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How to layer perfumes for a custom fragrance

by Melissa Mroczek 06 Jul 2023

What is perfume layering?

Perfume layering is the art of creating a personalized fragrance profile by combining multiple fragrances - blending two or more perfumes to create a completely new layered scent.

Nomad Wax Co perfume oil rollers with neutral labels on light background

Why should I try to layer perfumes?

While there are lots of incredible perfume options on the market, it seems like a handful of popular scents dominate (think of smelling Le Labo Santal 33 everywhere in NYC) and it can be a big, fat drag to smell exactly like everyone else. But custom-made perfume is super-pricey and out of reach for many fragrance-lovers, plus it can be tough to get it just right. If you are looking for a totally custom scent, without paying a super-high custom price, then perfume layering could be your solution. Perfume layering is the art of creating a personalized fragrance profile by combining multiple fragrances - blending two or more perfumes to create a completely new and unique layered scent. 

The core idea behind perfume layering is that certain scents work well together, and by layering them, you can create a more complex and long-lasting fragrance. It allows you to customize your scent by mixing and matching different perfumes to create a fragrance that suits your mood, the occasion, or your personal preferences.

How to layer perfumes

You can create your own unique, custom scent by layering perfume fragrances. Even if you are not a highly-trained “nose” you can get started by experimenting with perfumes you already own, or with less expensive roll-on perfume oils or essential oil rollerballs. The layering technique involves applying different scents on top of one another to create a personalized fragrance that is unique to you. To layer perfumes, start by choosing two or more scents that complement each other. Typically, layering is done by applying a base fragrance first and then adding one or more complementary scents on top. You can experiment with different combinations to find the perfect blend that suits you.

How do you select your scents to blend? You want to blend and layer fragrances with different notes, to include a range from base, heart and top notes. We suggest starting from the bottom with a base note fragrance and building up.

Step 1: Select your base note fragrance.

Base notes are the foundation of a perfume and are typically the scents that last the longest on the skin. They are often described as deep, rich, and warm and are what give a fragrance its longevity and depth.

Pick a warm, woody or base-note heavy fragrance as your starting point. This is the anchor for your scent and provides the base in which to build and layer your custom fragrance. If you aren't’ sure what kind of scent is a base, here are some fragrance notes to look for:

Vanilla, Sandalwood,  Amber, Musk, Patchouli, Benzoin, Tonka, Oakmoss

Pro Tip: try Blackout, 1977, Canyonlands, VanilleWhite Oak Forest, Saudade

Step 2: Select your heart note fragrance. 

Heart notes, also known as middle notes, are the main body of a fragrance and typically emerge once the top notes have evaporated. They are often described as floral or fruity and can last for several hours on the skin.

Pick a spicy, fresh or herbal fragrance next. This is the middle of your  scent and provides the “heart” or main body of your perfume layer. Here are some fragrance notes tot look for when selecting a scent  for your heart notes: 

Rose, Jasmine, Lavender, Ylang-Ylang, Neroli, Geranium, Peach, Blackcurrant, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Vetiver, Lemongrass

Pro Tip: try Marais, Far Flung, Wilding, White Sands

Step 3: Select your top note fragrance.

Top, or opening notes, are the initial scents that you smell when you apply a fragrance. They are typically light and fresh and evaporate quickly, lasting only for a few minutes to an hour. They are often citrus, fruity or aquatiac scents or delicate florals. 

Pick a light floral, citrusy or airy fragrance. This is the top opening of your layered fragrance, or what you will first smell. It often doesn’t last the whole day, but gives a fresh twist and balance to your richer heart and base notes.  Fragrance notes to look for when selecting a scent for your top notes: 

Bergamot, orange, lemon, lime, apple, pear, grass, mint, basil, lily of the valley, ginger

Pro tip: try North Shore, Gin BlossomCitron + Lavender, La Mer, La Jolla

Step 4: Experiment

This is the fun, creative part - experimenting to find your unique layered blends! You can begin experimenting with your scents on a sheet of plain paper. Start by rolling or spraying your base note fragrance, then add a middle note fragrance to it. Play around with different combinations and take notes of what  you are mixing so that you can replicate it. When you find a pair you like, try them on your skin and see how they work with your body chemistry. 

We recommend starting with two fragrances and pairing to see what combinations work and suit your taste. Once you find a pair that is pleasing, you can start to add in 1-2 (or more) additional fragrances or essential oil rollerballs to truly customize your scent. Try adding different top note fragrances to your favorite base-heart combination. Notice how you can completely change a fragrance just by switching it up with different top notes. When applying to tyour skin, be sure to dab rather than rub fragrance into your skin. This allows the fragrance to breathe, so you experience the true complexity of your pairing.

The key is to be sure that the scents you are layering are compatible, and they do not clash with each other. Choosing linear fragrances - those that are dominated by a few main notes and are likely to remain consistent throughout the day - that are perfect for layering will make it a bit easier. For example, many of our perfumes and body fragrances are linear and were specifically developed to be layered. They are also gender neutral, allowing anyone to emphasize different notes by layering with other perfumes or body scent with more masculine or feminine notes, depending on your desires. If you’re not sure where to start, our fragrance team has created some expert layering sets to get you started on your fragrance layering journey!

Tips and Reminders for Fragrance Layering

  • Start with your heavier base fragrance and layer lighter fragrances over it.
  • Create fragrance layers in groups of 2-3: one base fragrance that is warm, resinous, woody or musky; one mid layer that is herbal or floral; one top layer that is predominantly citrus or fruity notes
  • In the warmer months, opt to focus on mid/heart notes and top notes. In the cooler months, opt to focus on base/heart notes.
  • Choose compatible fragrances
  • Dab—don’t rub when layering fragrance onto your skin.

Layering perfume fragrances to build your own customized personal fragrance profile is an easy and creative way to create your own signature scent. Try building a collection of single-note or small accord perfume oils and essential oil roll-ons to use as your base ingredients in your own layered fragrance recipes. Jumping in and just playing around with new layered creations is the best way to get started. Try new things and see how they wear on your skin and with your body chemistry. You can be as detailed - taking notes as you try new things - or as free-flowing as you like. You are only limited by your imagination and your preferences for different scent notes!

Box of Nomad Wax Co Perfume Oil in Earthy Layering Set

NOMAD Wax Co. fragrances are blended to stand completely on their own, but designed to be mixed, matched and worn together, layered to create a fresh new scent that is completely personalized to you.

You can get started with our perfume oil roll-ons to start building your fragrance layering collection. Or try our fragrance layering sets, with our handpicked perfume oil favorites that work together in hundreds of custom combinations!

 Box of Nomad Wax Co Perfume Oil Layering Set in herbal clean fragrances

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