Perfume Courses

So you want to make your own perfume. Not that easy – but not that difficult either. Like anything else, all you need to start with are some basic concepts, some materials - and some guidance. The trouble is that when it comes to perfumery, professional help is difficult to get because it is such a rare skill. Plenty say they are perfumers, but few genuinely practice perfumery commercially on a daily basis. Even those who do, are usually locked into contracts with their employers.

At the time of writing, there are only six independent perfumers in the UK. Twelve people in total have ever walked on the moon – commonplace in comparison!

There is no doubt that the most rewarding and valuable training is from an experienced perfumer. John Stephen is the chief perfumer and owner of the Cotswold Perfumery. He has made countless perfumes for the fine fragrance industry – and even for The Queen. John takes all perfume courses at the Cotswold Perfumery. He has over 40 years experience as a perfumer and is also a Chartered Chemist, so understands the technical side too.

Two courses are offered. Level One introduces the basic concepts, explains the classifications and ends with the creation of a perfume. Level Two is for those who want to extend their knowledge to use as a hobby, or for those who have a commercial interest. A more professional approach is taken, more complex fragrances are created and we also cover the law – an essential requirement these days. Level Two courses are available to anyone who has completed Level One.

For practice, Lab Days offer the opportunity to spend a creative day in the perfume laboratory during a normal working day. Available to those who have done a minimum of Level One. 

Raw materials and equipment are available via this website for those who have completed at least Level One. This allows practice and creative work at home (UK only). All perfumes are alcoholic.

Course Details

Location:  The Cotswold Perfumery, Victoria Street, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2BU.

Availability:  Courses are held throughout the year. For dates and availability see this website under availability.

Duration:  One day, arriving 9am and departing at around 4.30pm

Restrictions:  Minimum age 14. No wheelchair access. May not be suitable for certain allergy sufferers. If in doubt, please consult a doctor.

Qualifications:   None required.

Group size:  Normally 9 participants for Level One and 6 for Level Two. Private courses available - please email us with details of group size and dates.

Validity:   A voucher for a one-day course must be used within 12 months of purchase if you are purchasing by credit/debit card (due to rules imposed upon us by our service providers). Up to that date, the voucher is fully transferable and fully refundable to the purchaser. For expiry dates of up to two years ahead, contact us for alternative ways to pay.

Booking: The purchase of a course online or via mail order will generate a Voucher No that can then be used to book a date either online or by telephoning us.

- One day course
- Coffee breaks
- Lunch
- 25ml bottle of your own fragrance
- 100ml bottle of any Cologne from the ladies standard range (excl Pallas) or 100ml After Shave.
- A Certificate of completion of the course.

Level One Course - £195

For beginners - no experience necessary

The Level One course is fun - everyone enjoys the experience. As a gift to someone who has an interest in perfumery it is ideal, but for those who are thinking of perfumery as a career it also provides a good insight into what it is like to work in a real perfume laboratory, and it provides a great deal of background information for anyone who wants to be more knowledgeable about the subject.

By the end of the Level One course you will understand how perfumes can be grouped into classifications so that you have a framework within which to understand fragrances and be able to choose your perfume more knowledgeably. You will know how to structure a perfume and build it from raw materials as well understanding blending techniques and typical pitfalls. You will appreciate the importance of balance and harmony in a perfume and how to achieve these qualities. You will also know how to use the equipment accurately and safely.

Level Two Course - £295

Advanced techniques

Level Two is for those who want to take their creative skills further. Those who attend are either keen amateurs who enjoy perfumery as a hobby, or those who have a commercial interest. For these reasons the course follows a more professional approach to creative perfumery and touches - albeit briefly - on the legislation that governs the industry.

The course is very practical. A typical perfume formulation is built, with an explanation of each step, and the effect of the addition of even very small quantities is demonstrated. The fragrances are more complex and the perfume kit has a much wider range of materials (60 as opposed to 25 in Level One). Groups are smaller (a maximum of 6 per course) allowing more personal attention for each person. Most importantly, participants are shown how to check that the fragrances they make are safe and conform to the latest guidelines.

By the end of the Level Two course most participants feel they are much better equipped to create fragrances on their own.

Lab Days - £125


Lab Days offer the opportunity to spend a day in the perfume laboratory - during a normal working day - practicing the skills learned during the courses. Available to those who have done a minimum of a Level One course.

There are no set days for Lab Days. To book, simply call the Perfumery and arrange a mutually convenient date. Lab Days are not available at the weekend.