I’ve got a nice lengthy review for all of you today. I honestly don’t remember how I found this site. They don’t have a flagship store, their scents are mostly unknown [with the exception of a certain cult-following] and the site was, well…a bit hard to navigate. But leave it to me to put in hours and hours of my time to figure something out. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is owned by a woman named Beth who personally imagines these fragrances herself. She often bases the fragrance off of folklore, gods and goddesses, pagan icons, books, and old victorian recipes. All fragrances come in the form of oils, so rather than an alcohol-laden spray, you get an apothecary bottle of very pure, hand-mixed oils. The bottles look like this:
Of course there are slight variations in labels according to which line you have bought from. They are the same types of bottles you might buy incense oils in from head shops. However the lack of glamorous bottles should not be noted, as what they contain is worth the money. At $17.50 for a bottle from their normal lines, and around $23 for limited editions, it’s really a steal. The bottle lasts you forever, even as an everyday fragrance. However I don’t suggest buying the full size right away. For $4 you can buy an imp which is a small sample vial to try out the fragrance before you buy. The price is good, as each sample lasts 2-3 weeks with daily use. If you don’t like an imp, don’t toss it! Save them up and sell the ones you don’t like as a lot on ebay. Trust me, you’ll get back almost all of what you paid. I sold a pack of 9 imps for $25. That means I really only paid $1.20 for each vial, and a few of them were half-full! Because of BPAL’s following, you won’t have an issue finding someone to buy your unwanteds.
Now, for navigating their different lines. When you enter the shop, you’ll be brought to their home page. Go to the shop icon on the toolbar. Now you can choose which collection to shop from. I’ll give a quick summary of each line:
Shiny and new, limited edition, and beloved favorites are self-explanatory.
Imp’s Ears: Order from this section if you want a ready-made sample pack with themes lie citrus, vanilla, etc.
Aesop’s Fables: Themed around the infamous stories.
Ars Amatoria: An exploration of love, lust, desire, longing, and despair. Sultry, sexy scents.
Ars Draconis: A veritable den of draconic blends. All of these contain dragon’s blood resin.
Ars Moriendi: Scents of loss, grief, passage, and remembrance. Less depressing than it sounds. Gloomy florals, earthy, and dry scents.
Bewitching Brews: The most popular section. Contains many best sellers, large variation in types of scent. These aren’t specifically themed.
Conjure Bag: Scents inspired by authentic New Orleans voodoo recipes. If you want one from this section, you’ll have to look up the notes in each fragrance on the review site, BPAL madness.
Diabolus: A fiendish repository of glorious villainy: scents for monsters, fiends, malefactors, evildoers, rapscallions, and ne’er do wells. Contains a good variation of scents, along with the Black Phoenix signature scent.
Excolo: Gods and Goddesses. Lots of different scents.
Illyria: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s olfactory paean to Shakespeare’s body of work.
I’m going to stop there, as there are sooo many collections. But you get the idea by now. Don’t skip on checking out a collection, as each contains tons of different types of scents. You’ll find something you like in every one.
You also might have noticed [if you went to the site] that each fragrance contains a piece of art, writing, or poetry before each scent. That’s mostly just to get a feeling for what it was fashioned after, and each description can be found at the bottom of the writing. Some scents, however, do not contain a description. A lot of people are BPAL collectors, so these are mostly gold for them, a sort of mystery grab if you will. I suggest that if you really want one, find a review first. All scents at BPAL have a review on the site BPAL Madness. It works a little like the BPAL site, with scents contained in their collections. It’s a bit out of order, so try the search bar if you need to find a specific scent.
How to pick a scent
This one is a bit tough. Blindly buying fragrance is really difficult, especially when you haven’t got a hang of how the brand tends to describe scents. I’m going to give you a few tips for choosing a BPAL fragrance according to the contained notes.
If you are looking for a powdery scent look for:
Heliotrope, Rose, Lily, Orris/Iris, Musks, Mosses, Dried Flowers, Geraniums
If you want earthy fragrances look for:
Woods [especially cedars and firs] Saps, Resins, Dirt, Patchouli, Neroli, Frankincense, Myrrh, Tobaccos, Sandalwood, Leaves.
If you want gourmand fragrances:
Non-citrus fruits, wines, nuts, caramels, honeys, vanillas, rums, sugars, spices.
If you want fresh fragrances:
Citrus, rosemary, verbana, apple, bergamot, vetiver, mint, ginger, marine notes.
If you want deep/spicy fragrances:
Benzoin, tobaccos, leathers, spices, tonka bean, resins, alcohols, dark woods, opium, saffron, red musks.
Of course these are only hints at what a fragrance could smell like, being that different types of notes are often mixed. Beth often uses color descriptions to give you a better idea: a red musk is acidic and deep. White musk is clean and powder. Black opium is extremely dark and heady, red sandalwood is much more acidic than the floaty white sandalwood, etc.
Hopefully that helps a bit! I’m going to give a list of y favorites and a few I want to try as well! I’m into spicy/dark/gourmand fragrances so I like:
His scent is soft English leather, rosewood and tonka with a hint of incense, parchment and soft woods.
A delicious blend of bitter almond, vanilla, frankincense and heliotrope, with a drop of cinnamon.
Black palm, with cocoa, fig and shadowy wooded notes. [This is one of my absolute favorites]
Sea spray with an undercurrent of leather, Bay Rum, and salty, dry woods.[Unisex, but still more masculine than feminine]
Sugar cane, molasses, oak wood, and honey.
Five roses with soft jasmine, warmed by vanilla, fig, tonka bean and mahogany, spiced with a drop of coffee bean
Red musk, benzoin, caramel accord, golden honey, and spiced Moroccan unguents.
Bawdy plum with amaretto, burgundy wine and black currant.
Smoky rum and black tobacco with a whisper of steamy leather with a splash of crystalline chardonnay, layered over a sensual, sweet, and deceptively magnetic base of tonka. [Another all-time favorite]
Her scent is a bounty of golden honeyed almonds and a whisper of African and Middle Eastern spices.
A soft, sensual, luxuriant blend with a wicked bite: hazelnut, buttercream, honey mead, rum and sweet almond.
Bittersweet Mexican cocoa with rum, red wine, and a scent redolent of sacrificial blood.
His ofrenda contains coconut, tobacco and sweet, sugared rum.
Scents I want:
Black musk, blackened saffron, lemon peel, and vetiver draped over thick honey.
Deep cocoa laced with patchouli, leather armor, ritual incense, and a touch of Xochiquetzal’s flowers.
Fig milk, vanilla, orchid, and ylang ylang.
Champaca flower gilded with golden amber, Madagascar vanilla, Roman chamomile, and black nutmeg.
Wormwood essence, light mints, cardamom, anise, hyssop, and the barest hint of lemon embraced by white chocolate.
Dark chocolate and lush, creamy vanilla and the honey of the sweetest kiss smeared with the vital throb of husky clove, swollen red cherries, but darkened with the vampiric sensuality of vetiver, soporific poppy and blood red wine, and a skin-light pulse of feral musk.
Red musk, patchouli, ylang ylang and myrrh, surrounded by smoky cinnamon-dusted cacao.
Polished ebony, ho wood, apricot peel, patchouli-infused vanilla husk, Lebanese cedar, and vetiver.
Vanilla orchid, black amber, coffee bean, labdanum, champaca, and oudh.
Black tea, bergamot, red patchouli, peru balsam, and bourbon vanilla.
Green tea, tobacco absolute, and agarwood.
YEESH. This might be the longest post I’ve ever done! There you go folks, happy shopping : ]