Make Your Own Perfume? Inside the Latest Fragrance Trend

Make Your Own Perfume? Inside the Latest Fragrance Trend featured image
Sue Phillips | Olafactory NYC

It’s the age of the bespoke, the personalized and the custom. And the fragrance industry wants in on the trend. The result? Custom experiences offered by luxury brands to make your own perfume. Combine the scents you’ve always dreamed of with confidence as you select from perfumer-curated options to create your own unique fragrance. As the signature scent trend continues to heat up and AI-powered beauty becomes a standard, perfume houses are starting to offer an in-house make-your-own-perfume option that is quickly becoming the next big thing in personalization and in scent.

Scent Is Back, Baby

2023 was kind of the year of fragrance.

With small perfumeries and big brands alike seeing huge growth (L’Oréal reported double digit growth in fragrance last year), the world of scent is quickly evolving to bring newness and edge to the growing market. That growth has led to new pushes in functional fragrances, gender neutral scents and, of course, bespoke perfumes.

“I think fragrance has changed a lot in the past few years,” says MOODEAUX founder and CEO Brianna Arps. “We’re not trying to aspire to one thing anymore, especially since fragrances all smell differently on us anyway.”

Alongside these changes, the idea of a personal scent has also started to change.

“In the past, you might have had a single perfume that was your scent, and it was supposed to signify something,” Arps says. “Like the Chanel No. 5‘s of the world, you know? You chose that because that was the scent to choose. Now we’re seeing a signature scent become a tool for self expression, something that makes sense for your mood and for you. This is a scent that you want to turn to consistently because it makes you feel good.”

How to Make Your Own Perfume

With personalization the name of the game, fragrance houses have begun crafting collections intended to be mixed, matched and paired with other scents. The idea is to create something unique and pleasing to you. But also doing it while safe in the knowledge that the scent combinations are still curated by professionals.

Bulgari, for example, just released their spring wedding collection alongside a line of Magnifying Essences to create a marriage of scent.

“Whether you’re drawn to fresh floral or deep, romantic musks, Bulgari’s expert crafted fragrances have you covered,” explains Bulgari’s global creative director, Amandine Pallez. “To make it even more unique, you can also enhance your scent and personalize further with Bulgari’s Magnifying Essences, a companion to their beloved Allegra Collection that can be used with any fragrance to create a custom fragrance that is truly yours. For spring, you can spray the Magnifying Musk that will sublimate Fiori d’Amore with a touch of gentle sensuality, a luxurious skin feeling fragranc—very elegant and never overwhelming.”

Other perfumeries, like Olfactory NYC, offer a from-the-ground-up approach. Here, customers are in charge of choosing everything from the base scent to the label design. The experience, at an $85 per-perfume rate, can be completed in one of their studios or online. The process starts by choosing from one of nine base scents, and then from six variations on that scent. Here, you’re the potions master, doing the sniffing and mixing yourself.

There are even quiz-driven make-your-own-perfume options, like with Sue Phillips House of Fragrance. Here, your personality and favorite seasons help perfumers determine what scent family you love. According to the quiz, I have a preference for the woodsy scents with fresh and spicy undertones that are frequently preferred by men.

The next step is to share my results and let the masters get to work on my behalf.

“I’ve created fragrances for iconic brands and based on my years of experience in the fragrance industry, I have since developed and created beautiful fragrances that reflect individuality and personality just for you,” founder Sue Phillips says.

Layer by Layer

One of the easiest ways to achieve a complex, personalized scent is through layering. CLEAN RESERVE H2Eau, for example, was formulated to be layered, with each scent encapsulated in a water base that preserves the original note.

“Fragrance is a personal expression and it’s not just about smelling good; it’s about finding and creating a scent that is uniquely yours,” says CEO of Clean Beauty Collective, Greg Black. “CLEAN RESERVE encourages consumers to explore and layer different fragrances, creating a bespoke blend that is distinctive to them. In fact, the CLEAN RESERVE Collection was specifically developed with layering in mind. Each fragrance is linear in design, meaning the scent will remain reliably consistent from first spritz to sundown.”

For vice president of global new product development at Jo Malone London, Celine Roux, the idea of a signature scent has always been at the forefront of her mind. “People don’t want something that is mass manufactured,” Roux says. “The idea of a signature scent is really part of the DNA of the brand. We start with an idea or a concept, but never a person. It’s about a story or a landscape.”

While the majority of make-your-own-perfume options are more like painting by numbers than potion-making, that’s kind of the point.

“There are people out there who want nine pairs of Nike trainers, you know?” Roux explains. “But they don’t want them to be exactly the same. They want their initials stitched on or a custom color that makes their pair unique. That’s how layering fragrances works.”

Where to Make Your Own Scent

1 / 5

Sue Phillips House of Fragrance Custom Fragrance ($195)

Start with a personality quiz that explores your favorite season, fabric and even your choice of night-out drink. The combined results are delivered to the Sue Phillips House of Fragrance, where they examine the scent family and undertones you prefer.

My results put me firmly in the ‘woodsy’ category, with undertones of fresh and spicy to add depth to whatever custom scent I end up with. But there are four major fragrance families to choose from: woodsy, floral, fresh and spicy. If you’re like me and drawn to mossy, outdoorsy smells, woodsy is for you. Floral encompasses the romantic and delicate scents, like rose and jasmine. Get sultry with the spicy scents of amber or vanilla, or fall in love with the fresh fragrances of mountain air or an ocean breeze.

From there, the custom process considers the best combination of all those undertones to create something unique to you.

BUY NOW – $195

2 / 5

Jo Malone London Favourite Travel Cologne Trio ($80)

Featuring some of their most popular and wearable scents, the Travel Cologne Trio is the perfect way to introduce yourself to scent layering. Jo Malone‘s simple scent combinations will help you easily understand the appeal of mixing a fresh scent like Wood Sage & Sea Salt with the warm and delicate Peony & Blush Suede.

These fragrances were designed to be layered, so you don’t need to worry about one smell overpowering another or creating a combination that’s less than ideal. In fact, as a proud wearer of Wood Sage & Sea Salt, I think it’s safe to say that you can combine that scent with anything and it will make it smell gorgeous.



3 / 5

Olfactory NYC Custom Fragrance ($85)

With names like Ryan and Leo, the nine base fragrances from Olfactory NYC are all about identity. Each fragrance is a rounded-out and thoughtful play on established scents like rose (which you’ll find paired with crisp ivy in Ryan) or cedar wood (which is married with a rich suede and fig in Leo).

In-store, a Scentologist will help you take that base fragrance to the next level as you test different combinations. The at-home version of this allows you to sample six different combinations of your base scent.

Finally, you get to design your own label, making it purely your own.

BUY NOW – $85

4 / 5

MOODEUAX On the Geaux Travel Set ($60)

When it comes to small fragrance house MOODEAUX, the focus is all about how you feel. That’s why these two stars have aligned in their travel set, with scents Worthy and Punkstar. From comforting to confident, these two scents focus on nurturing the self and they also marry beautifully together.

The white tea and orange blossom behind Worthy blends with the black currant and fresh apple powering Punkstar.

BUY NOW – $60

5 / 5

H2EAU CLEAN RESERVE Travel Spray Perfume Layering Set ($38)

Created to be layered, this is the ideal mix-and-match set to help you create your own perfectly unique scent. With water-based formulas that preserve the note expertly, CLEAN RESERVE’s botanical-powered fragrances are day-to-night wearable and perfect for sensitive skin.

“Our customers have always loved that our CLEAN RESERVE scents work in their professional settings where wearing a big bold scent may feel out of place,” Black says. “The fragrances in our portfolio are developed to be closer to the skin of the wearer, not necessarily to be worn for others. However, the portfolio does include bolder, more heady scents that offer larger scent blooms and can be adjusted with blending and layering of other scents.”

BUY NOW – $38

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