I won't call this a First Impressions post since I've purchased from Etsy perfumery Alkemia several times already. I figured it was time I gave this brand a proper write up!

Alkemia is great for sampling, you can get a five perfume sampler for just ten dollars, and shipping for those is quite low or free in the United States. Orders also come with a free sample, and the owner of Alkemia, Sharra, does a fantastic job of choosing free samples based on what you ordered and what she thinks you might like. I've gotten several free samples that I liked better than the scents I actually purchased!

Alkemia uses gorgeous classic artwork for their product listings which aptly represent the scents they're associated with, which I found appealing when choosing to try them initially. The scents also strike me sometimes as more impressionistic than other brands I've tried, at times more traditionally perfume-y (though she does some excellent literal scents too, see County Fair). Sometimes it's hard (at least for me!) to discern individual notes, they're so well blended. There are some scents where the note listings leave me coming up totally blank; I have no idea what the notes will smell like together. Several times I've associated Alkemia scents with more mainstream scents; luckily they've always been favorable associations for me. Not to say they are anywhere near exact matches, but my relatively inexperienced nose makes sense of scents (ha) when it pops into my head that "hey, this reminds me of such and such." Sometimes I will look them up to compare notes, and there are a few similarities, but other times they don't have anything in common so I have no idea why I get those impressions.  

Shipping has been consistently prompt and reliable, my orders seem to go out within a day or so of ordering and I get them a few days later. Prices are also extremely reasonable. All 5 ML full sizes are $12.00, or you can purchase three for $30.00. You can also choose two free samples with full size orders.

Sample orders come with labels affixed and each scent has it's own font. Full sizes have
a standardized gold label with the name printed on it. The only downside I've found is the sample vial caps are quite tight, and especially with my first order they were even painful to wriggle on and off. Subsequent orders the caps have not been that tight, but still snug. For me, it becomes a little messy getting the caps on and off, and the oil tends to start leaking over the sides of the vial, soaking the labels over time. The gold color of the full size label smudges really easily too when in contact with oil, so I covered mine with tape to preserve it. Sharra posted on Facebook though that she is willing to send replacement labels if you leave her a note in the order comments, which is a really nice gesture!

Here is my most recent order:




I got samples of County Fair, Antares, Dalliance, Tronada, Neroli XXIII, perfume fixative, and a full size of Tryst of Grey. I really lucked out (or maybe my wallet hasn't!) on this order, because there are several of these I want in a full size. A couple of my past sample orders were more misses than hits, or if they were not clear misses, at least left me feeling ambivalent. But that is the whole point of sampling, of course, and it's always a pleasure to try these.

Neroli XXIII

including - neroli (orange blossom), wild bergamot, mandarin, french lavender, lemon myrtle, rosemary, petitgrain, marigold, Sambac jasmine, parchment paper, amber santal, angelica root, palmarosa, tonka, and rosewood

This is one of those impressionist paintings in scent- hazy, fleeting shapes and colors, making sense when viewed as a whole but nearly impossible to break down into its smaller elements. This one is especially complex, incorporating, so the description states "23 precious essences" , 23 being a supremely lucky number in numerology. I can say I felt pretty lucky when I tried this, it's beautiful. I sampled it mostly because of the focus on neroli and bergamot, which I have been loving as notes lately. I honestly can't even begin to analyze this one properly. There's too much in there. It's light, sophisticated, warm, refined. It's got this warm, summery, clean-skin quality that reminds me of going to the waterpark as a child and swimming all day long, how it made whatever soap and shampoo my mom packed in the beach bag smelled exponentially better when taking a cold, refreshing shower in the locker room. I get a hit of the orange blossom in the beginning but then it just sort of coalesces into a big puddle of glorious, sunshiney prettiness. Helpful, huh? It smells like it should definitely be more expensive than it is. Possibly my favorite after Tryst of Grey, which was my first full size purchase (also orange blossom-laden).

Antares

Queen of the Night, Dried Wild Roses, Mandarin, Nicotania, Oakmosses, Cactus, Juniper, Acacia buds, Fir Resin, Clary Sage, Cedar Needles, Labdanum, Guaiac Wood, Germander, and White Patchouli lightly bathed in dewy Water Musk.

 
Another win for me. This is a surprisingly light, cool-toned scent, also very delicate, sweet, demure, even. Don't let the inclusion of patchouli scare you off; it doesn't smell like it at all, at least not in any traditional incarnation I've smelled. It's not readily identifiable. It just has a sort of white, airy, slightly fruity sweetness to it. In fact, it reminds me of Miss Dior Cherie. I had a sample of that a few years back and really liked it and as soon as I smelled Antares my mind flashed on that scent. So if you've tried that one and liked it, Antares might be worth a sniff.



Dalliance

Dalliance is a delightfully unique summer blend of garden fresh English cucumbers, barely ripened figs, iced black Pekoe tea, and cool aquatics. 

I'm usually not a huge fan of cucumber, but this scent with features a prominent amount of it at initial application is actually pretty nice. It reminds me a little of What Mandy Makes, a Darling Clandestine scent that also has a strong cucumber note at first, but after that they diverge. Dalliance dries down to a light, watery floral-tea scent, and the scent description mentions it is especially good for hot weather, and I'd agree with that assessment. It's not overpowering or overbearing at all. I like it and will finish my sample but I don't think I have to have a full size.

County Fair

The nostalgic scent of an old-fashioned American carnival midway - pink cotton candy, hot kettle corn, freshly fried dough, candied apples, and saltwater taffy.


I bought this mostly on a whim, as a mere novelty. I expected to find it ghastly and treacly, a veritable sugarbomb. An indeed, this is quite sweet, but it appeals to me, too. It reminds me of those kiosks at the mall that sell huge vats of multi-colored popcorn. Sweet, and sort of savory, nutty, and warm at the same time. I get a hint of chocolate too. The dry down I could see being compared to something like Pink Sugar. I don't really care for that scent, but County Fair takes that super sweet, spun-sugar goodness and adds a depth and warmth to it that is much more palatable to me. I am shocked at how much I like this.


Tronada

An homage to the Gods of Thunder - the scent of crackling ozone and wildly lashing rain tearing across a summer night.

This is a pretty traditional, masculine cologne scent. I'm all for unisex scents and have loved plenty that could be interpreted either way, but this one leans iconically male. I sort of expected a more literal thunderstorm scent-ozonic, watery, maybe a bit earthy. But this feels more like a general impression. It is a little dark and tumultuous, but doesn't really scream thunderstorm at me, except perhaps in the very bottom of the dry-down, where it does seem a little more rain-inspired. It actually reminds me of something my dad might wear, and that's not exactly the look I'm going for! It's not bad at all and it's actually sort of comforting, but I was hoping for a more literal scent here.
 (On a funny aside, I was sampling this scent as I've been writing this and I managed to tip the vial over and spill half of it on my pants. I am now sitting in a cloud of Tronada, whether I like it or not!)

Perfume Fixative

I'm only reviewing this because it is not an odorless fixative. It has a fairly strong, yet not really unpleasant, minty-medicinal scent to it. It seems like it should really clash with whatever you pair it with, but I haven't noticed any problems, as the medicinal scent dissipates quickly. I have used it mostly with Neroli XXIII to great effect. It seems to help a lot with longevity and helps that one in particular with sillage. I definitely want a full bottle so I can try it with other scents.

I'm pretty excited about Alkemia since I've found several scents that I want full sizes of, and I'm slowly getting a sense of what will/won't work for me. This is definitely a brand to watch!



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