Friday, March 29, 2013

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Why You Should Try Out Indie Perfumes

There are a whole lot of indie markets out there for countless products. It's easy to buy indie makeup, indie nail polish, indie-published books, even. But what a lot of people don't even realize exists is one of the most burgeoning and lively indie markets out there: the indie perfume business!

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, an online indie perfumery, is one such business. BPAL is vegan-friendly, hand-made, and tested only on any willing participants. (believe me, there are always willing BPAL testers!) What makes BPAL so wonderful is its huge and varied customer base. They host a web forum with over 16,000 members and are always on the lookout for more ways they can improve their products and please their fans.

A little resistance can come into play when discussing indie perfumes, however. The price point can be a bit of a sore spot for a lot of people (a "general catalog" BPAL, one that is not a special edition, rings up at $16 a pop, plus shipping starting at around $7 depending on how many bottles you are buying). However, when you consider the fact that your perfume is made by hand and is unique, you really are buying something special. The perfumes come in glass 5 mL bottles, and can be decanted into roller bottles, applied with Q-tips or special caps for purchase with glass rods in them called wand caps (my personal favorite). Others still like to tilt the bottle so that the perfume gets on the inside of the lid, and daub that onto their pulse points. The bottles make a great conversation piece anywhere in your home, and are addictive little sons of guns. (Many people collect the empty bottles and display them just for the bottle art!)

An example of some BPAL bottles, courtesy of
Mass-marketed perfumes are often made with alcohols, which seep into your skin and leave the sort of medicinal smell you can often catch behind the fragrance of someone wearing a mass-market perfume. BPAL and other indie perfumers don't use alcohol in their perfume, leaving you with a scent that is purely driven by its ingredients and is - even better! - unique-smelling on you. I have had friends wear the exact same blend as me, and neither of us smells the same. On me, it might smell wonderful, but on a friend, awful. That's the beauty of an indie perfume, and why it's so wonderful to explore.

As many of you might know, I am a fairly frugal shopper. I don't often spend my money on things unless I can seriously justify their cost, and because of this I'm sure many of you are wondering why on earth I am endorsing a product so expensive. It can easily be explained like so: taking the time to do something great for yourself can be worth every penny. I wear drugstore makeup and don't use expensive bath products: my splurges are generally nail polish and sometimes perfumes. I can have a hard day at work, daub on some of my favorite BPAL, and feel the calm seeping into my skin. I'd rather spend $16 on a bottle of perfume I will wear again and again (and really, these bottles last forever) than $30 on a giant bottle of something I know at least 2 other women in my office are wearing.

I'll come back later to highlight the scents of some of my most favorite BPAL blends, along with my #1 favorite, but I wanted to put up a general post about my most favorite perfumery out there, because despite its overwhelming web presence, BPAL can never get enough love.


  1. The first BPAL scent I bought was in September 2011 - Night Gaunt - and have been hooked on this company since! I've had people at work ask me what I am wearing and always share the company name! BPAL scents are not only far more affordable (pennies, actually, compared to a .5 ml bottle of Chanel #5 or Shalimar - neither of which I like!)but have a story and personality of their own (as in the stories and descriptions each one has on the BPAL site). Chances are I won't buy or wear any non-BPAL perfume ever again!

  2. You forgot to mention the incredibly personal and caring customer service they provide, their interaction with fans on Facebook and the BPAL forum, and the free samples, post cards and other surprises they generously bestow!

  3. I really don't like most commercial scents, but the ones at BPAL really grabbed my attention. I first tried Mouse's Long and Sad Tale, and it was odd in a very good way. It was a soft kind of scent that made you want to nuzzle it (seriously it smells warm and fuzzy on skin). I have found scents there that seem so specified that they can actually trigger memory scents. I plan to have a whole annual assortment for the months to come soon.

  4. The scents are also gender-neutral, so my husband and I can wear the same scent (Dracul, for instance -Named in honor of Vlad III, Tepes, of the Order of the Dragon. Black musk, tobacco, fir, balsam of peru, cumin, bitter clove, crushed mint, and orange blossom) and it will smell completely different on each of us based on our body chemistry. If you are used to wearing commercial scents, even high-end expensive scents, it may take a while to "train your nose" while you learn about the different notes, accords, and essential oils and figure out what works for you and what doesn't. But you can also learn about everything from literature, art, and far-flung places to Fraggle Rock, since each scent has an inspirational basis. You can even buy samples (called imps)while you are learning. Once you find your favorite(s) you will be hooked! By the way, I get compliments all the time not only from coworkers and loved ones but also from total strangers whenever I wear Snake Oil (By far, our most popular scent! Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.)

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