Monday, August 19, 2013

Make your own 18th century style perfume

18th century perfume box
This is a recipe for perfume oil and though the recipe in itself is not an authentic 18th century perfume recipe, the scent blend, however, is. When I made up the mystery recipe, Queen’s Royal, I noticed that it smelled really nice and that I wouldn’t mind wearing it as a perfume. And though it isn’t completely period correct, it would make for a good scent to wear for an 18th century even nevertheless. Making your own perfume oil isn’t difficult; the hardest part is to collect the various oils needed.
I was really pleased with the result of this perfume. It starts out with a bergamot blast, which quite quickly settles down to something spicy and warm. Very pleasant to wear, in my opinion, but then I am very drawn to spicy perfumes in general. The recipe below makes for a perfume oil that isn’t overly strong and keeps close to the skin.

Queen’s Royal perfume oil
The scent oils used are all essential oils. I have made one deviation and that is substituting Ambergris oil with Labdanum. Real ambergris oil is hideously expensive and though there are faux ambergris oils around, they are usually based on Labdanum. It is a scent you can find in 18th century recipe as well, so I felt that it would be an acceptable substitute.

First step

Use a small glass bottle as vessel and add:

Bergamot 30 drops

Lemon 15 drops

Lavender 5 drops

Caraway 5 drops

Clove 5 drops

Cinnamon 5 drops

Labdanum 3 drops

Rosemary 3 drops

Close the bottle and shake it gently to blend the oils and then let it rest for a week in a dark, cool place.

Second step

Now you have to dilute your blend with carrier oil. It will make the scent more rounded, not so penetrating and it will last longer. I used Jujuba oil as it doesn’t smell anything and feels pleasant on the skin. The ratio between essential oil and carrier oil is really up to personal taste. I did this recipe with a ratio of  20:80,  20 drops of essential oil are generally considered to be 1 ml, so if I’m not completely miscounting. When you have added the carrier oil you will end up with just about 18 ml of perfume. So add
Jujuba oil 284 drops

Shake the bottle again to blend and then let the oil stand for another week, or so to mature, after that it is fit to use. It will continue to mature so the scent is likely to change a little over time. My experience is that perfume oils usually improve with age, the scent get deeper and more complex. This perfume got rather lightweight and personally I will use more perfume oils and less Jujuba oil the next time, but I think that this may be a good place to start if you feel unsure.

I used this excellent article from Sweet Tea Apothecary on blending perfume oils for helpful pointers. As I had a recipe I didn’t have to think about base, heart and top notes and how to blend them right, but Bergamot and Lemon are definitely top notes and Labdanum and Cinnamon base notes.


  1. Dear Isis,

    Gee, this could be a really good scent, and out of the norm. Essential oils are really expensive here, but I bet some friends and I could make this together...hmmm, and idea is blooming: an historical make-up making set of afternoons with friends? Hey, sounds neat. Now to get on email and start asking.

    Thank you!

    Very best,


    1. I like it a lot, but then I'm drawn to spicy perfume blends in general. I have upped the ratio essential oil/carrier oil, which I think makes it better now. Essential oils are pricey here too- one of the reason it somtimes takes me a long time to make an experiment, it is because it takes me some time to budget in all the ingridients. But making makeup as a joint project is an excellent idea! Shared cost and fun in the process. :)


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