sixteen92: Salem

sixteen92 Salem

Damp leaves, church incense, Italian leather, dry birch woods, clove bud absolute, bonfire smoke

What better scent to test out in October than one called Salem? This is one of sixteen92’s best selling scents, and I’ve heard tons of hype about it. A friend sent me a sample, and I’ve been anxious to finally try out this well-regarded fragrance. You can buy this on sixteen92’s website for $4.65 US for a 2mL sample, $14 US for a 6mL bottle, and $20 US for a 10mL roll-on bottle.

In the bottle: LEATHER. Like, lots of leather, and some nondescript spices.

On the skin: The clove comes roaring in, and the leather softens a bit. Now it’s primarily clove with smoky church incense with leather to round it all out. There’s a certain dryness to this fragrance, probably from the dry leaves. This definitely leans masculine to me, like a hot man who smells like clove lurking in a church while wearing leather pants.

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Basically what it smells like. Image does not belong to me.

TL;DR: Clove with church smoke and leather. Very atmospheric and masculine. 3.5/5.

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Arcana: Mabon

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Arcana Mabon

Caramel-drizzled cinnamon pastries, a chunk of glowing amber, a warm cup of chamomile tea, and a small sliver of wild orange.

My ultimate weakness is cinnamon buns. I can resist the temptation of certain desserts, but if there are cinnamon buns present, I’m eating one. As you can imagine, seeing “cinnamon pastries” as a note for this scent meant that I had to try it. This scent was made by Arcana for Nui Cobalt Designs. Nui Cobalt Designs is an indie company run by an incredibly sweet woman named Forest; the company specializes in talismans and magickal oils. Mabon was an exclusive for their Crone’s Crate subscription box. While I am not a Crone’s Crate subscriber, I managed to find someone selling the scent on its own. This scent is no longer available.

In the bottle: Baked goods and orange! The orange is interesting here, because I feel like it isn’t as sharply citrus as other orange notes. There’s something very cozy about this.

On the skin: The orange calms down a little bit, and I get this beautiful, smooth honey note, which I think is from the chamomile. The cinnamon pastries sadly retreat to the back, but I do still get some of the cinnamon itself. I find this scent to be very warm and relaxing and it’s definitely autumnal without being pumpkin spiced everything. This is not what I expected at all, but I like it!

TL;DR: Cinnamon, sweet orange and a touch of honeyed chamomile. Very fall! 4/5.

 

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Mme. Moriarty, Misfortune Teller

BPAL Mme. Moriarty, Misfortune Teller

Red musk, vanilla bean, pomegranate, black currant, patchouli leaf and wild plum.

I think that patchouli gets a bad reputation. Yes, it can smell like a hippie who hasn’t bathed in two weeks, but if blended right, it can be earthy and rich and very sexy. This particular scent is considered one that you need to try if you like patchouli, so a friend sent me a decant of it. Since I love pretty much every note in it, I was very excited to finally try it. You can buy this scent on the BPAL website for $24 US for 5mL.

In the bottle: Mostly patchouli, with a berry undertone. This is a dark, dirty patchouli with a lot of earthiness and I like that.

On the skin: The patchouli is…gone? Despite being a very powerful note, I can’t smell the patch anymore and it’s really weird. Instead, I’m getting tart pomegranate and a very red wine kind of smell, possibly from the currant. I’m really disappointed by this! I wanted a fruit and patch blend and I’m not getting that at all. It’s just boozy and sour on me.

Mme. Moriarty

Art belongs to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

TL;DR: Tart pomegranate and red wine. No patch when on the skin. Disappointing. 3/5.

sixteen92: Liber Officiorum Spirituum

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sixteen92 Liber Officiorum Spirituum

Ancient parchment, leather bindings, smoldering resins, frankincense tears, ritual candles, black fire, soot, steel, dust and smoke.

Since it is October, it’s time to break out all of the spooky scents! This one was highly recommended by several of my friends in the indie community as a holy grail creepy scent, evoking the image of some kind of dark magic ritual. While I haven’t had a lot of luck with sixteen92 as a brand, the description and reviews convinced me to try this. This scent is currently unavailable, but it might return for a sixteen92 resurrection event.

In the bottle: RESINS. Lots of resins. But these resins aren’t really earthy, they’re on the sweeter side.

On the skin: The sweet resins are still the most prominent note, but I am getting some kind of dusty, almost woody scent. I think that’s the parchment and/or the candles. There’s just a touch of smokiness, and I’m getting some incense sweetness from the frankincense. I wouldn’t say that I can really pick up the leather bound books from this though. It also doesn’t smell creepy to; this smells more like a ritual to drive out a demon rather than summon one. That being said, I still really like it. It’s like the nicer, less evil cousin of Holy Terror.

TL;DR: Sweet, dusty resins. Not spooky per say, but definitely mystical and Halloween-y. 5/5.

Arcana: Anthropophagia

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Arcana Anthropophagia

Vanilla-infused pear sorbet with sugarcane, white amber, and a drop of French cognac absolute.

There are certain notes in perfume that don’t get enough love in my opinion. One of those is pear. I really enjoy pear scented things, but the note very rarely appears in any kind of mainstream or indie fragrance. That, combined with the great reviews for this scent, convinced me to take the plunge and try it. Now, some might also be curious about the name, since it doesn’t have anything to do with pear. This scent was part of the 7 Deadly Sins collection, and this was added as the “eighth sin”. That’s because “anthropophagia” means cannibalism. Not exactly the name you expect for a pear sorbet scent. This scent is currently in stock at Nui Cobalt Designs for $20 US.

In the bottle: Bright, somewhat tart pear and a touch of booze. For some reason, it reminds me of those green apple Jolly Ranchers, but this doesn’t smell artificial.

On the skin: This just blooms on the skin. It’s beautiful juicy pear with just the slightest touch of creamy sugar and some extra cognac. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart and it has surprisingly strong throw for such a delicate kind of scent. The amber is just barely detectable and it keeps it grounded and adds a perfume-y kind of quality that I actually really like. It seems perfect for hot weather because it smells very refreshing.

TL;DR: Juicy sugared pears with cognac. Sweet and tart. Stunning. 6/5.

 

Nocturne Alchemy: Vampire Vanilla Bat

NAVA Vampire Vanilla Bat

Vanilla Bean fleck, Kobalt, Crystalline, Tahitian Vanilla, French Vanilla and a spot of Vanilla-infused Studio created Patchouli.

Halloween is fast approaching, and that means that many brands are rolling out their Halloween collections. This scent is from NAVA’s Halloween collection, and it is a returning favorite from previous years. Surprisingly, I don’t have very many perfumes that include vanilla and patchouli despite the fact that I love both of those notes. You can purchase this scent on NAVA’s website for $24 US for 5mL.

In the bottle: Lots of vanilla with a touch of earthiness. I want more patchouli!

On the skin: Much better! I would say that the blend is now 50/50 split between vanilla and patchouli. The vanilla is non-gourmand but sweet, and the patch adds that glorious earthy, smoky quality. This is a simple scent, but it’s really stunning! I also feel like people who hate patchouli should try this because it might convince them to like patch.

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Batrritos.

TL;DR: Sweet, smoky vanilla and earthy patch. Beautiful. 5/5.

Dupes or Duds: Perfume Edition, Part 1

Everybody loves a good dupe. They’re a great way to save money while also getting the desired look or smell that you want! For those to aren’t familiar, “dupe” is short for duplicate, and it refers to a makeup or perfume that looks like and performs in a very similar way to another, more expensive product. I noticed that several perfumes in my collection shared similar note lists, but are they dupes for each other? Let’s find out!

Arcana Fille de Joie vs Haus of Gloi First Blush

  • Fille de Joie notes: Delicate lavender marshmallows and yellow peaches cured in a vanilla absolute bottle
  • First Blush notes: Tahitian vanilla bean, white tea, lavender and peach.

Are they dupes? Nope! Fille de Joie is much softer and delicate due to the marshmallow. First Blush is very bright and almost sparkling. If they were people, Fille de Joie is a woman in her early twenties in a white lace dress, while First Blush is her fifteen or sixteen year old sister in a bright floral dress.

NAVA Adele vs NAVA Egyptian Peach Blossom

  • Adele notes: Gold Alexandria Sea salt, Gold Peach Skin, Crystal Vanilla, Kobalt Vanilla and a kiss from Moonstone.
  • Egyptian Peach Blossom notes: Egyptian Summer Peach Orchard, Egyptian Sandalwood (Nokturne:Santalum) and Egyptian Vanilla Resin (Nokturne:Kobalt)

Are they dupes? Nope! Adele has a very fresh, ripe, juicy peach note, whereas the peach in EPB is more syrupy and candied. EPB isn’t bad, but it’s not similar to Adele at all to my nose.

Alkemia Les Mysteres vs sixteen92 Moirai

  • Les Mysteres notes: Aged frankincense, black figs, labdanum, dark amber, Russian tea, swirled with a trio of sensual musks.
  • Moirai notes: Black fig, black & red tea leaves, ginger root, coconut milk and papyrus.

Are they dupes? Yes! These smell nearly identical to my nose, with Moirai being just a touch sweeter from the coconut milk. But if you have one, you don’t need the other.

BPAL Diligent Instruction for the Bridal Night vs BPTP Enveloped in Silk

  • Diligent Instruction notes: Sugar-dusted strawberries and mallow blossoms.
  • Enveloped in Silk notes: Strawberry cream, white musk, and orris root

Are they dupes? Mostly. Both have the prominent strawberries and cream scent, but Diligent is a little bit powdery (not in a bad way) because of the powdered sugar, while Enveloped in Silk is almost milkier.

Solstice Scents Cenobite vs NAVA Pyramid Vanille 2

  • Cenobite notes: A deep Vanilla Bean which has a slight boozy liqueur note on application mixed with a pile of fresh vanilla beans and a sultry, smooth, rich and creamy French Vanilla.
  • Pyramid Vanilla 2 notes: French Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, Ember Vanilla and Bastet’s Ice Cream Vanilla Absolute

Are they dupes? Unfortunately, no. PV2 is very rich and gourmand, and it reminds me a lot of Arcana Two Finger Ballet, and I would consider it to be a dupe for that scent. It smells like a decadent vanilla and caramel dessert. Cenobite, on the other hand, isn’t gourmand, and it’s way sexier in my opinion. They’re both great vanillas, but totally different. I think I’ve finally come to terms with that fact that I will never find a dupe for my beloved Cenobite.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any other dupes you want to share, or you want me to investigate a certain pair of scents to see if they’re dupes, let me know in the comments!