Nui Cobalt Designs Ain’t I a Woman: Sojourner Truth
A sacred incense of amber and sandalwood, Bartlett pears poached with vanilla bean, and a scattering of dry tea and patchouli leaves.
The second scent of the three I received is another one from the famous, influential women collection. This perfume was inspired by Sojourner Truth. Again, in NCD’s own words: “She was born into slavery in New York, fled to freedom with her daughter, then attained legal custody of her son, becoming the first black woman to successfully sue a white slave owner. She spoke widely as an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Her groundbreaking 1851 speech, later titled “Ain’t I A Woman,” was delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.” The combination of pears and vanilla with patch, incense, and tea seemed very intriguing for me.
In the bottle: Warm, yummy, and very familiar. Seriously, this smells very similar to something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. This scent is both comforting and powerful.
On the skin: Once applied, the pears vanish, but the patch, sandalwood, and incense become much more prominent. There’s a distinct powderiness that occurs as well, but it’s not a bad thing. I can detect a nice smoky undertone as well, probably from the tea and the incense. This actually reminds me of a combination of two scents from the famous Bourbon French Perfumery in New Orleans’ French Quarter: Kus Kus and Voodoo Love. What’s interesting about this is that it was very foody in the bottle, and it changed completely on the skin. I do think that this is a little too powdery for my personal taste, but it is objectively a nice, womanly scent for someone with different skin chemistry.
TL;DR: Smoky, powdery incense, sandalwood, and patchouli. The kind of scent for a mature, no-nonsense woman. 3.5/5.
Arcana Pumpkins Crave Quietude
Soft vanilla, white amber, white musk, Mysore sandalwood, sweet pumpkin, and a tiny pinch of white pepper.
I’ve been super curious about this scent for a while, but it’s been very, very hard to find. When I heard that Julia was bringing it back, I got very excited. Would it live up to the hype?
In the bottle: Oh, this is pretty! I’m getting a sweet pumpkin and vanilla blend with a kick of pepper. It’s not too sweet or too foodie, which I am happy about.
On the skin: This is very nice. The pumpkin retreats into the back, and the blend is taken over by the vanilla, pepper, and sandalwood. It’s delicate and feminine, like the olfactory equivalent of white lace. The pumpkin is still present, just subtle; this isn’t a foodie, Halloween-y fragrance at all.
TL;DR: Vanilla, sandalwood, and pepper, with a hint of pumpkin. So delicate and lovely. 4/5.
Arcana Mount Osore
Dark red rose petals, Japanese amber, sooty palo santo, and smoking nag champa incense.
If you follow this blog, you know that one of my most hated notes is headshop incense, specifically nag champa. Knowing that, you can imagine that I was a little nervous about trying this one. But I figured that if anyone could make me like nag champa, it would be Arcana.
In the bottle: I’m definitely getting the Nag Champa incense, but it’s not as headshopp-y as I was expecting it to be. It actually reminds me a lot of the smell of burnt sage, which might be from the palo santo.
On the skin: The sage-like scent diminishes a lot, but it’s still detectable. The rose comes out more, and it’s definitely a red rose; it’s got a dark and sultry vibe to it. There is a very distinct smokiness to the overall blend as well. While I like the nag champa in here more than in other scents, it’s still not my thing. But if you’re a fan of sexy incense blends, you might really like this.
TL;DR: Sensual rose and smoky nag champa incense. Not for me. 2/5.
BPAL Sir Thomas Sharpe
Black amber darkens a pale fougere.
Sometimes the second-hand indie perfume market can be insane. For instance, this particular scent from the limited edition BPAL Crimson Peak collaboration collection usually sells for $80-$100 per bottle. I think that’s kind of crazy, personally. That being said, you’re probably wondering how I have this scent then; I somehow managed to find someone selling a bottle of it for retail price! Of course I had to snap it up to see what all of the fuss is about.
In the bottle: This is a true BPAL fougere! I’m definitely getting some lilac and perhaps some lavender in there as well. It actually reminds me a lot of BPAL Jareth, which is a good thing since I love that scent. I do hope it changes a bit on the skin to become different from Jareth.
On the skin: Oooh, okay, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s definitely warmer and spicier than Jareth, with a very masculine cologne kind of edge. I also feel like I can detect some bay rum and lemon in there, even though it’s not listed. The amber has a distinct powderiness to it that threatens to go into baby powder territory, but it doesn’t. This is a very classic, gentlemanly scent, which fits it’s namesake to a T. I think it smells great on me, but I think it would smell awesome on a dude too. It can also see it layering well with other scents. Bonus: the oil is a deep crimson color, which is perfect for a scent based on Crimson Peak. If you’re a lover of masculine scents, this one might be worth hunting down for a reasonable price. Besides, who doesn’t want to slather themselves in Eau de Tom Hiddleston?
TL;DR: A warm, spicy fougere blend. Classic, gentlemanly, awesome. 4.5/5.
Arcana Peaches Crave True Love
Resinous black amber, caramelized sugar, vanilla bean, peach nectar, and a tiny hint of pear.
EUREKA! I HAVE FOUND IT! For those of you who don’t know, this scent is extremely hard to find and I have been searching for it for over a year. My search is over. I have heard nothing but good things about this scent, but will it live up to the hype?
In the bottle: Mmmm, there’s that glorious Arcana peach note that I adore. That’s the main note here. I’m getting a little bit of powdery amber and some sweetness from the sugar.
On the skin: The peach is still at the forefront, with the amber, sugar, and vanilla bean mixture forming the base for the scent. The sugar is definitely a caramelized one, since it has that sweet, almost burnt quality to it. I really like the amber mixed with the sweet notes: it’s deep and resiny, but also sweet. It’s gourmand, but not foodie, if that makes sense. I’m not getting any pear, which is a shame since I think it would be wonderful here. Overall, I like it a lot, but I don’t love it.
TL;DR: Juicy peach with sweet vanilla amber. Really nice overall. 4/5.
Fresh water, white coconut, smooth amber, seaweed absolute, rain-drenched juniper tips, and a drop of ruby red grapefruit
As I’ve mentioned previously, Arcana has been doing special scents for Nui Cobalt Design’s Crone’s Crates for over a year now. While this year’s theme is Major Arcana tarot cards, last years was different pagan festivals/holidays. Of all of those scents, this was the one that was raved about the most. I got a soap sample of it and liked it, so when I got a chance to try the perfume, I jumped on it.
In the bottle: The grapefruit is very strong and tart, and I’m definitely getting some saltiness from the seaweed in there. It’s not too strong though, which I appreciate. I don’t get much juniper or amber though. I can detect some water in the back too, and it’s very distinctly fresh water.
On the skin: The water smells cool and refreshing, and the grapefruit and juniper (which I can finally smell) back that up by adding a green element and a tart element. I was worried that the seaweed would be like the aggressive seaweed from Sea Witch, but its gentle and it adds a lovely bit of saltiness to the blend. It’s so beautiful!
TL;DR: Tart grapefruit with fresh water and seaweed, with a hint of juniper. Lovely. 4/5.
Poesie Strange Unearthly Thing
Moss and ivy entwined, an overturned log studded with tiny mushrooms, one ripe peach, a circle of fairy flowers, white amber
I’m a big fan of horror films. Recently, there has been a growing short horror film community on YouTube and one of the finest examples of these short horror films is called The Birch. I won’t spoil too much, other than that this scent really reminded me of the titular character, which is why I tried it.
In the bottle: Okay, this one is weird. I’m getting a lot of moss and ivy, but there’s a touch of that distinct umami smell that accompanies mushrooms in the background. It somehow works though! I do want more peach however.
On the skin: This is definitely a moss and ivy blend. Those notes are the most dominant by far. I’m getting a soft undercurrent of mushroom alongside a natural kind of floral. I was really hoping for more peach! Overall, this scent is very earthy and green and dirty. If you’re a fan of those kinds of scents, you’re going to love this. I, however, am not really a big fan of dirt and moss scents, so I’ll be destashing this. But it’s a really realistic, cool blend and I like it in theory; it’s just not something I would want to smell like.
TL;DR: Moss and ivy and dirt, with a touch of mushrooms and flowers. Weird, but cool. Destash. 3/5.