‘Perfume is like a personal signature which is why I like to mix my own‘
– Danielle Steele
Speaking of mixing perfumes, the above passeporte was my exclusive invitation to a private event held for select bloggers of The Butterfly Project Malaysia to join Bisou BonBon & Bisou Rose’s and do just that – mix our own perfumes as we enjoyed tea and cake at Betjeman & Barton Tea Room.
(If you’re interested, there’s a PART TWO of this two-part event post where you can read more about the Betjeman & Barton Tea Room – the venue for this Butterfly Blogging Project‘s Perfume Tea Party.)
– THE BISOU BONBON PERFUME BAR –
The best part of the occasion was that I was able to do this against a backdrop of what I consider the triple joys in life – fine tea, sweet treats and the good company of my fellow bloggers from The Butterfly Project Malaysia.
I can’t think of a prettier way to spend a Saturday morning but brace yourself for a post of mammoth proportions as I revisit my perfume-making adventures.
– A Travelling Apothecary For Hire –
Now, the Bisou BonBon Perfume Bar is an impressive service available for hire from homegrown artisan beauty brand, Bisou Bonbon & Bisou Rose.
The concept is unique and brings a mobile apothecary to the doorsteps of any event or function where there is enough space for a table to be set up for guests to gather and experience the joy of creating their own signature scent.
The event is a participative curiosity as many of us don’t often come across the opportunity to make our own perfume so the novelty factor is high.
Put quite simply, the Perfume Bar is a creative and interactive way to spice up an occasion and makes for a gorgeous concept that will cater especially well to bridal showers, corporate events as well as housewarming parties – or any event really!
It’s the perfect ice-breaking affair as well as an educational experience about the basics of perfume-making to boot. What’s more, each guest takes home his or her own self-blended scent as a party favour too.
This was my first time meeting Dr. Shelby Kho, the effervescent founder of the Bisou enterprise and I found that she was as beautiful a person to talk to as the products and experiences she creates.
I’ve spotted her on local television in the past and in and around social media and know that she does regular turns of her brand at some of the best artisan markets around the Valley but this was my first time chatting with the doctor turned beauty maven.
There’s a bright and bubbly aura around Shelby that probably stems from how passionate she is about the products she makes as well as an impressive level of attention to detail that goes into creating a magical, educational and interactive experience for her customers at her Perfume Bar.
Friendly and animated, Shelby exudes a passionate enthusiasm for her artisan beauty products and this somehow leaves me with a feeling of wanting to hug her and lug away as many of her beauty products as I can afford in equal measure.
Well, if Shelby’s enthusiasm could be bottled, it would probably be a magical bubblegum scent and we could all use some of that!
THE MAKING OF A PERFUME
The above table contains everything necessary to make our own perfumes from essential oils.
For convenience, Dr. Shelby was wise enough to divide her essential oils into the three fundamental fragrance notes beforehand – base note oils, middle note oils, and top note oils – so it was just a matter of referring to the cluster of oils for our individual scent choices when it came to the practical part of making our perfumes.
This made it so much easier for a layperson like me to approach the process which seemed both exciting but daunting because really, how many of us know anything about perfume-making.
For the record, these note classifications are not at all random but based on universal and formal understandings of how these oils work within a perfume and are the basic foundational laws to creating a scent with a good throw, longevity and, hopefully, fragrant appeal.
Step 1 – Getting Started with a Peach Kernel Oil Base (2ml)
For our purposes, we began with 2ml of a neutral and unscented oil – in this case it is Peach Kernel Oil!
I dispensed 2ml amount of the oil into a dark, sun-proof glass bottle.
The dark glass is necessary to prevent any degradation of the ingredients and preserve the shelf life of the essential oils that are added to the bottle next.
Step 2 – Adding the Base Notes (15 Drops)
We then proceeded to add the essential oils for the Base Notes of our fragrance…15 Drops of any combination of oils from the group labelled Base Notes.
Base Notes are the foundation of the fragrance and what gives the perfume its depth. It also gives a solid identity to the fragrance and adds strength to the middle and top notes of the completed perfume.
This part of the fragrance is deep and emerges much later after the initial application and usually only when the top notes have all but evaporated. This is the lasting impression of the scent and is the impact of the scent we detect at dry-down at and the end of the day.
[Image Credit here]
Step 3 – Adding the Middle Notes (9 Drops)
I wanted my fragrance to have some more complex Middle Notes so I opted for this trilogy of invigorating natural oils…3 Drops of each – coming to the recipe total of 9 Drops for the Middle Notes.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was aiming for and as I have zero experience in perfume-making – I was pretty much winging it from this point forth and picking the oils/ extracts that I happened to be drawn to quite randomly.
I think I may have achieved a Scandinavian vibe with my choices, however accidentally.
The Middle Notes of a fragrance are also known as the Heart Notes and are so named because they feature at the heart or the core of the perfume and are what is designed to give a complex scent its balanced body.
They are detectable once the breezy top notes have dissipated and are the more pleasant and well-rounded part of the fragrance.
Making up the body of the perfume, the Middle Notes also help to mask and temper some of the initial pungency of a fragrance’s base notes and this gives the Base Notes more time to mature and develop into something more appealing to the nose.
Step 4 – Adding the Top Notes (6 Drops)
Being a dedicated fan of all things minty, I topped off my creation with some peppermint oil as the top note for my perfume.
Based on our recipe, only 6 Drops of essential oils was required for the Top Notes component.
[Image Credit here]
The Top Notes are the final scented layer to the concoction but inversely in perfume lore, this is the part of the perfume that greets on first encounter – yes, it’s that first critical impression that each of us detects from a finished fragrance!
Sure, the experience of a Top Note evaporates quickly but it is nevertheless the marketing arm of a perfume because this first impression is the impact that either lures you in or turn you away from a perfume so don’t negate it’s value despite its precarious and temporary nature.
Step 5 – Adding the Alcohol (20ml)
This next step involves the addition of 20ml of alcohol to the mixture and correct me if I am wrong but this is the ingredient that will enhance the ‘scent throw’ or fragrant impact of the perfume’s notes.
At this point, I was reminded to ensure the lid was locked tightly to my bottle because the addition of the alcohol can result in a premature evaporation of the perfume mix.
I was then asked to give it all a good shake and to leave the mixture to cure for as little as 48 hours or to a maximum of 6 weeks – depending on my personal preference before the final bottling.
From here, it’s fingers crossed actually as to what I have created as my custom perfume!
The curing process apparently enables the various components in the perfume to blend, mature and gain fusion. And hopefully, if I am lucky, I will have created an amazing scent once the maturing process is completed.
If not, I can always find me Dr. Shelby’s Perfume Bar again and have another go.
This is the beauty of the whole perfume-making process – it’s perfectly normal to go back to the drawing board and even Master Perfumers commit many experimental flops before they zero in on a bestselling creation.
I asked Dr. Shelby how it was possible to increase the odds of producing a scent that was fabulous but she said quite simply that unless you’re a Master Perfumer with great experience and skill, it can always be very much a gamble toward the final outcome…and that’s rather what is great and amazing about the whole perfume-making process.
Indeed, it’s completely surprising and fascinating what will emerges as the final Eau de Parfum after my recipe is completely cured.
This was also the reason why she gave us all a card to write down the types and amount oils we used to make our perfume as we made our custom fragrance.
Essentially, this card is intended to be a useful means to keep track of our ‘recipe’ so that if we happened to chance upon a winning scent – that we’d have a record of how we did it so it would be possible to recreate the fragrance again.
Anyway, Dr. Shelby’s imparted a piece of choice advice before we began our perfume-making journey and that was to encourage us to choose the oils that instinctively appealed to us in their raw form so that the chances of producing a scent that we personally like might at least be higher.
Step 6 – The Final Bottling For Use (Adding 20ml of Water)
After deciding on a preferred curing time for each custom blend, it is then necessary to make complete the final step that allows us to bottle the fragrance for use.
Dr. Shelby sent us home with a pack that included our curing mixture, a piece of filter paper, a bottle of water (20ml) as well as a handy spritzer bottle for this purpose.
To make the perfume ready for use, it’s necessary to add the water to the cured mixture, give it a good shake and filter the contents of the curing bottle into the spritzer bottle.
We were also given a label to stick to the spritzer bottle on completion of the bottling so we could christen our creation. Honestly, Shelby had us covered right through to the end with her kit.
Step 7 – Naming the Perfume!
I’m hanging out for a longer cure on mine because I currently have the flu and can’t smell a thing so I won’t be any good at determining a decent cure period until the worst of this evil cold is over.
Until then, I’m going to leave the naming of the perfume until after the final bottling.
Finally, Shelby mentioned that she has a little thing she does where she collects the names of the perfumes created by patrons to her Perfume Bar and I think her little collection of names is a cute idea.
So, once I can think of a name for my scent, I’m going to message her on Facebook with the name of my very first custom-blended Eau de Parfum so it can be added to the Bisou BonBon archives.
The Bisou BonBon Perfume Bar is available for hire in and around the Klang Valley.
For more details…these are the links!
[Notes: Special thanks to Bisou BonBon for graciously supplying the Perfume Bar for The Butterfly Blogging Project’s first ever Perfume Tea Party. Images unless where mentioned are by me and remain the property of this blog. Please do not reuse without permission and a link back to this blog. Commentary is my own. All links are for supplied informational purposes and convenience and non-affiliate.]