Here's How To Use Essential Oils As Perfume — & Why You Should

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Despite the fact that 5 ounces of the stuff can cost $200-plus, I've been buying designer perfume since I was a teen. But because my wallet simply cannot accommodate a new bottle of the stuff every few months, the question, "Can you use essential oils as perfume?" has often crossed my mind. After doing some research I can tell you that you most certainly can and, even better, you probably should.

I'm currently traveling with a woman who always smells strongly (the perfect amount of strong, though) of jasmine. Every time she walks by the floral scent is left in her wake and smells pure and true and unlike any typical perfume I've ever used. Unlike name brand perfumes, she smelled of one single note, being pure jasmine. When I finally asked her what fragrance she uses she told me she had a roller ball-topped glass tube filled with pure jasmine essential oil that she used a few times a day. The kicker? The entire oil cost her a mere $13 and would last for about a month, meaning two months worth of the stuff would set her back $26. For someone who goes through perfume like Wrigley's gum, this could be a huge money-saving hack.


As I started to research essential oils as perfume, I came across something that was truly shocking. I'd never really considered that the ingredients in perfumes aside from the plant derivatives could be harmful. In retrospect, this might've been a bit naive for someone who's reported about clean beauty and knows which harmful ingredients are often used in products, but for some reason I'd never lumped perfume in with skincare and makeup. Phthalates consistently come up as one of the top ingredients to avoid and lo and behold, most perfumes are full of them. As explained in depth in a TIME article, phthalates have been attributed to causing a number of health issues including developmental disorders, poor lung function, polycystic ovarian syndrome, problems conceiving, hormonal imbalances and more. And yet, we're literally spraying them onto our bodies and rubbing them in. Wtf? Aside from phthalates, there are a number of other ingredients typical to perfumes that would certainly not pass the clean beauty test. Taking this into account, it was an easy decision for me to (mostly) do away with perfume for good. Ugh, why must Roses de Chloé smell so intoxicatingly good?!

Essential oils contain a whopping zero harmful ingredients, so why wouldn't you opt for them? While they wont allow you a layered and multifaceted scent like typical perfumes featuring multiple notes would, they will allow a scent that is uber pure and distinct. I will forever associate my fellow traveler with jasmine thanks to her roller ball full of it and I think there's something quite romantic and cool about having a determinable signature scent. If you're into florals, try out jasmine, lavender, rose, and ylang ylang and see which one suits you best. cedarwood and sandalwood are great for those of you that want something more earthy and ambiguous. Bergamot is a great option for citrus lovers and clove has a nice spice to it.

My recommendation would be to go to a store that sells them (you can find them at Whole Foods!) and sniff your way to your favorite. I guarantee you'll find a clean signature scent you'll love!