, Chanel Coco and Calvin Klein Obsession are classic orientals.


Gourmand: Scents with "edible" or "dessert" like qualities. These often contain notes like vanilla and tonka bean, as well as synthetic components designed to resemble food flavors. The Gourmand fragrances are a relatively new category, but they have become so popular we feel they deserve their own fragrance family. With the concept of basing fragrances on edible notes, gourmand scents may contain notes such as spices, honey, vanilla, chocolate, amber and cinnamon. Gourmand scents are usually "comfy" and delicious and wear nicely in the cooler seasons. Designer fragrances considered gourmand are Thierry Mugler Angel, Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, Jo Malone Nutmeg & Ginger, Lolita Lempica and Bond No. 9.


Woody: Warm and opulent, these fragrances typically consist of scents like frankincense, vetiver, oakmoss, myrrh, sandalwood and patchouli. Variations include hints of fresh citrus or sensuous silky musk, and can range from mossy to smoky. Some women may not like this group as they might find them too earthy and better suited to male fragrances, but this is totally dependent on the person. Examples of designer fragrances in the woody perfume family are Chanel No. 19 and Lovely by SJP.


Citrus/Fruity: These fragrances capture the sparkling freshness and fruitiness of citrus oils such as bergamot, mandarin, lemon and pink grapefruit. Fruity fragrances are pleasing to the nose, notes of apple, berry, mango, peach, and other sweet fruits fall into this refreshing category. Fruit notes add an exuberance and charm to a fragrance and are most often blended with florals. A lot of citrus fruit scents tend to be top notes.


Greens: Green tea leaves, green grass, fresh herbs, vines and leafy scents give these fragrances a clean, sporty attitude. This family blends well with florals and woods and occasionally sweet vanillic notes. Designer fragrances considered to be in the green fragrance family are Bvlgari Green Tea, Guerlain Acqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Toit, Diptyque Eau de Lierre, Aliage and Gucci Envy.


Aquatic: One of the newest families in perfume history, appearing in 1991. A very clean, modern smell leading to many of the modern androgynous perfumes. These refreshing cooling scents wash over the skin and give a sense of relief on hot summer days. The notes are watery, oceanic, airy, icy and dewy. Designer fragrances considered to be in the aquatic family are Calvin Klein Eternity Aqua and Acqua di Gio Pour Homme.


Aromatic: Aromatic notes usually consist of scents such as thyme, rosemary, cumin, lavender, sage and other plants which possess a very intensive grass-spicy scent. They combine well with citrusy and oriental/spicy notes. The Aromatic family are typical of fragrances for men. Designer fragrances considered to be in the aromatic family include Calvin Klein's CK One, Rochas' Eau de Rochas, and Lancome's O de Lancome.

Each fragrance family has a unique personality and, instinctively, you will prefer fragrances from some and dislike ones from others. Many people, of course, like fragrances from more than one family, and some like fragrances from all of the fragrance families. Still, knowing the fragrance family can be very helpful simply in that it might give you some clues as to a fragrance's general character. If you had a favorite Brand and you knew that it was a citrus, or an oriental or a floral, that might help you decide whether or not a new fragrance in that family was something you wanted to try. When designing your custom perfume, it is best to consider blending scented oils from more than one family, this will give you a more balanced and creative fragrance. Fragrance families are one of many tools we use to guide you through the perfume creation process.

Getting Started  

I know some of you are thinking "I don't know anything about creating my own perfume, I wouldn't even know where to start". Well don't panic, we are here to help and we're going to give you the information needed so you'll have a good starting point and you'll be able to create a great custom perfume. If you're new to custom perfumery, you'll want to start asking yourself these questions:

1. What specific designer fragrances do I like?
2. What kinds of aromas do I like and don't like?
3. Do I like scents that are lighter or more on the heavier side?

The first question you might ask yourself is "how do I pick the right oils or how do I even know which essential or fragrance oil to start with?". Here is where you will want to answer those 3 questions I had you ask yourself. So start thinking about designer fragrances you like or what kind of fragrance family or particular scents you like. If you like lighter scents, consider oils in the citrus, fruity and aquatic family. If you like heavier scents, consider oils in the floral, gourmand, oriental and woody family. When you get into the custom perfume builder there are 2 options to create your custom scent:

1. The first option is called "By Designer Fragrance". This option is very helpful to give you a good starting point and the best option if you are a little less experienced with blending oils. The way it works is that you search for a designer fragrance that you like and we will then show you scented oils that are in the same fragrance family as that designer fragrance. By starting with scented oils that are in a fragrance family that you tend to like, you'll be able to quickly identify a good starting essential or fragrance oil. Once you get a starting fragrance you can use our "blends well with" tool to find other scented oils that typically go well with the one you picked. We do recommend you consider blending oils from multiple fragrance families and from each of the note types, as that will give you a better balanced custom perfume.

2. The second option is called "By Fragrance Family". This option is great if you are a little more familiar with fragrance families and which fragrance families you tend to like. In this option all of our scented oils are broken down into their respective fragrance families. So here you can view oils within a particular family and then once you get a starting fragrance you can continue to build your custom fragrance by blending oils from other families you like or within the same family. As in the first option, we do recommend you try to blend oils from multiple fragrance families and from each of the note types, as that will give you a better balanced custom perfume.

The next question you might ask yourself is "how do I know what percentages to use for each essential or fragrance oil I pick?". I want to say that this is completely subjective, but I'm going to give you some good starting points so you can make some better decisions. Once you pick that starting fragrance, you'll want to see if it is a top, middle or bottom note. This is shown to you within the builder so you'll always know which note a particular fragrance is. Then using the general guideline of about 25% base notes, 45% middle notes and 30% top notes (again you're free to adjust this to your own personal preference, but this is a good general rule of thumb). You'll want to choose somewhere around that percentage, knowing that you can change that percentage at any time as you continue to add more scented oils. That's the beautiful thing about our custom perfume builder, it is completely customizable in many different ways so you're really not locked into anything, you're free to create and change to your heart's desire.

Be sure to read the general guidelines & tips section for important information that will help you get the most out of our custom fragrance builder.

General Guidelines & Tips  

Below are some general guidelines and tips to help you if you are less experienced in blending oils or if you've never used our custom perfume builder before. I want to preface this by saying these are only guidelines and you are free to use your own knowledge and preferences to create a truly unique signature fragrance.

General Guidelines & Tips:

  • Use the "By Designer Fragrance" build option if you are less experienced, this will give you a good starting point.
  • Definitely view all our video tutorials, they will really break down the perfume builder. These can be found in the Perfume 101 section.
  • Consider blending oils from multiple fragrance families and from each of the note types, as that will give you a better balanced custom perfume.
  • A good rule is to have about 25% base notes, 45% middle notes & 30% top
  • Use the "blends well with" tool to find fragrances that are considered to blend well with other oils. To view which fragrances blend well with an individual fragrance, hover over any oil and click the "i" icon. Also once you choose your 1st fragrance, you will see a button that says "Show only the items that blend well with the items selected. If clicked, this will only show you oils that blend well with any selected oils. Both of these options are only a guide and are not an exhaustive list, but will give you some good options.
  • Take into consideration the strength of the essential or fragrance oil, in the builder this can be found by clicking the "i" icon within each oil. Be careful when adding any heavier base notes such as Patchouli and Vetiver or stronger florals as they can quickly overpower your fragrance.
  • We offer many essential oils, so if you want to make a completely natural perfume, within the builder click the "essential oils" checkbox.
  • Try to imagine an overall mood, emotion, or experience that you want to portray with your custom perfume, this will help you decide on which oils you want to blend. For example, if you want to capture spring or happiness, fresh scents like Bergamot, Lemongrass and Blood Orange would be appropriate. Keep in mind you would have three oils that are top notes, so pick your favorite one or two and then try other combinations of base and middle notes until you find something that works for you.
  • Some fragrance families tend to blend well with specific families, again these are only guidelines, so experiment and don't limit your creativity:
    • Florals blend well with spicy, fruity, citrusy and woodsy oils.
    • Woodsy oils generally blend well with all families.
    • Spicy and oriental oils blend well with florals, oriental and citrus oils. Be careful not to overpower the blend with the spicy or oriental oils.
    • Minty oils blend well with citrus, woodsy, herbaceous and earthy oils.
  • Take your time with the perfume creation process, really try to understand the art of creating a perfume, trust your instincts though as to what you like, but don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone a little. Also take the time to fully understand our custom perfume builder and all the tools it has to offer.
Our Custom Tools  

Me Fragrance has many custom tools within our perfume builder to help you really customize your fragrance. Below I'm going to point out some of the features to make sure you are aware of where each feature/tool is and what the purpose of it is.

Features & Tools Within The Builder:

  • The percentage fill counter is located in the top right of the builder during the fragrance selection step. This keeps track of each oil's percentage and lets you know what percentage is left for a 100% fill, simply hover over it.
  • The fragrance note counter is also located in the top right and keeps a percentage tally of the fragrance notes of each oil selected. This is a useful tool if you want to make sure you are getting enough of each fragrance note type.
  • The show only items that blend well with the items selected is a feature that when clicked will only show you oils that blend well with any currently selected scented oils. This is only a guide and is not an exhaustive list, but will give you some good options.
  • The scent search box is a quick way for you to search for a particular scent or fragrance. It will quickly auto-filter as you type and show any results down below, this is in step 4 of the perfume builder.
  • The "i" icon will display when you hover over any essential or fragrance oil within step 4 of the builder. Click this "i" icon for more information about that particular fragrance, such as a description of the scent, the strength of the oil, and whether it is an essential oil or not. Also it will show you oils that generally blend well with it.
  • The "My Recipes" drop down will be displayed in Step 4 if you have created any previous recipes. This is a great quick access tool where you can simply choose a previous recipe and the builder will automatically add the oils with the percentages.
  • The clear all selected is a feature in Step 4 that when click will clear any selected scented oils you've currently chosen, it's useful if you just kind of want to start over with choosing scented oils.
Video Tutorials  

Below are some video tutorials that will go through some of the features and options of the perfume builder as well as some of the My Account features. I highly recommend you view some of these tutorials if you're new to Me Fragrance.

Perfume Builder Tutorials:

ABOUT ME FRAGRANCE makes creating your own custom perfume a reality now. With our proprietary easy to use tools and large inventory of essential and fragrance oils, you can create a one of a kind signature perfume. Making your own custom fragrance is a very personal and therapeutic experience, and we're here to help. With over 15 years experience in the fragrance business, we will guide you through the process from start to finish of making your own custom perfume.