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  1. #1

    Post "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    While reading Mandy Aftel's book I came across this beginner's kit from Perfumer's Apprentice, which stated, "Our natural kits are meant as a companion to this book". Perfect! I thought. The kit is a decent price, for good quality materials, and is less intimidating than other kits I've seen. However, it is not as companion-y as I believed. If you are considering buying this kit, be sure to read the book and recipes first, to get an idea of the materials you need, because you may need to make some additional purchases.

    Here is Mandy's beginner's recipe for the perfume she's named"Alchemy"

    Base:
    • 15ml perfume alcohol (kit did not contain, it has FCO instead. Works well enough for me)
    • 8 drops vanilla (kit didn't have, I used a vanilla bean accord I had on hand instead)
    • 5 drops benzoin
    • 6 drops amber (kit didn't have, I used a white amber that I had)

    Heart:
    • 10 drops rose abs (kit didn't have, I used some "rose essence" that I had from eden botanicals. not a very strong rose smell fyi)
    • 7 drops jasmine abs (kit didn't have, used bitter orange instead because I didn't have any other florals)
    • 3 drops ylang ylang extra (the kit had ylang ylang but didn't say 'extra')

    Top:
    • 10 drops bergamot
    • 6 drops bitter orange
    • 2 drops black pepper (kit didn't have, used their rosewood instead on a whim)



    After creating the base, then adding the heart, and the top, I mixed it all up in a beaker which also did not come in the kit. Fortunately I had enough foresight to buy some small beakers off of amazon a few days earlier, otherwise, I'm not sure what you'd mix things with.

    My first impressions of the perfume were that it pretty much smelled like an orange creamsicle, likely because of the extra orange I added. It was pleasant enough but I felt like it needed a little something extra. The orange smells really nice and mellows out after about 30 mins. after about 2-3 hours there is hardly any smell left on my wrist

    It would have also been nice if the kit had bigger bottles so you could fit all of your resulting perfume into one, instead of having to spread it out over the multiple 4/5ml bottles that came with it. Also, no labels -- I had thought of that before, too, though -- whew! It did come with pipettes and scent strips, which were handy as well. I'm already re-ordering pipettes (off amazon) because I went through uh a lot.

    Now I think it's supposed to "cure" for a couple weeks, so we'll see how it changes. As I've been reading around online, though, it seems like people mix the oils together first, let that cure for a few days or weeks, THEN they add the carrier and let THAT cure for a few weeks more? Now I'm wondering if I messed up by adding in the FCO with the base, but I was following Aftel's directions. Hmm.

    Also, my perfume ended up cloudy. Not sure why.

    The next night (last night) I decided to try some of her suggested variations! If you're curious, here's what I tried:
    Base: (used her "Sultry variation")
    • 15ml FCO
    • 8 drops vanilla bean accord (mine)
    • 5 drops peru balsam (kit's)
    • 6 drops oakmoss abs 10% tincture (kit's)
    • goodness.. the oakmoss actually smelled really unpleasant to me while the peru balam was quite good. I kept going, hoping that the oakmoss would settle down after a while)

    Heart: (I wanted to try her Classic or Exotic chords but the kit didn't come with the ingredients for those so I had to mix and mash various things together. Ex: the "classic" chord called for rose, jasmine, and neroli. So I just kinda picked from what I had and hoped for the best)
    • 8 drops rose essence (mine)
    • 7 drops geranium (kit's)
    • 3 drops ylang ylang (kit's)

    Top: (again her "other top chords to try" didn't match what I had available so I had to guess, and even leave out stuff because I just didn't know what to do. I wanted to try the "flowery" top chord of lavender, grapefruit, and rosewood but the kit didn't come with grapefruit, and I didn't know what to replace it with other than orange and I didn't want another orangey perfume so I added one drop of lime instead since it was pretty strong)
    • 10 drops lavender (kit's)
    • 1 drop lime (kit's)
    • 2 drops rosewood (kit's)


    This one came out... weird. Maybe it's the oakmoss? It's really hard to describe. It feel like I ought to like it but there's just something in there that isn't sitting right, and I can tell that it needs more of a top note going on. Maybe that will be better after curing, too?

    So, those are the first two perfume's I've ever made! Woo!

    I plan on trying some more things next, meanwhile I've ordered some rose, jasmine, and vanilla from camden grey (EOs and FOs to compare) to help fill in the gaps. The vanilla accord from PA was much too mild, I think, and the vanilla frag oil was wayy too artificial smelling for me.

    If you're just starting out and are going to use this kit with the book, double check the recipes in the book and make sure you have all of what you need, and make sure you get some 15/30ml beakers, small labels, perhaps bigger bottles (20ml), alcohol and spray caps if you want to make sprays, and extra pipettes wouldn't hurt either!

  2. #2
    Basenotes Junkie
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    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    I thought her amber was an accord of benzoin, labdanum, and vanilla that she specified in the beginning of her formula?

  3. #3

    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Toujours Mink View Post
    I thought her amber was an accord of benzoin, labdanum, and vanilla that she specified in the beginning of her formula?
    It is! But the kit didn't come with labdanum or vanilla - I had my own vanilla from a previous purchase, but no labdanum at all.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    Quote Originally Posted by alleria View Post
    It is! But the kit didn't come with labdanum or vanilla - I had my own vanilla from a previous purchase, but no labdanum at all.
    Ok, I understand. That must have been frustrating, not to get what you thought you should have!

  5. #5

    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Toujours Mink View Post
    Ok, I understand. That must have been frustrating, not to get what you thought you should have!
    It was! But I can still use what I received.. just gotta be creative

  6. #6

    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Toujours Mink View Post
    I thought her amber was an accord of benzoin, labdanum, and vanilla that she specified in the beginning of her formula?
    That's what I use as a very basic amber - equal parts benzoin, labdanum, ethyl vanillin. If I want anything more complex I use an opoponax or Ambreine base.

  7. #7
    Basenotes Junkie
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    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    Thanks for your tip. You are always so gracious and helpful!

  8. #8

    Default Re: "Essence and Alchemy" + Perfumer's Apprentice Beginner kit: a review

    It's normal for some perfumes to take on a cloudy appearance. You can use a coffee filter to clear it.




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