Photo by Bundo Kim on Unsplash

By Lisa Profera MD

Why does making your own scents make sense and save cents?

I used to not understand why walking through the perfume department would make me sneeze, feel nauseated, or give me a headache. If I had to subject myself to the barrage of synthetic fragrances permeating that section of the store, I would often walk quickly and hold my breath, dodging the women with spray bottles ready to douse you in the latest trendy (and often expensive) perfume. 

Components of plants have been used as fragrances for thousands of years. It’s only until fairly recently that synthetic fragrances have been developed. Although chemically constructed fragrances may smell similar to their natural counterparts, this industry is not regulated and the manufacturers are not obligated to tell you what is actually in the bottle. Using a high-quality, all-natural, plant-based scent will not only save you money, but you can be assured that your perfume is a “pure-fume”: free of synthetics.

Many of you know that I love to use essential oils for physical and emotional health. The power of aroma is wonderful for uplifting mood and reducing stress. Essential oils are the “essence” of plants. These compounds are made by plants for their own healing and defense, but they also help animals and humans. 

The nose knows. Once you have smelled a pure unadulterated fragrance, you will notice the difference. I know this because natural fragrances do not make me feel ill. I can walk into a room and tell if a scent is real or fake. Our sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses, directly linked to the “lizard” brain (which includes the amygdala, hippocampus, limbic system, and more). Certain scents can trigger emotions and memories instantaneously. Besides smelling nice, the aromatic use of essential oils can have profound emotional and physical effects.

What kinds of scents are you attracted to? Do you prefer floral, herbal, citrus, musky, or woodsy? Or perhaps a combination of two or more? I’ve had a lot of fun creating my own scents and teaching others how to make their own “pure-fumes” with essential oils. Once you understand the basics, the possibilities are endless. For less than $2, you can mix up your own custom blend that will rival any expensive perfume on the market. 

When we speak of complex scents, there are three phases involved in the experience. The “top note” is the first component that evaporates within the first 30 minutes or so. These are light and airy scents such as lemon, basil, and peppermint. “Middle notes” last around 1-3 hours and comprise the body of the perfume. They tend to be soft and round out the blend, as in the case of cypress, geranium, and rosemary. The most lingering scents are known as the “base notes,” which last several hours. They generally offer a warm, soothing/relaxing profile like frankincense, jasmine, and clove. In general, the proportions of top, middle, and base notes are 3:2:1, but this is not set in stone. Your personal preference or intuition may come into play. 

There are no right or wrong answers. Once mixed, your nose will tell you if you’ve succeeded. Since essential oils are very concentrated, it’s best to dilute them with alcohol (like 100-proof vodka) or a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil). These can be mixed in a roller bottle or a spray bottle, both easily found online. Or you can get fancy and use an antique perfume bottle — I have a collection of these!

Please note that not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, according to the APRC (Aromatic Plant Research Center), “experts estimate that 80% of commercially available ‘pure’ essential oils are adulterated in some way.” Unlike the perfume industry, some companies in the  essential oils industry have taken it upon themselves to set up standards of testing and reporting to ensure purity and quality. As a physician, my mantra is “Do no harm,” and that’s why I only use doTERRA® essential oils for myself, my family, and my patients. The doTERRA brand has zero tolerance for contamination and adulteration.

DIY pure-fumes are fun, economical, and safe. So, the next time you’re thinking about purchasing a bottle of perfume for $100 or more, you may consider making your own. If you would like a copy of some simple instructions on how to do this, just email me ( Custom-made pure-fumes also make great gifts for that special person who has everything. I’ve also done live and virtual DIY classes for small groups. Contact me to book your special pure-fume event!


Lisa Profera MD

Owner and Founder of PROJUVU MD

Aesthetics and Lifestyle Medicine in Ann Arbor, MI

Expert Injector

Medical Director, Facial Innovations Medi-spa, Ann Arbor

Medical Director, Northville Beauty Spa

Certified Medical Marijuana Doctor

Certified doTERRA Essential Oils Expert

BEMER Independent Distributor

CrossFit® Level 1 Trainer


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Please note that the information in this article has been designed to help educate the reader regarding the subject matter covered. This information is provided with the understanding that the author and any other entity referenced here are not liable for the misconception or misuse of the information provided. It is not provided to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness, or injured condition of the body. The provider of this information shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity concerning any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this information. The information presented is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling or care. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.