Arcana: Devilish

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Arcana Devilish

Shaking off vanilla’s unfair reputation for namby pambyness, this infernally dark and smoky fragrance comes complete with licks of fire and sulfurous wafts of brimstone.

At long last, this scent has returned! This GC Arcana favorite was out of stock for quite a while as a result of difficulties obtaining one of the scent components. I’ve been meaning to try this guy for a while now, because I love vanilla and I love smoky scents.

In the bottle: I’m getting vanilla frosting and campfire smoke. It’s rather soft, which is surprising.

On the skin: The smoke definitely becomes more prominent on the skin than it is in the bottle. I’m also detecting something kind of spicy…ginger maybe? That could possibly be the brimstone though. Overall, I’m getting a layer of smoke with vanilla and a touch of spice. As for how it compares to Alkemia Smoke and Mirrors: Devilish has a softer smoke note, and its much sweeter because of the vanilla. Smoke and Mirrors, on the other hand, is pure campfire smoke with very little vanilla and a realistic, subtly acridity. They’re similar scents for sure, but they have their differences.

TL;DR: Smoke with vanilla frosting and a hint of ginger. Yummy and interesting. 4/5.

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Arcana: Drool

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Arcana Drool

Ripe figs with vanilla beans and hypnotic honey amber.

Happy (slightly belated) Thanksgiving! Every so often, you discover a scent that you want to try and you spend months on end trying to get your hands on it. Drool was one of those scents for me. This scent was a part of the limited edition Cocos Nucifera collection, and it has been discontinued since 2015. However, Julia (the owner and perfumer of Arcana) decided to make a limited run of about six or seven bottles of this rare scent, and I was lucky enough to be able to buy one. Will it live up to the hype?

In the bottle: I’m getting a very rich, almost caramelized, sweet smell, almost like Arcana Two Finger Ballet. There’s a subtle juicy fruitiness in the back that stops it from getting too sweet; it’s like ripe figs that have been caramelized and soaked in a vanilla honey sauce. It’s gourmand without being foodie, if that makes sense.

On the skin: The juicy figs come roaring to the front and it pushes the sweet vanilla to the back. The honey also becomes more prominent. There’s a very slight powderiness from the amber as well, but overall it’s a bright fragrance. As it settles, it becomes the most perfect fig/honey blend and I’m really into it. “Hypnotic” is a good way to describe this scent.

TL;DR: Juicy, ripe figs covered in a slightly sweetened honey. Delicious. 6/5.

Arcana: Ganesh

Arcana Ganesh

A large, joyous snoutful of coconut cake is snugly wrapped in honey, vanilla, Indonesian clove, green coconut, and a warm blend of spices.

I’ve been wanting to try this particular scent since I got into indie perfume; it sounds like the perfect gourmand for me as the notes suggest that its not overly sweet. Unfortunatly, this perfume has been out of stock for months and no on knows when it will return, if ever. I was very lucky to be able to find a decant of it in a destash list. As for the name, this fragrance is named after Ganesh, a very important and popular Hindu deity. This scent is currently out of stock.

In the bottle: So fragrant! It’s all honey, cloves and spices with a touch of coconut.

On the skin: It’s basically the same as it is in the vial, just with stronger clove, but the clove is like chai clove so I love it. There’s a strong warmth to this as well. You would think it would be gourmand based on the notes, but its not; it smells like potpourri, but in the best way possible, if that makes sense. Just spicy and warm and sweet and golden. It’s not as coconut-y as I expected, but I really like it.

The scent’s divine namesake, the Hindu god Ganesh.

Tl;DR: Strong chai clove with honey, spices, and a touch of coconut. Warm and delicious. 5/5.

Arcana: Vanilla Craves Snow Fairies

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Arcana Vanilla Craves Snow Fairies

Frozen honey with dry white musk, winter vanilla, opulent amber, snow, vodka, and a sliver of orris root.

Winter is fast approaching, and many perfume houses are preparing their winter collections, many of which use a lot of pine and snow notes. Now, I have a weird thing about snow notes. Many of them make me wrinkle my nose; they’re usually powdery and ozone-y, and I don’t like them. However, a friend in the indie community convinced me to try this scent, since the snow note is apparently very different from the other ones I’ve tried. The other notes also sound really good, and I was intrigued by the inclusion of vodka in the fragrance. This scent is no longer available, as it was a gift with purchase from a previous winter collection

In the bottle: A very crisp vanilla with a tiny vodka bite. It’s sweeter than I expected and a little powdery, but in a good way.

On the skin: I get more of the snow, but I actually like this snow note! It’s not ozone-y or minty, its just cold and delicate. Mix that with the vanilla and vodka, and it really works. Once it dries, it’s a musky, cold vanilla with the tiniest hint of vodka for crispness. There’s also something surprisingly sexy about this scent, which is interesting. It’s very unique and I really love it. It reminds me of Snegurochka (Снегурочка) aka the Snow Maiden of Russian folklore who helps Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz).

TL;DR: A delicately cold vanilla with musk and a bit of vodka. Perfect for winter. 7/5.

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.

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Vanilla sugar! Photo belongs to cherryteacakes.com

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

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Spinning on Graves

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!

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“Lavender Sunrise”, UK and France, by Anthony Spencer. Image does not belong to me.

TL;DR: Sweetened herbal lavender with softly wet greenery and Dorian. Misty and calming. 5/5.

Nocturne Alchemy: Pyramid Vanille 2

NAVA Pyramid Vanille 2

French Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, Ember Vanilla and Bastet’s Ice Cream Vanilla Absolute

Today I’m looking at another famous NAVA vanilla: Pyramid Vanille 2, which is apparently the sister scent to Pyramid Vanille 1. According to other reviews, PV2 is a richer, more gourmand version of PV2. I’m very curious to see how similar they are. You can buy this on NAVA’s website for $27 US for 5mL.

In the bottle: This smells really similar to Arcana Two Finger Ballet! So much so that I don’t think you need both of the scents. It’s a rich, gourmand vanilla with a caramelized edge.

On the skin: One thing I’ve noticed about NAVA scents is that they don’t really differ from the bottle to the skin. This is no exception. It’s the same rich, gourmand vanilla that I was smelling in the sample vial, and I really like it! That being said, if you have Two Finger Ballet, you won’t need this too.

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Basically how this smells. Photo from Vesna’s Recipes.

TL;DR: Rich, gourmand vanilla. Similar to Arcana Two Finger Ballet. Very yummy. 4/5.