I often get complimented on my fragrance. People say, "you always smell so lovely" and it's such a nice compliment to receive! When they ask what I'm wearing I rattle off whichever oils I have applied that day, and a conversation is often sparked about how they've always been interested in oils but didn't know how to use them or where to start.
When I started using essential oils one of the most foundational elements for me was that I could finally participate in the world of aroma. My senses were awoken and I felt my whole body come to life and respond to the different oils as I opened each bottle, with each one evoking a new feeling and sense of being. I was deeply moved, still am, every time.
My whole life I have had both hay fever and been very sensitive to smells, so we couldn't have flowers in the house and I would often develop severe migraine headaches in response to the fragrances being worn around me. It was torture jumping in the car to go to school with both my mother and my grandmother who were doused in Chanel No.5 or Christian Dior. I would literally hang my head out the window all the way to avoid being nauseated before the day even started! One day I was already in the sick bay with a headache waiting to be picked up when a teacher walked by wearing a very strong perfume, it tipped me over the edge and I ran out the door and vomited all over the bushes outside the school Secretary's window. They took me seriously after that :)
So when I hit my teens and all my friends were discovering their favourite fragrances I was left out. No matter what I tried it either gave me a headache or made me feel sick. In the end I gave up and resolved that it was one less thing for me to spend my very limited 15 yr old wages on! Unbeknown to me at the time, I have saved myself years of toxic insult as the harsh chemicals used to create fragrances are now known to be hormone disrupters. Fancy spraying a whole bunch of toxins directly on your throat, every day, directly over your thyroid? No thanks.
My decisions about which oils I dress in tend to be emotionally driven. That is, I use the oils to invoke different emotions that support me through out the day. So it's not a particularly technical blending approach, but I do honour the basic principles of blending because things work out better that way.
There are many resources available to guide you in the art of blending, but here are the basics. Blending is very much like wine-making, part art and part science, and it is equally as personal as wine. What you like will be completely offensive to someone else, and vice versa. Whether you take a serious approach or a more intuitive one, you're looking to combine different characteristics that create a certain profile. Each oil has two specific characteristics that you want to become familiar with:
The concept of notes is extremely important in perfumery. A good blend should be a balanced synergy of top, middle and base, in order of volatility- how quickly the oil evaporates - from very light (very volatile) to heavy (least volatile).
- Top: first aroma experienced by the sense of smell, initial impact. Usually fresh citrus and light, green, fruity notes. These oils create the blend's initial impression, giving brightness and clarity.
- Middle: second aroma experienced, sometimes after a few minutes, the heart of the bouquet. Middle notes last longer, imparting warmth and fullness to the blend.
- Base: deep resonating aroma, lingering scent and acts as a fixative. Base notes have a strong influence on the mental, emotional and spiritual plane and have a sedative and relaxing effect.
Enhancer, Equaliser, Modifier, Personifier. A great way to explain this concept is to imagine you are in a room blindfolded, and someone wearing an essential oil enters the room. What does the aroma tell you about their personality, what kind of interests might they have and what type of clothes might they wear?
- Enhancer: pleasant fragrance, will modify the blend without over-powering it. Should be the predominant oil, enhances the properties of the other oils. Can be up to 50-80% of the blend (Lavender, Lemon, Bergamot, Geranium, Cedarwood, Marjoram, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rose, Lemongrass)
- Equaliser: smooth out the sharp edges in the blend, they balance the blend and allow it to flow. 10-15% of the blend (Lavender, Bergamot, Geranium, Cedarwood, Marjoram, Frankincense, Juniper Berry, Rose, Lemongrass)
- Modifier: give the blend a lift and contribute to it's distinctive personality. Mild, short aroma that adds harmony. Use sparingly, not more than 4-8% of the blend (Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Lemon, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Rose)
- Personifier: very sharp, strong and long-lasting fragrance. Dominant properties with strong therapeutic action. Use very sparingly 1-5% of the blend (Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Orange, Rose)
Yes, some oils possess multiple classifications - just to keep it easy!
My all-time favourite blend (so far!)
Even though I choose my oils intuitively every day, there is a staple combination that I keep returning to.
- Arborvitae (1 drop): Intense, medicinal, woody, earthy. Enhancer and Equaliser. Top to middle note. Grounding, calming, spiritual awareness, connection to truth.
- Frankincense (3 drops): rich, deep, warm, balsamic, sweet. Enhancer and Equaliser. Base note. Eases impatience, irritability, restlessness. Promotes resilience and truth.
- Geranium (1 drop): Sweet, citrus-rosy, fresh. Enhancer and Equaliser. Middle note. Eases tension and stress, very balancing, softening, nurturing.
- Hawaiian Sandalwood (1 drop): Soft, woody, spicy, sweet, earthy. Heaven in a scent. Modifier and Equaliser. Base note. Calming, harmonising and balancing.
In this blend you'll notice there are three Enhancers, that make up the majority of the blend. The modifier is used sparingly and all four are equalisers (secondary to being Enhancers). There are also top, middle and base notes in appropriate proportions. But guess what? I didn't plan any of that! When I chose these oils I followed my nose and my heart, and put together something that felt good and smelt delicious to me. Check out the emotional profile for each oil, I'm clearly aiming for calm, grounding and softness. Tune into your senses and do what feels right and smells good to you.
Other combinations I love are Bergamot, Frankincense and Cedarwood for similar reasons to the above, it's just a lighter version of that blend. And for those times when I'm wanting to bring forth the feminine then I layer the florals - Neroli, Jasmine and Rose. Together these three create a bouquet that is floral without being fluffy, it's womanly as well as feminine, strong and soft, and those qualities come together to create just a hint of seduction, confidence and prowess. You know, for THOSE kinds of days :)
So before you get all confused and stop yourself before you start, just have a go. Play with oils that you like, that resonate with you. Tune into how you feel when you smell different oils. Do you feel elated, soft, strong, seductive, energised, focused - the list is literally endless. Take 2-3 oils and hold the bottles together, equal distance from your nose. Which aroma is strongest? What would you like to smell more of ? What is missing altogether? You can move the bottles up and down to make one closer to your nose than the others, then do another pass to see how the blend has changed. Once you find something you think might work just test it by adding the drops to the palm of your hand with some Fractionated Coconut Oil. Try it on. Apply it to your wrists and neck and see what happens. Do you enjoy the scent? Does it change after a little time?
Relax. Enjoy. These beautiful products were put in your hands to improve your life. Let them! I would love to hear about your blending experiences, drop a comment below to let us know!