Shaking off vanilla’s unfair reputation for namby pambyness, this infernally dark and smoky fragrance comes complete with licks of fire and sulfurous wafts of brimstone.
At long last, this scent has returned! This GC Arcana favorite was out of stock for quite a while as a result of difficulties obtaining one of the scent components. I’ve been meaning to try this guy for a while now, because I love vanilla and I love smoky scents.
In the bottle: I’m getting vanilla frosting and campfire smoke. It’s rather soft, which is surprising.
On the skin: The smoke definitely becomes more prominent on the skin than it is in the bottle. I’m also detecting something kind of spicy…ginger maybe? That could possibly be the brimstone though. Overall, I’m getting a layer of smoke with vanilla and a touch of spice. As for how it compares to Alkemia Smoke and Mirrors: Devilish has a softer smoke note, and its much sweeter because of the vanilla. Smoke and Mirrors, on the other hand, is pure campfire smoke with very little vanilla and a realistic, subtly acridity. They’re similar scents for sure, but they have their differences.
TL;DR: Smoke with vanilla frosting and a hint of ginger. Yummy and interesting. 4/5.
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.
A large, joyous snoutful of coconut cake is snugly wrapped in honey, vanilla, Indonesian clove, green coconut, and a warm blend of spices.
I’ve been wanting to try this particular scent since I got into indie perfume; it sounds like the perfect gourmand for me as the notes suggest that its not overly sweet. Unfortunatly, this perfume has been out of stock for months and no on knows when it will return, if ever. I was very lucky to be able to find a decant of it in a destash list. As for the name, this fragrance is named after Ganesh, a very important and popular Hindu deity. This scent is currently out of stock.
In the bottle: So fragrant! It’s all honey, cloves and spices with a touch of coconut.
On the skin: It’s basically the same as it is in the vial, just with stronger clove, but the clove is like chai clove so I love it. There’s a strong warmth to this as well. You would think it would be gourmand based on the notes, but its not; it smells like potpourri, but in the best way possible, if that makes sense. Just spicy and warm and sweet and golden. It’s not as coconut-y as I expected, but I really like it.
The scent’s divine namesake, the Hindu god Ganesh.
Tl;DR: Strong chai clove with honey, spices, and a touch of coconut. Warm and delicious. 5/5.
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.
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.
Arcana Marshmallows Smoke!
Marshmallows with woodsmoke, dry black tea, dead Maple leaves, and a hint of vanilla.
I love the smell of woodsmoke. There’s something about it that I find very comforting. When the new Marshmallow Attacks! collection dropped, this one immediately caught my eye, since marshmallows and smoke go together like peanut butter and jelly. Dead leaves are also a popular addition to indie scents, but I haven’t tried many of them. As a result, curiosity took over and I purchased a secondhand bottle of this scent. You can buy this on Arcana’s ebay page or the Nui Cobalt Design website for $20 US.
In the bottle: Strong black tea with a touch of smoke. This is a very realistic black tea note too, like sticking your nose into a tin of fancy gourmet tea leaves.
On the skin: The black tea is still ruling the blend, but the smoke comes out more on the skin. It has a certain crispness to it which is from the dead leaves. I can also detect a sweetness, but I can’t tell if it’s from the marshmallow or the vanilla. If you’re looking for a marshmallow heavy blend, then this is not it. That being said, I really like this and I think it’ll be great for colder days and rainy days.
TL;DR: Realistic black tea with smoke and crispy dead leaves. Perfect for cold weather or rainy days. 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.