Arcana: Vanilla Craves Terror

Arcana Vanilla Craves Terror

Creamy vanilla with Arcana’s Holy Terror (An unsettling, austere blend of burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles.)

When I told some of my friends in the indie community that I hadn’t tried this scent yet, they were shocked, because this scent is very much up my alley. I love church incense scents, and I love vanilla, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. That being said, while this scent is beloved by many, there is also a large contingent who think that this smells like a cheap vanilla candle. What would it be for me though?

In the bottle: Acrid and plastic-y. Sometimes vanillas can do that, and it doesn’t bode well.

On the skin: Well, it no longer smells like burning plastic. However, what I’m basically getting now is just regular old Holy Terror with the smallest hint of vanilla sweetness. Honestly, if you had me blind sniff this and regular Holy Terror, I might not be able to tell the difference. And that means that this is going into the destash bin.

TL;DR: Holy Terror with the tiniest bit of vanilla. Boring and disappointing. 2/5.


Arcana: Peaches Crave Fire

Arcana Peaches Crave Fire

Ripe peaches with our Fire accord (scorched black tea leaves, curling wisps of woodsmoke, Arcana’s Holy Terror blend, and a splash of hot toddy)

I like smoky scents. I like Holy Terror. I’m a fan of peach notes, especially Arcana.  Therefore, it was a no brainer when it came to trying this scent.

In the bottle: Smoky peaches. There’s nothing sweet about it; its really like a bunch of fresh peaches sitting in a fireplace. It’s quite interesting.

On the skin: I…don’t know what’s going on here. The tea and smoke combo reminds me a lot of the tea and smoke combo from Marshmallows Smoke, but for some reason, this scent is turning sour on me.  It almost smells sweaty? There’s also the hot toddy that adds this warmth and depth, but I can’t get past that weird BO smell. I don’t know what’s causing it, but I’m not a fan.

TL;DR: Weird smoky, sweaty peaches and smoke. No bueno. 1/5.

Alkemia: Affaire de Coeur

Alkemia Affaire de Coeur

Sugared white musk, creamy Madagascar vanilla, white sandalwood, tonka bean, white amber, and pale sugar cane.

I haven’t had much luck with Alkemia as a brand, but I desperately want their scents to work on me because I love the sound of many of them. A friend sent me some of her old samples so I could test them out without having to blind buy. This scent sounded right up my alley, since I like every single one of the notes. You can buy it from Alkemia’s Etsy store for $12 US for a 5mL full size. You can also buy it as part of an Alkemia sample set, where it will be 1mL.

In the bottle: Sandalwood and sweetness. Dusty, but incredibly feminine. Something in it reads as pear to me for some reason.

On the skin: This definitely a a sugared sandalwood blend. I’m having a hard time picking out the notes individually, though; there’s sandalwood for sure, and I think some sugared vanilla and musk. There’s a powdery kind of note in there too, and it’s very light and delicate. I feel like this will be a good scent for occasion where I can’t wear a scent that’s very strong or a little more unconventional.

TL;DR: Sugared sandalwood. Nice and unoffensive. 4/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Volcano in Springtime

BPAL Volcano in Springtime

Whipped vanilla cream and white sandalwood with a touch of lotus root.

Cream has a bit of an infamous reputation in the indie perfume community, because it has a tendency to turn curdled and spoiled on a lot of people. However, I wanted to try this scent since it was a favorite from that year’s Lupercalia collection. Normally, I also include a photo of the bottle, but I won’t for this one, since it is extremely explicit. This scent is no longer available.

In the bottle: Definitely vanilla, but I’m getting something kind of green and wet. I’m gonna guess that that’s the lotus root. It’s odd, but I kind of like it!

On the skin: The vanilla is kind of dry and a little dusty, which is think is a result of the sandalwood. It’s feminine and delicate, and almost a little woodsy. In the back, I get that same green, slightly wet floral note from the lotus; it’s a great contrast to the dryness of the sandalwood. The blend as a whole is alluring in a very subtle way. This is honestly a really pretty, unique scent, and it reminds me a lot the Monet painting series “Water Lilies”!

TL;DR: Dry vanilla sandalwood with slightly aquatic, green lotus. Beautiful. 5/5.

Arcana: Pirouette


Arcana Pirouette

Two Finger Ballet, Twirling the Pearl ,deep labdanum, satiny sandalwood, and sugary French lavender absolute.

Arcana is one of my favorite perfume houses, and they recently released their Halloween collection. This scent was not a part of that, but is instead a collaboration with a customer who suggested it and drew the label. It combines two of Arcana’s most beloved scents: Two Finger Ballet and Twirling the Pearl, both of which I have tried and liked. This scent is chock full of notes that I love, so I knew I had to try it. The name is also a bit sentimental, since I’ve danced since the age of 4. This scent will be restocked at Pretty Indulgent, Arcana’s ebay store, and Nui Cobalt Designs and it will cost $20 US for 5mL.

In the bottle: Oooooh this is lovely. It’s mostly Two Finger Ballet, but it’s got that gorgeous Arcana lavender underneath it, plus some honey and then galbanum. The galbanum adds a green scent that cuts the sweetness just enough so that it doesn’t really read as gourmand.

On the skin: The Two Finger Ballet retreats, and the labdanum, sandalwood, galbanum, and lavender come forward. Honey and caramel can be detected as the base. Once it fully dries, the Two Finger Ballet takes the spotlight again, but the labdanum, lavender, and honey are still prominent, with the galbanum in the back adding the tiniest touch of green. It’s sexy but in a very understated, delicate way, like the way a cream lace dress can be sexy. This scent is a serious morpher, but its so unique and stunning.

TL;DR: Two Finger Ballet with labdanum, lavender, and galbanum. Morphs a lot, but is absolutely beautiful. 6/5.

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.