While we went with a blend of cucumber and gardenia and a touch of jasmine, the scent was far fruitier than we anticipated. Moreover, the color was an unattractive amber (almost reminiscent of a glass of ale) and the bottle was of the pure utilitarian variety (almost like a squat test tube). In other words, for $20 this was a fine chemistry experiment, but not much of a Valentine’s Day gift. Then again, you can always try making another scent—the company has a generous return policy and also provides dozens of fragrance “recipes” from past customers if you’re looking for ideas.
We appreciated that Scent Crafters provides a real perfume bottle and gives you the chance to name your scent—we called ours “Day at the Spa.” It came in the more diluted spray form, which makes it easier to apply (at least in our book). Still, the bottle was bulky and the label cheap-looking. And the fragrance itself had the strong, off-putting odor of drugstore perfume.
For a final option, we decided to play mad scientist and do the blending without assistance. So we bought a $30 beginner’s “perfumery set” from the Perfumer’s Apprentice, a lab and online store based in Santa Cruz, Calif., that sells perfume-making supplies ranging from fragrance oils (Colombian coffee, anyone?) to decorative bottles. The kit came with all the tools—12 fragrance oils, testing strips, bottles (with roll-on applicator) and more—plus an instruction booklet. We were able to blend a fragrance oil we really liked—a slightly floral mix of rose, bergamot and “ozone marine.” Our only complaint: The kit didn’t come with label
—Anjali Athavaley contributed to this article.
|Company||Price||Shopping Experience||The Smell Test||Comment|
|$100 for a small (one-third of an ounce) bottle of fragrance oil. Rush shipping was an additional $20.50.||Esens owner Kathleen Dreier asks lots of questions about the fragrance recipient, forcing you to think about the ‘essence’ of the person.||The scent, combining jasmine and gardenia with other fragrances, was a bit more exotic than we expected, but appealing all the same.||Ms. Dreier says she’s willing to tweak a scent—at no extra charge—if the recipient isn’t satisfied.|
|Fragrance Shop New York
|$28 for a one-ounce bottle of spray perfume.||It took about 30 minutes to sniff our way through different oils to come up with the proper perfume blend.||Our mix smelled pleasant enough, but lacked some of the depth of a high-end perfume.||The salesperson wouldn’t offer much in the way of suggestions, saying scent was all a matter of ‘personal preference.’|
|The Perfumer’s Apprentice
|$30 for Beginner’s Perfumery Set, plus $7 for two additional fragrance oils. Shipping was an additional $9.49.||Quite thoughtful.We thought we’d need a larger kit, but the saleswoman convinced us that the beginner set —with a couple of additional oils —was fine.||It all depends on the perfume you decide to craft. But we really liked the blend of rose, bergamot and ozone marine we mixed.||If you’re willing to play chemist, this is definitely a very good option. The included instruction booklet is very helpful, too.|
|$39.99 for a 3.4-ounce bottle of spray perfume. Priority shipping is an additional $6.99.||Straightforward and helpful. Site guides you through the process of mixing and matching scents, but also offers suggestions of blends based on your main fragrance.||Yuck. Our ‘Day at the Spa’ fragrance, combining jasmine with cucumber, apple blossom and rose, had us sneezing from the start.||ScentCrafters has a generous return policy. We also liked the larger perfume bottle and giftworthy satin bag.|
|$20 for a one-ounce bottle of fragrance oil, with up to five scents. Priority shipping was an additional $5.50.||Site is very user-friendly,with detailed notes on all blending scents and offers ‘recipe’ ideas. Company was also quick in answering a shipping question.||While we thought our blend of cucumber, jasmine and gardenia would have a clean scent, it ended up smelling much fruitier than we anticipated.||The price was right, but the scent and packaging didn’t work for us. A spokesman said dissatisfied customers can return it and try another at no additional cost.|