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.
Fire of Water
Precious sandalwood over a base of Madagascar vanilla, golden amber, salt water, clove, sweet musk, pumpkin, patchouli, and sugarcane.
Some scents can be easy to find. Some can be hard to find. And some can be damn near impossible to find and this was one of them. I was on the hunt for this scent for over a year, and I only ever saw it for sale once. Luckily, an extremely kind person offered to sell me their bottle. But would this scent be worth all of the searching?
In the bottle: This is really unique and unusual. I’m mostly getting sandalwood and salt water with a hint of sweetened pumpkin and amber. It’s alluring and intriguing.
On the skin: The clove comes out more when applied on the skin, but it’s not a super aggressive clove. It’s just enough to add a kick of spice. The sandalwood and pumpkin are most prominent along with the clove, and its much less sweet compared to how it smelled in the bottle. The salt and musk add this very seductive edge to the scent. There’s something almost incense-y about it too, which I actually really like (I usually despise any kind of incense except church incense). I feel like this is the witchier version of Darling Clandestine Inked. It’s totally not what I expected, but I can’t stop smelling my arm. Two thumbs up from me.
L;DR: Sandalwood and pumpkin with clove and salty skin musk. Alluring and witchy and really unusual. 5/5.
Coconut, vanilla bean, rice milk, golden amber, watermelon, banana leaf, aged patchouli, and lemongrass.
Despite living in a tropical climate, I’ve never really been into super tropical scents, with the exception of the occasional coconut blend. However, watermelon is a note I never see in perfume, and I was extremely curious about how that would play out in a scent.
In the bottle: A big splash of watermelon starts it out. Slowly, the coconut and rice milk creep in. The citrus scent of lemongrass finishes it off. I’ve never had a watermelon note in a scent perfume, but I like it! It’s like watermelon candy, but much less sweet. This is definitely a summer/warm weather scent. It’s quite refreshing.
On the skin: The watermelon becomes even more beautiful on the skin. It’s subtly sweet and watery, and it no longer has that candy-like smell. It’s accompanied by a very delicate banana note that is not cloying or overly sweet. I’m getting a tiny bit of vanilla and rice milk in the back to sweeten things up, since the fruit notes here are not as sweet as one would expect. I really like that though, because the fruits smell more realistic that way. This is a truly gorgeous scent overall; it’s sunny and tropical and warm. I’m gonna be wearing this a lot.
TL;DR: Realistic watermelon with an aquatic edge, alongside banana and sweet rice milk. Absolutely stunning. 5/5.
BPAL Ivory Vulva
Marshmallow root, coconut, macadamia milk, cream accord, and a drop of golden amber.
There are several BPAL Lupercalia scents that have become very popular despite only being around for one season. This scent is one of them. It’s part of the Shunga collection (no surprise there), with several other scents sharing the name of that particular part of the female anatomy. The notes sounded lovely, so a friend sent me a decant of it.
In the bottle: A very sweet, rich, buttery vanilla. Seriously, it really smells like buttercream frosting. I’m getting that’s from the marshmallow and cream. It’s yummy.
On the skin: It’s definitely less buttery on the skin. It’s a very creamy, sweet scent overall. I don’t get any coconut, which is disappointing since I love coconut. There’s a slight dryness in the background, probably from the amber. Overall, this scent sort of reminds me of Volcano in Springtime, but I think I prefer that scent since it’s more unique. I’ll keep my decant of this, but I don’t need a full bottle.
TL;DR: Creamy, sweet marshmallow. Pretty basic, but done well. 4/5.