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Possets’ Sicilian Seduction

14 Aug

I’ve done a lot of debating about my favorite indie perfume company. I love Black Phoenix Alchemy’s cleverness, the whimsy of Haus of Gloi, Conjure Oil’s conceptual endeavors, and Solstice Scents’ ability to capture the essence of an emotion. But in terms of consistency, I’m a Possets girl all the way. I have yet to try a single scent from them that I dislike, and most end up in the “oh god I need this forever and ever” pile. So of course their summer line, Sicilian Seduction, was calling to me. Even though I really am not a fan of summer scents in general. But I ordered, like, a third of what they were offering. And considering how big their collections are, it was a substantial haul. I got bottles (full or half-size) of the following:

Acanthus (clove notes are combined with a grey musk, a foundation of pink damascena rose otto and a good portion of sandalwood): This is my rose. The rose scent of my dreams. Soft, lovely pink blossoms–not powdery or old-lady-ish–undercut by rich, smokey clove and a hint of rich sandalwood. I feel like I’ve found my holy grail rose scent. Floral but deep and sensual.

Cannoli (deep fried tubes of the lightest crust filled with sweetened ricotta cheese): I do not like chocolate scents but thankfully this is a chocolate chip-free cannoli–all crunchy crust and rich cream. It’s kind of a hard scent to describe: rich, sweet, very gourmand and kind of conceptual. It doesn’t so much smell like a cannoli as it smells like… eating a cannoli, if that makes sense.

Mafia (melon with a lovely neroli, lemon and Mediterranean jasmine, osmanthus, incense, and distant orange groves): I got this just for the melon, but it’s a lovely, complex oriental blend. Floral but not overwhelmingly so with bright bursts of citrus and melon. It’s not a happy floral, even though the notes read like one, but a floral with a bite: the osmanthus and jasmine give it a definite edge.

Vespi (citrus blend of lemon and grapefruit, the zest of a tomato leaf and pepper lounging in the background): This is the only scent I got a full bottle of because it’s pretty much me in perfume notes. And, yup, I adore it. Starbursts of grapefruit backed by nose-clearing pepper and earthy tomato leaf. This is an earthy, garden citrus: dirty and sparkling. If I had to pick one signature scent, this would be seriously close to the top.

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And these are the decants!

14 Carnations (14 carnations, the scent of earth and surrounding plants, add a bit of fern): I am very on the fence about carnation, but the earth and fern cajoled me into ordering a decant. However, that signature spicy-yet-powdery carnation smell dominates on my skin. It’s not bad, I just… don’t really like carnations. If you do, this is totally the scent for you.

Blood Orange (blood orange, aged patchouli, a tiny dash of Saigon cinnamon, and a backup of a zesty “yellow musk”): I have recently become obsessed with blood orange (and clementine) and ordered this in a heartbeat. But not the blood orange gelato scent, which I am now regretting. At first this is a lovely orange, but once the cinnamon kicks in it really reads as a holiday scent. I mean, it’s a really nice holiday smell, but I was hoping for more of a POW summer orange.

Bouquet de Marechale (violet and bergamot, and a bewitching light touch of bay): I love purple florals, and this delivers in droves. Sweet, candy violets with an undercurrent of tea-like bergamot. The bay adds an herbal flair, so this is a very odd mix of candy and spice cabinet. In, like, a really good way. It reminds me of Saturnalia, one of my absolute (and now discontinued, sob) BPAL blends.

Gelato: Fiore de Latte (cream and a dash of salt, perhaps a bit of tuberose finds its way in here): Do you like cream? Milk? How about those scents in perfume? Imagine the richest, most over-the-top indulgent milky creamy blend. The kind that makes you want to pour the vial straight down your throat. That’s Fiore de Latte, but better. Seriously, this blend is FREAKING AMAZING oh my god. I feel like wearing it is dangerous because I have an overwhelming urge to gnaw my wrists off.

Gelato: Riso des Anges (rice and sugar in ways too sinful to recount): Fiore de Latte minus a little cream with tons of nuts thrown in and a whole lot of sugar. Just as indulgent, just as scrumptious. No one does creamy gourmets like Possets.

Jardin di Principo (olive blossoms, cupped old roses, waxy white magnolia, and a hint of clove mixed with the scent of earth and the scent of water on limestone with moss): This is a soft, dainty rose blend. I expected it to be more of a mixed-floral, but rose amps up like crazy on my skin. The magnolia/earth/water/moss elements mix together into a calm “airy” quality that make this ever so ladylike. The clove is pretty much hidden but I’m kind of happy about that because I was worried this would be too similar to Acanthus.

Sicily (oranges, pepper, lemons, the sea, musk, and passion): This is Vespi’s bad-tempered cousin. Fiery pepper, bright lemon and dominating orange. The aquatic element is deliciously salty. This is not a scent for the weak of heart: it’s bold, bright, and fierce.

Stiletto (sicilian lemon mingles with oakmoss which vamps to galbanum, which flirts with yuzu): Yuzu is my favorite citrus, and it sets this blend apart from the other similar scents in the lineup (Vespi, Sicily, etc). It’s a softer, more even-tempered smell. The oakmoss gives it a cool tone: citrus is usually bright and happy, but Stiletto is rather calming and refreshing.

So, basically, I really freaking loved everything. Except 14 Carnations, which is because… I don’t like carnation but I ordered it anyway. I’m considering ordering full bottles of both Gelato scents, along with full sizes of Acanthus and Cannoli and a backup of Vespi. Overdoing it? Totally. But I haven’t been this head-over-heels in love with a collection since BPAL’s Lupers, which I ended up with 7 bottles from.

June 2014 Beauty Favorites

11 Jul

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So, it’s almost the middle of July. I seem to be very late on this one! But hey, it’s still July, so technically I am on time. Technically.

Caolion Pore Mool Pool Deep Cleansing: This was one of the items in my Memebox Mini #2, and I have fallen utterly in love. It’s a bizarre combo cleanser/makeup remover, but unlike any one I’ve tried before. Usually makeup removers are heavy on the oil (and I’ll be honest, I often use straight-up Vaseline for removing stubborn cat eyes), but this is an oil-free blend that leaves you feeling so refreshed.

Solstice Scents Cameo: Yes, I’ve finally obtained a full size of this after raving about it in the Spring Collection post. Cameo is everything. Cameo is life. Almond, rose, cream… it’s like a perfect afternoon tea party.

MAC Pure Heroine Lipstick: I’m pretty sure no one has noticed, but the purple for both my header font and the lipstick ratings is identical to MAC’s Heroine. Yes, there are a few makeup-themed Easter eggs in the design! Purple lipstick is basically my favorite thing on earth so I jumped on Pure Heroine insanely fast. It’s really only slightly darker than the original but the brightness is toned down significantly, leaving a perfect rich purple for a vampy look. It’s summer, but I will rock fall makeup if I want to!

Shiro Cosmetics’ Chinchillin’: When I was a little girl, I begged my dad for a pet chinchilla. It never happened. But at least now I own this amazing eyeshadow! It’s a highly shimmery grey-purple combo… I wouldn’t say that it is a duochrome, but depending on the light it can lean more neutral or very bright. It’s one of those lovely shadows that is perfect for a one-shadow look… or with a little bit of Dammit Moon Moon in the crease!

ELF Ariel Collection Surf’s Up Bronzer: I went a little crazy trying to find this, hitting up 3 Walgreens in the city before an amazing saleswoman looked up where it was still in stock for me. And behold, it’s all mine! This isn’t really in my favorites because I like to use it… it’s actually a really gorgeous golden bronzer, but it’s SO PRETTY I don’t want to ruin it. I’ll just hold it and pretend it’s part of my underwater treasure trove.

Haus of Gloi Summer 2014

3 Jun

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Summer is my least-favorite season. I hate heat, sticky clothing, brutal sunlight and obnoxious children everywhere. I also don’t really like summer scents: it’s all fruit all the time. Fruit is the opposite of my jam. Get it, jam? I know, it was awful. I’m sorry. So unlike the spring perfume indie lines, I won’t be doing comprehensive reviews, but I can’t resist picking up a few things here and there.

Sol (dry gingergrass, litsea cubeba, neroli, frankincense tears, saffron infused honey, rosemary and the faint touch of true cinnamon bark): This is all incense on me. I literally can’t smell anything else. Which is a shame, because I love gingergrass, saffron, honey and rosemary. I want to know what they would smell like in a perfume. And incense isn’t even in the notes!

Brier Path (sun drenched trail leading to a day dream of ripe berries and woods rose, rich forest loam, ozone, dark amber and cream): This was my free sample, and the one I was hoping to get. Dirt! Cream! Ozone! Sadly this starts off with a burst of berries on me and fades to a very strong amber. I do like amber, but HoG’s tends to read very powdery on me. So, baby powder and squished berries.

Sanctum (muskmelon, coconut water infused with bergamot flower, kaffir lime, polished ho wood and sticky benzoin): I heard rumors that this was very “cucumber melon,” but I do love a good fresh melon scent. In fact, I had to stop myself from ordering a full bottle. It is indeed quite melon-y, and I get not a hint of cucumber. Instead… ginger? Which is not on the list at all. I do get strong lime though, so this is very Thai-oriented to me. Reminds me of sweet curry. Which is nice, but kind of weird.

Narcosa (a thick haze of tonka and black vanilla, three jasmines, tuberose and ylang ylang): I think this is the scent I was most excited for. Creamy floral? Yes! But this is… an dd one. I expected it to be super thick and hazy, but it’s kind of old lady. Very, very strong tuberose and vanilla extract. Not unpleasant, but not the sophisticated tropical scent I was expecting.

Driftwood (sun bleached driftwood, dry black musk, warm sand, dune grasses and a damp oceanic breeze): My new-found love of aquatics made me pretty excited for this one. It sounds so nice! But I think the musk is messing with my nose here, because I get weird soap and an overwhelming department store perfume smell. This is one of those instant headache triggers for me–though I suffer from chronic migraines thankfully perfumes rarely set them off, but Driftwood is doing my head no favors.

Mango Cream Lip Balm: I adored my lip balms from the spring line so much I ended getting a backup of Rosemilk Caramel, so I had high expectations for Mango Cream. I mean, mangoes are pretty much my favorite fruit. And cream! Sadly, this smells like neither fresh mango nor cream. It’s almost identical to mango gummies though, with hints of bubblegum. Very sweet, which is not what I was expecting.

Despite my dislike of summer scents I did end up getting almost the whole collection minus Zazz, Beguiled and Komodo. And pretty much none of them worked out on me. I have had huge success with Haus of Gloi’s general catalog, spring scents and reverie so I think it’s just that summer blends and me are not meant to be. Which means… money saved for delicious fall blends. I’m already starting a piggy bank for those pumpkin delights.

Solstice Scents’ Spring 2014 Collection

15 May

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Solstice Scents is by far one of my favorite perfume companies. I love everything I have tried from them, and they come with the lovely bonus of actually keeping seasonal collections in stock long enough to sample before you commit to a full size (unlike some companies we know…). I have been eagerly anticipating their spring collection, so when it dropped I of course bought samples of every scent (and a full-size of one I knew would be love at first sniff).

They also have new postcards and bookmarks! We’ve had the winter ones in packages for a long time now, so it’s nice to see some new spring-themed goodies. I just love the extras they include, it gives a very distinct and home-y, small-town vibe to their collections.

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Chrysalis (Orange Blossom, Grass, Bitter Green Orange, Vetiver, Patchouli, Amber, Yellow Mandarin, Rose de Mai Absolute, Sandalwood and Indian Attars): If I see the word “bitter” in a perfume, I buy it. I LOVE bitter, fresh green scents and Chrysalis is a truly memorable one. The orange blossom is working on my skin for once, and this is a green, citrusy delight. The orange isn’t too heavy, and the sandalwood and vetiver are happily prominent. This is a very unisex blend: fresh, crisp, with hints of smokey/woody background notes. Very “early-spring,” Chrysalis reminds me of fresh buds on trees and the first warm breeze of the year.

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Now for the samples! I added a note asking for the Chrysalis sample in this set to be swapped for a second Courtyard (since, well, I already have a full-sized Chrysalis) and I honestly didn’t expect it to go answered since it is a kind of picky request. But lo and behold, two Courtyards in my sample pack! Did I mention that I got my order 4 days after I placed it as well? Everything about Solstice Scents is perfect.

Chantilly Cream (Whipped Cream, Peach Nectar, Vanilla & Yellow Mandarin EO): I hate peaches, but I love cream notes. Chantilly Cream is a bit of a conundrum for me because the whipped cream note is so rich and lovely and thick. The peach is just as prominent though, reading very candy-sweet on my skin. It’s cut a bit by the mandarin, one of my favorite citruses, but I think I will stick with sample sized on this one. Sorry peach: it’s just not meant to be.

Cascade of Gold (Sandalwood, White Sandalwood, Honeysuckle, Champa & White Lotus): My heart skips a beat whenever I see honeysuckle in a blend. I honestly was not expecting to love this one, but it is the surprise hit of the day for me. Super soft incense (a note I usually find overpowering) with sweet florals and tons of woody notes. It’s a warm, comforting blend. The honeysuckle peeks out at the end of the “sniff” for me, a surprise burst of sweet juicy notes at the tail end of the drydown. Complex and gorgeous, though I think it reads more “summer” than spring to my nose.

Cameo ( Almond, Rose, Yellow Cake, Tonka Bean, Coconut, Ginger and Green Orange): I desperately wanted a full size of Cameo, but I held myself to one big blind-sniff purchase. Honestly, I chose Chyrsalis over Cameo because I thought I might want Cameo in perfume and body butter lotion, depending on how much I like it. The verdict? TRUE LOVE. It starts with a very strong almond top note that reads as marzipan to me, followed by creamy vanilla and a big hit of ginger. It’s like a perfect morning pastry, only on my wrist and without all the calories. Definitely purchasing this in full, and perhaps a Burnishing Glace and Body Ganache as well…

Blossom Jam Tea Cakes (Southern Tea Cakes, Petit Fours, Floral Infused Jams & Preserves and a Delicate Aroma of Tea): In the vial this smells like cake and something… off. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s odd and a little gross. On my skin, though, it’s all cake with hints of fruit! I can just barely pick up some soft floral notes and I swear there is almond here too. This is definitely on the simpler side for Solstice but it’s so sweet and girlie. It makes me want to host a tea party.

Whispers in the Night (Jasmine, Tuberose, Vanilla Orchid, Coconut, White Amber, Sandalwood, Amber & Ylang Ylang on a base of Edge of the Night): I have one of the Edge of the Night blends already (Heart of the Night) and totally love it, and I’m a creamy floral sort of girl so I expected to love this one. However, it is almost *too* floral for me! Jasmine and tuberose are both very strong scents, and they come out swinging. The other notes get a bit lost and muddled until an hour after application, when it’s dried down enough for the deeper notes like amber, sandalwood and patchouli to peek through.

Courtyard (Lavender, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Sweet Clover, Coriander, Lime, Labdanum & More): I was certain I’d need a full size of this. CERTAIN. I am very, very glad I went with samples instead. This smells like curry on me! The coriander is VERY strong and cumin-y, though it fades after a few minutes to a more green, fresh scent. I get little lavender: it is mostly spices and moss. Fougeres are one of my favorite perfume “genres” so this one makes me a bit sad. I think I just amp up the spice notes, though, so I expect this will be quite different on other peoples’ skin chemistry.

Chiffon (Vanilla, White Amber, White Musk & Lemon Myrtle EO): Another “I want a full bottle right now!” scent I managed to hold to a sample (for now). Creamy lemon is one of my favorite things! The lemon here is VERY strong on initial application, pretty much drowning out any cream. Of all the scents from the spring line I find this the longest lasting: it lingered on me for hours, drying down to a soft, airy confection thick with vanilla and soft musk.

As per usual, I am beyond happy with my Solstice order. I think there is a nice variety in this lineup, ranging from fresh to earthy to floral to gourmand: if you like perfume, there’s probably something here for you. Chrysalis, Chiffon and Cameo were the big winners for me (with Chiffon and Cameo definitely coming to me in full size), and there was really only one miss that I can firmly chalk up to my spice-loving skin.

Black Baccara Grab Bag Sampler

12 May

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Near the tail end of Black Baccara’s closing sale, they had some INSANE deals. Like a grab bag of 12 perfume samples for $12. Yeah, I jumped on that pretty fast. It even came in really cute packaging! All 12 samples were tucked in a red satin bag, and then put into a clear plastic case with a business card. I didn’t expect something so fancy given that they just closed. The only downside is that now that the shop is down (and reviews for their perfumes are scarce), I can’t find listed notes for a lot of these!

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Magdalene (almonds and hints of flowers which meet many subtle notes on the dry-down before settling into a deep, earthy oud with hints of oakmoss): Mmmm, DIRT. Dirt and marzipan! This is probably nope-the-heck-out-of-here territory for most people but I am in love with Madgalene. It’s like eating fancy candy in a mucky forest.

Alice’s Tea Party (freshly brewed green tea mix with tart wild cherries, oranges, pomegranates, honey, marshmallows, whispers of vanilla and the faintest hint of baking bread): I get marmalade and fruit here, very jam-y without being overwhelmingly fruity. I usually HATE fruit blends but this one is nice enough. However, the baked bread, marshmallow and vanilla are missing! And, of course, those are some of my favorite notes.

Love Spell (none listed): Cinnamon and fruit. What is up with all the holiday-spice notes in Black Baccara blends? This is actually one of the last scents I tested and by this point it was like “oh god not the holiday potpourri again.” I really don’t like fruit so the apple and berry undertones were not helping. I feel like I am in a craft store right before Christmas when I wear this.

Chao (green grass, moss, sap, fresh sage, and lemon give way to whispers of jasmine and raspberries): From the notes, this should be my favorite of the bunch. Green green green! But this turns IMMEDIATELY to soap on my skin. I think it’s the jasmine–it tends to go very sudsy on me. I don’t get any grass, moss, sage or lemon. I’m so sad. It sounds AMAZING but the damn jasmine. It’s killing me.

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Trippy (none listed): From the name and lack of scent notes, I was expecting patchouli–a scent I sometimes get along with and sometimes loath. However, this is DIRT. All dirt, fresh and loamy. It evens out after an hour with a kind of spicy undercurrent–nutmeg? Clove? It is very soft though, and gentle. This is such a perfect scent for me.

Goddess (geraniums, lush roses, and a hint of pumpkins unravel to reveal fresh white musk, ambrette, sandalwood, and the faintest touch of ylang ylang): This is a soft, grown-up floral. Rose is the strongest note but it’s undercut by spice (the pumpkin I presume? more like pumpkin spices than actual pumpkin) and hints of musk and sandalwood. I do love a good rose blend and this is a sophisticated and earthy take on the classic flower.

Bathory (deep red wine and flowers, which dry down to a dark amber, balsam, clover and clove bouquet): The wine came off a bit fruity on my skin but this is a nice, feminine blend. The clove and clover I was SO excited for, but neither showed up (this seems to be a trend–I like a listed Black Baccara note, it’s not there). The wine and flowers are most prominent, with some amber that comes off powdery but not in a terrible way. It’s lovely, but I expected a more… dark? blend for the Countess. You know, something like wine with leather, blood, and a hint of cosmetics. BPAL, get on it.

Eternal Winter (none listed): In the vial this smells like… jelly beans. SUPER fruity, ick. But on my skin it’s very much a holiday scent–strong cinnamon and wine notes, like mulled cider, with hints of myrrh. I was expecting a “cold” scent with snow notes, but this is kind of like one of those spiced pinecones. It’s too tied to a season for me to wear regularly, but I will whip this out around the holidays.

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Ebenezer (none listed): I get pine sap, cinnamon and something vaguely metallic from this. I was not expecting a Christmas-y scent: I was expecting tobacco soot and and dry parchment. But, hey, it is Scrooge. So of course I don’t get what I want! I’ve found that many of Black Baccara’s blends have this underlying layer of rich incense–not, you know, an actual incense note but the feeling or vibe of an incense blend, and it’s super prominent in Ebenezer.

Marquis de Sade (leather, tobacco, merlot, dragonsbreath, bay rum, clove, opopanax, and oakmoss): Leather, clove, oakmoss? That is literally a DREAM of mine. But the other notes are in heavy competition here, creating a well-mixed masculine blend that melds together so seamlessly it’s hard to pick out any individual smells. I get leather, definitely, and then a rush of strong (alcohol-free) cologne, with hints of smoke at the end. This is a bold fragrance, especially for a girl, but I really adore it.

Poisoned Pudding (Marshmallow, chocolate, and vanilla blend with the faintest touch of fire and roots): This is SUCH a rich foodie. I’m kind of overwhelmed by the chocolate, which I do not usually like, but the wonderful marshmallow note smooths it out for me. I am a marshmallow perfume addict. Sadly, I don’t get any fire or poisonous plants–just pudding!

Carnival of Ghosts (pumpkins and kettle corn, slowly revealing whispers of apples, licorice, freshly turned soil, and a cauldron of witches brew. Candy apples and popcorn merge with damp, earthy darkness): I was really worried about trying this one out. It has a lot of notes that I LOVE–dirt, popcorn, pumpkin–and one that I hate-licorice. And then, there’s apple. I dislike fake apple, but love crisp apple. So Carnival of Ghosts was a crapshot. Thankfully, it turned out delightful! Musty in a pleasant way, with subdued soil & spices and hints of sweetness backed by a very tart hint of apple. It’s very much a fall scent, but a playful fall scent: which is nice, so often they read as warm and cozy!

A grab bag of perfumes is always going to have hits and misses–there is no way a random selection of twelve will work perfectly on anyone! But given the price I am very happy I took the plunge. Some of these are very season- and time-specific, but given that they are only sample vials that isn’t exactly a problem. A few did not work on me, but will make excellent swap fodder or layering experiments. And, as you would expect, there were true gems: why did I not buy a full sized bottle of Trippy when I had the chance?!

Review: Alchimia Apothecary

8 May

I have been waiting a long time for this haul–months upon months, since I first got my paws on a sample of Alchimia Apothecary’s Geisha. This was during their Black Friday sale, so this purchase has been a loooong time coming. But they just opened up their new store, and the combination of a discount, new scents, and my two favorites being made available as solids? I was all over that.

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The packaging is lovely and also very secure–each sample vial is encased in its own little layer of bubble wrap, and the full bottle is secured as well. I also had an eyeshadow sample, which I totally haven’t misplaced already or anything.

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I ordered one fullsized bottle of Red Rover, a blind-sniff impulse buy.

Red Rover (rolling fields of clovers and honey flowers surround you in this lovely spring inspired scent, with just a few patches of fresh cut grass): Clover is a difficult note to find in perfume but one I ADORE, so of course I purchased a 5ml bottle. What could go wrong? Nothing! This is a soft, grassy, perfect spring scent–it’s lightly floral with strong notes of clover, super-fresh and evocative.

BONUS ROUND Red Rover vs Haus of Gloi’s Maedwe (Pesky dandelions, red clover patches, creeping sweetpea blooms and the dense afternoon haze of blossoming fruit trees): Maedwe was a spring release a lot of people missed out on, so is Red Rover a good replacement? I say yes! Maedwe is a hint more floral and soft because of the sweetpea, while Red Rover’s grass note overrides most of the backing floral/honey scent. They are VERY similar, though I find Maedwe lasts a tad longer on me.

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My two solid scents! Alchimia’s solid formula is great, very long lasting with STRONG fragrance. I’ve tested both scents before and they’re my favorite offerings from Alchimia, so I was thrilled to have them available in easy-to-transport solid mode.

Geisha (a wonderful combination of crispy green bamboo, fragrant green tea and an overall feeling of clean fresh air): This is my absolute favorite clean scent. It’s so crisp–a breath of fresh air infused with green bamboo and just a hint of tea leaves. This is unfussy and uncomplicated, in the most elegant way. It’s also totally unisex, and would work equally well on a guy.

Jersey Devil (Trying to capture the heady scents of the pine barrens, spicy forest pine combines with spruce, fir and juniper berries. Adding to that the woody aromas of cedar, sandalwood and cypress, the slight hints of oak moss surround the earthy forest floor. Bold notes of tomato leaf and rosemary complete the bridge to unite this fantastic cologne oil): Okay, I got a sample of this originally because of the Coheed song. So sue me! Thankfully I fell in LOVE. This is a deep, rich earth blend: pine, cedar and juniper jump out at first, but not in an overwhelming or “holiday” type of way. It’s very much like walking in slightly damp woods, with hints of moss providing a lovely background. It’s just gorgeous! Also unisex, and it really does lean masculine. I just like smelling like dirty woods, okay?

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Onto the samples! I’m not sure if the packaging has changed, but I found these a LOT easier to open than my previous batch (which had wand tops from hell).

Swamp Gas (Cypress trees, oud, and other woods surround you as you immerse yourself in humid hints of fougere greens, orris, Spanish moss, ferns, fragrant orchids, and fallen leaves touching down to earth): Imagine standing at the edge of a swamp: the smell of fresh dirt, bark peeling off cypress trees, the heavy and rich scent of moss, the sharp green bitterness of ferns and sap. Not, perhaps, what you would traditionally associate with perfume but this is the kind of scent I live for. Lush, like being outdoors without the bug bites and grass stains.

Tugboat (The bright and sunny salt and kelp filled air surround the tugboat’s marina along with warm waters and friendly white billowy clouds): This is a “beginner” aquatic. Scared of harsh, salty tones or that weird kelp smell? Try Tugboat! It’s got a soft breezy feel with gentle aquatic notes: water and a hint of green. It does dry down a bit soapy on me, but that tends to happen with almost all crisp aquatics (except the blends from BPAL).

Green Thumb (Fresh cucumbers mix with a subtle wisp of dill and other herbs. Tall vines of tomato plants escape their cages containing sun ripe tomatoes and surrounded by arugula and just the shyest whispers of zesty lemon): I loooove tomato leaf scents, and this is a gorgeous one. It’s very herby, not ta all sweet, and has hints of lovely lemon in the background. It very much brings to mind the smell of a garden! I do wish there was a hint of dirt, but that’s probably because I want dirt in everything.

Tsunami (Seaweed and driftwood filled ocean water crash to the earth and swell with sea salt filled air and a touch of rice flowers): In my mind, there are 3 types of true aquatics: fresh, salty, and damp. Tugboat falls into the fresh category, and Tsunami into the damp one. This smells like wet moss, wood choked with sea water, and heavy mist. It is very natural and has some shared notes with Swamp Gas, but Tsunami feels more “beachy.” Like the air right after a storm!

BONUS ROUND Tsunami versus BPAL’s Shanghai Tunnel (no listed notes, review here). Shanghai Tunnel is my favorite damp/mossy aquatic, but it is extremely hard to hunt down. While Tsunami does not have the strong dirt topnote of ST, it has the same earthy, “wet puddle” feel–in, of course, a lovely and wearable way. An excellent replacement if Shanghai Tunnel was a scent you were craving!

Sex on the Lawn (Lilacs, ferns, English Ivy, Arabian sandalwood and…are those grass stains?!): This starts out with a very strong dirt note that I was not expecting but was pleased to discover. This is a masculine floral: the ivy and fern are bold, along with the smell of just-cut grass and hints of purple floral. I don’t know if I would pin it as lilac without the scent note, but it definitely gives off that “purple” vibe. This is like a twist on the classic men’s fougere (a fern and lavender blend), but here it’s fern and lilac (with a few dirty playmates). Basically, I love this. Alchimia is hands-down my favorite store when it comes to outdoorsy scents of ANY types, seriously their stuff is magic.

BONUS ROUND: I don’t have any scents to compare Sex on the Lawn to directly, but if you like ever-so-slightly floral but distinctly masculine scents I urge you to try Whitechapel (white musk, lime, lilac and citron) and Villain (lavender fougere, with hints of lilac, lime, and citrus musk) from BPAL.

So basically, I loved everything to death. I want full bottles of all my samples. It’s a tragedy (for my wallet), but a 100% successful haul!

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.

AlchemicMuse’s Spring 2014 Scents

16 Apr

AlchemicMuse is a perfume company that does not get mentioned a lot in the indie world. However, they are one of the first I stumbled upon when I first embarked on my perfume explorations, and they’ve remained one of my favorites. Almost all their scents lean feminine, so if unisex or masculine is your thing they might not be for you, but otherwise they have great pricing, a lovely general catalog, and tons of seasonal releases (that stick around for a while!). Their spring collection just came out, and I got samples of 4 of them in the mail the other day!

Alchemic Muse Spring Samples

Ambrosia (Luscious nectars of apricot and white peach amidst intoxicating mimosa and plum blossoms accented with a splash of ruby red grapefruit and a faint breath of spring air): Do you know what happens when you only read the perfume title & top notes instead of the whole description? Accidental peach notes! Aagh, fruit, my nemesis. Thankfully the peach pops up only in the background. I find this one hard to describe… it is definitely a floral, but everything melds together perfectly that individual notes are hard to pick out. Not in a bad way–it reminds me of commercial blends, especially Marc Jacob’s girlie florals.

Ostara (Hyacinth blossoms, myrtle, and wild heather fused with the soft green foliage of moss and ivy, gently grounded by a warm and earthy base of clove, cinnamon, and myrrh): For me, hyacinth is the essence of spring. Every year my mom buys a potted one on March 21st to celebrate spring arriving, and the house smells like lovely hyacinth for weeks. This perfume is hyacinth and fresh grass, clean air and springtime. Scent is tied to memory so I have a very visceral reaction to this blend: childhood comes rushing back, I feel like I’m running around in the yard as a kid with moss under my feet and the smell of fresh flowers. I need a bottle of this right now. Possibly ten bottles.

Orange Blossom Tea (Orange blossom petals with bergamot, muguet lily, and fresh green notes over a heart of robust black tea accented by a sheer, earthy base of oak, sweet hay, and light musk): I only ordered three samples, so I was not expecting an extra! But lo and behold, this was in my envelope. And thankfully the owner picked the one other scent in the line I would order for myself. Is she psychic, or have I just ordered so many times she knows my taste? Okay, it was probably blind chance. Anyway, I am starting to think orange blossom and I do not get along! The notes here are a bit similar to HoG’s Honeybelle, and again I get sharp orange blossom in front of everything else, drowning out the grass and hay (which I was so excited for!). Also there is lily, which turns to soap on me at least 50% of the time–and, yeah, soap. Sigh. I LOVE the smell of lily but my skin hates it. If you don’t have evil skin this is probably awesome.

Dreamcatcher (Wild honeysuckle flowers with sugared citrus notes of lemon and bergamot peel at play against a sheer base of orange blossoms, muguet and crisp green leaves): Orange blossom again! This time it plays nicely with others, and honeysuckle and lemon are the main players here. This is a strong, citrusy floral, very bright and happy. The bergamot reminds me of tea, like it always does, and this blend is just so… playful! It’s a smile-inducing perfume for sure. I adore honeysuckle perfumes and I want a full size of this one desperately!

There are two other scents in the line that I didn’t get (Fable: sweet wild strawberries intertwined with woodland roses underscored by mysterious woods, forest earth, and a hint of animal musk & Cloud Nine: white blossoms of Victorian lilacs with wisps of sweet jasmine, white rose, white violet, cherry heliotrope, and fresh cream raining onto a bed of white raspberries). Both have fruit (strawberry and cherry are usually death notes for me), so I passed, though the lilac in Cloud Nine was mighty tempting. Overall you can tell it’s a very floral, very feminine line, which is exactly what you would expect for spring (and the exact opposite of what Haus of Gloi went for!).

[UPDATE] I ordered a full bottle of Ostara and requested a sample of Cloud Nine to go along with it and the owner was nice enough to oblige, so now it’s an *almost* full review of the line!

Cloud Nine (white blossoms of Victorian lilacs with wisps of sweet jasmine, white rose, white violet, cherry heliotrope, and fresh cream raining onto a bed of white raspberries): I don’t like fruit, so the cherry and raspberry notes scared me off of this initially. But I am happy to report that it is a soft, creamy floral on me! Strong lilac with hints of violet in the background–I’m very happy the rose is not dominant, this is very much a “purple” floral (which is my absolute favorite “color” scent). The cream notes are far in the background so this is not a gourmand, but it does add a cohesive, vanilla-y softness to the blend. Very, well, cloud-like! In fact, it’s my second-favorite from this release… which means I might be snagging a bottle of it to go with Ostara. You can never have too many florals, right? And the dirt note in Fable is starting to nag at me (must have all the dirt blends), so I feel another order coming on.

First Impressions: Midsummer Dreams Apothecary

15 Apr

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There are roughly ten bajillion indie perfume companies out there (official estimate by the committee of me being too lazy to look how many there actually are), and though I have a long list of places I still want to try, I find myself constantly adding more to it. Of course the fact that there’s no money tree in my backyard is the main deterrent in not obtaining samples from every single company, so when I saw a crazy reasonably priced sample pack from the brand-spanking-new Midsummer Dreams Apothecary, of course I had to bite! I mean, I’m supporting small businesses. It’s, like, my duty as an American to buy lots of shit.

Turnaround was insanely fast, and I had my samples only a few days after ordering them! I meant to test them all during my birthday weekend but somehow managed to leave them behind (I swear I put them in my suitcase, it was gremlins!), so sadly this review is a few days later than originally planned. But look at the packaging. So cute! The tiny flower! Which I saved, not because I hoard packaging or anything. It could be useful! In case, uh, a fairy visits and needs a hat.

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Look at how precious! The stickers. I am such a sucker for stickers. The vials are packaged very carefully and I can’t see them breaking in transit unless your postal worker hates you and steps on the package or something, though my vials did leak a tiny tiny bit. I’m not sure of the culprit–I think it was Sultan’s Daughter, and it wasn’t enough to make a significant dip in the level of oil.

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Mermaid: (Sea salt, lotus, vanilla, Puakenikeni flower, gardenia, bergamot) From the name I was expecting a very aquatic blend, but this is more of a tropical floral. Gardenia and lotus are first and foremost, which is fine by me because I love both of them! It’s a super creamy blend (because of the vanilla, I’m assuming), and makes me think of mixed drinks served in coconuts. I do wish I could pick up on the bergamot or sea salt, though some citrus does peek through at the very tail end.

Rapunzel: (Amber, Sweet Grass, Honeysuckle, Rose, Jasmine) On me, this is all grass and amber. Seriously, I can barely pick up any flowers–perhaps some honeysuckle hanging out in the background, but mostly this is sweet, fresh grass and warm amber. I’m quite happy about that, since I saw other reviews that only got floral notes. I love fresh and clean notes, and Rapunzel definitely falls into that category for me.

Beauty: (Vanilla, Amber, Rose, Rosewood, Oakmoss) I have been searching for a perfect rose & moss scent for months. Rose tends to overpower most notes it is mixed with, unless they are similarly strong–and sadly, moss seems to be pretty understated. Here the rose and vanilla are very assertive: I love rose, so it’s not a big disappointment, though it’s not as earthy as I expected. The amber and vanilla are clear, the wood and moss not so much. My skin amps rose and amber like crazy though, so ymmv

Snow White: (Vanilla, Apple, Ylang Ylang, Balsam, Cedar, Rosewood, Pear, Bergamot, Fig) This is the scent I was expecting to like the least–in fact, I considered getting the other 4 blends and skipping this one. I am SO glad I did not! I usually hate fruity blends, but this is a really gorgeous creation. Apple and pear peek up in the background, but the cedar and vanilla are most present for me. It reminds me strongly of a Solstice Scents blend–a little Old Cedar Magus, a little Cellar. Though while both of those lean masculine or unisex, the cream and floral background here put Snow White decidedly in the “feminine” category.

Sultan’s Daughter: (Vanilla, Jasmine, Amber, Fig, Ylang Ylang) And this I expected to like the most! The name conjures up images of incense and teak and resin in my head, and while some of those things are in the notes, it just read as a pretty normal floral on me. A bit powdery, fruity from the fig, and with the jasmine sadly in the backseat. It’s nice enough, but not as special or wow-worthy as some of the other scents in the collection.

Wear time on all of these was 3-4 hours on me, though my skin eats up scents at a rapid rate. Sillage was moderate to low on most of them, except for Snow White which had a really far throw. While all 5 blends are basically in the same family (floral, though Rapunzel skirts out of it a bit on my skin), it’s a promising start to a collection. There are heavy hints at some masculine scents coming up, which of course interest me the most–I wonder who we’ll get? Personally, I want a Puss in Boots fragrance SO BAD. Leather, grass, and the cloying sweetness of kitty eyes.

One Hand Washes The Other’s Spring 2014 Collection

9 Apr

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I told myself quite firmly that this season I totally wasn’t going to buy things from every company’s spring releases. It has been a miserable failure so far. Between snatching up everything from Haus of Gloi, the small AlchemicMuse order, my huge BPAL haul, my plans for Blooddrop and Possets decants and the upcoming Solstice Scents releases… well, at least I smell nice? But one thing I was set on was no OHWTO! There was some drama over the store owner and their TAT is forever and I just don’t need any more! Right? But I got a sample of Silk Road a month ago and uh oh, somehow this happened.

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But I only got two full-size scents and they’re only solids, so it’s totally okay. I love OHWTO’s solid scents: they’re in little twisty tubes so they are both super easy to apply and can come with you on trips.

Rose Lemonade: (Fresh-squeezed Lemons, Sugar, Rose petals, Geraniums, fizzing Soda water, Grapefruit, and a light touch of Amber and Ginger) OHWTO scents always have a million listed notes but I often find that I can only pick up on a few of them. Here it’s lemon, grapefruit and rose: which is exactly what I expected, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. Light, bright, floral and happy. It’s really a summer blend though, more for warm hot nights, but I adore it.

Silk Road: (Green Tea with tart Rosehips, Jasmine blossoms, and Silk, along with hints of Cucumber, Chamomile, and Kiwi) The scent that led to this tiny haul. Silk Road is an incredibly fresh, clean scent. It’s spring in a twist tube. Green tea, cucumber and soft hints of jasmine. Jasmine seems to dominate most blends it is in but here everything just comes together so so perfectly. I feel like I need a bottle of this one too, ugh. I just love it so much.

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Has OHWTO always offered samples in oil form? I never even noticed. Their Etsy is sooo much easier to navigate than the old website.

Blackberry Buckle: (Blackberry preserves and fresh-picked Blackberries, Lemon zest, and Buttery crumbly Cake filling with a Spiced crumb topping) I put aside my fruit fear because I love cake scents, and this is heavenly. Very heavy on the butter and spice, it smells like a bakery! The blackberry isn’t like fresh fruit (which I hate), but like sweet, cooked filling. Scrumptious! It’s a little sickly-sweet, but in a good way? Like, it’s not an every-day scent but more of an indulgent type of thing for me.

Bluebell: (Blueberries and Lychee fruit, Clover, Lilies, White Musk, and Zucchini Blossoms straight from the garden) This is described as smelling like a bunny, so of course I was all over that. With clover & zucchini blossom included I was hoping for something like Haus of Gloi’s Maedwe, but it’s quite sweet and berry-like. Thankfully the lilies are playing nicely with my skin, which they usually don’t, but this is not at all what I expected. It’s not bad, but it’s not the fresh, rolling-in-the-grass smell I was looking forward to.

Maura Mae: (strongly apricot, with supporting notes of green clover, tea, cut grass, a sprinkling of field flowers-lily of the valley, violet, lavender, as well as a dash of berries, vanilla bean, and the faintest, tiniest, entirely lady-like nip of whiskey) In the vial this smells like coconut custard pie. Haha, what? On my skin it’s… still kind of a gourmand? I think the vanilla and whiskey are giving it a bit of a custard-y twist, which combined with the florals is very interesting. The notes are blended so well it’s hard to pick any of them out individually, but it is a soft and feminine blend. The most intriguing of the scents I picked for sure!

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STICKERS. And samples. Lanai is from another order, but since it’s part of the spring line I threw it in. I was kind of hoping to get samples of the other two spring scents that I didn’t order (Lucky and Gerbera) but forgot to ask.

Dude: (Sweet dark musk, cologne, well-worn leather, cloves, clary sage and a bit of litsea cubeba thrown in to brighten things up a bit) Leather, leather, LEATHER. With a little clove and sage. Since leather and clove are two of my absolute favorite notes in a perfume this is my new best friend. I’m waiting for them to restock solids of Dirty and Pumpkin Eater and when they do… well, they’re gonna have a friend in my cart.

Black Pearl: (Banana trees and the finest Tahitian Vanilla open, and as they step back, the lush white florals take hold. Tuberose, Tiare, Ylang and Pikake blooms create a truly opulent fragrance, perfect for gazing miles across the ocean from sun-bleached decks. Exotic fruit notes lend support- Coconut, Papaya, and sweet Lychee, while a sturdy heart of salty Sandalwood, with a hint of Amber, keeps everyone afloat) Umm, longest note list ever. Since most of them are fruit I was a bit hesitant to even open this one but it’s nice, in a kind of body wash way? Aka I like it, I just don’t want it on me all day. I seriously do NOT like fruit blends. Except in the shower, then we’re the best of buds.

Lanai: (Fruits from tropical islands matched with sugared citrus, lush greenery, and a hint of musk make for a sweet explosion of volcanic proportions) This smells like a fruit rollup. UGH, FRUIT. I just don’t like it.

If you are looking for a fruit-heavy spring lineup, OHWTO is where it is at. Sadly I hate fruit. It’s my nemesis. But there are some scents here I really love–both Silk Road and Rose Lemonade are going to be staples for me, they are perfect and simple. Also Blackberry Buckle is awesome but it has the downside of making me very, very hungry.