How to Recreate 5 Iconic Fragrances for Less

Rachel Nussbaum

Perfume Bottles

Every high school had an art teacher, and seemingly, every art teacher had to wear patchouli essential oil. It was essentially in the job description, and yes, we do regret that pun just a little bit. But all jokes aside, essential oils tend to get a bad rap from those hippie-dippie stereotypes—one not at all warranted, because more often than not, the oils on the aisles of Whole Foods can also be found in our favorite perfumes.

So, because we’re all about the look for less in every aspect, we decided to break down five scents, new and old, and figure out the necessities for recreating them. With most Aura Cacia or Edens Garden oils costing 5 to 10 dollars, even with trial and error you’ll come out ahead (and with multiple options, if you’re feeling a custom blend).

But first, a quick rundown. There are four basic kinds of essential oils: citrus, floral, green and woody. There’s some overlap between the categories, but in general, citrus and green oils work well together, as do floral and woody, and citrus and floral. It’s good to know the balance of oils you’re going for when recreating a scent—play around with the quantities until they smell right, or look at your perfume’s ingredient list for a general idea (the first ingredient listed is used in the highest quantity, and so on).

Now, onto the good stuff.

Chanel No. 5: Jasmine is the top note in Chanel’s iconic scent, with rose a close second. Add musk as desired—it gives the fragrance depth and sensuality.

Marc Jacobs Honey: Marc Jacob’s best-selling scent has citrus-centric top notes of pear and mandarin, which are comparable to lemon and orange essential oils. Honeysuckle, honey and vanilla also play important roles; honeysuckle and vanilla essential oils will echo it well.

Guerlain Shalimar: Guerlain’s classic is known for its heady, heavy ingredients, so it makes sense that they’re all woody or floral. Mix vanilla, amber, jasmine and rose, with an emphasis on the amber.

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino: Tom Ford’s fresh classic smells amazing, but costs a bundle. Create a semblance with lavender, lemon, bergamot and neroli; search the world for a bottle as beautiful.

Estee Lauder Modern Muse: There’s patchouli in this one, but don’t be alarmed—it’s balanced with jasmine and amber to avoid any and all art teacher comparisons.

Image via David Lewis Taylor