Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Dragon Doodle

BPAL Dragon Doodle

A scribble of honey-drenched strawberry and white pear.

Much like Daenerys Targaryen, I have always loved dragons. As you might imagine, I always look forward to BPAL’s Dragon Con scents, since they are themed around my favorite mythological reptile. This was the scent I was most excited for from this year’s collection.

In the bottle: SWEET. Very, very sweet and fruity. I’m not really surprised by that, but I do hope that it softens on the skin.

On the skin: The sweetness becomes more bearable compared to what it was before, but it’s still a very sweet scent. The notes are really balanced: I get an equal amount of each note, and their smell is distinct. They go together very well. But there’s something about the quality of the honey and the way it’s mixing with the sweetness that I don’t like. It’s powdery, but also weirdly pungent. It’s hard to describe. Needless to say, this isn’t a scent for me.

TL;DR: Very sweet honey, strawberry, and pear. Smells weird on the skin. 3/5. 

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Arcana: Apples Crave Cider

Arcana Apples Crave Cider

Bright, spiced apple cider drizzled with honey and a small wisp of smoke.

If you follow this blog, then you know that I have this weird thing about apple scents. While I love the smell and taste of apples in real life, I can’t stand apple-scented things. I have no explanation for this. Because of that, take this review with a grain of salt.

In the bottle: Well, those are definitely apples! This is a very realistic apple note too, and very much a red apple note specifically. The cider is very distinct too. Not getting much smoke yet.

On the skin:  The spices of the cider come out more on the skin, and I’m getting some nutmeg and cinnamon, with maybe a tiny hint of clove. At first, it threatens to go into Yankee Candle territory, but it never goes there. I’m getting more of the smokiness and less of the actual apples. As a result, I like this more than I thought I would! It’s still too apple-y for me, but it’s probably my favorite apple scent that I’ve tried. It’s really perfect for autumn. Throw is low.

TL;DR: Spiced apple cider and a touch of smoke. Not too bad actually. 3/5.

 

Arcana: Vatican Archives

Arcana Vatican Archives

Honey from the Papal apiaries, Roman figs, Atlas cedarwood, smoky frankincense and myrrh, crimson musk, black musk, and smudgy parchment musk.

Based on notes alone, this is definitely my kind of scent. I love a good spooky blend! I also just watched the film Angels and Demons, so the Vatican Archives have been on my mind. The only worrying note is the cedarwood, since I tend to amp that.

In the bottle: This is dark. I’m getting a very strong musk blend that almost reminds me out oudh, with a hint of church incense and figs. It’s ancient and scholarly; I can really smell that kind of “old tome” smell from the parchment musk.

On the skin: Whoa. Brace yourselves, because this is a strong scent. Lots of throw here. I’m really surprised on how this smells on me, honestly. I was expecting something in a similar vein to sixteen92 Liber Officiorum Spirituum, but it’s not like that at all. It’s very heady, with a fruity incense kind of vibe. I feel like that’s due to the combo of the figs, honey, and church incense. I don’t get any cedarwood, which I don’t mind. Of the musks, the red musk is most prominent. I don’t get much in the way of parchment on me. I could swear that there is oudh in it, because I keep smelling it. This is a dirty, mysterious smelling scent. I was hoping for something more book-heavy, and this is a bit too incense-y for me, despite the fact that I like church incense. I feel like I might like this on someone else who amps the parchment instead of the incense combo. I’m quite surprised! I thought for sure that this was going to be the big winner for me from this collection.

TL;DR: Fruity, heady incense and musk. Not what I was expecting, and I don’t like it on me. 3/5.

Arcana: Pumpkins Crave Ganesha

Arcana Pumpkins Crave Ganesha

Pumpkin spice and sweet pumpkin with Arcana’s Ganesh.

One of Arcana’s most famous and beloved scents is Ganesh. However, despite being general catalog, it has been out of stock for a long time and people are desperate for more of this lovely scent. So when someone offered me a swap for a bottle of this scent, I jumped at the chance. This particular scent was made as an exclusive for a reddit event, and I’ve never seen a bottle on sale. I already knew that I liked Ganesh, so i figured that I’d like it when mixed with pumpkins too.

In the bottle: Definitely pumpkin spice, but it doesn’t smell like a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte or anything like that. It’s like a spicy pumpkin chai blend and I’m into it.

 

On the skin: It’s really true to the description: it’s Ganesh but with sweetened, sugared pumpkin. Compared to regular Ganesh, it definitely sweeter and more gourmand, whereas Ganesh is spicier and more fragrant. That being said, I think they’re different enough to justify having a bottle of both.

TL;DR: Pumpkin spiced Ganesh. Gourmand and autumnal. 4.5/5.

Arcana: Qedesha

Arcana Qedesha

Neroli petals dripping with honey, bee nectar, warm musk, and pearl musk.

When honey is used correctly in perfume, there is really nothing sexier. My favorite honey scent is Arcana Little Man in the Boat, which was unfortunately discontinued. When I came a cross a sample of Qedesha, I thought that the notes might be similar to LMITB, so I snapped it up.

In the bottle: Oof. That neroli is strong. It’s a kind of orange blossom, so I’m getting that kind of a smell. There’s definitely some honey in the back, but its overwhelmed by the neroli.

On the skin: Thankfully, the neroli softens on the skin and the honey comes out more. The honey note is the same one that is in LMITB. As a result, the combination of the honey and neroli produces a scent that is quite similar to LMITB, but heavier and more floral. I like it; I still prefer LMITB, but this is a nice alternative.

TL;DR: A headier, more floral version of Little Man in the Boat. I like it. 4/5.

Nui Cobalt Designs: The Bee’s High Tea

Nui Cobalt Designs The Bee’s High Tea

Delicate vanilla tea cakes with rose petal preserves, elderflower wine, and Earl Grey tea with a dainty drop of spring harvest honey.

Nui Cobalt Designs is an indie shop that specializes in all things magickal, such talismans and special ritual fragrance oils. Arcana has collaborated them several times for their Crone’s Crate box, and they stock many Arcana scents. Recently, however, the company has come out with their own line of perfumes. I was very excited to try them, since magickal items are not my cup of tea. My friends raved about this scent, and based on the notes, I can see why: it sounds like the most perfect perfume for spring.

In the bottle: …Sweet Tarts?? Seriously, this smells how Sweet Tart candy tastes. It’s got that sweet/sour thing going on. I’m looking at the note list and I’m very confused because I have no clue what is causing the Sweet Tart smell. Maybe the elderflower?

On the skin: It smells less like Sweet Tarts on the skin, but the only thing I’m getting now is a faint floral scent. I think its the rose and elderflower. It’s so light though; I can only smell it if I smash my nose into my arm. I’m sad because the note list for this was so promising!

TL;DR: Faint, floral Sweet Tarts. I’m very confused. 2/5.

Arcana: Spirit and Shadow

Arcana Spirit and Shadow

Worn leather with three vanillas, propolis, marshmallow crème, rata honey, and a faint whiff of warm linen.

Leather is a tricky note. When done well, it lends a very sexy, unisex edge of a fragrance. But when it’s bad, it smells like a brand new sofa, and not in a good way. Because of that, I was a bit hesitant to try this scent, but since I don’t see it for sale very often, I decided to take the risk. A lot of my friends like it, which also helped convince me.

In the bottle: I’m getting a strong, almost cherry like leather. Definitely not as “sofa” as some other leather scents that I’ve tried. I’m also getting a dark honey note in the back. I don’t like the cherry quality though.

On the skin: It doesn’t change much from the bottle. I’m still getting that cherry smell with some honey and maybe a hint of linen. I don’t know why the leather is doing that on my skin, but it really does not work with my chemistry. I also don’t like cherry scents since they remind me of cough medicine, so this one is going in the destash bin.

TL;DR: Cherry-like leather and not much else. Hard pass. 2/5.