I am writing this article on a spooky, foggy night here in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s perfectly setting the scene for me to write about a spooky, witchy fragrance company! Double, double, toil and trouble, etc.
So, funny story. I initially pitched this story to Emily months ago, like in JUNE, and I am just now posting it! Listen, I do have a (flimsy) excuse for the delay. I requested samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab because you, our lovely readers, kept on talking about them. I had never used any of their fragrances before, and I was all dickhurt that some of you were raving about scents that I had never experienced. I’m sensitive!
So I sent Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab an aggressive and overbearing email hoping that they’d enlighten me on what makes their fragrances so good (read: send me some shit) and boy did they hook me up! I received a gigantic box full of fragrance oils! I needed a minute to really review all of them, you know? And then procrastinate for months.
Oh, and before I forget, Queen Lesley wrote about a selection of these fragrances before. Yaaaaas, Lesley!
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab describes itself better than I ever could by saying their scents run “the aesthetic gamut of magickal, pagan and mythological blends, Renaissance, Medieval and Victorian formulas, and horror/Gothic-themed scents.” Weird. But COOL. I always love a well thought out inspiration behind a scent, and a theme throughout a collection.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is the goth gang of the perfume world. I always wanted to be a member of the goth gang in high school, I just couldn’t get my hair right until way too late.
What makes this company so different is that all of their scents are fragrance oils, yo. All of our normal perfumes and colognes are made with oils, it’s just a matter of how much. Black Phoenix breaks down some of the normal percentages like this:
- Eau de cologne: 2 - 5% perfume oil.
- Eau de toilette: 4 - 10% perfume oil.
- Eau de parfum: 8 - 15% perfume oil.
That's why eau de parfums are more expensive than eau de toilettes, they're filled with more of that good shit.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s scents are somewhere between 15-80% perfume oil, and most of them fall more toward the higher end of that range. These are not for the faint of heart. I’m not really a fragrance oil type of guy myself, but I can’t deny that these scents are really lovely. The scents are heavier than your normal fragrances, which is probably part of the reason it took me so long to wade my way through these. Summer isn’t the best time for me to wear a fragrance oil, but fall and winter are the peeerrrfect seasons to play around with these.
SO LET’S PLAY! Here are my nine favorite scents by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab:
Snake Oil is a blend of Indonesian oils and vanilla. It’s equally as intensely spicy and earthy as it is sweet, thanks to the vanilla. This was the first one I tried and I really enjoyed it. Once it’s on your skin, it’s balanced through the entire wear.
Jazz Funeralis a tangy and bright mix of rum, bourbon, funeral flowers, magnolia, and moss. If you’re not a big fan of the darker, spicier scent, Jazz Funeral is great place to start because it’s a sophisticated blend of oils that isn’t overpowering and won’t weigh you down.
Bliss is the scent of pure milk chocolate, plain and simple. It’s so good it’s almost infuriating. If you close your eyes and smell it, you’ll be expecting a bowl of brownie batter in front of you when you open your eyes. It’s witchcraft, be warned. Buy it for your chocolate loving friends, and then change your mind and keep it for yourself.
From the Mad Tea Party Collection, The Cheshire Cat is equal parts tart and spicy with grapefruit (my fave), red currant, dark musk, chamomile, delphinium, and lavender. This is certainly one of the standouts of the bunch; it’s as playful and mysterious as the Cheshire cat himself. (Was that the most awful sentence you’ve ever read? It was great in my head, until I saw it typed out and was like NOPE. Also, I’ve always wanted to be the Cheshire Cat for Halloween so I could disappear when the party got lame and then just blame it on being “in character.” Am I salvaging this one at all? No? K, moving on.)
In my notes for Dorian, I scrawled “PLEASING, FAMILIAR” and I’m not exactly sure what I meant by "familiar" Familiar as in the stank of stale beer and my own whiskey breath at bar close? The smell of my man’s cologne on the sheets? My mom’s hair? WHO KNOWS? Next time, I’ll be more specif. But I have to imagine that by familiar I meant good, so that’s what we’ll go with.
Anyway, Dorian is a nice, uncomplicated blend of three pales musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.
When I tried Penitence, I noted it as being “not awful” so clearly my enthusiasm for the fragrance was just bubbling over. I like it a lot, but it’s not very me. It’s serving some real “Three Wise Men” realness as a blend of frankincense and myrrh. No room at the inn, motherfuckers! The best way I can describe it is like Snake Oil, minus the sweetness. If you like an earthy scent, then this is your fragrance
Next, we take a trip to Morocco, with Morocco! I find this scent to be all of the best things about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab combined into one fragrance. You’ll find a beautiful blend of Arabian spices, musk, carnation, red sandalwood, and cassia. It warm, with hints of both vanilla and chocolate.
Oh, and, get this, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab did a collaboration with "FRAGGLE ROCK," named for some of our favorite characters. [Note from Abby: OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!]
Red is totally immature and absolutely delicious.
Sweet red currant, cranberry, pink musk, and pink pepper all join together to smell exactly like a red gummy bear. It’s sweet, tart, tangy and delicious. Sophisticated in that it’s such well-balanced, delicious fragrance, Red is a fun addition to a very serious line. Oh, and remember that movie when Robin Williams saved a huge bag of red gummy bears for Jennifer Lopez?
And finally, The Book, a scent from their “ParaNorman” collaboration. This scent is made to smell like, you guessed it, a book!
But it’s so much better than that. It smells like an old library, complete with leather bindings, parchment, and a sweet boozy note from scotch or whatever people drank in libraries before we all bought tablets and stayed home. I thought the book was going to be dusty and too literal, but it’s actually a very delicious scent!'
Most of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents are priced at $17.40 for 5ml, while teeny sample vials of most of their scents are available for $4!
I know some of you guys love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, what are your favorite selections from them? Do you prefer fragrance oils over traditional perfumes?
Tynan is a witch on Twitter: @TynanBuck.