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Weekly Scent Discussion #5: Indie Oils

Weekly Scent Discussion #5: Indie Oils 8 years ago
There is an almost cult following for some of the indie oil houses like Alkemia and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. If you look on Etsy there are many many oil blenders selling their scents. Some have really great reviews other, not so much.

What are your experiences with these types of scents? Do you prefer the "natural" oil blends over the more traditions scents? What do you think of the wild mixes some of these companies put together like, BPAL's many odd concoctions?
8 years ago
I am a bit sceptical. This is really a phenomenon in the US where the regulations on cosmetic product safety are more liberal than elsewhere.

As far as I can see the whole hype was initiated by the Natural Perfumers Guild and their followers. It seems they have been giving classes and weekend courses for many years. The result is that many people mix something together, give it a French sounding name (sometimes with a spelling error if it really was French), and upload it on Etsy.

Some of them drive us mad with their manic way of constantly launching new perfumes. We have problems to keep up with them. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab alone has over 500 fragrances in our database, and I am sure we still do not have all.

Etsy gives 9,856 results for "natural perfume"!

How can you find your way in this chaos?
8 years ago
I'm also a bit skeptical, but for different reasons.

I rather appreciate some democratization of the market, but I do wonder about how the incentives to produce quality scents are influenced by the minimization of overhead/startup costs. On the other hand, these imagined incentives don't seem to work particularly well on established firms, so perhaps the point is moot.

Even more than that, though, I really prefer to smell a fragrance first in a bricks-and-mortar shop, then to try a sample at my leisure, and finally to consider whether or not I am interested in some sort of purchase. Etsy and the like don't seem to provide a platform for that kind of exposure.

And while I've only sampled a few scents from BPAL and maybe just one from Alkemia, I found them all repulsive, unfortunately. If I'm being honest, that might be the main source of my skepticism.

I think the naturals issue is completely separate. I won a giveaway once from Roxana Illuminated, and the scent was fantastic. I got a Phoenix Botanicals mini from a perfume buddy and found it very lovely. I think the BPAL and Alkemia scents I tried were so awful precisely because of the poorly-judged use of overpowering aromachemicals. Mind you, I tend to dislike smells that feel obviously synthetic to me, and I tend to enjoy naturals, so this is also a matter of taste.

But I do think that it must be easier to produce something bad when using synthetics. The couple dozen aromachems that I have smelled are really terrible on their own. The couple dozen natural extracts that I have smelled are all quite wonderful on their own. I understand that once the materials are blended together, the properties of the blend are different from those of its constituents, but still, it stands to reason that starting out with good-smelling ingredients should make it easier to produce a good-smelling mixture, doesn't it?
8 years ago
Apicius, it's interesting to hear that this is more of a US thing. I never really thought about that aspect of it before and once you pointed it out I can see your right about the guild classes and Etsy thing. You also have a really good point about BPAL. I have been trying to help with the updates on that house. The limit of 10 submissions at a time has kept the pace rather slow. However, It'll get there.

Leahtermount, I agree with all your points as well. One house I feel exemplifies the great use of better ingredients is Olympic orchids. They aren't and oil company per se but they are touted as natural and their scents are all parfum or EDP strength. Everything I have tried from that house has been spot on amazing. Even if I didn't like the exact notes used in a scent I had to give credit for the quality and skill in making it. They are also really good about making samples available for very reasonable prices. You can mix and match, get discovery sets, etc. Their sample sizes are very generous as well. On more than one occasion I have split samples with other perfume lovers and still had plenty left for my own sampling and reviewing. I never test at a brick and mortar (I went to Sephora once), so ordering samples online works well for me.

I haven't spent a great deal of time with Alkemia but all their stuff smells the same to me.

BPAL that's a house that is tricky to navigate. Some of their scents are amazing. But others... not so much. They also charge $6 for an "imp" of their oils. It's a 1ml sample. That's quite a lot when you consider how many scents you would need to try to weed out the junk and find the few that are amazing. One thing I really love about this house though is how imaginative it is. Many of the scents they produce are novelty and not really anything you would want to wear, but it's fun to sniff them, except of course they are cost prohibitive and you run the risk of finding something you love to find out it's impossible to get by the time you discover it. Also, $26 for a 5ml bottle is a bit steep for this sort of product, especially since, as Apicius points out, there are thousands of Etsy vendors that make things of equal quality for much less.

Al-Rehab oils are another house I have really been impressed with. For $8 I picked up a bottle of Choco-musk. It lasted all day and had good projection. It was much better than I expected for $8. I actually have a few of their other oils on order now because I enjoyed the quality and composition of choco-musk so much.
8 years ago
I have a BPAL fragrance that I have been enjoying as I have been really into the niche perfumes lately. I think every woman in my office wears Cool Water, so I was going insane:-))
I did find one perfume oil from Siberie Perfumes ( etsy) called Contessa that I am just in love with, it's a spiced vanilla. I too find all the BPAL options a little overwhelming but interesting none the less. I just don't want to smell like dirt and kettlekorn!
8 years ago
I've never tried Siberie Perfumes. I'll check them out. BrookeRod you may also like Alkemia oils
7 years ago
I'm reviving this to add that I have discovered a new oil company, quite by accident, that I am really impressed with.

Deep Midnight Perfumes.

You can buy their scents from Etsy. I am incredibly impressed by the quality and depth of these scents. The only issue I am having is that I am having trouble narrowing it down to just a few I want to try. So many sound right up my alley and they have very favorable reviews.
Oils 7 years ago
I also have a box of those oils (around 30 different fragrances) Bought in the UK on the Internet. The name is. Around 6 months ago there was an article in the newspaper where the EU warned for those fragrances and make-ups on the Internet the claim was that by analyzing those products not so clean products were found in it (really disgusting), and it made me think, indeed there is no control whatsoever on them, so they are sitting there in the box I bought for them. No way that I will ever put them on my skin but I can put them in an oil burner as a homeperfume.
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