Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Lavender Lace

BPAL Lavender Lace

A cascading bouquet of French lavender, smoke-touched, with bourbon vanilla and caramelized tobacco, pricked by tiny daggers of cognac.

BPAL has a line of scents called the Laces, and every scent has a wispy, gentle tobacco note in it to represent that soft, delicate lace. I haven’t tried any of them (Antique Lace is not a part of that collection) until now. I love lavender, woodsmoke, bourbon vanilla, and cognac, so the only worrying note is that tobacco. Will it work on me?

In the bottle: Herbal lavender with something else that I can’t put my finger on. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On the skin: This is a really unique scent. The lavender is quite herbal, and the smoke pairs with that very well. The tobacco doesn’t turn into an ashtray on me, which I’m thankful for. It almost adds a peppery kick to the blend. However, while I like these notes individually, I feel like they’re not working well together on my skin. The result is a scent that smells like an expensive, feminine, department store perfume, which just isn’t my style.

TL;DR: Smoky lavender with spicy tobacco. Smells like a mainstream scent. 3.5/5

Blooddrop: Whinnies no. 2 (2018)

Blooddrop Whinnies no. 2 (2018)

Marshmallow, elderflower, quince, buttercream frosting, green cognac, tea, and vanilla

Blooddrop is an indie brand that I have not explored very much at all. I’ve heard that they make some really lovely scents, but I’ve just never found one that really spoke to me, until now. Every year around Easter, Blooddrop releases what are called Whinnies. In the words of Blooddrop’s owner: “Whinnies are my horsie version of marshmallow peeps.  Each scent has a marshmallow base.” Now, usually marshmallow scents get completely eaten up by my skin, but after seeing the Whinnies list, this one jumped out at me. The notes seemed more unusual, and I love the adorable horse theme (I was the “Horse Girl” when I was a kid). This particular scent is unfortunately sold out on Blooddrop’s site, and since the Whinnies are limited edition, it will not be restocked. I also made sure to note the year of the Whinnies in the title, since there has been a Whinnies no.2 in previous years, but they all have different notes.

In the bottle: Right out of the gate, I’m getting what is straight up the best marshmallow note I have ever smelled; it’s sweet, but not artificial or tooth-rottingly sugary. It’s backed up by a lovely cognac note. Then there’s the quince, which is a guava-pear type fruit and it honestly smells like the lovechild of both of those. I think I detect a bit of creaminess from the frosting as well, but it doesn’t read as pure frosting which I like.

On the skin: It doesn’t really change from what I smelled in the bottle. Perfect creamy, marshmallow and juicy, sweet quince with just a touch of cognac. It’s definitely a light scent though, so I have to apply more liberally. But it’s really lovely; sweet and feminine and so very spring-y. It’s just a bright, joyous scent, and its really unique as well. This is gonna be in heavy rotation for the remainder of spring and for summer.

TL;DR: A creamy marshmallow blend with cognac and quince. Absolutely stunning and unique. 7/5.

Arcana: The Sullen Courts of Sleep

Arcana The Sullen Courts of Sleep

A tenebrous blend of amber resin, coconut milk, skin musk, and French cognac.

Booze notes in perfume can be tricky, because if done wrong, you smell like you’ve been day drinking. However, if done correctly, they can add a lot of complexity and depth to a scent. When it comes to alcohol scents in perfume, my personal favorite is cognac, meaning that I had to try this scent when I saw it pop up.

In the bottle: COGNAC. Hella congac. I don’t smell anything else. It’s not overly boozy though.

On the skin: I definitely get more skin musk here, but the cognac is still ruling the blend. I think I get the slightest hint of coconut, but I’m not sure. If you thought that this was gonna be a coconut heavy scent, you’d be wrong. Honestly, this smells super similar to Anthropophagia, just without the pear; I’m gonna destash this for that reason.

TL;DR: Sweet cognac and musk. Basically a pear-less Anthropophagia. 4/5.

Arcana: Anthropophagia


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.


Arcana: Mother of All Souls

Arcana Mother of All Souls

Three dark, decadent vanillas entwine around white chocolate, a small sip of rum, and one drop of French cognac.

After having smelled the heaven that is Solstice Scents Cenobite, I’ve been on a quest to find a replacement scent since Cenobite was discontinued (WHYYYY). Many people on here recommended the recently released Mother of All Souls by Arcana, which is another boozy vanilla scent that seems quite similar to Cenobite. This scent is part of the Arcana Doll Parts collection; it was recently brought back and you can purchase it on Arcana’s ebay page for $19 US.

In the bottle: WHY HELLO THERE COGNAC. This is the first thing that hits my nose. Super strong cognac and a rich vanilla; boozy vanilla is an understatement here. While the cognac here is very realistic smelling, it is aggressive.

On the skin: Once applied, the cognac disappears almost completely and what remains is a soft vanilla with a subtle chocolaty edge. There’s also a tiny hint of the rum. I find that it stays close to the skin. In terms of Cenobite, I tried them on opposite wrists and here is what I found: Cenobite is much richer and stronger with a sexy edge, while Mother of All Souls is gentler and delicate with a feminine edge. Therefore, I would not call this a dupe of Cenobite. I think it’s actually closer to Arcana’s Two Finger Ballet, with TFB being more gourmand; Mother of All Souls is TFB’s bartender older sister.

TL;DR: Soft vanilla with a hint of chocolate and rum. NOT a dupe for Cenobite. 3.5/5