Product review: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Apr 17, 2013 at 7:20 a.m. ET

Discover perfume's best-kept secret: You're bound to find something you love from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's huge array of scents. Just be careful — it's easy to get addicted.

Retro fragrance
Discover Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Sexy perfume that defies convention

Discover perfume's best-kept secret: You're bound to find something you love from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's huge array of scents. Just be careful — it's easy to get addicted.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab carries hundreds of artisanal perfumes crafted by a master and inspired by literature and mythology. Perhaps the most unusual perfumery in the US, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has a blend for everyone. Learn more about the incredible scents formulated by perfume’s best-kept secret.

Get to know the lab

Fans of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab call it BPAL (pronounced “bee-pal”) and often collect perfumes from the lab. You don’t need to be a goth girl to love BPAL. While many scents are dark, sensual and inspired by Gothic literature, there are also lots of airy, girlish perfumes. BPAL carries formulas that are appropriate for men as well. Take time to click through the various collections and read reviews on the popular BPAL forums to get an idea of which perfumes you think you’d like to try.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume

Start out with sample sizes

BPAL is always formulating new perfumes and limited-edition sets. With so much to choose from, how do you get started? Available at $4 each or six for $22, sample sizes known as Imp’s Ears are the best way to introduce yourself to BPAL perfumes. Give yourself plenty of time to browse the shop when you’re ordering Imp’s Ears. Each perfume has a story behind it. The notes are listed, helping you pick scents you think you’ll like. Because you’re shopping for perfume online, there’s some guesswork involved. Part of the fun is waiting for your Imp’s Ears to arrive to see if you love what you chose.

Find the right fragrance for you >>

Discover fan favorites

We asked BPAL fans what they love to wear. “I really love Mata Hari because of the lovely, floral scent,” says Melissa Dominic. Of BPAL perfumes, she adds, “they feel natural and always get me noticed.” Long-time fan Lauren Vogelbaum has collected hundreds of Imp’s Ears over the years. “My basic go-to, Dorian, makes me smell like an idealized version of myself: gentle, refined and lovely. I wear lots of different perfumes to complement moods, events and seasons, but this one is a favorite because it sits close to my skin and is pretty without being either feminine or masculine.” Other popular perfumes include Zombi, an earthy rose floral and Fae, a bright, peachy musk.

Uncover the inspiration behind the lab

We spoke to BPAL creator Elizabeth Barrial about what inspires her when she creates unique perfumes. "At its heart, our perfumes really are simply an extension of me," says Barrial. "Their origins lie in the things that fascinate, horrify, enchant or disturb me on any given day, and can be stimulated by the season, my mood, current events, tales I’m reading or any manner of day-dreamy, ephemeral influence. I run with what interests me at any given time. I’m heavily influenced by my upbringing: My parents were both history teachers, and I grew up in an environment steeped in anthropology and mythology."

Tips for buying perfume online

  • Keep in mind the types of perfumes you like when you’re ordering. For example, do you like floral scents or crisp citrus aromas?
  • Take time to learn about basic aromatic notes.
  • When your perfume arrives, give it time to settle on your clean skin. It will smell different on your body than it does in the bottle.

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