In the past month or so I've started playing around with perfumery materials, starting "at the bottom" with fragrance oils from Rustic Escentuals. I deliberately did this knowing that these oils aren't really ideal for perfumes, but I wanted to get a sense of the differences between candle and soap fragrance oils, better fragrance oils and blends, and real essential oils, absolutes, Co2s, and aroma chemicals. This is my highly unscientific and fumbling attempt, and I admit it hasn't been easy, but it has been educational!

I put in an order to The Perfumer's Apprentice on August 13th for a variety of products as well as some roll on bottles and pipettes. My order shipped the next day and I received it on August 17th, all the way from California to Ohio. Excellent TAT! Everything was packaged securely-no leaks or bottle breakage. I like how clean and clear the labeling is for everything-it looks very professional, and, I don't know, lab-like? Like I need a white coat and some beakers and some funny plastic goggles to handle these materials. And they are serious, undiluted business, so that's not too far from the truth- they are potent so handle with care!

I bought three fragrance oils, which are very affordable at 3.50 for 15 ml. Whereas Rustic Escentuals fragrance oils were mostly stand-alone blends that probably work best in soaps and candles, these are single notes that ring more clear and authentic to me. It's hard to explain, but while a lot of the RE scents were really nice, some VERY nice indeed, they do have a sort of "soap and candle" vibe to them, but the PA scents seem more true to life and something I could wear on my skin- more perfumey, basically. The black tea and peony fragrance oils smell pretty much like their namesakes, but the dirt I found to be more impressionistic-quite warm and earthy and complex- not exactly dirt though.

I also bought a variety of pre-made accords, some of which have formulas linked, which is handy for knowing which aroma chemicals compose the blend. I also got some real rosewood,  galbanum and guaiacwood, as well as an aroma chemical, Iso E Super. This is everything I got:

Peony Fragrance Oil
Black Tea Fragrance Oil
Dirt Fragrance Oil
Iso E Super
Green Leaf Accord
Bois des Landes (woodland) essence
Marine and Ozone Accord
Honey (miel) essence
White Musk Key Accord
Galbanum (Turkey)
Guaiacwood (Paraguay)

The accords are all lovely- standouts include  Bois des Landes which is just this wonderful blend of forest elements- I get coniferous notes and greens, very fresh and deep and woodsy, but not too Christmas-y. The honey essence is actually more of a floral scent than I expected. It reminds me of the honey note that I think I've encountered in Sweet Anthem's scents, it's difficult to quantify how, exactly. But I just know it's not the super sweet, almost brown sugary honey layering note that I've tried from Alkemia. The Green Leaf accord is a punch in the face of bright, biting, almost peppery fresh leaves- it's the kind of green that Darling Clandestine is known for. I'm probably reaching for frames of reference here- I don't know what notes different indies use, of course- just the vibe that these are giving me.

Iso E Super is a large molecule aroma chemical- because of this some people may have trouble smelling it on cold sniff, but it's a pretty popular element in modern perfumes. It's kind of a "behind the scenes" ingredient that adds a diffusive, beautiful, cloud-like aura to scents. I can smell it clearly, however. It has a smooth, soft vanilla and cedar-woodsy scent. It does have a modern feel to it, like something you might smell pumped into certain popular young adult clothing stores. Try not to hold this against it, however, it's quite nice. If you want to spend a hefty chunk of change, you can smell it featured in Molecule 01, or, you know, you can just get some from PA and dilute it to no more than 21.4%, and have you own blend.

Galbanum is pretty much the most intensely real dirt scent I've ever smelled. It is precisely the scent of digging with bare hands into wet dirt and pulling out green things, roots and all. It's pungent, fresh, and earthy- pretty amazing stuff. Scents like this highlight for me the big difference between the genuine article and crafting fragrance oils. The latter certainly has a useful place, but the real thing just oozes potency and quality. They aren't ready to wear and need dilution at times to reveal their true nature, but the potential for greatness is obvious.

Guaiacwood befuddled me at first. It wasn't readily apparent to me when I bought it that guaiacwood is actually a semi-solid paste, and this kind of freaked me out when I saw the top of my vial had these fuzzy white thread things in it. I wrote a worried email to PA and someone got back to me within a couple hours assuring me that crystallization for this material is normal (not mold!) and that I can gently heat to melt. So I used a double boiler to melt the contents, then diluted a portion of it to 10% in fractionated coconut oil in a separate vial for future use. It has a fascinating smoky scent, almost BBQ but not quite. Definitely savory and woodsy- I can imagine lots of uses for this! 

don't be alarmed!

I also bought some 5ml roller ball bottles and mini pipettes, which seem to be of good quality. I'm doing this by drops right now but maybe someday I'll get a digital scale so I can be more precise.

I highly recommend trying Perfumer's Apprentice if you are interested in DIY fragrance, or just want to get your hands on materials to learn more about them and appreciate them in your favorite scents. I was very happy with the TAT, packaging, the customer service I received from my proudct question, and the quality is outstanding. Prices are very reasonable, fragrance oils are all $3.50 for 15 ml, and the other items have a variety of sizes/price points, but there are plenty of accords, aroma chemicals, and even essential oils that start at around $3.00 for 4 ml. I am already plotting another order with some autumnal sounding ingredients so I can dabble with some gourmands and earthy fall scents!

If you have any questions about these please leave me a comment!

The forecast in my area today calls for a sunny 80 degrees, but here I am sitting with my Sixteen92 fall and Halloween 2015 Circle subscription samples. I'm not quite in fall mode yet (though that could happen any day now), so I feel like I can be somewhat objective about these, not yet sucked in by the promise of corn mazes, apple cider, chilly rain, and pumpkin all-the-things. 

In Part 1 today,  we have the Fall 2015 collection!

Bela Lugosi's Dead

night black clove bud, tobacco absolute, smoked benzoin resin, flame

This one is intense! Spicy-sweet with clove at first, with warm, almost syrupy hints of tobacco trailing not far behind. At the base there is a sense of smoke, of something gently smoldering. This is a scent I like a lot, but I think I prefer it on G, and he immediately took a liking to it as well. This has a similar vibe to Salem, minus the damp leaves and leather. 

(Every Day Is ) Halloween

an overflowing candy pail, the crunch of leather boots on fallen leaves, cold stones, damp air, and a wisp of bonfire smoke

This reminds me a lot of Grimm, with cocoa and earthy, damp notes. I'm not sure what kind of candy is supposed to be in the pail, but it smells like cocoa to me. There is a hint of wet, decaying organic matter that smells a little pungent and rotting, not necessarily in a bad way, but it is unnerving. Not as light-hearted as it sounds, this is more atmospheric. Like trick-or-treating on a dark, lonely street where you are the only one left out on the road, stealing nervous glances towards the shadows. I like this scent best when I catch little wafts of it floating around me, less so when I huff directly from my wrist.

Last Exit for the Lost

orchard apples, woven wood baskets, dried hay, distant chimney smoke on cool air

Apples! Lots of apples. Bushels of them, with hints of earthy, scratchy hay and very soft tendrils of smoke. This is a decidedly non-spicy apple. No apple pie or anything like that. These are fresh, raw and piled high in their baskets. Cooler, with suggestions of Cellar from Solstice Scents without the chill of the stone foundation. I like this on cold sniff much more with the apples being more prominent, but once it dries down the smoke and hay notes, it become kind of dull and nondescript to my nose, vaguely boring. I think I've encountered the same phenomenon with some other fruity scents from Sixteen92- Raven from last fall coming to mind, the Orchard Keeper from this spring. Shadow Show continues to be a favorite, however, so it may not be a trend but rather just a curious coincidence.

Lucretia, My Reflection

orris root, immortelle, white sandalwood, blackened vanilla, star anise

This smells like soft, powdery, muted anise at first with pale woodsy notes. As it dries down I get something very faintly warm and sweet. I've read that immortelle can smell honeyed, hay-like, even musky, so maybe that's what I'm smelling. It ends up as a comforting skin-scent with virtually no anise that I can detect. It's pretty and different from the others. Makes me think of a melancholy Victorian gentleman visiting the crypt of his long lost love, a la Ulalume.


Creamed pumpkin, spiced bourbon & Tahitian vanillas, sticky marshmallow fluff

Yummy! This is a creamier, boozier pumpkin than in the Anniversary scent Masquerade Party, which actually smelled kind of smoky on me. That one reminded me of a Haus of Gloi custom I made a while back with woodsmoke, caramel, pumpkin, and marshmallow. I used way too much woodsmoke in it and while I liked the smell, it wasn't really wearable for me as a perfume. But I digress...Spellbound is sweeter, it does have a sort of scented candle vibe, but that's not a problem for me, as this is delish. It fades to a pleasant, gooey marshmallow scent. It doesn't last much more than two hours on me, at best. But, all in all, it's a solid choice for those wanting to jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon this fall. There might be others out there with better longevity though.

I liked this collection well enough, but none of them really stood out to me as potential full size buys. I found the Halloween Collection to be more compelling for me, and I am tempted by a couple of those. Reviewing those soon!

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