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.
Possets Arc of Venus
Sexy sandalwood base flirts with black lavender, a very small hint of calendula, “abstract” musk, and a bit of sharp grey musk
Possets is a brand that I haven’t delved into very much. I tried and liked Jurogumo, but the other samples I received in swaps and sales were just okay. But I’m a lavender lover, and this scent sounded very intriguing.
In the bottle: Interesting. I’m getting strong herbal lavender, and some really unique florals. It’s a bit powdery and cold, with a touch of woodsiness in the background. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.
On the skin: Okay, I love this.The lavender is medicinal, but it’s sweetened up in a non-foodie way by the calendula (marigold). The calendula also adds a floral element that isn’t too “grandma”. The sandalwood and musk form the base and add the sex appeal to this scent. It’s almost cold smelling, but very alluring at the same time. It’s super unique and I’m glad I decided to try it.
TL;DR: Cold, medicinal lavender with sweet marigold and musky woods. Really unique. 4/5.
Arcana Molly Malone
Cotton candy, sea spray, green sugarcane, salt, pink musk, sweet bergamot, lily of the valley, black pepper, vanilla, patchouli, and the merest hint of aged vetiver.
Looking at the notes, this is not my kind of scent at all. But I heard several people raving about it and my curiosity got the better of me, so I just had to try it out to see why people were fussing over it.
In the bottle: ???? This is so weird. I’m getting cotton candy, but also sea spray and lily and something else green. I don’t know what to make of this.
On the skin: The notes that smelled on the bottle are magnified on the skin. The cotton candy is not really that sweet or sugary, which is interesting, and I have come to the conclusion that the lily and vetiver are creating that green smell. It’s unlike anything I have smelled before. I can see why people enjoy this, but it’s so not my thing. I’ll destash it.
TL;DR: Aquatic yet green cotton candy with salt, lily, and vetiver. Weird as heck. 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.
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.
BPAL Spinning on Graves
Dorian and lavender mist, crushed grass, cypress leaf, and a drop of clove.
Every year, the owners of BPAL and BPTP release a set of perfumes for their daughter Lilith’s birthday. This scent was a part of the BPTP side of that collection. I knew I had a to try it once I saw the notes, since I love the scent Dorian as well as lavender and clove and cypress. This scent can be purchased on the BPTP website for $24 US.
In the bottle: Sugary herbal lavender with green elements! I’m also getting a hint of clove for the spice. It’s really fresh and beautiful.
On the skin: That sweet, herbal lavender is still the most prominent alongside the green notes that lend an almost wet feel to it, like morning dew on a leaf. The Dorian comes out more on the skin, and the black tea and lemon from that are just perfect alongside the green and lavender. It conjures up the image of a misty morning at an old Victorian mansion. I’m so glad I bought a bottle of this!
TL;DR: Sweetened herbal lavender with softly wet greenery and Dorian. Misty and calming. 5/5.
sixteen92 I Believe in Mary Worth
Tarnished silver, flickering candlelight, faded violet petals, cold glass, shadowed musk, melted wax
Every year, sixteen92 releases a new scent based on urban legends for Friday the 13th. While this year’s scent was based upon the legend of Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman, last year’s scent was this one, with it’s roots in the legend of Mary Worth, also known as Bloody Mary. Luckily, the previous Friday the 13th scents come back alongside the new release, and I was finally able to purchase a bottle of this. I’ve been so curious about it because the notes are extremely unique and creepy sounding. This scent is no longer available, but it will return on the next Friday the 13th.
In the bottle: The violets are very strong, but these are cold violets with a biting metallic edge from the silver. There’s a certain dustiness to it as well. It’s really interesting and weird.
On the skin: It starts out very similar to what’s in the bottle, but as it dries, it morphs into something resembling artificially grape flavored candy. I want to say that it’s from the violets, but I’m really not sure. I’m still getting the coldness, but I can’t get past the weird grape scent. It’s super disappointing that it turns into that on my skin.
TL;DR: Cold grape candy. Not a fan. 2/5.