I made an awesome score with my accumulated Birchbox points last week everyone! Check it out!

Birchbox recently released two limited edition boxes from the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Insiders' Choice Beauty Awards- one for drugstore items, the other prestige. The "Mass Appeal" box is $15.00, the "Prestige Headliners" box is $18.00, but it makes most sense to buy both at a discount, $28.00. It's totally worth that and more, but I had 30 dollars in points racked up, so yay for free!

The drugstore box contains mostly full size items!

Burt’s Bees® Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands – Full size
Cetaphil® Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths – 10-Pack
LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask – Sample size
Olay™ Regenerist Luminous Dark Circle Correcting HydraSwirl™ Eye Cream – Full size
Rimmel Scandaleyes Rockin' Curves – Full size
Simple® Skincare Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer – Full size

So far I have tried the sleeping mask which smells lovely and applies like a gel moisturizer, and the eye cream, which has pearlescent blurring qualities which helps conceal dark circles and it also seems to be a nice under-eye moisturizer too. The lip crayon is an earthy mauve shade, a little light on me, but a nice, subtle everyday color.

I was really excited for the Prestige box as I love Marula oil, but it is pricey. The sample size included is more of a generous mini, and the orifice reducer is tiny, so you won't be able to waste a lot. It will last me a month or more of daily use, I'm sure.

The box includes:

I really like full size Nudestix in Ripe, which is a warm coral that leans orange. It's super creamy and can be used for both lips and cheeks. The Fekkai hair fragrance is pleasant if a little pointless to me- it smells like Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar, but it fades really quickly after applying. Haven't noticed anything by way of increased shine or reduced static, but maybe come winter when my hair gets staticky I will try it again.

Here's a swatch of the two lip products- the Nudestix is my favorite by far, as I'm a sucker for coral, even if it's a little orange. 

Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands and Nudestix Ripe

I love these Limited Edition boxes- it gives me a chance to try a variety of new and popular products, and you can't beat the Birchbox Point System!

Well. I've really done it.
I've been a DIY fool this year, trying a lot more projects and exploring techniques I've been completely clueless about without fear of potentially disastrous results, and now I've gone and opened a new Pandora's Box: venturing into a little DIY perfume blending. 

I guess most of my interest resides in exploring single notes so I can gain a better appreciation and understanding of the perfumes I buy and love from my favorite sellers. It's kind of like hearing a beautiful piece of music or reading a great novel, but not knowing how that piece was composed, the language that was used. Learning the building blocks, being able to recognize them when they appear and how they interact with others, has always been an object of my fascination and wonder. And my wide-eyed worship of the masters who harness this gift so effortlessly.

But. BUT. It's a big, complex perfume world out there, and it can be a pretty pricey hobby. So, I decided to basically start from the bottom and move my way up regarding materials. My first DIY scent purchase was from Rustic Escentuals. They have a wide variety of crafting materials: scents, bases, pigments, containers, etc. Tutorials on making your own soap, candles, bath bombs, lip balms, body oil and a gazillion other things. For a complete newbie like me, I literally wanted to be able to play. To simply get a feel for using pipettes to transfer oils, how to compose something basic with base, middle, and top notes, how to dilute with carrier oil or perfumer's alcohol. And I wanted to do so without fear of wasting a fortune on a few drops of precious essentials oils or absolutes. This was where I started- fragrance oils. 

Rustic Escentuals has a large selection of scents, some are skin safe, others are just for home fragrances and non-topical purposes. Each scent on their website is labeled as such and with any applicable limits on concentrations,

There are definitely some pros and cons to these types of fragrance oils. 

First, some pros. 

1. They are cheap
2. You can get "fantasy" scents that would be difficult to reconstruct or find in nature.
3. They smell pretty much like their names, so they are predictable and easy to work with.

And some cons:

1. There aren't any ingredient lists, so you have no idea what's in them. If you make something amazing and want it always and forever, and then the oil is discontinued, you will be SOL. 
2. Quality can vary. Sometimes they will smell wonderful and complex, other times it will be obvious they are better suited to candles or soaps rather than the delicate nuances of perfume.

I purchased from Rustic Escentuals during their annual "Scent Event." This is when all of their fragrance oils sell for ONE DOLLAR. You read that right- one ounce of fragrance oil for one dollar. You have to buy increments of 20- but that is a huge, huge savings. And for someone just dipping her toe into the shallow end of the baby pool, it was an irresistible deal. Even if the scents turned out awful for perfume, there was so much else I could do with them if the desire ever arose. Plus, they have what seems like excellent prices on bases- I got a full 16 ounces of fractionated coconut oil for $6.95,  6 ounces of perfumer's base for $6.00, and 16 ounces of moisturizing body spray base for $4.50. I also bought 4 PET spray bottles for ,79 cents each. Shipping was around $14 from South Carolina to Ohio.

For my selection of scents, I got mostly "fantasy" blends or notes that I couldn't get elsewhere; cotton candy, bonfire bliss, falling leaves, salted caramel popcorn, etc. I did get Sandalwood and Neroli FO just so when I try the real thing down the road, I will be able to perhaps better appreciate the differences between them.

Here are my little soldiers, all lined up and ready for duty:

I ordered right when the Scent Event started on July 24th, and despite this being a big sale, my order shipped the next day and I received it on July 29th. Packaging was sturdy, boxed in biodegradable packing peanuts. The oils were divided among 4 plastic baggies and all the bases were in Ziplocs too.

You get to choose a free sample with every $25 dollars you order- I would recommend doing a scent sample- I asked for scent strips as I didn't have any, and hoped I would get at least a few. Nope, just one scent strip, which seemed rather sad and pathetic in a baggie all by itself. There was also a minuscule lip gloss sample. I did get a pen and some candy, which was a nice touch.

Now, there are 20 scents I got, so I'm going to be brutally brief with these descriptions. I chose only body safe scents without any special restrictions on usage, just to make things easier on myself. Still, they can't be applied neat, so these impressions are all from cold sniff.

Bonfire Bliss: Lovely scent for fall, earthy and just a faint hint of smoke. I could do something with this. It's smoke lite- nothing to be afraid of here.

Falling Leaves: Warm, crunchy leaf scent- would blend nicely with Bonfire Bliss.

Cotton Candy: Not bad- more of a "fruity" cotton candy than I'd like. Not quite a Pink Sugar scent either. 

Funnel Cake: Baked goods. Delicious and sweet but missing the doughy, fatty nuances of something fried.

Hawaiian Sandalwood: soft, musky, gentle wood scent. Going to use this as a base note for a blend of salty sea air, Bahama coconut, and neroli. I like this a lot, but still, I suspect if I smelled the real thing this would pale in comparison.

Salted Caramel Popcorn: I get salt and caramel and a general rich, sweet, sticky smell, not much popcorn. Maybe this would bloom more when diluted or in other applications.

Neroli: Warm green floral, not bitter or super orange-y, Very potent, this could overwhelm if not used sparingly. It's beautiful, but again, I imagine the real thing is even better.

Oak Barrel Cider: I'm not ready for fall yet. Or am I? Love this. Not a generic apple cinnamon scent, it's more woodsy and fresh. More like Haus of Gloi's Olde Cider Haus.

Salt Water Taffy: VERY sweet. And very fruity- oranges and strawberries and vanilla. I wish this was more of a chewy vanilla taffy than all the fruit.

Salty Sea Air: Good all purpose, clean, fresh ocean breeze scent with a hint of saltiness. Probably nice for spa-type blends.

Clean Green: Having tried lots of deep, dark, dank, mossy, earthy scents- this is child's play. Simple, inoffensive- but maybe nice blended with Salty Sea Air, White Tea, Cool Citrus Basil?

Whipped Cream: Like it, good for adding some general, not-overbearing sweetness.

White Tea: Maybe I haven't tried white tea as a single note before- this smells a lot like peach to me. Peach with maybe some tea underneath. Not my favorite, but maybe okay blended with other things.

Bahama Coconut: Solid, summery, beachy coconut. Like it!

Cool Citrus Basil: This is a great dupe of the discontinued Bath and Body Works version. I have an old bottle of the latter and the Rustic Escentuals one is spot on. It's cool, citrus, and herbal. That's it. 

Lemon Pound Cake: This may need some dilution to shine, as there's something about this one I don't like on cold sniff. It's got a chemical harshness to it, and having smelled so many lovely lemon cake scents before (Beguiled, anyone?)- this one rings jarringly hollow. This one has a high vanillin content and is very dark in color compared to the others.

Coffee House: Yum. This is rich, roasty and nutty, not much bitterness. I want to try a real coffee EO or Co2 to compare though.

Rosewood and Musk: Pretty! I want to get a Rosewood EO to compare, but this blend is very soft and subtle and could be a nice grounding base that isn't heavy. Love this.

Sweet Pumpkin:Yumm-o. This reminds me of pumpkin donut holes I had last fall- heavier on the pumpkin and baked goods, with fewer intrusive and overpowering spices. Coffee House and Sweet Pumpkin: instant Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Red Maple Leaf: Awesome fall blend- there's a lot going on in this- some earthiness, woodsiness, spiciness, autumn breezes- that sort of vibe. Would go nicely with any of the fall scents I got.

WHEW! Even with a few that weren't ideal for me, I now have a formidable collection of goodies that will be lots of fun to play around with, not to mention all the bases. With these I can get a feel for blending risk-free, and I think it will be very educational to then try real EOs, better fragrance oils, and aroma chemicals. I'm looking at samples from Eden Botanicals and fragrance oils, essential oils, and aroma chemicals from The Perfumer's Apprentice. Excited to explore more!

I found a blog just yesterday that I've been quickly devouring:I Dream of Perfume. It's an excellent resource for the beginning perfumer, covering all the basics, plain-spoken and well-organized, with lots of recipes and note comparisons.Very helpful! And also Su from My Perfume Diaries (miss her posts!) has a great intro to Iso E Super, an aroma molecule that I think I have to try. So much research to do!

Has anyone else attempted making their own blends? How did it work out?


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