Vanilla Essential Oil Perfume for a Natural Vanilla Smell
Vanilla is my favorite scent to wear.
Back in the 90's, before I knew about these things, the warm vanilla sugar scent from the popular bath and body store was my favorite scent, and I missed having a signature scent when I stopped using synthetic fragrances in the 2000's (although I did not miss the chemicals!).
You might be wondering is vanilla fragrance natural? Is vanilla perfume oil natural? The word 'fragrance' or 'natural' when referring to a scent, is usually a clue that something is not in fact the kind of natural we are looking for. When I look for a 'natural perfume', I am wanting something made straight from the scented part of the plant (like a vanilla bean, for the sake of this article). Unfortunately most ingredient lists are very vague and leave you unsure of what is actually being used for the vanilla scent, and this vagueness is because most are made using synthetic fragrance oils or imitation vanilla. The commonly used 'vanillin' is in made in a lab, or extracted from other natural sources, like the beaver scent glands. A perfume or cologne using real plant essential oils and extracts, should make it very clear to their buyers where their scents come from. Using essential oils costs much more than using synthetic fragrances, and they should be proud of it! They should be shouting it from the roof tops - or at least making it very obvious in their marketing. After all, it is a huge selling point.
I have tried many natural vanilla perfumes over the years always to be left disappointed by the lack of pure scent - they either were very musky, or very fruity, but never just a true vanilla. Plus they all had the dreaded vague ingredient lists, so I was never sure they didn't actually contain a synthetic vanilla fragrance, like vanillin. Is it too much to ask for full ingredient disclosure?
How do you get natural vanilla smell? Is there an essential oil that smells like vanilla? Vanilla can not be extracted into an essential oil in the traditional way, it is extracted either using CO2 or a solvent which makes it an absolute and not an essential oil, although the end result is the same - you are left with the aromatic oil compounds. The vanilla absolute that we use in our perfume, uses an organic hexane free extraction.
Can you make vanilla perfume with essential oils / vanilla absolute? Or can you use vanilla essential oil as perfume? You can! However, just using vanilla absolute alone is very disappointing. Vanilla is a base note, but it doesn't have great tenacity (that's what makes the scent last longer on your skin). So while you will love the scent when you first apply it, it does fade quickly. So to further answer this question I need to give you a quick lesson in perfume making. A nice perfume is made up of top, middle and base notes (this article from Mountain Rose Herbs will explain this for you if you want to learn more about it). Also a lasting essential oil perfume needs to contain not only top, middle and base notes, but also needs to contain essential oils with excellent tenacity. I do this by blending together complimentary essential oils & absolutes with the different top, middle and base notes, making sure some to use some with excellent tenacity and fixative properties. Then they are then left to age together to become something new and special, and in this case, something that smells very much like vanilla and all it's nuances.
In order to get a lovely creamy buttery vanilla scent for our Vanilla Essential Oil Perfume I use Organic Vanilla Absolute, Butter CO2, Organic Coconut Pulp CO2, and Balsam of Peru (has a sweet rich vanilla note). I also use a tiny bit of Organic Sandalwood, Organic Vetiver, Tonka Bean Absolute, and Organic Ylang Ylang to anchor the scent, add a touch of complexity, and up the tenacity (remember this is what makes the scent last longer on your skin!). It's a nice fresh and clean vanilla scent, without being musky or flowery. I think it's a great true vanilla oil perfume, without any of that fake vanilla smell that the world seems to be inundated with.