Ripe figs with vanilla beans and hypnotic honey amber.
Happy (slightly belated) Thanksgiving! Every so often, you discover a scent that you want to try and you spend months on end trying to get your hands on it. Drool was one of those scents for me. This scent was a part of the limited edition Cocos Nucifera collection, and it has been discontinued since 2015. However, Julia (the owner and perfumer of Arcana) decided to make a limited run of about six or seven bottles of this rare scent, and I was lucky enough to be able to buy one. Will it live up to the hype?
In the bottle: I’m getting a very rich, almost caramelized, sweet smell, almost like Arcana Two Finger Ballet. There’s a subtle juicy fruitiness in the back that stops it from getting too sweet; it’s like ripe figs that have been caramelized and soaked in a vanilla honey sauce. It’s gourmand without being foodie, if that makes sense.
On the skin: The juicy figs come roaring to the front and it pushes the sweet vanilla to the back. The honey also becomes more prominent. There’s a very slight powderiness from the amber as well, but overall it’s a bright fragrance. As it settles, it becomes the most perfect fig/honey blend and I’m really into it. “Hypnotic” is a good way to describe this scent.
TL;DR: Juicy, ripe figs covered in a slightly sweetened honey. Delicious. 6/5.
Arcana Vanilla Craves Snow Fairies
Frozen honey with dry white musk, winter vanilla, opulent amber, snow, vodka, and a sliver of orris root.
Winter is fast approaching, and many perfume houses are preparing their winter collections, many of which use a lot of pine and snow notes. Now, I have a weird thing about snow notes. Many of them make me wrinkle my nose; they’re usually powdery and ozone-y, and I don’t like them. However, a friend in the indie community convinced me to try this scent, since the snow note is apparently very different from the other ones I’ve tried. The other notes also sound really good, and I was intrigued by the inclusion of vodka in the fragrance. This scent is no longer available, as it was a gift with purchase from a previous winter collection
In the bottle: A very crisp vanilla with a tiny vodka bite. It’s sweeter than I expected and a little powdery, but in a good way.
On the skin: I get more of the snow, but I actually like this snow note! It’s not ozone-y or minty, its just cold and delicate. Mix that with the vanilla and vodka, and it really works. Once it dries, it’s a musky, cold vanilla with the tiniest hint of vodka for crispness. There’s also something surprisingly sexy about this scent, which is interesting. It’s very unique and I really love it. It reminds me of Snegurochka (Снегурочка) aka the Snow Maiden of Russian folklore who helps Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz).
TL;DR: A delicately cold vanilla with musk and a bit of vodka. Perfect for winter. 7/5.
Alkemia Affaire de Coeur
Sugared white musk, creamy Madagascar vanilla, white sandalwood, tonka bean, white amber, and pale sugar cane.
I haven’t had much luck with Alkemia as a brand, but I desperately want their scents to work on me because I love the sound of many of them. A friend sent me some of her old samples so I could test them out without having to blind buy. This scent sounded right up my alley, since I like every single one of the notes. You can buy it from Alkemia’s Etsy store for $12 US for a 5mL full size. You can also buy it as part of an Alkemia sample set, where it will be 1mL.
In the bottle: Sandalwood and sweetness. Dusty, but incredibly feminine. Something in it reads as pear to me for some reason.
On the skin: This definitely a a sugared sandalwood blend. I’m having a hard time picking out the notes individually, though; there’s sandalwood for sure, and I think some sugared vanilla and musk. There’s a powdery kind of note in there too, and it’s very light and delicate. I feel like this will be a good scent for occasion where I can’t wear a scent that’s very strong or a little more unconventional.
Vanilla sugar! Photo belongs to cherryteacakes.com
TL;DR: Sugared sandalwood. Nice and unoffensive. 4/5.
Arcana Sea Witch
Delicate aquamarine scales and fins mingle with ribbons of seaweed, blueberries, brine, fresh rain, and gently sweet amber resin.
For the 2017 Halloween collection, Arcana did a set of perfumes about different kinds of witches. Within the collection, this one seemed to be a favorite. I’m not a huge fan of aquatics, so a friend sent me a decant to test out since I was curious. You can buy this scent on Arcana’s ebay page and on Nui Cobalt Design’s website for $20 US, or on Pretty Indulgent’s website for those in Canada.
In the bottle: SEAWEED. Oh boy, that is really strong and accurate smelling. It smells exactly like the kelp that wraps around your legs at the beach. Honestly, I can’t smell anything else right now.
On the skin: The seaweed calms down somewhat, which I appreciate, but it’s still really freaking powerful. I’m getting more of the background notes, which remind me a lot of the Arcana scents Lammas and Ostara, with the fresh water and blueberry. That part is very pleasant, but they just get drowned out by the seaweed. I can see why people really like this scent, but the salty kelpy smell is too much for my tastes.
My first thought when I saw the name of the perfume.
TL;DR: Extremely strong seaweed on a bed of fresh blueberry aquatics. Like glamorous Cthulhu. Not my thing. 2/5.
Sweet wood, golden amber, wild tuberose, nectarine blossom, lychee jam
I really like lychee fruit; it’s so juicy and sweet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show up in perfumes very often. This scent, from sixteen92’s 2017 Summer collection, has it alongside other great notes like nectarine and amber; I knew I had to try a sample. The name, like the rest of the collection, comes from Greek mythology. The Erinyes are the Furies, the winged spirits of vengeance. This scent is not longer available, but it will probably return next summer!
In the bottle: Juicy, fresh fruits! I can smell both the nectarine and lychee distinctly. It’s quite mouth-watering.
On the skin: The lychee becomes the most prominent note, alongside the tuberose. I was worried about the tuberose overpowering everything, but it’s just stunning here. The nectarine gets much softer, and it adds some glorious brightness to the scent. I can’t detect any amber, but I do get some wood just to ground the blend as a whole This scent is so summery and bright and lovely! It’s a really well-done fruity floral.
Lychee has a weird dragon-shell looking exterior. Image does not belong to me.
TL;DR: Juicy lychee fruit with tuberose. An amazing fruity floral. 4/5.
BPAL Cave of Treasures
Sweet amber and golden honey, cream accord, blue lilac, and a drop of cardamom.
I’m not a huge floral person, but I’ve discovered that I really enjoy the smell of lilacs. They’re a big part of one of my favorite scents ever, Jareth, and a friend was kind enough to decant a little bit for me to try. Since this was a BPAL 2017 Lupercalia scent, it is no longer available.
In the bottle: Florals and spices. This actually reminds me of a commercial “oriental floral” type of scent.
On the skin: This scent definitely becomes more nuanced on the skin. The lilacs become more distinct, and I can also smell the cardamom. It’s a delicate cardamom however, not very powerful, but enough to add some spicy dimension. There’s a creamy smoothness to this as well that I think pairs really well with the lilac. I like this!
Lilac is such a pretty flower. Image does not belong to me.
TL;DR: Lilacs with a soft undercurrent of creamy spices. Very feminine. 3.5/5.
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.