Among the Egyptians, perfumes were not only used to give an extra touch to personal charm, perfumes were, indeed, also a part of sacred rites and healing rituals. It is said that Cleopatra liked to use a perfume based on cardamom, myrrh and cinnamon but well known was also the kyphi, described by Plutarch, a Greek writer and philosopher of the first century after Christ. Kyphi was a mixture of 16 ingredients including honey, wine, raisin, rosewood, cyperus and myrrh. Moreover, as stressed also by Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC, the Egyptians were masters in the art of perfumes. Unfortunately, over the centuries, this art has been somewhat forgotten and we can now find incredible quantities of perfumes, even in the supermarket, but almost all of a chemical origin and not natural at all. Most of these perfumes are instead produced with synthetic ingredients, which are not always safe, such as phthalates, believed to be endocrine disruptor, coloring agents and white musk, a synthetic substance that, in the long run, is considered potentially carcinogenic (Huang et al, Environ Pollut, 2018 - Luckenbach et al, Environ Health Perspect., 2005). On the other hand, there are perfumes based on essential oils. These perfumes are different, perhaps, they will last a little less, but they respect our health and the health of the planet. And then we can also prepare these perfumes at home, much simpler and cheaper!
For the preparation of the liquid perfume you need vodka, you can find it in the supermarket, and liquid vegetable glycerin, you can find it in the chemist’s shops or online. In a glass bottle pour 90 ml of vodka, 1 teaspoon of glycerin, 80 drops of essential oils divided between base, middle and top notes. We talk about this distinction in the dedicated paragraph. You can of course also mix the various essential oils, but it is better never to exceed 6 types. Once the perfume is prepared, close the bottle with a spray or dropper closure and shake well. Let it sit for two days shaking occasionally, then the perfume is ready.
Comfortable and practical to carry with you, the solid perfume is nothing more than a balm prepared with butters and oils that is solid at room temperature. It should be warmed slightly between the hands in order to be applied on the hands, wrists or on the neck. In a saucepan, melt 2 teaspoons of shea butter together with 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil and 1 teaspoon of beeswax. Remove from the heat and add 6 drops of an essential oil for the base note, 6 for the middle note and 6 for the top note. Pour into a little silicone cake mold and let it solidify. Put the balm in a jar and then close with a lid.
How to combine essential oils, base, middle and top notes
Base notes are the essences that can be felt after the others but persist longer. Examples are rosewood, camphor, spruce, cypress, cistus, cinnamon, juniper, vanilla. The middle notes are the intermediate essences, soft and enveloping, they are flowers and leaves such as lavender, chamomile, geranium, palmarosa, cistus, neroli, petit grain, rose, lemon balm and ylang ylang. As for the top notes, the most volatile and the first to be felt, these are the essences of citrus fruits such as sweet and bitter orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, lemongrass.
Natural perfumes, uses and warnings
You can use liquid perfumes to perfume clothes, hair and skin, but be careful not to spray on light or delicate clothes in order not to risk ruining them. Solid perfumes, as mentioned, once softened between the hands, can be applied directly on skin. Given the presence of essential oils, natural perfumes can also cause contact allergies in predisposed people.