How is perfume made?

Millions of us, both men and women and even children, love to wear a fragrance but how is perfume made? Whether it is for a night out, just to wear when meeting a friend for coffee or a day in the office, perfumes are a hugely popular product and have been around for thousands of years.

How is perfume made
Cleopatra was a well-known perfume wearer from ancient history

Wearing perfume can have so many benefits from lifting our mood, complimenting an outfit or grabbing the attention of the secret admirer. It’s become part of our everyday wear and with so many on the market today, we have lots to choose from.

We have already covered how to store perfume correctly and how to use perfume to get the most out of your scent but what about where perfume comes from?

The history of perfume dates back to ancient times, as far back as 3,000 BC and it was the Greeks who first created perfumes in the same way as they are created today.

The creation of perfume

There are lots of raw materials that are required before the manufacturing process starts. Ingredients such as spices, leaves, fruits, resins and flowers are all used during the first stages of creating a perfume.

Without the addition of flowers, it will be very difficult to create a perfume without floral essences and most perfumes are based around floral scents so these are essential ingredients too. When we think of fragrances such as Chanel, they make their perfume from their flower fields.

This is to make sure they have enough product to create their perfumes. Chanel is the largest fashion brand in the world and Chanel No. 5 is an iconic perfume.

Animal products can also be present in perfumes such as musk and ambergris. Musk is very commonly used as a base note in perfumes. Musk is secreted from animals such as the musk deer.

How is perfume made
The musk deer
How is perfume made
The sperm whale

Incredibly, ambergris is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales which means that whale poo is used in perfumes. The smell matures and as it ages, it develops into a beautiful scent that once diluted with alcohol, is used in perfumery.

It’s not always easy to get scents for perfumes from nature so sometimes synthetic chemicals might be used instead.

We are in a world of cruelty-free perfumes nowadays so using synthetic chemicals can save the lives of animals that are killed for their oils to be used in the making of perfumes.

Many perfume companies such as FM WORLD are cruelty-free.

How the oil is extracted for making perfume

To begin with, oil is taken from flowers and plant material so that it can be used to create fragrances.

How is perfume made

For the oil to be extracted from the plant one of how this is done is by expression. The plants are squeezed until the oil is released. A bit like squeezing juice out of an orange or a lemon.

Another method that is used for boiling plant parts is to steam the plants to get the oils out. This process is known as steam distillation.

Another method is where plant parts are dissolved in benzene. They are then exposed to ethyl alcohol. This is then burned off so that the perfume oil remains and can be used.

Curious as to why perfume is so expensive?

When oil from around 660 roses is taken to create a 15ml bottle of French perfume, it’s no surprise why fragrances cost a lot of money.

Along with the celebrity endorsers, fancy packaging and sales assistance, it’s easy to see how a small bottle of perfume can end up with a hefty price tag.

Relevant post –  The cost of perfume

How the experts create a perfume scent

It’s not a quick process when it comes to creating perfumes. It can take many years and lots of ingredients before the experts reach the desired scent and formula. Of course, the result is a genuine perfume that we can wear for around 2 years and be complimented by others.

The experts must take time and do extensive testing and mixing to create the perfect scent.

Once the formula is created, it is then used to blend the extracted oils. When the experts have reached their desired scent, they mix alcohol into the mixture to dilute the ingredients.

The more alcohol that is added to the mixture, the stronger the perfume will be. If we look at cologne, for example, this will contain the most alcohol.

When you purchase an eau de toilette, this will contain less alcohol than cologne and if you purchase a perfume, this will have the least amount of alcohol and therefore will give the strongest scent.

Perfume will contain around 40% of essential oils and cologne will have around 10% of essential oils.

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What happens after the oil and scents have been added

Once the oils have been extracted from the plants and blended in with alcohol, the mixture is then ready for the ageing process. To do this, the perfume is set in a dark, cool room. It will then stay there for several months without being disturbed or touched.

Whilst the perfume has been left, this will help to bind the oils and the alcohol together. Quite normally, the smell will be stronger after the ageing process. Adjustments to the blending can take place at this time.

When you see a bottle of perfume in a department store, it’s been through a long process to get there. It will have been thoroughly tested to make sure that the scent is perfect and how it should be before it is allowed to go on sale to the public.

So the next time you purchase a bottle of your favourite perfume, remember just how long it’s taken to get onto the shelves and in your possession.

How is perfume made
Perfume stores

Do you have a favourite scent? Do you wear a different one every day to match your mood? Let us know in the comments below.


  • LineCowley

    I loved reading about how perfume is made and it does now explain to me why so many perfumes are so expensive. As you say, imagine 660 roses that are used to create just 15ml of perfume, then of course it is going to be costly to produce. I never realized that musk comes from animal product, which is maybe why I often find it a bit overpowering.

    I am curious though as to why alcohol is added to the perfume. Does it act as a preservative? Or does it enhance the smell of the perfume? Is there a natural alternative that could be used instead of alcohol? Thank you for sharing a very interesting post. 

    • Louise Allen


      Thank you. It is an eye opener when we learn what ingredients go into making perfume and how expensive they can potentially be.

      Musk is an acquired scent and some perfumes that have musk as a base note can be a little overpowering, I agree.

      Alcohol is used in perfumes as a base to distill the fragrance concentrate. This helps the scent to stay on the skin for longer.

      There are perfumes that don’t contain alcohol if you wish to check out the ECCOBELLA website here.

      Thanks for reading.


  • Kit


    Is this website meant for buying perfume?

    I like the intro with images with the numbers on the bottles but when I scroll down I lose interest.

    I think you are working on this still? So, I can recommend adding as many pictures as you can get because that creates attention. I like to see pictures of happy people who are going out or having a good time. And a number instead of a name on the perfumes is so original! That is a GREAT product!! Show it!!

    Wish you luck!

    Keep up, 


    • Louise Allen

      Hi Kit,

      My website is not only for perfumes but many products that are based around a fragrance. So skin care products, room sprays, candles, shower gels etc. For men and women.

      My website was created 9 months ago so it’s all a working progress.

      Our fragrances are very unique and number coded. They contain very similar notes to those of the designer scents  but are created with their own style and scent.

      Thanks for reading ,


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