Certified aromatherapist Aba Gyepi-Garbrahshares, founder of Aba Love Apothecary in New York City, shares her tips on how to work with botanical oils, their properties and healing benefits, and the secrets to making your own custom blended perfume at home.
Know the differences between a top, middle, and base note
Top Notes: “Top notes are the first notes you discern and the first notes to evaporate.”
Middle Notes: “These are the ‘harmonizing’ or ‘heart’ notes, and often the focal point of your perfume. These are the next notes you’ll smell once the top notes begin to disappear.”
Base Notes: “The longest lasting and/or fixatives in your formula. These will anchor your blend and linger the longest on the skin. Best to begin formulating from the base and work up to the top notes.”
Learn the properties of each oil
• Black pepper has an earthy, woodsy scent and curbs addiction, promotes stimulation, and blends well with jasmine.
• Coriander is a top note but works well as a base, too. It has balsamic, citrusy and tart characteristics, and blends well with ylang ylang, bergamot, and ginger.
• Basil is a top note with a minty, citrusy smell and is a clarifying, cooling oil that helps with strength.
• Ginger has juicy, warm characteristics and helps with creativity.
• Ylang ylang is considered the “poor man’s jasmine,” has a peppery, floral scent and blends well with jasmine and patchouli.
• Jasmine absolute has a soft, calming floral scent and blends well with patchouli.
• Rose is a middle note great for emotional healing and has a soft, well-rounded scent.
• Violet is a base note and has an earthy, mulch, fresh scent that blends well with ross and moss.
• Tobacco has gourmand, leathery characteristics, blends well with rose and patchouli, and is known as a “conduit of spiritual knowledge,” particularly the ancient knowledge of ancestors.
• Vetiver is a grounding oil, relieves anxiety and hysteria, and blends well with rose.
• Lime is an uplifting top note that relieves anxiety and blends well with patchouli.
• Lavender absolute is a complex heart note with mineral qualities and blends well with cardamom, vetiver, and ylang ylang.
There’s a difference between Essential Oils, CO2 extracts, and Absolutes
Essential Oils: “Essential oils are volatile fluids extracted from plants through steam distillation, and can be [taken] from leaves, bark, flowers, and resins.”
CO2 Extracts: “A CO2 extract uses carbon dioxide at a high pressure to extract a dense component that is neither a solid nor a liquid, [resulting] in a more full-bodied oil.”
Absolutes: “Absolutes comes from volatile, aromatic fluids extracted from plants using solvents such as hexane, ethanol, or methanol [and] differ from essential oils in that they contain a higher density of colorants and waxes, but make a highly concentrated aroma.”
Aba’s Blending Techniques
After you’ve decided what scents are synergistic with your energy, begin pairing and blending. “Begin from the basenotes and build up. Keep it simple with 3–5 notes [oils],” she says. Slowly add just one drop at a time to your vial (roughly 12 drops total for a 10ml blend) and then fill the rest with organic jojoba oil (Aba’s go-to oil).
Try oils for their therapeutic benefits
“It’s ideal to have at least one roller of diluted essential oil to apply quickly to pulse points or behind the ears or temples whenever something is ailing (stress/nausea/sleeplessness). I personally do this every afternoon when I am trying to kick that ‘3pm slump’, and it works!”
Know the spiritual properties of each oil
Here are some of Aba’s tips on the “best” oils to use in your blends:
Best/your favorite oil to attract love: “Patchouli with a blend of citrus, or jasmine sambac. Both are very aphrodisiac. And for self-love and heart healing, always rose essential oil.”
Best oil for protection: “Copal is a fierce protector, hands down. I’ve mostly burned it’s incense or resin form.”
Best oil for spiritual enlightenment: “Frankincense. It’s reminds me of churches. This is one that can also be burned in incense form. Let it smolder and watch prayers be carried up through the smoke.”
Best ‘power woman’ oil: “Clary sage. This is THE woman’s oil.”
Best oil for creativity: “Galbanum or blue lotus, both will support an inspired state of mind.”
Best oil to promote peace & tranquility: “A blend of vetiver + lavender would be the ultimate de-stressers! If there is a headache, always peppermint! For jet lag, frangonia!”
Create your own “Instant Spa” or a self-massage
“Simply use 2–3 drops on the (hot) shower floor of a favorite essential oil and the shower experience is completely transformed!” For the self-massage you can dilute your favorite oils and massage under the feet, neck, shoulders and tummy.”
Incorporate Essential Oils in Your Daily Routine
Use oil in your morning ritual:
“Choose a method that would blend seamlessly into a specific routine. For example, if you already journal, meditate or stretch in the morning or evening, start with 1 essential oil blend and anoint yourself and breath deeply while performing those activities.”
Use oils in your night routine:
“While you’re getting ready for bed, mist an essential oil in [your]space to set the mood and enjoy winding down for the evening.”
Going camping? Bring along some lavender & cedarwood
“Lavender and cedarwood are great bug repellents, so if you’re planning on going into the woods, bring along these oils.”
Want to learn more about the art of aromatherapy and customizing your own perfume? Read the full editorial here.