Nui Cobalt Designs Ain’t I a Woman: Sojourner Truth
A sacred incense of amber and sandalwood, Bartlett pears poached with vanilla bean, and a scattering of dry tea and patchouli leaves.
The second scent of the three I received is another one from the famous, influential women collection. This perfume was inspired by Sojourner Truth. Again, in NCD’s own words: “She was born into slavery in New York, fled to freedom with her daughter, then attained legal custody of her son, becoming the first black woman to successfully sue a white slave owner. She spoke widely as an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Her groundbreaking 1851 speech, later titled “Ain’t I A Woman,” was delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.” The combination of pears and vanilla with patch, incense, and tea seemed very intriguing for me.
In the bottle: Warm, yummy, and very familiar. Seriously, this smells very similar to something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. This scent is both comforting and powerful.
On the skin: Once applied, the pears vanish, but the patch, sandalwood, and incense become much more prominent. There’s a distinct powderiness that occurs as well, but it’s not a bad thing. I can detect a nice smoky undertone as well, probably from the tea and the incense. This actually reminds me of a combination of two scents from the famous Bourbon French Perfumery in New Orleans’ French Quarter: Kus Kus and Voodoo Love. What’s interesting about this is that it was very foody in the bottle, and it changed completely on the skin. I do think that this is a little too powdery for my personal taste, but it is objectively a nice, womanly scent for someone with different skin chemistry.
TL;DR: Smoky, powdery incense, sandalwood, and patchouli. The kind of scent for a mature, no-nonsense woman. 3.5/5.
Deconstructing Eden Lucrezia Borgia
Clementine, red mandarin, Italian lemon, ambergris, vanilla, patchouli and orange blossom on a resinous bed of labdanum.
I decided to live real dangerously and blind buy a large size of this scent. The notes are not things that normally catch my eye, and I’ve never dealt with ambergris before. Why did I buy it then? The name. I’m planning to get my PhD in early modern/Renaissance Italian history, and Lucrezia is one of my favorite historical figures.
Now, since I have found that alcohol based scents don’t change as much from bottle to skin, I’ll just include my overall thoughts.
My thoughts: GOOD LORD THIS IS SEXY. It opens with a blast of sweet and tart citrus followed by a spicy, dark undercurrent. I’m getting a really glorious musk note too, which might be the ambergris. I remember seeing a review that described this as a “sexy creamsicle” scent, and I can totally see that comparison. The vanilla is there, but it’s not an innocent, foody vanilla at all. This is real grown-up scent, seductive, beautiful, and dangerous. I’m definitely glad I got a larger size. It also has insane wear length; I can smell it on jewelry from a month ago.
TL;DR: Citrus with a rich, earthy base and a hint of sweetness. Crazy sexy. 7/5.
Arcana Pumpkins Crave Quietude
Soft vanilla, white amber, white musk, Mysore sandalwood, sweet pumpkin, and a tiny pinch of white pepper.
I’ve been super curious about this scent for a while, but it’s been very, very hard to find. When I heard that Julia was bringing it back, I got very excited. Would it live up to the hype?
In the bottle: Oh, this is pretty! I’m getting a sweet pumpkin and vanilla blend with a kick of pepper. It’s not too sweet or too foodie, which I am happy about.
On the skin: This is very nice. The pumpkin retreats into the back, and the blend is taken over by the vanilla, pepper, and sandalwood. It’s delicate and feminine, like the olfactory equivalent of white lace. The pumpkin is still present, just subtle; this isn’t a foodie, Halloween-y fragrance at all.
TL;DR: Vanilla, sandalwood, and pepper, with a hint of pumpkin. So delicate and lovely. 4/5.
BPAL The Perilous Parlor
Soft white pear and sweet vanilla.
Why don’t more perfume brands make pear-centric scents? Pear is an absolutely gorgeous note, and it’s really not used that much! Therefore, anytime I come across a pear scent, I have to try it.
In the bottle: Oh lord, that’s sweet. I knew that this was going to be sweet, but I didn’t think it was going to be that sweet. It’s really candied and sugary. It’s quite artificial too.
On the skin: The scent becomes less artificial smelling, but it’s still way too sweet for me. It’s like…pear and vanilla candy that’s gonna rot your teeth. If you’re someone who likes really foodie, super sweet scents, you’ll like this, but it’s not for me.
TL;DR: Ultra sweet pear and vanilla. Too sweet for me. 3/5.
Arcana Peaches Crave True Love
Resinous black amber, caramelized sugar, vanilla bean, peach nectar, and a tiny hint of pear.
EUREKA! I HAVE FOUND IT! For those of you who don’t know, this scent is extremely hard to find and I have been searching for it for over a year. My search is over. I have heard nothing but good things about this scent, but will it live up to the hype?
In the bottle: Mmmm, there’s that glorious Arcana peach note that I adore. That’s the main note here. I’m getting a little bit of powdery amber and some sweetness from the sugar.
On the skin: The peach is still at the forefront, with the amber, sugar, and vanilla bean mixture forming the base for the scent. The sugar is definitely a caramelized one, since it has that sweet, almost burnt quality to it. I really like the amber mixed with the sweet notes: it’s deep and resiny, but also sweet. It’s gourmand, but not foodie, if that makes sense. I’m not getting any pear, which is a shame since I think it would be wonderful here. Overall, I like it a lot, but I don’t love it.
TL;DR: Juicy peach with sweet vanilla amber. Really nice overall. 4/5.
Smoked vanilla, sweet resins, red musk, marshmallow, and fiery woodsmoke.
If you’ve been following this blog, then you’ll know that I really love woodsmoke scents. I don’t know why, but I find woodsmoke to be very calming and relaxing. I’m also a big fan of red musk and vanilla. Therefore, this scent seems like it’ll be an instant winner. While Phoebus has been out for a while, I haven’t gotten the chance to try it until now.
In the bottle: I’m getting an absolutely gorgeous woodsmoke note backed up by red musk and resins. The red musk is beautiful, with an almost dark fruit-like quality to it. The resins lend a slight incense-y edge without making it headshoppy. If this scent was a color, it would be a deep crimson.
On the skin: It stays pretty true to the bottle to be honest. The red musk here really has this fascinating sweet quality that other red musks don’t; it’s almost cherry-like, without being similar to cough syrup. This is also a very bold scent in that it has a lot of throw and power. It’s a “notice me” scent. I think that this really perfect for fall, if you’re into sexy, smoky, musky scents.
TL;DR: An almost fruit-like red musk with bonfire smoke. Powerful and autumnal. 4/5.
Poesie Strange Sisterhood
Wild gathered berries, sweet violet blooms, a union of three vanillas, a creamy hint of white coconut flesh
I’m always a sucker for coconut scents, but most tend to lean tropical. This one doesn’t sound summery or tropical at all, which really piqued my curiosity.
In the bottle: This is really interesting. I’m detecting a sweet, powdery violet note with some blackberries and a touch of coconut. There’s a cold quality about it that makes it slightly creepy, but in a good way.
On the skin: Darn it! The berries are now quite artificial, and the vanilla is going plastic-y. I still get the powderiness from the violet. I can see why people like this scent, but my skin chemistry just doesn’t like it at all. It’s gonna be a “no” from me.
TL;DR: Plastic vanilla and artificial berries. I blame my skin chemistry. Destash. 2/5.
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.
White musk, vanilla musk, Madagascar vanilla, sugarcane, and a faint trail of white pepper.
Yet another hard to find scent, Haint is a Holy Grail scent for many people due to it’s combination of vanilla and pepper. I love a good pepper scent, and I certainly love vanilla too, so testing out a sample of this was a no brainer.
In the bottle: Soft vanilla and a kick of pepper. The pepper in this is definitely less strong than the pepper in Frilly Underpinnings. I’m into it.
On the skin: I’m getting a touch more sugar on the skin, and the musk really rounds out the blend. I love this. In comparison to Frilly Underpinnings, the pepper is more subtle and its overall sweeter. I don’t think you need both scents unless you really love pepper. Honestly, I think I prefer this to Frilly, and I want to find a bottle.
TL;DR: Sweetened vanilla musk and pepper. Beautiful. I want a full bottle. 5/5.
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.