Infusing the air with its characteristic yummy, earthy-sweet aroma, vanilla is one of the most recognizable and coveted base notes in contemporary perfumes. Well before it became a dominant force in the world of perfumery in the 1990s -- with its cachet growing -- researchers discovered significant psychological benefits to those exposed to vanilla's tantalizing scent. Make your own homemade signature vanilla perfume with only a few ingredients -- including store-bought or hand-crafted vanilla extract -- and your choice of complementary essential oils, such as; bergamot, jasmine, myrrh, neroli, orange blossom, patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang.
Perfume With Hand-Crafted Vanilla Extract (Patience Required)
Slice the vanilla beans down the center lengthwise. Scrape your knife along the inside edges of the beans to extract the paste, and scoop it into a glass jar. Chop the vanilla bean shells into small pieces and add to the paste.
Pour vodka over the mixture to cover completely with about ¼ inch more on top. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for two to eight weeks. Gently shake it occasionally throughout this period, and remove the lid to monitor the strength of the vanilla scent. When the scent of alcohol has faded, the vanilla scent will be predominant. When the mixture is a rich, dark color with intense aroma, it’s ready.
Test the vanilla essence by placing a dab on the inside of your wrist. Wait a few seconds to let it dry, then smell. If you like the depth of the vanilla scent, it’s ready to strain. If not, store the mixture for another week or so, testing often for your preferred scent intensity.
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When the essence is ready, stretch the nylon stocking over a jar, then pour the mixture over it to strain out the small pieces and minuscule vanilla bean particulate -- this residue is sometimes referred to as vanilla bean slush. Pour the slush into another jar and set aside. Add the sweet almond or jojoba oil to the vanilla essence, a step that slightly distills the scent but increases its shelf life. Add one or more drops of your preferred essential oils to create your own signature scent.
Store in a cool, dark place.
Spray Perfume With Store-Bought Vanilla Extract (Instant Gratification)
Add essential oils to the spray bottle. Add drops from one or more oils to your liking. Top off with vanilla extract and shake to blend. You can use the perfume as it is, or dilute it with distilled water for a softer vanilla scent. Vanilla tends to "bloom" the longer it sits, so you can dilute it whenever the aroma becomes too strong.
For a moisturizing water-based perfume, add a drop or two of glycerin, a water-soluable humectant available in pharmacies and health food stores that attracts and absorbs water from the air to naturally hydrate the skin. Shake gently to blend.
You can also make a perfume oil with your essential oil and vanilla extract base that softens, nourishes and protects your skin with each spray. Simply add a couple of drops of sweet almond oil or jojoba oil to the essence and shake gently to blend. Spritz on and gently massage into your skin.
Store your spray perfume or perfume oil in a cool, dark place.
Recycle the leftover vanilla bean slush to make more perfume. After the initial soak in alcohol, the vanilla retains its intensity. Add sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or vodka to the jar of leftovers to cover completely, using about double the liquid to the amount of slush. Store in a dark, dry place for about a week until it’s thoroughly infused with the scent of vanilla. Strain as you did earlier, then use the vanilla perfume solo or develop your own blend of essential oils. You can continue to use the vanilla bean slush over and over again.
When diluting with water or infusing with oils, add drop by drop until the desired effect is achieved
Too much alcohol will leave an alcoholic smell to the end product.
Your vanilla perfume will last for several months in a cool, dark storage area.
For an alcohol-free vanilla extract, use vegetable glycerine instead of vodka.
Experiment with different vanilla beans, such as Tahitian, Mexican, 100 percent organic and more – each imparts its own trademark flavor.
Buy your vanilla beans in bulk. It's less expensive, and you can make larger batches.
Always test any essential oil or perfumes on a small patch of skin to ensure you are not allergic.
- The Social Issues Research Center: The Smell Report
- Tasty Yummies: How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Mommy Greenest: 1 Minute 3 + Ingredients = How to Make Perfume Naturally
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils; Julia Lawless
- The Creamy Craft of Cosmetic Making; Jan Benham
Based in Ontario, Susan Dorling has written professionally since 2000, with hundreds of articles published in a variety of popular online venues. Writing on a diverse range of topics, she reflects her passion for business, interior design, home decorating, style, fashion and pets.