I first dove into the indie makeup world when I was 13 or 14. I was immediately drawn to collection tens upon tens of tiny little baggies filled with beautiful mineral pigments for blushes and eye shadows. These days, I find my makeup taste is considerably simpler than it used to be if I wear it at all but I still wanted to support artists and crafters that make their own beauty products. Thus, I was introduced to the world of perfume oils. I credit the indiemakeupandmore subreddit for a lot of the suggestions I considered and I ultimately ended up going with Alkemia to order my first oils from.
One of the things I love about buying beauty products on Etsy as that most sellers offer super affordable sample sizes that you can purchase before committing to the more expensive full sized item. Alkemia sells a 5 pack of your choice samples for $12 plus shipping with an additional sample sent at random according to your taste. Sample sizes are 3/16th dram vials shipped labeled with each fragrance. Alkemia offers a list with scent descriptions here.
As someone who is used to commercial spray perfumes, I knew that oils would be an entirely different ball game. They link to the a blog post as an intro to perfume oils for recommended reading. It basically says that commercial perfumes are mixed with an alcohol that makes the scent layers express themselves differently. Perfume oils take time to evolve on your skin and reveal their complexities. It is also important to let some perfume oils “rest” in order for them to express their best self; so by putting samples in a dark, room temperature spot for a few days, or weeks even, after arrival you may find the smell differently than when you first sampled them.
So here are the samples I received and my thoughts on them. I specifically picked woody, amber scents with a few sea-themed scents mixed in. I also like florals, some fruity, but typically not gourmand (or foodie) scents.
Affaire de Coeur – A flirtatiously feminine enchantment of sugared white musk, creamy Madagascar vanilla, white sandalwood, tonka bean, white amber, and pale sugar cane.
I chose this sent because when it comes to candle scents I gravitate heavily toward vanilla, sandalwood and amber so I thought this would be a good fit. Initially, this scent comes across as very powdery with a hint of floral, which isn’t something I’m a fan of. It is a more mature scent than what I was hoping for. I found that much of the powder scent faded a lot over the course of 8 hours or so at which point I liked it so much better. Waiting that long isn’t really worth it for me unfortunately.
Salome – An overture of not so innocent magnolia underscored with a sly caress of Queen of the Night, a fulsomeness of nubile black grapes and plums, skin musk bathed in spilled cognac, and ruthless twist of bitter orange, blended with an ancient Arabian love philtre of crushed vanilla and tonka bean, mysore sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, and red oud.
This is the first scent I tried and I knew I would love it after the first whiff. Initially I got hints of cedar and orientals. After 30 minutes, it was mostly vanilla and sandalwood on my skin, an incredibly warm, sensuous fragrance perfect for evening. Its dark yet soft like velvet – I can’t imagine not wanting a full size of this.
Sandscape – Sun warmed beach sand, Atlantic ocean breezes, the saline-aquatic scent of drying sea water on skin, and the faintest hints of tanning oil and seaweed.
This smells like ever aquatic scented men’s body wash that has ever existed. It loses a little bit of the harsh edge after an hour or so. It’s not bad, just wasn’t what I was looking for out of this scent. I’m gonna be giving this to my husband to see if I like it any better on him.
Luminae – Softly alluring as candlelight. Luminae is designed to work in alchemy with feminine skin chemistry to create a luminescently sensual glow.
This scent seemed to be popular in the indie subreddit and I wanted to give it a try despite the not-at-all helpful description. Luminae is an incredibly warm and comfy vanilla scent. Very strong vanilla that easily overpowered for me any other notes that may have been trying to peak through. It wasn’t a very complex scent on my skin, which was a little disappointing, I like a lot of layers to my perfumes however, I found myself smelling my wrists all evening while I was wearing it. I would almost wear this to bed, that’s how cozy it is – not necessarily “sensual” for me. This scent also lasted forever.
Gaea – Forest loam under warm spring sunshine, new ferns poking up through decaying leaves, maple sap flowing over lichens, mosses and wet stones at the edge of a vernal pool.
The only notes I ever really got out of this were pine, maybe with some sort of barely there sweet or floral. This scent unfortunately only lasted a few hours on my skin. That being said, I did sort of like it, I just wish there was a little more complexity to it. It might be good to layer with one of the more vanilla scents. Very wintery.
Silken Tent – candied angelica, chrysanthemums, white flowering Nardo, clove flowers, jasmine-scented rice pudding, blonde caramel, infused with golden amber
This was an extra sample that Alkemia included based on my second choice scents. I wanted to try silken tent because it was one of the most common recommended scents to try from Alkemia on the Indie Makeup and More subreddit. It wasn’t one I would have initially picked because I was going for more woody scents with these samples. The caramel and florals come out quite strong on this one at the initial application – no, it’s definitely the rice pudding. Its a warm scent with a little bit of an edge. I would firmly put this as average. I sort of like it, but one of the notes that I can’t quite pick out continuously makes me cringe a little bit.
Bottom line, I will definitely order from this company again – more samples and at least one full size. Salome was definitely a standout favorite for me with Luminae coming in second. I was beyond please with my first perfume oil experience and I can easily see this becoming my newest addiction. If you purchase different samples from Alkemia, let me know what you tried and what you loved! (FYI, this post is not sponsored, all things purchased with my own money, all opinions are my own. I’m just an enthusiast!)