Review: Common Brimstone Perfumes

4 May

Common Brimstone has been on my radar forever. I’ve been pretty much dying to try their blends, but the shipping from the UK was a bit of a thorn in my side. I hate paying for shipping that high, even if it was justified (and to be honest, Common Brimstone’s is VERY low for a UK company). But I got an Etsy giftcard for my birthday, so it took me about 5 seconds to decide where my first purchase would be. And a few weeks later a package arrived in my mailbox!

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One of my favorite books is We Have Always Lived In The Castle. It’s definitely superior to Shirley Jackson’s supposed masterpiece, The Haunting Of Hill House (which I did like! just not as much as WHALITC), and don’t get me started on The Lottery. The Castle is a moody, eerie gothic tale that perfectly fits my macabre and odd taste in books, but it’s rather obscure–so imagine how happy I was when I found perfumes for the two main characters. SO EXCITED.

Merricat (starts with fresh soil and a touch of dill seed and coriander. Bitter black tea and wormwood lend depth and mystery, whilst sweet, pure tea rose smooths out those rough edges): This has dirt, so it could have been named after a Transformer and I would have purchased it. But thankfully it’s for Merricat, one of my favorite literary characters. It smells very herbal in the bottle, and on my skin it starts out with VERY sharp corriander–almost reminiscent of licorice (which I hate. HATE.). At first I was quite distressed (not my precious Merricat!), but it mellows out to soft rose with tea and hints of wormwood in the background. The dirt is not that present, probably because it is a topnote and the corriander amps up on me. While I am not sure if this is a mix that screams “Merricat” to me (I would have gone with many poisonous plants, some dirt and also mushrooms–no florals!), it’s a lovely scent.

Constance (cookie dough, fresh baked bread, rich butter cream, butter, and a cup of white tea with a sprinkling of sugar): Ah, Constance. Of course she would have to have a super gourmand scent. And this one is SO luscious. It instantly became my favorite foodie scent. Rich, creamy, sweet, but not overly so–the cookie dough is the strongest, and it manages to incorporate chocolate without scaring me off! It’s the smell of a happy, inviting bakery–just putting it on is comforting!

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For my sample pack, I picked Evangelion perfumes. How could I not?!

Shinji (bright lemongrass and grapefruit with notes of green tea, kudzu, and a musky finish): I love grapefruit, green tea and lemongrass, and kudzu is a bitter green so in theory… this should be PERFECT for me. But somehow it comes out rather fruity. And by “rather” I mean very. It smells like lemon candy, overwhelmingly sweet, with a smattering of some kind of sticky jam. So not a bright, bracing citrus at all. This was a huge letdown because grapefruit and green tea are two of my absolute favorite perfume notes.

Asuka (juniper, blood orange, ginger and pink pepper): Like the lady herself, this is all fire and heat. Ginger and pepper jump out the most, giving this a powerful bang. The juniper gives it a kind of numbing quality, and while I didn’t get any citrus this is the absolute PERFECT smell for Asuka.

BONUS ROUND Asuka vs BPAL’s Sword of Surtur (Iron and fire: red-hot ginger, fossilized amber, prickly poppy, red cedar, cubeb, star anise, and scorpion pepper). These share many similar notes–ginger, pepper, and an evergreen. Asuka is all heat while Surtur has more depth and hints of sweetness at the edge of the flame. But if you missed Surtur, which was limited edition, and are regretting it, Asuka is a close dupe.

Rei (gardenias, white musk, magnolia and cherry blossom): You know Bath & Body Work’s Japanese Cherry Blossom scent? It’s actually my favorite from them, but it’s kind of one note. And it smells IDENTICAL to Rei. I was soooo hoping for an elegant, grown-up floral with gardenia and magnolia with cream and cherry blossom. That sounds like a stunning combination. However, Rei is just simple cherry blossom. I guess I got the wrong clone?

Of the five scents I got, only one of them was a real standout. Constance is a must-have for me, and Merricat is nice enough. Two of the Eva scents were terribly disappointing, with Asuka’s saving grace being my intense love of ginger. Generally, I found Common Brimstone’s scents to be a bit simple–Constance had some nice depth, but the others were missing half or more of the listed notes. They also lasted for a disappointingly short time, with only Constance lasting on me longer than an hour.

Combined with the high shipping and the lack of any samples, I am honestly not sure if I will be making a second purchase. The samples thing is a minor quibble because of course no company owes you samples, but I have gotten very used to the generosity of companies like BPAL, Conjure, and Nocturne Alchemy–all of which usually give about 3-4 samples on a two bottle order. There have been two perfume companies I didn’t get samples from: Sweet Tea Apothecary (because I purchased during a 50% off sale), and Violette Market when I only got one bottle (but I did get samples during bigger orders). So it’s not required, but I kind of expect it you know? Of course I would never not shop at a company because of a lack of samples, but combined with high shipping and a lot of misses it’s just one more thing on the “minuses” side of the checklist. Though if Constance runs out, I will order 4 more bottles. Immediately.

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