Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever wondered how your favorite designer perfume is made? In much the same way as fine wine or artisan chocolates, there is a lot that goes into the luxury perfume-making process. A combination of art and science, creating a fragrance is a fascinating affair that takes a lot of skill and experience. 

Discover the craftsmanship behind luxury perfume-making below and gain a newfound respect for fragrance designers. 

Sourcing the ingredients 

Can you tell the difference between a luxury perfume, such as one from direct fragrances, and one that has been mass-produced? While the latter can often smell too sweet or too pungent, the former will smell like a perfectly blended scent that clings to the skin. The reason for this difference is in the ingredients. Perfumes are made by extracting scented oil from natural ingredients such as plants, fruits, wood, and sometimes animal secretions. 

With a luxury perfume, these raw ingredients are carefully selected and handled with the utmost care. Some of the most common natural ingredients used in perfume-making are:

  • Rose petals 
  • Jasmine 
  • Sandalwood 
  • Vanilla 
  • Myrrh 
  • Citron 
Photo by Denise Chan

Extracting the oils 

The next step in the perfume-making process is the extraction of the essential oils. There are several different extraction methods that can be used, including:

Solvent extraction 

Solvent extraction is a method of extraction that involves putting plants into large, rotating drums. These plants are then covered in either petroleum ether or benzene until all that is left is a waxy substance that contains the oils. 

Steam distillation 

Steam distillation involves all the natural ingredients being placed in a still until they are extracted. As well as steaming, essential oils can also be extracted from plant materials by boiling them in water. 


Expression is one of the oldest forms of extraction and involves pressing plants, either manually or electronically, until all the oils are extracted. This method is still used today to make luxury perfumes. 


Enfleurage uses large glass sheets coated with grease, and the flowers or plants spread across them. The sheets are then placed between wooden frames and moved by hand to absorb the fragrance.   


Maceration is a similar process to enfleurage, but instead, grease fats are used to soak up the fragrance. These fats are then dissolved in alcohol to obtain the oils. 

Blending the ingredients 

Once the oils have been extracted, they need to be carefully blended together. The choice of which oils to blend together is made by an expert perfume-maker, often referred to as a nose. 

Some luxury fragrances contain hundreds of different ingredients, whereas others contain only a select few. That being said, the more essential oils that a perfume contains, the stronger and typically more expensive it is. 

Photo by Fulvio Ciccolo

Aging the scents 

Luxury perfumes are often aged for months or even years before they are packaged and sold, as this process helps to perfect the scent. 

Aging also enables different notes to blend together more effectively, with top notes that provide the overall scent and base notes that help to create a more long-lasting fragrance.  

Information sourced by the author for All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only.