Geek Chic: Indie Perfumes That Won't Break The Bank

College student expenses + brand name fragrances = negative bank accounts. There has to be a solution.

I love perfumes. There's just one thing: The price tag. The hefty costs of many of my favorite scents are not compatible with my college student budget. After throwing down thousands on tuition, room and board, and tossing a couple hundred more toward the bookstore for textbooks, there isn't much left to play with. What's an olfactory-enamored undergrad to do?

That's where indie makeup companies work their magic, like my favorite, Geek Chic Cosmetics. Their scent sticks--ideal for tossing into a backpack on the go--are alcohol-free, vegan, and, best of all, only $3.49 each.

Each stick is made of candelilla wax and several carrier oils (coconut, grape seed, apricot kernel, avocado), so they melt and swipe easily upon skin contact. The scents have good carrying power, especially if applied to pulse points, and last for about six hours.

My favorite part, however, is their wide variety of scents. From sugar-and-honey carnival food-inspired aromas to masculine scents infused with the deep green of a forest, there's something for everyone.

Daisy

Daisy is inspired by an elf mage named Merrill in the video game series Dragon Age. I don't know anything about the game, but I do know that I love this perfume. In the tube, it smells distinctly, delicately floral, almost like flowers made of tissue paper. When first applied, the flowers and a soft musk dominate, but they settle into equilibrium with raspberry notes. The musk wears away first, leaving a very girly mixture of sweet raspberry and light florals behind.

Frisky Pirate

Another scent from the Dragon Age collection, this one's inspired by a brazen sea pirate captain, scented very strongly of sea salt and musk. If it had a texture, it would be "sharp." But when applied to the skin, it transforms into a very nice spiced leather scent, wearing away to a mixture that feels like fresh leather, spiced apple cider, and warm vanilla. This was initially my least favorite scent, but after wearing it for a couple of hours the spice grew on me, like a pumpkin spice latte.

Pandorable

This one walks the line between earthy and delicate, applying fresh out of the tube very lightly fruity, with grapefruit and cherry blossoms, but quickly giving way to heavier apple, pumpkin, and ginger. As it wears, the heavy scents fade faster, leaving a spiced fruity scent behind, like ginger-dusted citrus.

Queen of Shades

Queen of Shades is the scent I wear when I need to feel mature. It's a powerful scent inspired by Persephone, so its main note is pomegranate, with some queenly roses woven in. The tart fruitiness is well balanced by the delicacy of the roses, combining for a delicate yet heavy scent that's both earthy and feminine. If red was a scent, it would be this: deep, sultry, and fit for a queen.

Wuv, Twue Wuv

If Queen of Shades is red, Wuv, Twue Wuv (named for the famously lisped wedding speech in The Princess Bride) is a bright and sweet pink, like puppy love bottled up. The fruits dominate when first applied, mixing the lush sweetness of melon and cherry with the natural acidity of raspberry, but it fades to a more equal mix of fruity and floral. Its lasting notes are a mix of sweet and sour that smells like fresh-cut flowers. This one is the most youthful, reminiscent of candy-colored Bath and Body Works spray-ons applied liberally between first and second period in the hallway. But (slightly) more mature.

  • Do you shop indie? Tell me your favorite brands in the comments!
  • How do you cope with limited means when your shopping senses are telling you otherwise?