Arcana: Strawberries Crave Black Sand

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Arcana Strawberries Crave Black Sand

Amber resin with black coconut, coconut husks, smoky vetiver, and a sliver of almost-overripe strawberry.

Arcana recenlty re-opened with a resurrection event where several fragrances that have been out of stock for a while came back. For customers with purchased 3 or more bottles, this was a gift with purchase, available only that way and only as a 3.7mL dram. While I did not make any purchase during Arcana’s re-opening, I managed to find someone who was selling their bottle of it.  I was worried about the vetiver in it, everything else sounded so gorgeous that I really wanted to try it. This scent is currently unavailable.

In the bottle: Coconut is the main note here, and its delightfully milky. I get a hint of the famous Arcana strawberry note, and then something very dark in the back, which is that smoky vetiver. So far, the vetiver is working for me; it’s not too bitter or too sour. It’s just dark and smoky and resin-y.

On the skin: This one is a morpher. Once applied to the skin, the coconut retreats into the back and the strawberry gets stronger and sweeter. The vetiver also takes on an almost chocolate-y quality, but it still has that smoke. The amber also gets much more prominent.  At this stage, I don’t really like it. Then after about an hour, it morphs again, and it becomes a fruity blend of strawberries and coconut with a touch of smoke in the back. Now I like it again.
TL;DR: Coconut, overripe strawberry, and smoke with a touch of vetiver. Morphs a lot. very unique. 4/5.

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Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Strawberry Moon 2017

BPAL Strawberry Moon 2017

Wild strawberries, strawberry flower, vanilla-infused sugar, early summer grasses, purple coneflower, white sage, and milky dandelion sap.

Every month, BPAL does an event called Lunacy. It occurs right around the full moon and it is accompanied by a monthly scent. Every month has a different kind of “moon” according to Native American tradition, and June is the Strawberry Moon. Strawberry Moon scents are considered to be some of the best, and 2017’s is apparently really great. I love a nice strawberry scent, so I was happy to try a sample of this. This scent is no longer available.

In the bottle: Very, very strawberry with a touch of greenery in the background. Not really surprising honestly, but the strawberry note is more artificial than expected. It’s a totally different strawberry from the one in Diligent Instruction and Enveloped in Silk hair gloss.

On the skin: It does get less artificial once it’s been applied, but it is still quite sweet thanks to the vanilla-infused sugar. The summer grass and dandelion are a lovely foil to the sweetness and they provide a pretty green note. It’s perfect for summer and it really evokes the image of strawberry picking.

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What I pictured when I heard “Strawberry Moon”.  Photo from the Farmer’s Almanac.

TL;DR: Sugary sweet strawberries with summer greenery. 4/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Diligent Instruction for the Bridal Night

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BPAL Diligent Instruction for the Bridal Night

Sugar dusted strawberries and mallow blossoms

This scent was part of the 2017 Lupercalia collection, specifically the set that was inspired by Japanese erotic art (“shunga”). Out of the whole collection, this was the one I was most interested in because someone who reviewed it referred to it as “Strawberry Stekkjarstaur.” As with all Lupercalia scents, this one is sold out. However, sometimes popular Lupers get resurrected for the next year, so it is possible that this could come back.

In the bottle: Very strawberry, not artificial at all. BPAL’s strawberry note is honestly masterful. I’m definitely detecting something creamy in the background. It smells super similar to the BPTP Enveloped in Silk hair gloss, actually.

On the skin: This is gorgeous. It now smells like super silky strawberries and cream with marshmallows. It’s extremely feminine and elegant, but still sweet and delicate. Absolutely stunning. My only complaint would be that it is a light fragrance, so you need to apply more for a full effect.

TL;DR: Silken strawberries in cream with marshmallow. Beautiful. 7/5.

Black Phoenix Trading Post: Hair Glosses

Black Phoenix Trading Post (BPTP) is the sister shop to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. While the Lab does perfume oils, the Post does other merchandise like atmosphere sprays, nail polish and t-shirts. Many of their hair glosses, nail polish and atmosphere sprays correspond to other items available at BPAL. Today I will be reviewing five of their hair glosses in the scents Dragon’s Milk, The Moon Reflected in Every Rice Paddy, Sharing the Cake Between the Lion and the Unicorn, Enveloped in Silk, and Holliday. All of these scents are no longer available on the BPTP website.

What is a hair gloss?

Hair gloss or hair oil is a mixture of oils and other ingredients that are meant to make your hair shiny and more manageable. Several perfume house make them with some of their bestselling scents, so not only will your hair look better, it’ll smell better too.

Here is what BPTP has to say about their hair glosses:

“We have combined Tahitian monoi, camelina oil, argan oil, and karanja oil to give your mane a gleaming finishing shine without leaving it gloopy, weighted-down, or greasy. Camelina oil provides a protective coating for the hair follicles, argan oil nourishes stressed hair, enhances elasticity, and repairs cellular damage to the hair strand itself, and a touch of Monoi oil adds moisture and enhances softness. Your hair will be silkier, shinier, glossier, more vibrant, and frizz-free. Black Phoenix’s Hair Gloss is paraben and sulfate free, and contains no petro-chemicals, no GMOs, and no triclosan.”

The Glosses I Purchased

I got decants of five hair glosses: Dragon’s Milk, The Moon Reflected in Every Rice Paddy, Sharing the Cake Between the Lion and the Unicorn, Enveloped in Silk, and Holliday.

Dragon’s Milk

Dragon’s blood resin and honeyed vanilla.

This is the hair gloss version of the beloved BPAL scent of the same name. Dragon’s blood is a weird note on me; I either love it or I hate it. Luckily, I really like this. It’s definitely dragon’s blood, but it’s very evenly balanced with the honey and vanilla. It’s not headshop-y at all, just a little spicy.

The Moon Reflected in Every Rice Paddy

Madagascan vanilla, rice powder, iris root, and pale musk.

This gloss was part of 2017’s Lupercalia collection and it’s received rave reviews across the internet. Vanilla and musk are notes I love,and rice powder sounded like an interesting component. The hype is totally worth it, because it’s a magnificent vanilla with just a hint of powdery rice and iris. It’s stunning.

Sharing the Cake Between the Lion and the Unicorn 

Honey cake

Sharing the Cake was from the 2016 Unicorn collection. I love honey and gourmand scents, so this one was on my wishlist.

It’s exactly what the description says: deliciously rich honey cake. It’s sweet and amazing and I love it.

Enveloped in Silk

Strawberry cream, white musk, and orris root.

After the strawberry success that was Arcana Strawberries Crave Waterfalls, I wanted to find a hair gloss that had that had more strawberry goodness. This totally fits the bill; it smells like super fresh strawberries and a hint of whipped cream. If you like strawberries, you’re gonna LOVE this.

Holliday

Red musk and bourbon vanilla with blackened amber, gunsmoke, honey, and a splash of rum.

The notes for Holliday are much more up my alley. It’s mostly bourbon vanilla, honey and amber with a touch of rum. The musk is in the background to ground it all out. The gunsmoke is subtle, but it adds a little bit of a masculine, smoke note in there. I imagine that this is how Westworld would smell. Sexy, a little dirty and dangerous.

I also received a sample tube of the famous Pink Wig Spray (A glittering cloud of cotton candy and rhinestone white musk). True to the name, this scent is bright, sugary cotton candy with a hint of something else to ground it. It’s super vibrant and fun.

Does it work?

For reference, my hair is long, thick and wavy and I live in a humid climate.

I applied the gloss to mostly dried hair in the morning by spritzing it onto my hands and then running them through my hair. I feel like it definitely made my hair shinier and it helped to hold the waves in place so they didn’t frizz as much. It’s not a miracle product or anything, but it makes my hair look pretty and it smells good. It might do more for frizz if you live in a climate that isn’t tropical.

Arcana: Strawberries Crave Waterfalls

Arcana Strawberries Crave Waterfalls

Rain, woodland strawberries, fresh water, petitgrain, osmanthus, clover, and smooth amber.

Arcana’s Strawberries Craves line has become a favorite within the indie perfume community, but none of the scents has garnered as much hype as Strawberries Crave Waterfalls. When this recently came back for the resurrection event, two ebay listings worth of the fragrance sold out within two hours. I have never seen a perfume fly off the shelves so fast. While I did not get a bottle myself, a lovely redditor offered to decant some for me. I was very curious about this fragrance, since aquatics usually aren’t my thing, but it sounds so summery and light that I had to experience it for myself. This fragrance is currently sold out everywhere, but I heard that Julia would be bringing it back soon. When she does, it will probably cost $19 US from the Arcana ebay store.

In the bottle: STRAWBERRIES. That’s not much of a surprise, but it is a very strong strawberry. It borders on being overly artificial, but it doesn’t cross the line. I’m definitely getting the water in there too. It’s very strong.

On the skin: I understand the hype now. Holy crap, this is MAGNIFICENT. Somehow Julia managed to capture the scent of fresh, dew-covered wild strawberries in a bottle. The strawberry is no longer straddling the artificial line; now it is just pure, sweet forest strawberries. The rain and fresh water are so clean in there and the clover and osmanthus add a subtle floral note that is just stunningly bright. It’s the scent of hiking through the forest in the summer and coming across a hidden waterfall surrounded by strawberry bushes and flowers.. This perfume is perfect for hot weather; its so refreshing. I might have to snap up a bottle of this when it returns.

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Picture this but with more strawberries.

TL;DR: Fresh forest strawberries, soft wild flowers and clean water. Absolutely stunning. 7/5.

Cocoa Pink: Heavenly Basbousa

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Cocoa Pink Heavenly Basbousa

Almond cake, creamy condensed milk, whipped cream, vanilla extract, strawberry syrup, whispers of sugared lemon and rosewater made with velvety crimson rose petals.

Rose is a weird note for me. While I love the smell of real roses, I find that the rose smell in a lot of perfumes is very artificial and headache inducing. This perfume has rose in it, but it also has a ton of yummy sounding gourmand notes, so I decided to give it a shot. You can buy it on Cocoa Pink’s website for $12.55 US and you get 10mL of perfume.

In the bottle: This is easily the most edible smelling perfume I have ever experienced. It smells so much like strawberry shortcake that it legitimately made my mouth water. Strawberry is the main note here, along with the vanilla, fluffy cake, and whipped cream. Very rich and very sweet. It is the olfactory equivalent of this picture.

On the skin: This one is a morpher. Once applied, the rosewater comes out and it’s very natural and soft. It definitely cuts some of the sweetness. After having it on for about an hour, it now smells like creamy sugary and rosewater. So delicate and feminine. I did not expect to like this one as much as I did.

TL;DR: Morphs from super sweet strawberry shortcake to creamy, sugary rosewater. 3.5/5