I thought it was time to make this popular post for 2020 even better. This isn’t just a list of my favorite books. As I think of more, I’ll add them to it. I don’t know what it will be by the time you read this.
My own perfume book, Perfume – The Art and Craft of Fragrance, was written to fill the gap between the lovely Essence & Alchemy by Mandy Aftel and the more hardcore perfumery text books I’ve included on this page. It was written back in 2013.
Make sure to keep in mind that some of the books on this list might not be in print anymore, but if you need to find them through second-hand stores, they are worth the hunt!
Do tell me if you have any favorite things.
Good Beginners All Rounder
Perfume The Art & Craft Of Fragrance
The publisher wanted the book to be beautiful and small. I wanted it to be full of information that would let anyone make a perfume at home safely and properly.
People who want to learn about materials, how to make accords, and how to use perfumery tools should start there. It is very easy to make the perfumes because we only use essential oils and absolutes, but we also talk about some aromachemicals.
If you want to add some synthetic scents to the natural ones in the book, there is no reason not to do so. At the back of the book, there is a section on where to buy perfumery materials. There is also a version of the resources guide that is always up to date. HERE
Natural Perfumery Books
Essence and Alchemy by Mandy Aftel
When I bought this book a few years ago, I found a second-hand copy on Amazon from 2001. If you look at the cover, the only thing that changed is that it looks a little different than it did in 2004.
Mandy is a pioneer in the field of natural perfumery. She also teaches and makes beautiful perfumes and essences for cooking. You might think this book is a little weird, but I think it’s great because it talks a little about history, myths, alchemy, and fragrance and fragrance materials. It also gives a good overview of how to make natural fragrances and shows which materials work best together.
All books on perfumery should tell you that when formulas are given, they’re only for educational and home use. You need to be aware of the rules and restrictions in your own country if you want to make fragrances and sell them. This is especially true if you live in the European Union, which has stricter rules on natural ingredients than the United States.
Create Your Own Perfumes using Essential Oils by Chrissie Wildwood
Natural perfumery is a field I wanted to learn more about while I worked in the fragrance industry. This was the first book I bought when I wanted to learn more about it. Now that it’s out of print, but you can still buy copies on Amazon. There were only books on aromatherapy blends at that time (1994). As the fragrance industry wasn’t very interested in naturals, this little book turned out to be a great deal. If you want to learn how to make perfume, this is a good book to start with. Chrissie uses accords as building blocks instead of giving simple blends. When I read Mandy’s book, she says that the measurements are in drops, which is more like aromatherapy than perfumery. I would always use a scale when I wanted to make a perfume that could be made again and again.
Scent and Subversion by Barbara Herman
Lots of books are out there about the history of perfumery, but this one by Barbara Herman, who runs YesterdaysPerfume.com, really focuses on vintage classics like Chanel No. 5. There are a lot of good tips on how to become more knowledgeable and smart about perfume. It also gives advice on how to buy vintage perfume.
It’s what I like best about this book: the way the fragrance profiles are organized by decade. Many of the scents we can no longer smell because they have been changed or discontinued.
You should start there if you want to learn more about the most famous fragrances of the 20th century. This is a good place to start.
Perfumes the A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
They wrote this book with their wife, Tania Sanchez. It’s been called a “cult classic” because of its honest and sometimes harsh reviews of famous perfumes.
Many people have good things to say about the book, and a star rating ranges from 1 star to 5 stars.
You might not agree with their reviews or rankings, but this book is still fun to read and another great resource for people who want to learn more about perfume, even if they just want to pick out their own scent.
There is also now a second magazine that focuses onNiche Scent.
The Perfume Bible by Josephine Fairley and Lorna McKay
The best all-around guide to perfume is this one.
Like Jo Fairley’s other book, “The Beauty Bible,” this one is meant to teach people about perfume.
In this book, there are chapters on perfume families, terminology, and interviews with perfumers. There is also a guide to the best blogs and fragrance shops.
“Top 100 perfumes to try before you die” is a great list of iconic scents from both old and new that every perfume lover should try.
Perfumery Text Books
Introduction to Perfumery by Curtis/Williams
In the 90’s, I bought this book to go with the correspondence course I took from Plymouth University to become a perfumer. It was the first book I bought for the course. In the course notes, there is a lot of information that isn’t in the book. This makes it a lot cheaper to study, but you won’t get the certificate.
The course and book are for people who work in or want to work in the commercial fragrance industry. There is a lot of information about marketing and the structure of a fragrance house that may not be very interesting to some people.
They have good descriptions of how different materials work and how perfumes work, which I find very useful. Also, because it is a text book, there are exercises and experiments that you can do. This is a great way to learn about the subject.
Perfumery Practice and Principles by Calkin/Jellinek
This is one of the most interesting and comprehensive books I’ve seen for people who want to start making perfumes. It was written in 1994, so some of the information on IFRA will be out of date. Writers were both teachers and managers at Dragoco, which is now part of Symrise, when they wrote the book. They were also in charge of product and consumer research at Dragoco, where they worked. In this book, there are chapters on all aspects of perfumery and raw materials, like how to make notes for specific flowers and a table of the most common raw materials and how they are grouped. This book has a section called “studies in fine fragrance” that talks about how some of the classic fine fragrances were made and what materials were used to make them. I really like this part of the book.
Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odours by Ohloff/Pickenhage/Kraft
If you’re interested in perfumery, you might want to read this book. It’s a chemistry text book, but it’s very easy to read and understand for intermediate and advanced perfumery students. Because this book is so good, I also love that they have a Facebook and Twitter account that sends out great in-depth fragrance formulas.
Because even if you don’t buy the book, you can still follow them on social media and keep up with their news (just search scent and chemistry). In the book, there are a lot of naturals and aromachemicals, so don’t let that scare you away from it if you don’t like synthetics. It also gives juicy tidbits about the amount of certain materials in well-known fragrances.
If you want to learn how perfumes are made, this alone is a great way to do that.
This book is out of print, but you might be able to find a used copy on the internet.
Inside the Fragrance Industry
British Perfumery a Fragrant History by The British Society of Perfumers
To help individual perfumers, the BSP was formed in 1963. It was also a way to raise the status of perfumers by getting more people to think of perfumery as a job. In honor of its 50th birthday, this book was written.
If you’re not in the industry, you can now join. They have events all year long.
This book gives you a lot of information about the companies and perfumers who work in British perfumery. It also gives you a peek behind the curtain with personal stories and anecdotes.
Great for people who want to learn more about how the industry works and who are the most important people.