Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Edith Cushing

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BPAL Edith Cushing

Pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, white patchouli, ambrette seed, and oudh.

There are few BPAL fragrances more coveted than Edith Cushing from the Crimson Peak collection, which was an official collab between the movie and BPAL. Since the Crimson Peak collection is one of those where once an item is out of stock, its gone, Edith is very hard to find and it’s highly sought after. Bottles can go for $80 or more, so I jumped at the chance to try a single imp of it for 1/8 of the usual price. It’s got tons of notes in it that I like: vanilla, musk, patchouli, sandalwood, and amber. But will it live up to the massive hype?

In the bottle: Whoa, hellooo there vanilla! That’s pretty much all I’m getting right now; it’s also a very gourmand, rich, buttery vanilla that reminds me of Arcana Two Finger Ballet. Right now, they smell super similar.

On the skin: The gourmand quality to the vanilla vanishes, and the musk gets a lot stronger. It’s more balanced now, and very feminine. Musk and non-foodie vanilla are still the main notes, but I’m definitely getting a little bit of nuttiness from the ambrette seed. There is also an almost dusty quality to it, which is from either the sandalwood or the oudh. The dustiness really works here; it reminds me of an old Victorian mansion, which is a major plot point in Crimson Peak. Edith is like if Arcana Two Finger Ballet and Solstice Scents Manor had a baby. It’s a really pretty fragrance and I like it a lot. That being said, I don’t think that it’s worth the $80 a bottle that it usually goes for on the second market, but as always, YMMV!

TL;DR: Musky, nutty vanilla with a slight dustiness. Very feminine. 4/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Mouse’s Long and Sad Tale

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BPAL Mouse’s Long and Sad Tale

Vanilla, two ambers, sweet pea and white sandalwood.

Mouse’s Long and Sad Tale is a general catalog BPAL scent that is in their “Mad Tea Party” collection. It’s one of the most popular GC scents and I was excited to get an imp of it. However, it sells out very quickly because it is so popular. When it’s in stock (which it currently it), you can purchase it on the BPAL website for $17.50 US for a full size or $4 for an imp.

In the bottle: This is gonna sound super weird but…I don’t really smell much of anything. I’m getting the tiniest hint of something sweetly floral, but it’s faint. Maybe I just need to apply it?

On the skin: Well, it definitely got stronger, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. I usually like sweet pea, but there is something very sour about this. I’m not really getting any vanilla or sandalwood, just sour florals with an undercurrent of amber. It weirdly reminds me of Conjure Dark. There is also something almost generically “perfume” about it, and it’s giving me a headache.

TL;DR: Sour florals. Smells very perfume-y. Not a fan. 1/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Tombeur

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BPAL Tombeur

Vanilla-infused sandalwood, blood musk, antique patchouli, vetiver, lavender, bitter almond, amber, and a trickle of Snake Oil.

Tombeur is part of the VILF collection also known as the “Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone” collection. I was drawn in from the vampire theme and then I fell in love with the note list; it sounds utterly sexy. I was also curious to try a scent with BPAL’s famous Snake Oil since I hadn’t smelled it. Because this is part of a special collection, it only comes in the 5mL size. You can buy it from BPAL’s website for $20 US.

In the bottle: Spicy. Kind of smells like the renaissance faire? I’m pretty the spice is coming from the blood musk and Snake Oil

On the skin: There’s something kind of bitter and off smelling at the beginning. I think that might be the bitter almond or the vetiver, but I’m not sure. It softens after a few minutes and the sandalwood appears, but it still has that weird opening. I’m not sure about this one.

TL;DR: Spicy and bitter. Not sure if I’m a fan. 3/5.

Solstice Scents: Conjure Dark

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Solstice Scents Conjure Dark

Amber, Frankincense, Sweet Incense Smoke, Dried Rose Petals, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Woods, Oud, Vanilla

Okay, this one was a gamble for me. I enjoy the smell of church incense, but I hate anything that smells “headshopy”. This one has that “sweet incense note”, but the kind of incense isn’t exactly specified. But I figured “what the hell, I’m gonna try it.” You can purchase this on Solstice Scents’ website; its currently sold out for the 5mL perfume oil version, but you can still get it in the 60mL EDP version for $90 US. The perfume oil version is still available on the Rhinestone Housewife and Pretty Indulgent.

In the bottle: Oh no. Okay, so I like the smell of frankincense, but HOLY CRAP. It’s a very strong bite of frankincense and something sour in the background. I think that’s the vetiver?

On the skin: I think my fears about incense have been confirmed. It’s very strong incense and with more incense. It’s like a headshop with a church next door. The scent is very strong and it’s kind of burning my nostrils. I don’t like this, but if you love incense, then I think this could be a holy grail.

TL;DR: Incense, incense and more incense. Too strong for me. GET IT OFF OF ME/5

Arcana: Bonfires at Dusk

Bonfires at Dusk

Woodsmoke, sweet beeswax, Oregon lavender, sandalwood, charred juniper, and the scent of swiftly appearing stars.

I was really excited to try this scent because I love smoky perfumes, but this one sounded very different from some other smoky scents I was looking at; the description seemed less dark and witchy and more soothing.  You can find this scent in Arcana’s ebay store, as well as in their Canadian retailer Pretty Indulgent and Australian retailer Femme Fatale. It retails for $19 US.

In the bottle: Sandalwood and juniper. It really reminds me of Holy Terror, thanks to the sandalwood, but it’s a little less intense.

On the skin: Comforting is a really good way of describing this. Once applied, I immediately got the sandalwood, lavender, and charred juniper. The beeswax and smoke kind of linger in the background, but they’re still perceptible. The note of “swiftly appearing stars” seems so abstract, but this somehow captures that image perfectly. It really reminds me of my summers spent in the mountains of North Carolina, where I’d be sitting outside with my family around a crackling fire, watching the sparks disappear into the night sky. I find it to be very calming but also alluring in the most subtle way. The scent lasted about 6 hours on me, with moderate throw.

TL;DR: Holy Terror’s greener sister. Sandalwood, lavender and juniper. 5/5.

Arcana: Holy Terror

Holy Terror

An unsettling, austere blend of burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles.

I want to start by saying that I pretty much went into this scent blind. I’ve never smelled church incense (frankincense and myrrh) before, so I had no clue what to expect, but I was curious since this scent is so raved about here and I love things with gothic elements. You can find this scent in Arcana’s ebay store, as well as in their Canadian retailer Pretty Indulgent and Australian retailer Femme Fatale. It retails for $19 US.

In the bottle: Incense is the first thing I smelled with this, but it isn’t headshop, hippie incense; it’s darker, more somber, like the olfactory equivalent of hearing church bells at night. I’m not getting anything else except frankincense and myrrh.

On the skin: Once applied, the sandalwood really comes forward and mingles with the incense. I get a hint of beeswax at the end, but its subtle; they make the scent more complex by adding another layer beyond the incense. “Unsettling” is a good descriptor of this scent. It really evokes the image of an ancient vampire in an abandoned church, surrounded by melted, flickering candles, waiting for some clueless human to walk in. It’s a scent that really makes my Anne Rice-loving heart happy. The picture below gives a good idea

Make the church a bit more dilapidated and you’ve got the idea.

TL;DR: Church incense and sandalwood. Smells like a creepy, abandoned church. Very atmospheric. 5/5.