You haven’t found that signature perfume. And like many of us, you’ve possibly tried what has appealed to you at the mall or come to you as a loving present. You’ve liked a few along the way, but haven’t committed to any. Here’s a revelation: It isn’t all that hard to blend your own perfumes.

Photograps by THINKSTOCK

Part of the fun in creating your own fragrance is being able to experiment and make one that is yours alone. This might take a while, so make notes on everything you do, including the exact quantities used. Remember that a single drop of an essential oil can change the smell of the perfume completely.

The anatomy of a perfume

You can buy essential oils (or cheaper, synthetic fragrance oils) online or in attar shops in your city. One of the best places in India to shop for olfactory delights is Gulab Singh Johrimal ( in old Delhi, a 195-year-old historical store which stocks over 50 kinds of essential oils and fragrance oils, base oils, and elegant glass bottles to blend and store perfumes in. Prices vary vastly: A 5ml bottle of bergamot oil is 36, while rose, one of the most expensive, is 2,250.

Essential oils are used as base notes, middle notes and top notes. Remember to buy some of each kind to have a well-rounded perfume.

Base notes: Cedar wood, cinnamon, patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla.

Middle notes: Clove, geranium, lemon grass, nutmeg, ylang-ylang.

Top notes: Bergamot, lavender, lemon, lime, jasmine.

Bridge notes: Vanilla, lavender.

You also use essential oils to make scented bath or massage oils: Add a few drops of jasmine or a combination of sandalwood and vetiver in a base of sesame oil for a fragrant, natural moisturizer.

How to blend

To make your perfume, you need at least 25 drops of essential oils divided evenly between base, middle and top notes. Start by pouring out 15ml of a base oil, such as jojoba or sweet almond oil, into a glass bottle. Then add the essential oils—first the base, then the middle and then the top notes (add a few drops to tie the base, middle and top notes together). To this, add 75ml of alcohol and shake for a few minutes.

Like wine, perfume needs to stand and mature before it reaches perfection. Let it stand for at least three weeks in a cool, dark place. You can take a whiff occasionally, and when you think it has reached where you want it to be (the smell will change every day), filter it through a coffee filter or fine muslin cloth to remove the oil sediments and bottle it. Take notes at every step so you know how to recreate your signature perfume if you find this to be “the one". You can read up on the constituent notes of the perfumes you have liked on


A sensual women’sperfume, all floral power

Base notes: 4 drops of sandalwood, 3 drops of patchouli

Middle notes: 7 drops of ylang-ylang

Top notes: 3 drops of bergamot, 4 drops of jasmine

Bridge notes: A few drops of vanilla, as required

A fresh, woody-citrus men’s scent

Base notes:8 drops cedar wood

Middle notes: 6 drops lemon grass

Top notes: 6 drops lime, 2 drops bergamot

Bridge notes: A few drops of lavender, as required.



As easy as it is to buy jars of creams laden with promise off the shelves, spending time in the kitchen and over books to understand skin types and seasons, and study the benefits of herbs, might be something you’d want to take up in 2012. The beauty industry is full of instances of people who went on to build a business out of their kitchen trials.

The late Anita Roddick of The Body Shop started out by filling bottles with her home-made creams and selling them to friends and neighbours. Sometime in the late 1980s, The Body Shop had become an international brand built on fair and ethical trade.

So if you’ve been nursing your grandmother’s hibiscus hair oil recipe, now is the time to explore. Thirty-one-year-old Shaffali Miglani, a New York-based entrepreneur, did just that. “By the time I was 14, I was self-studying skincare," says Miglani. Two years ago, Miglani started her own line of beauty products, Shaffali Skincare, which sells primarily in yoga centres and spas in New York and Los Angeles. The prices start at $30 (around 1,600).

More importantly, Miglani believes it’s the process of creating these creams and the rituals with which you apply them that makes all the difference. “I like to do the cycle of steaming, cleansing, applying a mask and moisturizing once every week. It’s my time for myself. I put on some relaxing music, I meditate, I pause," she says.

Avocado and Honey Face Mask

Miglani gives us the recipe for her avocado, honey and turmeric moisturizing face mask.

Avocado is rich in vitamins A, D and E, and honey has the ability to retain skin moisture, and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties (as does turmeric). This mask is particularly suited for mature skin.


1/2 cup fresh avocado

1/4 cup honey

1/4 tsp turmeric


Mash the avocado into a creamy pulp in a bowl, and then stir in the honey and turmeric. Apply on the face and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse with a cool washcloth.



The Sari Gown. Images Courtesy ‘Saris—Tradition and Beyond
Pant style.


You will need: A 9-yard sari in a heavy silk weave. Avoid saris with stiff borders or weaves.

2. Bring out the end-piece around the waist anticlockwise and throw over the left shoulder until thigh-length.

3. Make pleats of the remaining loose portion facing right.

4. Roll the pleats outwards and secure by wrapping over the innermost layer.

5. Bring up the lower borders at the two extremes.

6. Bring to the centre-back waist from either side and tuck in.


You will need:A 6- to 9-yard sari in a cotton weave.

2. Bring the left inner-end portion to the back between the legs.

3. Make pleats of the pulled portion at the back.

4. Tuck in the gathered pleats at the centre-back.

5. Make pleats of the front free end-piece lying at the right side.

6. Pleat the outer end-piece and bring anti-clockwise under the tucked and gathered pleats at the back to the front at the right waist.

7. Throw the outer end- piece over the left shoulder.





Divya Babu/Mint