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It’s been a while since I’ve dipped my toe back into the indie pool. I think my last order was from Haus of Gloi? I have good reasons though — It’s a rabbit hole! A person can get in serious trouble in the world of indie cosmetics… Well, I’m kinda regretting my prolonged absence now as I only just recently discovered the wonderful Alchimia Apothecary. I’ve been sitting on this review for a while because I wanted to give all the products a good testing. So, warning: this will be a very lengthy post!
Alchimia Apothecary, as many indie companies do, started out on etsy and very recently migrated to its own website. I was surprised when I looked at their selection as they’re known for their perfumes (at least, that’s how I heard about them), but they also do handmade salves, oils, skincare, soaps, lotions and color cosmetics as well! :oh: If I had trouble keeping my order down to a reasonable size, this made it so much harder! :shiver:
Unfortunately, though, Alchimia Apothecary recently announced on their Facebook page that, due to their upcoming travel schedule, they will be discontinuing their cosmetics and skincare line in order to focus on perfume. ::O: Hopefully they will be able to hold onto some of their elixir oils because, spoiler alert, the Elixir of Youth is AMAZING!
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
One thing I was very excited to do was their “Choose Your Own Adventure” perfume oil, which, as it sounds, is a custom-blended perfume oil! I’m super picky about scents, as I get headaches literally every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and they can be set off by the smallest thing — scent being one of those triggers.
I was having some trouble figuring out my combination, though, so I shot off an email to Erin, the owner of Alchimia Apothecary. I emailed on May 10, a Saturday, not expecting a reply until Monday at the earliest but to my surprise, I got a reply the very next morning! We talked back and forth a little bit, and she was really great in helping me hammer out the finer points of my custom-blended perfume oil.
I basically crammed some of my favorite scents into one perfume! :blush: I wanted dominant notes of almond and rose, with notes of black tea, jasmine and cherry. I was imagining a fruity floral that was warm and comforting, while not being overtly foody. I’ll get into the nitty gritty details of that later, but first, into what I actually ordered (and received)!
CYOA Perfume Oil
The Ladies of Firefly Perfume Sampler Set
Sore Muscle Salve sample
Blogger Bundle with Albedo (es), Hearts & Stars (es), Purple Lotus (es), Elixir of Youth (facial oil), Ichigo (perfume) and Dry Summer (lipstick).
Erin was also super generous with the complimentary samples! I received a sample of their Sparkle Spackle, a glitter glue similar to Pixie Epoxy as well as their new Sniffer Sticker (an extender to help perfume oils last longer) and 1987, another lipstick.
Also some honey candy which barely made it into the pictures…
Choose Your Own Adventure
Like mentioned earlier, the blend I chose has notes of almond, rose, black tea, jasmine and cherry. Cold sniff from the bottle has the sharp, sweet scent of almonds and cherries, with an underlying odor that almost smells like bad breath (!). I was a little put off initially, but I know better than to rely on cold sniffs. Luckily, the bad breath undertone is not present on the skin, and I just get sweet almonds, cherries and a hint of fresh, grassy tea. This dissipates very quickly to the rose and jasmine, which is perfectly fresh without being heady. After an hour or so, it morphs into a soapy tea rose scent, which, I promise, is more appealing than it sounds. (Or not if you hate rose, but then you wouldn’t like this scent anyway!) I really, really, really love it and even though it wasn’t necessarily what I imagined, it is absolutely lovely. :blush:
Ichigo, in Japanese, means strawberry. This scent is based off of “Shortcake Day” originating from the Cowbell bakery in Japan. Since most all employers make payday the 25th of each moth, Cowbell thought it would be fun to make Shortcake day the 22nd of each moth as one last hoorah before payday.
So why the Strawberry? Well, on their calender logo, the 15 is right above the 22nd. Ichi, meaning one, and go meaning five, ichigo is literally the strawberry on top of the shortcake roll.
Hence, for one day every month, the strawberry shortcake tradition was born.
The cold sniff gives plastic, strawberries and vanilla. Minus the vanilla, it reminds me of a Strawberry Shortcake doll I had when I was a kid. (Remember how those were scented?) Worn, it becomes much sweeter, which is no surprise as everything turns to cotton candy on my skin. It’s still a bit plastic-y, but the vanilla and cake aspects come out much more. I was hoping this would smell like, well, a strawberry shortcake (or Christmas cake!) but the strawberry dies out really quickly on me and I just get vanilla, cream and cake. It’s rather delicious but I just wish the strawberry note was a bit more fresh and prominent.
The Ladies of Firefly Perfume Sampler Set
I am a huge fan of Firefly, so I absolutely had to get this sampler set. :dance: Unlike most perfume samples, Alchimia Apothecary’s come in really cute little rollerballs.
This scent is based on Inara Serra.
Fresh from the Companion Tea ceremony, this scent is the combination of thick oud and Arabian Sandalwood, incense and the thick bubbling black tea she serves with delicate bergamot, honey and sweet hot cream.
From the bottle, I just get straight incense. On my skin, it reminds me of Chinese apothecaries — if you’ve ever been in one of those crazy little stores in a Chinatown or similar, they all have this very distinct, heady scent that’s a little pungent and weird but also oddly comforting (in my opinion). Though, it’s not exactly a scent I like on my skin. This is one instance where my body chemistry comes in handy though, as after the initial drydown, it becomes spicier and sweeter and much more seductive. This is absolutely PERFECT for Inara. It’s not a scent I would ever have picked for myself, but I really, really like how it works on me. I actually like to layer my custom blend over this — it makes a very complex and unique scent.
“I threw up. …Going. Going back like. Apple bits coming back up. Chaos.”
This scent is inspired by River Tam.
Red ripe juicy apples mingle with the fruity crisp scent of green pomegranates, tropical wood, candied ginger and just a touch of ginseng. Rounding out this scent are spicy hints of fresh green herbs.
“Sun came out, and I walked on my feet and heard with my ears. I ate the bits, the bits stayed down, and I work. I function like I’m a girl. I hate it because I know it’ll go away.”
This scent combines into a crisp, clean wonderful aroma that promotes feelings of tranquility in a world that’s left us all feeling so chaotic. Just a little something to help fix the damage to your calm.
“I threw up on your bed.” –River Tam
Both in the bottle and on my skin, I really don’t get anything but cinnamon apple. It smells exactly like a holiday candle to me (which, to be clear, is not necessarily a bad thing!). It’s just not what I expecting.
This is a scent based on Kaylee.
Obsessed with fruit and all things fun and pretty, this is the perfect scent to accompany our adorable mechanic.
This is a combination of strawberries, lichee, dragon fruit, mangoes and other thick fruit drizzled over a thick slice of birthday cake and topped with a fresh dollop of whipped cream.
THIS. IS. SO. YUMMY. It smells EXACTLY like cake! If you’ve ever had the Berry Chantilly cake from Whole Foods, this smells exactly like it to me. Fluffy, moist yellow cake, sweet cream and just a little bit of berry. I have to be careful with this because I get the fiercest craving for baked goods. Though, to be fair, I have cravings for baked goods basically all the time… my natural state of being is to be craving dessert.
“Too much foofarah. If I’m gonna wear a dress I want something with some slink.” –Zoe Washburn
Based on the warrior woman herself, this dark sexy scent is pure sophistication. Oozing with thick ribbons of benzoin and labdanum, sweet notes of chocolate wrapped in spicy worn leather bubble to the surface. Combined with black agar, there are hints of what can only be described as pure animal musk.
In the bottle, this smells just like sweat and oiled leather to me. It’s frankly incredibly offputting. The initial sniff on my skin doesn’t change much. I was so turned off by it that the first time around, I scrubbed it off immediately. A few days later, I decided to give it another go, in the interest of fairness. It’s a good thing I did, because again, my body chemistry works in favor of this scent. After the drydown, the sweat and musk scent dissipates and it just smells like chocolatey leather. It’s still not my favorite scent, but I appreciate it much better. Despite the fact that I don’t like it for myself, I think it’s a very apt scent for Zoe.
Overall, I think the Ladies of Firefly set is a great and very well-thought out collection — each scent is well crafted according to the character. The only scent that I wasn’t completely sold on was Apple Bits, because it didn’t have the complexity that I was hoping for.
This is meant to help extend the lasting power of perfume oils. I don’t necessarily have this problem, but since my custom blend lacks a true base note, I thought it might be useful to extend its life. What I notice is that, at least on my skin, it doesn’t increase lasting power but it helps me hold onto each “level” of the perfume a little bit longer. I keep the floral rose and jasmine mid for around an hour longer than just worn bare. It’s not necessary for me, but I think it’s worth checking out if your skin just eats up perfumes.
Sore Muscle Salve
I don’t normally use any sort of topical products for pain, so I picked this up kind of on a whim. It smells very similar to Tiger Balm, but a bit more peppermint-y than herbal-y. The salve is solid at room temp and melts easily at body temperature. Due to this, it’s rather difficult to get enough out for any noticeable effect. I ended up taking a spare skincare spatula and scraping out what I need. It has a cooling, minty feeling immediately, but that disappears rather quickly. Even though the scent is not as appealing, I prefer my more traditional standby bai hua you for actual muscle aches and pains. What I like using this salve for, instead, is as a temple balm. As I mentioned earlier, I get headaches every day. For this reason, I don’t like to take pain relievers as I’d be taking a LOT of them. So, I like applying this to my temples when I get a headache. It works pretty nicely, and it’s good aromatherapy too.
Elixir of Youth
I added this in my blogger bundle because I was hoping to find an alternative to my current facial oil, the Boscia Tsubaki facial oil. It has similar ingredients, namely the camellia oil (aka tsubaki) as the main oil.
I freaking love this oil! I’m not a fan of the scent, which is very herbal and grassy, but I can get over that for how well it works. The first time I tried it, I was shocked at how quickly it absorbed and how little was needed for my skin to feel plump and moisturized. It also just makes my skin look glowy and radiant, but not in an oily way. I definitely, definitely, definitely prefer this to the Boscia oil, which used to be my absolute favorite. I am picking up a full sized bottle of this ASAP, and I really hope they’re able to keep producing this.
This beautiful shade remindes me of the red turning of the foliage and at the very beginning of the seasons change from summer.
This lipstick is super creamy and smells faintly of cocoa butter. It’s opaque with one swipe, and dries down matte. It’s very comfortable on, and clings to lips in a natural way. Despite this, though, it’s not very moisturizing. It’s a little darker than I was expecting, a bit more oxblood than changing leaves.
This lipstick reminds me of all things 1980s. It’s a metallic purplish pink lipstick with a blue interference.
As with Dry Summer, it smells faintly of cocoa butter. It’s not quite as creamy, and applies a teensy bit patchy. Rather than one-swipe opacity, it requires a few more swipes to build up to full intensity. I wish the blue shift was a bit stronger, as it doesn’t come out very much on my skin. Still, this is a really cool color! The description is spot on. It reminds me of Prince. :clap:
This ethereal combination of shimmery white, and aqua shifting purple sparkles leaves a lasting impression on all who see it.
The swatch photo on their website doesn’t do this justice! It’s got a beautiful pearlescent shift that is just indescribable. In retrospect, I should have GIFed the shadow swatches because they all have a really beautiful shift to them, especially when applied over the Sparkle Spackle or Pixie Epoxy.
Hearts & Stars
This is a beautiful salmon pink shimmer with a duo-chrome purple shift. Opaque when applied.
This needs a primer or foiling method for its beauty to come out. Without, it’s a rather flat pink. With, it’s a beautiful strawberry pink that shifts violet.
A bright and beautiful purple with a duochrome shift into a vivid turquoise.
I’m a sucker for a good purple. I don’t have one like this yet. It’s a bright and intense lavender with an icy blue shift.
This is a glitter adhesive very similar to Darling Girl’s Glitter Glue or Fyrinnae’s Pixie Epoxy. I can only compare it to Pixie Epoxy. It has a much more fluid texture than the gel-like texture of Pixie Epoxy, and it consequently takes a bit longer to dry down. In the swatch photos below, I have it next to Pixie Epoxy. It doesn’t seem to give as strong of a “foil” effect as Pixie Epoxy, though both increase the vibrancy. I don’t consider this is a dupe, as both have different finishes.
In the following photos, I swatched the shadows in different ways. From left to right, in equal sections, it’s dry, over primer, over Sparkle Spackle and over Pixie Epoxy. Purple Lotus was the only one that seemed to have no appreciable difference dry or over primer.
Aaaaaand… that’s everything! Was this review long enough for you? Like I said, I really wanted to give each product its fair shake and I actually edited this post a lot in order to trim off some of the fat. ::x:
I really recommend Alchimia Apothecary if you’re looking for a great indie company. Even though some of the scents were not to my liking, I appreciated how nicely crafted they were. By far my favorite product was the Elixir of Youth. I’m quickly coming up on the end of my sample and I’m already panicking a bit.
Have you tried anything from Alchimia Apothecary? What are your favorite indie companies?