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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stock Scents Galore –or how I found out my favourite indie brands may be using stock scents

I'm writing in a separate post due to the sheer number of companies that got involved. It started off with Black Violet and ended up involving way more companies than I expected.

It first began when a thread about potential repackagers appeared here.  There were accusations that some companies use stock scents, and Black Violet got mentioned. I'd normally defend Black Violet, but certain personal experiences made me hesitate.

Some time ago, I fell in love with Red Lotus from BV and bought a full size of it. Here are the notes for Red Lotus:
Screenshot taken on 22 Jan, 2015
Then I tried Lychee & Red Tea from Orange Thyme, with the following scent description:

Screenshot taken on 22 Jan, 2015

And Sakura Matsuri cuticle oil from Rainbow Honey, with the following scent description:

Screenshot taken on 22 Jan, 2015

Ok, so all 3 feature lychee + red tea + geranium, a relatively unusual combo. That doesn't mean anything, does it?

Well...Sakura Matsuri & Red Lotus smells identical. Orange Thyme's Lychee & Red Tea smells like Red Lotus, with acrid lemons added in.

I was surprised, especially since Rainbow Honey is nail polish brand and therefore, I expect them to use stock scents instead of creating their own blend of scents. Then, someone pointed me out to this stock scent from Brambleberry called Lychee Red Tea. Here's the notes:

This is a soon to be discontinued scent
Screenshot taken on 22 Jan, 2015
Despite a throwaway account (that was created purely to defend Black Violet and suspiciously, as of Jan 22, 2015, is no longer active beyond that thread) claiming that s/he owns both Red Lotus & Lychee Red Tea (what are the chances someone happens to own a stock scent in question?) and both scents are different, I highly suspect they'll both smell the same.

In the same thread, BV also got outed for using a base for her body butters. I was really disappointed about that since I pay a lot of money for international shipping, and it's very disheartening to find that someone uses a base. When I try 3 different companies, I'm hoping to try 3 different formulas instead of 1 base with 3 different labels slapped on it. I already know that most bases do not work as well as HoG's pumpkin butters on me, so I have no interest in trying out yet another base.

In response to all that, Leilani came out to say this:

She didn't stay back to respond to requests for her to list out exactly which of her items are made from bases and which are made from scratch.

Obviously, I'm still upset over the money I wasted. Why doesn't she openly state she uses a base since the beginning, instead of choosing to admit it only when she got outed?

Anyway, fine. Just because someone has the same scent notes as a stock scent doesn't mean that they use stock scents. They could just be very uncreative as perfumers, and choose to copy successful stock scents for their scents.

.....but what are the chances that 2+ different perfumers follow the strategy of copying a stock scent (not using, but actually blending stuff to copy it)? What are the chances 2+ different perfumers just happen to come up with the same exact blend of notes as a stock scent? Let's look at this:

Black Violet's Chalice

Screenshot taken on 22 Jan, 2015

Alchemic Muse's Laguna

Screenshot taken on Jan 15, 2015
Muguet is another name for Lily of the Valley, btw. Once you remove the description, you're left with: blue notes + cyclamen + lily + sandalwood. Huh. Here's Indiana Candle Supply's stock scent, Salty Sea Air:

Screenshot taken on Jan 15, 2015

That can still be a coincidence and I haven't tried all 3 scents together yet, but here are other questionable scents:


Black Violet's Camellia 

"Freshly steeped green tea leaves cooled with crisp cucumbers."

Brambleberry's Green Tea & Cucumber:  "This fragrance smells just like freshly steeped green tea with a hint of cucumber."  


Black Violet's Valley of the Temples 

"Resinous amber, Asian oud wood, calming cedarwood, exotic ambrette seed, fresh rosemary, dark olibanum, patchouli, black musk, orchid and jasmine petals."

Aromahaven's Oud Wood: "Exotic Asian Oud wood is balanced and blended with cedar, precious ambrette seeds, green rosemary, delicate jasmine, baby orchid, gala apple, dark olibanum, black musk, earthy patchouli. "


Black Violet's Oakmoss Gown 

"Lightening bugs dance around her as she drapes herself in damp oakmoss, earthy vetiver, and a light vanilla infusion."

Crafters Choice Oakmoss: "Wet and earthy oakmoss with green vetiver, vanilla and nutmeg."


Black Violet's Pamplemousse

"Quench your Parisian thirst with a pink grapefruit cocktail topped with an edible orchid. Sante!"

Elements Bath & Body's Sea Island Grapefruit: "The sweetest, crispest and cleanest sun-ripened grapefruit you'll ever smell. Softened with a hint of white orchids, truly a treasure of a fragrance."


So that's already 6 questionable fragrances. This is not counting her many single note fragrances.

In the best case scenario, she's not a repackager, but just really uncreative with her blends, choosing to copy stock scents instead. But in that case, why should I buy from her when I can buy the stock scents for a fraction of the price and mix them with a carrier oil myself?

Or why not buy a mainstream perfume instead? Here's the cost break down:

Indie Perfumes:

  • $12-20+ for a 5ml bottle = $2.40-$4+ /ml

Mainstream Perfumes:

  • $50-100+ for a 50ml bottle (this is the average 1.7 oz bottles, not larger bottles) = $1-2+ /ml

To put that into perspective, if your mainstream perfumers charge Black Violet's prices ($15-18 for 10ml), that means your bottle of perfume is going to cost $75-90

For that price, mainstream perfume offers you nice packaging and the chance to sniff the scent and try it out in store. Why should I go indie if the owner can't offer something more creative than mainstream scents?

I still think Black Violet has some original scents, but at this point, I find that getting an original scent will be a gamble. I still have a lot of Black Violet products I still have to review, and I will review them. I just don't think I'll buy more from them. 

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