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Southern Comfort Perfumes’ Launch Scents

11 Aug

It’s been a while since I did a perfume post! This is for a couple reasons (trying to spend less on indies, focusing more on the book side of things) but I can never resist a new company. So when Southern Comforts opened their doors with a really stellar sample offer ($8 for all 5 of their launch scents in 2ml vials, with 10% off) I absolutely had to get them. Plus the theme got me: it’s all Southern, obviously, but the names were just so cute. I was helpless in the face of such a good deal.

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Turnaround time was pretty insane: I ordered on the 5th, it shipped on the 6th and got to me on the 10th. 6 days from start to finish! Packaging was unexpectedly adorable: the vials are packaged with a header card and everything. One of the labels was hand-written but the others were printed, which I assume was because I ordered on literally the first day the store opened. The vials are sturdy and larger than your average perfume sample (obviously) at 2ml instead of the usual 1ml. They are a little tricky to open and close, and it requires some force, but they are absolutely leak-proof and not even the scent seeps out.

Grandma Odene’s House (almond, pound cake, milky coffee, peach preserves): Peach is a little iffy on me, so I wasn’t sure about this one even though I adore all the other notes. Thankfully this isn’t the candy-sweet peach I’m used to, and it reminds me of the juicy note Arcana uses. But the peach isn’t front and center: this is definitely primarily a sweet gourmand. The almond (not leaning cherry at all!), cake and coffee are all present, and the strongest elements. It smells like breakfast! In college I used to get almond croissants and iced coffee on the days my classes started early, so this brings back a ton of memories for me. It’s a very comforting smell, simple but full of evocative notes: definitely a good start to my testing!

Aunt Bessie’s Bunnies (creamy violet candy, pound cake batter, geranium, marshmallow fluff): This was the scent I was looking forward to most, because I have a violet fetish and am obsessed with marshmallow blends. On first sniff it’s candied violets, followed by a surprisingly warm burst of geranium and cake. You know those fancy cakes that have thin icing and real flowers for decoration? That’s what this smells like! Only more lived-in and comfortable. It’s hard to describe, but this scent comes off as very cozy. Eating cake on the back porch in summer, feet in the grass kind of cozy. The marshmallow doesn’t really show up until the drydown, when the violets calm down a bit and the other elements come through stronger, and it’s really just a creamy hint but it definitely adds to the overall ambiance of the scent.

Darlin‘ (peach candy, sunscreen, violet, wild rose, day lily, vanilla): I will admit that I see lilies in a scent and panic. It’s a death note for me, and can sometimes trigger migraines–but only some companies’ lily, not all of them, so it’s like a fun game of “is my head going to explode?” scent roulette. Thankfully this blend does not have death lily in it, but just regular lily. It’s mainly peach, the same juicy one in Grandma Odene’s, but there’s a candy edge here and a sweetness from the vanilla. This is a fruity blend, which isn’t really my jam usually, but the florals definitely help balance it–they’re quite soft and in the background, but they keep this blend from being one note. I mean, it mostly smells like I rubbed those Japanese peach gummy snacks all over myself, but that’s definitely a vibe I can get behind. I do wish the sunscreen was a little stronger, just because I think peach-coconut sounds killer.

Bless Your Heart (Night blooming jasmine, white tea, iris, orange rind, powdered musk): Jasmine is really one of those love-it-or-hate it scents, it seems. So I was cautious going in to this, because it’s a note my skin really amps. Thankfully it’s quite tame here… in fact, I don’t really get a ton of jasmine at all. I thought this blend would be very floral, but it’s powdery musk on me: not baby powder, but like sniffing an old compact of perfumed face powder. This is one of those smells that I can’t help but think is “old lady.” For some people that denotes heavy floral: for me, it’s powder. Thankfully after about half an hour the powder calms down and some of the florals start peaking through, white and creamy. Funnily enough this lasted the longest on my skin, with a wear time of several hours.

Folly Beach Follies (light rain, sea spray, ocean breeze, warm sand, dry grass): This is a light, aquatic beach scent–while I get hints of vanilla in the background (where is that coming from?!) it’s mostly natural. No sunscreen, no tropical fruits, just ocean air and rain. It opens with a bright rain note, very fresh and blue, and grass follows. It’s not as in-your-face as most grass notes (I guess that’s the “dry” aspect) and definitely doesn’t dominate the blend. This is one of those scents where it’s kind of hard to pick out individual notes: they just blend together into a general watery green impression. It’s not as salty as I’d expect, and the rain aquatic comes through a lot stronger than the sea spray for me: in fact, I get a kind of wet-meadowy impression. It’s definitely an atmospheric blend, and I think each person will read it a bit differently.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with Southern Comforts’ scents. Especially the first three: I felt their gourmands were definitely the strongest of the bunch, but I’m sure a lot of that was personal preference. I mean, I’m a sucker for violet, and there was a whole lot of that! My only complaint was the wear time: most were pretty weak after only an hour, except for Bless Your Heart which stuck around almost all day. I’m a little less sensitive to wear time than most people since my skin eats perfume anyway and I like to change it up throughout the day, but do keep that in mind if you order.

Since opening, they’ve added 3 scents–all 3 of which I want, of course. There’s a french toast blend, a sweet tea one, and a citrusy yuzu blend. Umm, yes please.

Alchimia Apothecary’s Spring 2015 Collection

5 May

Spring is easily my favorite season for perfume. Creamy florals, crisp greens, fresh aquatics. Sure, fall is nice with its heavy gourmands and I love the chilly scents of winter, but I am all about spring. Which means of course I spend way too much on new releases! This year I was particularly swayed by Alchimia’s spring lineup: every single scent in it was one I wanted on my body immediately. My initial cart was scarily massive, but I managed to cut it down to 5 samples (there are 4 in the picture because I’m a spazz and Dapper King is missing at the moment). I already own Red Rover and I got a bonus sample of the one spring scent I passed up, so happily I ended up with the entire regular collection and one of the Blossom scents!

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Fleur de tilleul (linden blossom, rosewood, green tea, honey): I really wanted to get the full floral collection but narrowed it down to just this one. Because of the tea & honey, I’m not going to lie. This is a very soft, ladylike floral. Linden blossom is a definite white floral, but it’s light and almost dainty, definitely not heavy/cloying like some white florals can be. The honey and rosewood are hanging out in the background, accenting the linden blossom nicely without stealing the show. It’s no surprise that the floral aspect is the leading note here, but for some reason I was expecting more of a “sipping tea next to a vase of flowers” kind of feel.

Petrichor (grass, ozone, earth, alfalfa): This starts off with a sharp burst of ozone. It’s bright and lasts a surprisingly long time–ozone is a note that fades pretty quickly, but it hangs around a while in this blend. This is followed by concrete–you know that smell it gets when it’s wet? Like damp stone, only a bit more… artificial. As it dries down a bit the earth starts to peek out, but it’s not really a scent that screams “dirt” to me. Throughout there’s a hay/floral thing going on in the background, I’d guess from the alfalfa. But the ozone really dominates everything else, and it gets stuck in my nose with that almost sparkling effect like air before a storm.

BONUS ROUND Petrichor vs sixteen92′s Supercell (ozone, grass, asphalt, petrichor, hay, damp florals, stems, earth, branches): Supercell has a very long list of notes, but the hay and grass really dominate for me. It’s a little aquatic, very damp feeling, but it’s more like the air during rain while Petrichor is the air before rain. As such, they pair really beautifully. Nether is my ideal rain scent, but together… perfection! You get the before, during, after rain effect all at once with wet grass and super sharp ozone. It’s a gorgeous summer storm.

Lilaq (lilac, green wood, grass, earth): Given the name (and notes) I was expecting this to be straight-up floral. And in a way it is, but it’s not the overpowering WOW IT’S LILAC scent I was expecting. Have you ever been in the back lot behind a flower shop? There was one around the corner from me as a kid and the ground was always littered with carnation stems crushed into the ground and stray petals. That’s what this smells like–brisk, almost bitter stems and leaves, a hint of dirt, and soft flowers. It’s ever-so-slightly powdery, but in the way you expect from lilac blossoms. This was such a pleasant surprise, since I was expecting just flowers but got a whole experience.

Lion’s Tooth (dandelion, milky sap, stems, grass, dry wood): This is green green green! It’s not aquatic, not floral, just straight-up spring greenery all over your wrist. Grass is the most prominent note, that wonderfully sweet scent of a just-cut lawn. It’s followed by dandelion… not the flower exactly, but the bitter stem and leaves. This reminds me so much of childhood, summers spent rolling around on the lawn and getting covered in grass stains. I originally almost blind-bought a full bottle of this, and I really wish I had!

The Dapper King (fougere, juniper, rosemary, dandelion): I was expecting this to be a kind of herbal version of Lion’s Tooth, given the shared dandelion note, but they are really different. This came out super floral on my skin, bordering on powdery. It’s also quite masculine due to the juniper/ferns… yes, a powdery, masculine floral. Those are two genres I like on their own, but I’m not sure how I feel about the combination.

Red Rover (clover, honey, grass): I’ve reviewed this one before, and I still adore it. Bright, happy green! This is the slightly sweeter cousin of Lion’s Tooth: there’s no bitter greenery, just smooth soft and sweet clover. This and Maedwe are the essence of spring to me, just happy and bright. This is also great for layering, it goes well with simpler florals and gives them a lot of depth.

Sex on the Lawn (lilac, ferns, ivy, sandalwood, grass, dirt): The notes of this seem very similar to Lilaq, but they’re quite different both in the vial and on my skin. The dirt is much heavier here, and the lilac is waaay in the background. Like, just a hint at the very tail end. This is more green than floral, but a deep green (I’m always describing scents in color, is that even helpful to anyone??). The ferns and ivy really deepen it, and it seems like more of a “woodsy green” than a “grass green.” Like early spring woods, when everything is just starting to bud!

If you like grass, lemme tell you, this is the collection for you. Dirty grass! Sweet grass! Dandelion grass! Just all the grasses. Unsurprisingly, I loved all the grass scents and only had one miss (Dapper King) and one just-okay (Fleur de tilleul)–both of which had no grass. I guess I’m really just in the mood to roll around on the lawn?

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Plagues of Egypt

4 May

Perfume and makeup, especially of the indie variety, are one of those interests where you’re likely to get spillover from all your other hobbies. There are enough fandom themed collections to please almost anyone, and I think we’ve all fallen prey to the “oh my god I love this book/movie/show, therefor I must buy all the things!” But I never thought I’d be sitting at the computer, lusting after perfume based on… the biblical plagues of Egypt. I’m a mythology geek and Egypt is one of my areas of interest, so of course I absolutely had to have some. Thankfully, my rational brain kicked in before I ordered a full set and I managed to narrow it down to three scents. And instead of getting decants I just jumped on full sizes, because I like to live dangerously (and, you know, I’ve never blind-bought a BPAL scent and been disappointed).

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Smite All Thy Borders with Frogges (Amphibious green musk with bog moss, benzoin, Mountain sage, Brazilian vetiver, tomato leaf, cucumber pulp, and unripe squash): I have a thing for wet, dirty scents, so I knew that if I only got one bottle, this would be it. I mean, the name alone was worth the purchase. Frogges! I was hoping for something similar to their Shanghai Tunnel, one of my favorite dirt scents. And this is definitely in that same family: less wet for sure, as the only aquatic element here is from the green musk. That might be my favorite BPAL note, and it’s used so infrequently that I get giddy when I see it on a list. Frogges smells like someone dumped Laughter of Loki on a vegetable garden: cucumber and squash are the first thing you smell, very green and fresh but with that tart, unripe edge. On drydown the vetiver and musk peek through, adding a lot of depth and that “dirty” smoke feeling that vetiver often adds. This is a smokey, musky green scent, different from anything I’ve tried so far, and I love it. Obviously this is not a scent for everyone, but if you like vegetal notes or enjoy BPAL’s other Frog-themed scents, this is an absolute must-have.

They Shall Eate the Residue of that which is Escaped (Dry vanilla mint with rosewood, balsam, green sandalwood, green mate absolute, and sage): This is the bottle I almost didn’t get, mostly because the notes seem pretty tame compared to everything else I was interested in. But mint + vanilla is one of my favorite combinations, so I had to test it out. At first this is deliciously sweet and edible-tasting: if you’ve tried any of their Lick It perfumes, it’s very similar at first sniff. Almost candy-like, but after a quick drydown the wood and herbal elements come into play. It mellows down into a beautifully sophisticated woody vanilla scent, with the mint more of a background note. There’s a hint of spice too (cinnamon? nutmeg?) that blends perfectly. I think this is the best-mixed of the Plagues I tried, it’s sophisticated and bold without being in-your-face, and very wearable.

Fire Mingled with the Haile (Fields smashed by torrential rain, seared by gouts of celestial fire): Given the insanely vague description, this was definitely a gamble of a scent. Fire? Rain? I had no idea what to expect. In the bottle it’s bizarrely sweet, almost buttery, but it morphs on application. The sweetness lingers, but it’s faint and in the background. This is a very hard scent to describe, but the word that fits it most is “cold.” My nose tingles if I sniff it for too long. It’s not minty, the note usually used to make things seem chilly, but just… cold and sharp. Numbing. Like you just got smacked in the face with a brisk winter breeze. There’s something almost soapy that hits you after the chill, but in a pleasant way–not the usual powdery thing some notes do, but a damp, clean ocean note. It becomes more and more aquatic as it dries down, leaving a salty, ashy finish. Absolutely bizarre, but that’s kind of what you want from a Plagues line.

Though I only got 3 scents, this is everything I want from a Plague line: bizarre, wearable, and one that’s absolutely conceptual. Of course now I want to grab a few more (especially A Grievous Swarm), but I’m content with the scents I selected. Especially They Shall Eate, which I honestly thought would be my least-favorite of the three. Not… that I have a least-favorite. I love them all!

The Plagues of Egypt line can be found here, and will be live until June 4th–plenty of time to smite all your collection with frogges.

 

OHWTO’s Winter Scent Collection

22 Feb

One Hand Washes The Other is one of the first indie shops I purchased from, and I’ve gone back to them time and time again. I know the owner has stirred up some controversy, but I’m just too in love with the brand to think about cutting myself off. And I honestly don’t know how I could live without the Black Magic scrub, which saves my face on a daily basis. I’ve held off on fall/Halloween reviews because most of their scents were old releases, but they had a ton of new blends up for this holiday! And at the moment almost all of them are discounted in their shop, which makes it the perfect timing for a review.

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Snowbound (Blue Spruce, Cypress, Berries, Snow, Fir Needle, Birch, and Wood): This is an interesting scent. In the vial it’s very fruity, but it’s totally different once you apply it. Cool and crisp: there’s definitely a snow/winter element going on here that may be mint in part. But it definitely feels cold! The berries are subdued and fresh, more like not-quite-ripe berry skin (maybe cranberry?), and there’s a blooming background of firs. It’s basically winter in a bottle.

Noel (rich vanilla and peppermint, dusted with sugar and splashed with warm milk): I got this as a sample originally and just HAD to have a full size. Peppermint and vanilla is a simple combination, but it’s both bright and seasonal while being insanely comforting. Putting this on is like wrapping up in a big, comfy blanket. This is probably my favorite OHWTO scent.

Krampus Klaus (Cracked leather, covered in chimney soot. Sticky silver Fir resin, glowing Amber eyes, and a polished wooden sleigh): OHWTO is great at manly leather scents, and this is definitely one of them. The leather is at the forefront, and it’s a note that tends to amp up on me so it’s rather dominant. The fir in the background makes this a more “holiday” kind of masculine blend, which is pretty unique among my leather-based scent collection.

Twinkling Lights (Champagne, Balsam trees, Fruitcakes, Oakmoss): I have this in solid and oil form, and it smells a bit different each way. The oil is more heavy on the champagne, especially in the bottle, while the solid leans more towards the balsam. Oakmoss is nicely balanced in both, and this is a nice light bubbly winter blend. It’s pretty hard to find scents with a really good carbonation smell, but this hits it dead on.

Cookies for Santa (Spicy gingerbread cookies, sweet faces drawn on them with vanilla icing, and a mug of warmed milk): When you ask for OHWTO scent recommendations, most people will probably tell you about their amazing gourmands. But I have almost none from them because… well, I guess other things just catch my eye first. So this is really my first bakery/gourmand from them, and it’s as great as they’re hyped up to be! Super-strong cookie scent, like they’re fresh out of the oven and in your face.

Good Tidings (Warm, buttered oats, caramel cream, and honey): CARAMEL! This is the most realistic caramel scent I’ve tried, it’s so warm and creamy. I think part of that is the fact that it’s got caramel, cream and butter, which make for a really realistic warm, melty caramel smell. It’s hard not to lick my wrists when I have this on, it’s so delicious.

The Airing of Grievances (Fir boughs, musky sandalwood, vanilla, woodland moss, pine needles, ozone, frozen air, and holiday fruits): This reminds me a bit of Snowbound. It’s icy and cold without being overly minty, and the pine is right in the center. But this is more “perfumey” and complex with all the secondary notes like sandalwood and vanilla. Like a fancy woman walking through a pine forest.

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Bonus Reviews

Haterade (lime, cucumber, light floral and musk notes): How could I not buy a Gatorade-themed perfume? Especially since this is the lime/cucumber one. I will admit that I ordered this because of nostalgia/hilarity, but it smells SO GOOD. Refreshing without being a “typical” lime/cucumber fresh scent. It’s bright and cheerful with a lovely complex floral background. This is going to be so perfect for spring!

Scarlett (Neroli, Cilantro, rhubarb, raspberry, citrus zests, and blood orange): I expected something brightly citrus from the notes, but it’s quite different on my skin. I think the neroli and raspberry dominate, making this floral, sweet, and a bit powdery. I’m not sure how I feel about it since it’s so far from what I anticipated… honestly, I thought it’d be like Haus of Gloi’s Tonic #4 with blood orange instead of yuzu. Instead, it’s so girlie! There is a definite citrus undertone though.

On a customer service related note, their shipping times have improved dramatically in the past few months. If you’ve purchased from them before you’ll know that the TAT is about a month, which is worth it for what you get, but my last two orders from them shipped out less than 5 days after making them.

Alchimia Apothecary’s Wayward Son & A Wizard’s Fable Collections

10 Jan

There seem to be mixed opinions on fandom related collections from indie brands (both makeup and perfume). Some people love them, some think it’s a ploy to get people to buy scents & colors they wouldn’t normally. And I’m certainly not going to argue that fandom collections don’t make me buy weird things, but I love them anyway! Especially anything Supernatural or Harry Potter related: and despite the popularity of those two, you see very little from them and it’s almost all perfume from companies I’m not overly familiar with. So when I found Alchimia’s Wayward Son and A Wizard’s Fable collections, I jumped on them as quickly as I could. Were the worth the hype? Will I ever even wear a scent that smells like Dean’s car? Let’s find out!

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The Wayward Son Collection

(note: Roadhouse is missing in the shot because I lent it out for some other people to test!)

Baby (hot black metal, leather, oil, & old black licorice): In the vial this is mostly leather, but it totally transforms on my skin. It’s definitely… car-like. Metallic and oily with only hints of that previously dominant leather note. There are undertones of licorice and while it’s something I usually hate in perfume, it works here. I don’t know if this is an entirely “wearable” scent–unless you like smelling like the inside of a hot, but very expensive, car–but it fits the show so well. I can’t help but think of the Impala when I sniff this!

Roadhouse (tobacco, bourbon, stout, musty floorboards): Another shifter! This is a gourmand in the vial, I swear. Buttery and creamy almost (maybe that’s the alcohol notes?), but it changes right away when applied. At first it’s VERY strong tobacco, like when you walk into a bar and are hit with that first waft of smoke. It dries down to a more complex scent, with hints of bourbon and dust and leather. It smells, well, like a bar! Full of manly men doing manly things, like fighting demons and stuff. After a few hours of wear it mellows down to an extremely pleasant and wearable tobacco & sweet bourbon mixture, with hints of spice.

Ripped from Perdition (grave dirt, grass, dandelion, clover, woodsmoke): Dirt, grass, dandelion & clovers are some of my absolute favorite perfume notes, and I’ve been really digging smokey scents recently so this was basically made for me. Plus it’s Cas’s scent, so how can I not love it? Dirt is strong in the vial, but it’s quite subtle when applied. Grass was the dominant note on me, with only the barest hints of florals at first. Grass… and woodsmoke! Kind of an odd combination but they work SO well, I feel like I’m in the forest on an autumn day. On the drydown the clover and dandelion peeks out, making it a more and more “green” scent as it ages on my skin.

Ghost Facer (frozen metal, ozone, rock salt): This is a very “cold” smelling perfume. I was worried it would be similar to Baby, but it’s actually quite different and leans feminine which I was not expecting. It’s icy without being minty, aquatic without being murky or beachy. I swear there’s a floral in there–some light, soft purple or white floral. It’s also got an almost-chemical note: not an unpleasant one, but something about it makes me think of an empty factory by the ocean in winter. I’m kind of getting carried away with scent descriptions for this collection, huh? All the scents evoke SUCH strong moods, it’s wonderful.

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The Wizard’s Fable Collection

The Burrow (fudge, cakes, mincemeat pie, strawberry ice cream, balsam, woodsmoke, bread): This reminds me of Solstice Scents’ Witch’s Cottage, which is basically the highest compliment I can give (WC being in my top-10 scents). It’s cakey and gourmand with hints of fresh fruit and chocolate, but there’s layers of sweet herbs and smoke to mellow it out. This is a sophisticated gourmand, for when you want to smell like a bakery but also a little fancy. My favorite from the HP collection.

Forbidden (black woods, mossy florals, earthy greens, musk, burning timber): This scent is VERY heavy on vetiver and smoke. Thankfully I adore vetiver! It’s a dry woodsy scent, and uncommon combination. It definitely feels woodsy (or at least like you’re in a place made of wood–if that makes sense), but not in the usual lush green way. There’s something resinous about it too, and I swear there’s leather. Honestly, it’s not at ALL what I expected from the description but I do like it. Just not as much as I thought I would–I generally prefer “cool” scents to “warm” ones when it comes to nature-inspired blends. *note: I think this is actually Restricted Section, my labels may be mixed up

Restricted Section (leather-bound books, olibanum, clearwood, ink, smokey lamps): Before I describe this one, I think the labels on Forbidden and Restricted Section might have gotten mixed up because there is no way this is a perfume meant to smell like books and the indoors. This smells like branches stripped of their bark, that strange green sappy smell we all know from childhood. It’s dark and murky and mossy, with distinctly wet feel to it. There’s also just a bit of smoke in the background, but it’s barely detectible. I love those “almost gross” forest scents that are heavy on mud/moss/heavy air, so this is a winner for me.

Second Task (water, lily pads, gillyweed): I expected this to be a strong, murky aquatic: the kind most people don’t like, but I love. Looking at you, BPAL’s Shanghai Tunnel. Well, this scent really surprised me! It’s very soft and subdued. It smells like a cool lake and water lilies! There’s nothing wrong with it exactly, but it didn’t wow me. I was expecting more mud and brackish water for a Second Task scent, I think.

Butterbeer (butterscotch, bourbon, stout, allspice, clove, cinnamon): Basically exactly what you would expect–warm, creamy butterscotch that’s lightly spiced. It’s not too heavy on the clove/cinnamon/allspice, they’re definitely just compliments to the butterscotch. There’s something almost… bubbly about it? Like it’s carbonated. I know that does not make much sense, and it might be the bourbon & stout, but it is just such a HAPPY scent. Exactly like I expect real Butterbeer to taste like. If you like gourmands, you will adore this.

I also got a bonus sample called Violet Me, which does not appear to be on the website. Despite the name I didn’t get any violet from it (which is sad, because I LOVE violets), it’s more of a watery floral with undertones of something sweet (caramel)? However, I think there’s lilies in here because it dried down quite powdery and gave me a headache. Lily is one of my death notes regrettably, and it morphs awfully on my skin. It smells quite nice in the vial, though!

Overall, I ended up loving basically all of these scents. Of course not all of them were “me” but I expected that buying full collections: I love the nostalgic feelings they bring up, and I’m fine relegating some of these to the “sniffing” pile. Honestly (and embarrassingly), I have so many scents that I’ve become comfortable with some of them being, essentially, collectibles rather than wearables. Which is not to say that that I won’t wear any of these: some of them, like Ripped from Perdition, Butterbeer, and The Burrow I ADORE. Especially Ripped from Perdition, which I could probably bathe in. Even though it should be called Raised from Perdition.

On a related note, Alchimia’s scents last an insanely long time on my skin. With most oils I get a few hours of wear, and then I have to either reapply or switch up my scent. I’ve got more perfume than I can use in my lifetime so usually it doesn’t bother me, but I am so thrilled to have a formula that goes 10+ hours on my skin. Seriously, I put on Roadhouse at 7pm and it was still lingering when I woke up late in the afternoon. They also had a super-fast TAT: I ordered on December 31st (was this a drunk New Years purchase? yes) and received my perfumes on January 8th, even though their stated TAT is 12-14 days!

Haus of Gloi’s Halloween 2014 Scents

28 Aug

I have been looking forward to Haus of Gloi’s fall collection for, oh, 8 months or so now. I got into indie perfume RIGHT after the Fall 2013 collections, and since that’s my favorite seasonal scent category I had to see review after review of tantalizing goodies. Ghost Puffs and Samhain have been lingering in my mind for a looong time now. Of course HoG’s releases are an absolute madhouse, but I was prepared and got everything I wanted… from round 1. Oh yes, I will be buying more.

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Ghost Puffs (buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo): Things I love: gourmand blends, butter, marshmallows. This blend was MADE for me. It’s sticky-sweet, teeth-rotting, “oh god I want to chew my arm off” good. Like the goop at the bottom of your pillow case after a night of trick-or-treating. The butter makes it “sweet but not to sweet” and I seriously want to drink this. But I won’t. Not because it would be gross, but because then I couldn’t slather it all over myself.

Pumpkin Eater (cream, glowing pumpkin, rich vanilla bean and the tiniest touch of nutmeg butter): I waffled for about 30 seconds before deciding on the full size of this rather than a sample. Cream, pumpkin, nutmeg. I LOVE ALL THESE THINGS. This is definitely not a pumpkin pie blend, though, which I am thankful for: it’s unique, and has a candy-like edge. I make a mean pumpkin fudge for Thanksgiving every year using actual pumpkin, and this smells EXACTLY like that. Super creamy and smooth thanks to the vanilla and cream, and the nutmeg elevates this to “oh godddddddd I need to bathe in this” levels.

Samhain 2013 Vintage (turned earth, wet leaves, and a cool specter ridden wind): I was insanely excited for this. I mean, dirt! I’m the queen of dirt blends! But this smells like…. licorice. Headache-inducing licorice. It’s definitely a wet blend, but more like “accidentally stepping in a pile of soggy leaves” than “wet leaves on a forest floor.” The drydown is actually very nice, a soft earthy scent that’s just on the edge of not being there at all. Countrycide‘s darker cousin. But I’m not sure of the “oh god licorice I can feel the migraine coming” is worth it, and I’m still incredibly disappointed in the lack of dirtiness. Samhain, I waited so long for you and you let me down!

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Old Cider Haus (oak, sweet drying hay fields, crushed apple pulp and vanilla husks): I don’t like fruit scents, especially fake apple smells, so my rational  brain beat out my ”I LOVE CIDER” brain and I didn’t buy a full bottle of this. Damn you, rational brain, because this is FANTASTIC. The apple scent is very fresh and crisp, and I swear I smell cinnamon. I mean, it is cider. So you need some spices in there. The vanilla adds a nice sweetness and this is pretty much fall in a bottle. Definitely getting a full size when the restock happens!

Pumpkin Queen (hay pillows, pumpkin, ripe peaches dusted with clove and nutmeg, dried summer herbs and lastly, a lovely crown of amber): The peach note here scared me a bit, but I have to try every scent in the lineup. For reasons. Thankfully, I don’t get any peach! This is much more “pumpkin pie” than Pumpkin Eater, featuring heavier spices and whiffs of herbs from the kitchen. The amber adds a soft, almost powdery note that works quite well. I’m usually not a powdery amber lover but this blend… it’s fantastic! Almost makes me want to try Queen Mother, the only blend I DIDN’T try (because that pricetag, ouch)

Spider Silk (delicate water mint, wispy grey musk, crystalline webs of amber, oakmoss, torchwood, copaiba resin, and a touch of withered violet leaf): This is probably the blend I was least excited about (aside from the fruit ones), but I am SO IN LOVE. A soft, floaty, watery floral. It has a juiciness to it, like melon without the fruit aspects. There’s heady musk and oakmoss and at the tail end of the sniff, a stunning wisp of violet. An aquatic floral unlike any other I’ve tried. Definitely need a full bottle!

The Horseman (forest and wood, distant fire, smooth saddle leather, brown musk and the lingering scent of a dark gentleman’s cologne on a black woolen coat): Smokey leather and cedar. This is a gorgeous masculine fragrance with a heavy musk that I am so in love with. One of my absolute favorites from this set! I am really into truly male scents and they can be hard to find in the indie world, but this really hits all the right notes.

Persephone’s Descent (pomegranate, pale musk, narcissus blossom and black amber): Fruit! I knew I wouldn’t like this, even though pomegranates are my food passion. This is fruit & florals on me, very Bath & Body Works. But probably pretty nice if fruits are your jam.

Tobac (tobacco, a wisp of smoke, bourbon vanilla and two cedarwoods): Super masculine, with gorgeously strong notes of smokey tobacco that fade into cedar and vanilla. I imagine a manly woodcutter helping his mom make pies, maybe spilling a little vanilla on his flannel shirt. Delicious. More “feminine” than The Horseman, but both are decidedly on the male side of unisex.

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Lavender Pumpkin: Lavender pumpkin usually means “lavender with pumpkin spices” which is what I expected, but this is more “lavender with pumpkin flesh.” Unique, girlie, refreshing. I have to admit that I do wish there was more spice, but this is definitely an interesting spin on what even I must admit is a kind of played-out combination.

Hazelnut Mocha Latte: Nutty, chocolatey coffee. Three things that belong together, now on my lips. I ADORE HoG’s balm formula, and it was insanely hard to pick only two flavors for my first order. But man, this is a winner!

AlchemicMuse’s Fall 2014 Scents

24 Aug

Finally, finally, it is time for fall perfume lines to start coming out. Fall is my favorite time of year: the changing leaves, sweater weather, bright sunshine and cool breeze. Apple cider and pumpkins and Halloween. All things cozy and creepy fit into fall’s domain, so of course it’s my jam. And it also signals the end of my least-favorite season (summer-hot, so hot, and fruity perfume. no love for summer).

AlchemicMuse was one of the first indie perfume companies I got into, so I have a few of their fall releases from the tail end of last year. But of course I had to round out the set, because I have a nagging completionalist streak and/or I am a perfume shopaholic.

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Countrycide (sweet, earthy autumn leaves with top notes green fig, bergamot, golden hay, and dried flowers masks a darkened heart of musky clover, caramelized benzoin, beeswax, and black vanilla absolute. At the center is a corrupted foundation of bitter almond, tonka bean, gaiacwood and sandalwood): This is possibly the longest list of scent notes I’ve seen. Scratch that, BPAL’s got to have a scent with one twice as long. But really! It’s intimidating. Yet Countrycide is a sweet, light, airy scent: it’s leaves on fall air. That’s the only way I can describe it. I have had this for ages and I think it might have been my first AM purchase. I use it for layering constantly, whenever I want a scent to have a little extra “oomph” or mystery. On its own, it makes me smell like I rolled in a pile of leaves. Delicious.

Phantasm (aged roses and white lilies shrouded in an ethereal mist of cool earth, wet stone, and faint incense with a lingering base of soft, smoky musk): I love rose blends, but it tends to be a really dominant note on my skin. And here it amps like crazy: it’s almost all rose, with hints of musk and a faintly wet backdrop. I was kind of expecting a “graveyard rose” type of blend but this is more of an… antique rose sort of smell? Not old lady, but like old money rose. A rich lady’s rose. I feel so very fancy wearing it.

Samhain (blood orange rests atop a heart of roasted walnuts, brown sugar, and hazelnut java fused with black anise seed, earthy patchouli, and black vanilla winding down to a rich musk base): Strong, deep, chewy roasted walnuts are the first and boldest scent in the mix. It’s a very cozy “fall” smell, reminiscent of those autumn coffee blends. Not, like, a pumpkin spice latte or anything. Just strong spiced coffee and a walnut danish. That’s what I imagine I’m eating when I put this on.

ZomBee (sickly-sweet honey and warm beeswax over a layer of aged patchouli, crushed clove, and darkened vanilla pods): Patchouli and honey! Honey can be a hit-or-miss note for a lot of people and I’ve definitely had honey from companies that has that cat-pee vibe, but thankfully AlchemicMuse’s stays true to life on me. This is super sweet but also earthy and kind of devious. Like the cute little kid in a horror movie you just know is going to kill everyone.

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Bad Wolf (freshly-picked berries and sweet cream fused with a shady forest brew of mahogany, apple wood, and blood cedar to round out the darker, more sensuous base of patchouli, tonka bean, oakmoss, and vanilla bourbon): Berries, my nemesis, meet cream, my true love. I was hoping the long list of other notes, all of which I love, would drown out the fruit… but this is, indeed, a berry-heavy blend. Which is probably awesome if you like berries. The cream makes it almost candy-sweet, and the earthy background notes are lovely. But I really, really hate berries. Sob.

Bloodlust (dragon’s blood resin, heady incense, and iron distilled patchouli saturated with blood orange and thickened with amber and myrrh): This is like walking into a head shop on Halloween. Incense, incense, and more incense with thick resin and hints of citrus and spice. This was my free sample, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t like it much… but it’s so fun! Very seasonal, and somehow it doesn’t come off “Christmas” smelling.

Bonfire (crisp fall air, mulled cider, burning maple leaves, and a crackling bonfire): I was expecting this to be a bit like Sugar & Spite’s Grimoire, but it’s all apple cider! Well, not *all*-there is a distinct smokey background, so you get that “sitting around the fire drinking cider” kind of feel. It’s a cozy blend, and probably the most traditionally “autumn” one in this lineup.

Vanilla Oak (bergamot, camphor, cassia root lead to a heart of smoky vanilla-tobacco and warm spice grounded with aged oak, soft amber, and frankincense): I was expecting a more masculine scent, but the vanilla in this is warm and feminine. It does lean unisex, but it’s so much softer and danity than I was assuming! I guess I was expecting something along the lines of TF’s Tobacco Vanille or SS Cedar Magus, but this is kind of a girlie version of those. Warm wood and sweet vanilla with hints of bergamot and resin. Really lovely!

Wicked (english ivy, forest berries, and bergamot refined with and enchanting forest brew of tenacious greens and precious woods): I have had a sample of this for… oh, probably 6 months. Perhaps longer. The berry note has terrified me, because fruit = no bueno in my book. And I was scared it would turn out like Bad Wold. I am really sorry I neglected it for so long because it essentially smells like a forest! Tall pine trees, crunchy leaves, the sharp snap of vines. It’s a very unisex blend and I could see this working SO well on a guy. Sadly, my boyfriend refuses to be a test subject because he knows there’s no turning back once he opens that door.

*note: Wicked is not in the picture because I may or may not be a spazz who dropped it under the bed*

Overall, I think this is a really diverse fall lineup. A little something for everyone! Like crisp outdoor scents? Candy-sweet Halloween treats? More traditional cider blends? Fruity ones? Or resinous autumn treats? Yup, there’s probably a blend for you here. Unless you like pumpkin… but for that they have Lovecraft, part of the regular lineup and also my absolute favorite of their perfumes (and also my favorite pumpkin scent!).

All of these scents are available as perfume oil, soap, lotion and more right here.

A Brief Sugar & Spite Halloween 2014 Review

23 Aug

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I have very fond memories associated with Sugar & Spite. Their Valentine scent introduced me to what is now a passionate love of leather scents, and my first experience with gourmand blends was with their delicious Brewster. I was really looking forward to their fall line this year since, well, dark & eerie is kind of their thing but when it went up I was only able to spring for one scent. That didn’t stop them from going all out on the packaging. I mean seriously, it’s amazing.

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I took this in the dark with my ipod, apologies for the worst photo quality ever

I know, right? Wax seal on the perfume, beautiful business cards that are basically mini art prints, a handmarked sample, and a toffee lollipop. Sugar & Spite is serious about Halloween guys.

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The lolipop was salted toffee. SO GOOD.

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Packaging on the full-sized perfume. Reminds me of fancy lipstick!

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Grimoire (ancient dusty spices, fire, smoke, charred wood, and turned earth): Every scent in this blend called out to me. Fire? Smoke? Wood? Earth? That’s right, this is a dirt blend. And oh, is it dirty. The turned earth hits you first, and it actually might be the best dirt note I’ve come across. And I’m kind of an expert. Smoke and ash waft in after, heating up slowly on the skin. I was a bit worried that “dusty spices” would equal cinnamon but oh man this is ALL CLOVE. This is, like, me in a bottle. I am SO IN LOVE. Also, the bottle has a little dropper in it. It’s so precious.

Diabolique (orange blossoms dripping with sticky black honey, warm gingerbread, 3 vanillas, tea leaves and aloeswood): This is the scent I put in my cart and took out 3 times before I placed my order. Either they are psychic or, you know, there’s only like 3 other scents it could have been so it was like a 25% chance. This is the opposite of Grimoire: creamy, sweet, comforting. All gingerbread and vanilla and tea, the treat after the trick. These two layer together really fabulously, which I found out accidentally (because I am a clutz).

So basically, it’s fall and I love fall scents and I love Sugar & Spite. Grimoire is my jam. I feel like I should buy a million bottles… but I also want to try out the other scents. And grab some Bone Daddy soap. And, like, a million lip balms. I really might have a problem.

Electricity So Fine & Other Violets

22 Aug

I am a huge fan of purple florals. Iris, hydrangea, hyacinth. And, of course, violet: the crown jewel of purple flowers. So when I saw it listed as a note in the new Darling Clandestine fragrance, I jumped on the pre-orders. I’ve had mixed success with DC blends: some I adore to the extent that my love affair with them is kind of unhealthy (Pyrotechnic and Don Gato, my true loves), but most of the others I’ve had mixed success with. Her scents are very complicated and they tend to get a bit muddled on my skin. But I mean, violets and that label. How I could I resist?

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And look, I got a little shark friend in the mail!

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Bonus FULL SIZED CANDY. BLUE RASPBERRY. And a cute canvas bag! I need all of these things, obviously.

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Electricity So Fine (artemisia absinthum and mosses and blackest tea and port wine, splashed with an electric sizzle of sparkling violets): This smells at first like moss soaked in wine. Strong, very strong, almost too much. It’s kind of masculine, definitely a unisex blend! The drydown is almost instantaneous, with the alcoholic headiness vanishing into soft violets. Not the scent of candied violets or violet gum, but soft violets in a field that have been a bit crushed. This is a wet, wet scent, but the name “Electricity” fits it so well. Like many of her blends, this is hard to describe. Wet, crackling: like a summertime high school romance. Seriously, that is what this makes me feel like. Hot weather and small towns and first crushes.

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I got another violet scent (this time from Alkemia) only a day before this one so I thought hey, might as well compare and contrast!

Wild Swans at Coole (sweet flag, orris root, fen violet, wild autumn orchids, blue moor-grass, blackthorn wood, drying ferns, dried sedge grasses soaked in dew, and veils of mist parting over lake water): This is another wet violet blend, but this is a damp, misty floral. Reeds in a pond, fresh violets, cool water, the beginning of rain. Dipping your toes into chilly water, the sharp snap of fern stems. Electricity So Fine is a “warm” violet scent and this is a “cool” one, if that makes sense. They actually contrast perfectly, which was not something I noticed in the notes when ordering them!

While we are talking violets, I thought I’d mention a few of my other favorites. There is, of course, Bouquet de Marechale (violet and bergamot, and a bewitching light touch of bay) from Possets’ current summer collection, and my favorite violet scent: Saturnalia (violets and vetiver), a discontinued blend from Black Phoenix Alchemy.

That’s right, all my favorite violet scents are limited! Because Wild Swans is part of Alkemia’s fall lineup, and it seems like Electricity So Fine is also a seasonal blend. At least I have full bottles of 3 of the 4 of them… and the competionist in me of course wants to get a bottle of Bouquet so it’s an even 4.

What are your favorite violet scents?

Solstice Scents’ Summer 2014 Collection

18 Aug

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I got my package of Solstice Scents’ full sampler for their summer collection as I was heading out the door on Friday afternoon. Out to a place with… no internet! Yes, such horrors exist. Well, not horrors, because it’s actually pretty awesome to step away from the digital world and hang out in nice country air. And I’d get a full weekend to test out all the scents! Plus I could take nice outdoor pictures of the vials! Which… yes, I forgot to do. But look, I saw a zebra! Did you know they like to roll around on the ground? They totally do. It’s adorable.

Anyway, onward with the reviews.

Coquina (Sandalwood, Orange Blossom, Clementine EO, Beach Sand, Plumeria Absolute, Coconut, Ginger EO & A Splash of Sea-spray): This is the only scent I purchased “blind” in full size, because I am on a clementine kick at the moment. This reminds me of a less bitter Chrysalis–lighter on the citrus than I expected but with that edge that orange blossom gives, and full of soft tropical flowers. Whatever scents they used for “sand” and “sea spray” temper this nicely, and it’s not an in-your-face floral but very soft and lovely.

Hand of Darkness (Oceanic Accord, Rain Accord, Woods Blend, Black Pitch, Buddha Wood, Lime, Coriander, Tarragon, Amber): I wanted to love this, I really did. It came out intensely resinous and powdery on my skin, with amber and black pitch overpowering everything else. The description sounds so lovely, ahh! But I was a bit hesitant on this anyway, since their coriander note reads as straight-up cumin on me. Which is less than appetizing in a perfume.

Heat of the Night (Vanilla, Mango, Coconut, Orange, Sandalwood, Amber, Orange Blossom, Edge of the Night Base): The vanilla in this is luscious and strong, adding warmth to the bold tropical fruity notes. I am normally not a tropical fruit kind of person but I can almost get behind the mango and coconut in this blend. I love their Edge of the Night base and it really works well here… just not well enough for me to want a full size. I’m so biased against summer scents, too much fruit!

High Desert (Desert Sage, Ceremonial White Sage, Sandalwood, Mitti, Cacti, Indian Tobacco, Prickly Pear Cactus, Hay, Smoke, Labdanum, etc.): Sawdust and pine sap. Very, very strong sawdust. Overwhelming sawdust, like you just walked into a workshop. After that fades a bit I get molasses and sage.

High Noon (Worn Holster Leather, Tobacco, Whiskey, Woods, Sand, Gun-Smoke, Musk & Soft Ladies’ Perfume): Is it just me, or is having two perfumes in a small collection that both start with “High” kind of confusing? I like High Noon a lot more than High Desert. It’s mostly leather, sap (from where? a mystery) and alcohol on me with a hint of musk. Softer than expected, it’s a combination I would assume to have a lot of throw but it stuck very close to the skin.

Old Havana (Tobacco, Woods, Spices, Sea Mist, Lime): Tobacco, leather, citrus, cedar. I swear I get something like cedar or sap in almost all of the masculine summer scents. They are all very resin-y. Like a forest floor, if a forest floor happened to stumble into a bar and get a bit tipsy. Which actually sounds awesome, but does not play out well on my skin.

Sirocco (Moroccan Spices, Sandalwood, Hot Baked Earth, Myrrh Resin, Precious Saffron Threads & Oud): Licorice, licorice, and more licorice. Maybe some incense and sandalwood, along with YEAH THAT WOULD BE MORE LICORICE. Anise, too. I hate licorice. This was a scrubber for me. But if you like the licorice/anise family man oh man do I have the scent for you.

Sun-Warmed Honey (Honey, Apricot, Strawberry, Chamomile, Kunzea, Ginger, Orange Blossom): After a long road of “oh god none of these are ever going to work on me” we come to this beauty. Warm, cozy, STRONG honey infused with orange. It’s candy-sweet, and I get a really powerful mango note that could be the apricot or strawberry. A fruity blend I like?! Yup. It’s soothing and comforting, like curling up with a mug of sugared-up tea.

Tenebrous Mist (Soft Musks, White Amber, Sea Spray, Sandalwood, Bay Rum, Tea Leaves & Wood Smoke): My hopes were highest for this blend… because of the name, I will fully admit. It’s just so mysterious. And thankfully, it lives up! Kind of. I mean, in comparison to a trail of defeats, Tenebrous Mist was a real winner. Soft, ephemeral, aquatic. Not too salty, lightly musky, like fresh rain. But very, very soft. Almost faint, faded in a few hours. Then again, it is mist!

Tropical Moon (Coconut, Tuberose, Tahitian Gardenia, Lime Essential Oil & Pink Lotus Attar): Sharp, sharp white floral at first. Like gardenia with a knife-blade edge, followed by… hay. I swear, this collection. So confusing. Coconut and tuberose come in all creamy at the end, playing nice after that surprise opening. This is a intriguing blend, one I didn’t even consider putting on the “possible full size” list but I ended up very fond of.

I adore Solstice. Their spring collection was divine, I love their general catalog scents, I need full sizes of pretty much their entire fall and winter lineups, but summer? I was shocked at how it played out! One after another, they all ended up strange on my skin. In every way, summer is not my season.

Thankfully, my initial assumptions were right and Coquina is a scent I’m happy to have in full size, and I’m considering Tenebrous Mist and Sun-Warmed Honey.