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 A View of Cascading Cherry Blossoms
A tumble of cherry blossoms falling into a pool of white musk and crushed strawberries.
Strawberries are an interesting perfume note. On one hand, they can smell extremely sweet and artificial. But on the other hand, if done well, they can be so beautiful and fresh and fruity. BPAL Lupercalia Shunga scents are often my favorites when it comes to their yearly releases, so I knew I had to try this.
In the bottle: Dear Lord, this is one of the best things that I have ever smelled. I’m getting sweet, jammy strawberry with beautiful, gently floral cherry blossoms. I hope it stays this way on the skin.
On the skin: I just love this. It’s a 50/50 split between the cherry blossom and the strawberries, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The strawberries are realistic and sweet, but not candied, and the cherry blossoms are so stunning: floral but not too floral. The musk ties it all together. It’s like a less sweet, more floral version of Diligent Instruction for the Bridal Night.
TL;DR: Sweet, realistic strawberries and cherry blossoms. I love this. 5/5.
Poesie Tiny Phantom
Innocent pink roses, marshmallow buttercream, pale white musk, antique mahogany
As I’ve mentioned, rose is a very tricky note for me. I love the smell of roses, but I find that many rose fragrances give me a headache. This particular scent has been raved about on the indie makeup and perfume subreddit, with even rose haters praising it. Will this be the Holy Grail rose scent that I have been searching for?
In the bottle: Oh, I already love this. I’m getting realistic roses (definitely pink) with a touch of sweetness. I hope I get a little more of the other notes on the skin, but I’m a happy camper already.
On the skin: The roses are still prominent on the skin, but I am getting some mahogany and musk. It’s so lovely! This is definitely a feminine scent, but it’s not screaming “PINK!” at me as much as I thought it would. It also smells expensive and fancy. It could be worn by an elegant lady or a young girl.
TL;DR: Gorgeous, slightly sweet roses with a touch of wood and musk. Lovely. 4/5.
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.
Arcana Frilly Underpinnings
Pink, white, and black pepper, sweet cream, bourbon vanilla, caramel amber, white musk, two sugars, spice, and everything nice.
Black pepper is a rather uncommon note that I have a small obsession with. Nothing else adds that same kind of sassy spice to scent. However, as we saw with Krampus Cones, black pepper scents can be tricky. I’m always game to try a new pepper scent though, and this hard to find Arcana has always been on my list.
In the bottle: Creamy bourbon vanilla with a smack of pepper! The booze is strong with this one, but I feel like the pepper cuts it to a certain degree.
On the skin: The bourbon vanilla calms down quite a bit, as does the pepper, but both are still detectable. The cream doesn’t go sour, which I’m very thankful for. I’m mainly getting a creamy vanilla with musky not foodie caramel and a kiss of pepper to keep it from being too sweet. It’s an extremely feminine scent, but that beautiful pepper adds this interesting, dark kick to it. I feel like this perfume would be worn by a lace-draped Victorian lady who is demure by day, but a stealthy jewel thief by night. Think Irene Adler from the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie!
TL;DR: Creamy vanilla, musky caramel, and a touch of pepper. Feminine but punchy. 5/5.
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
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.
BPAL De Vos’ Unicorn
Sugared peony and rose-tinted vanilla with mallow, white musk, lavender buds, and a touch of apricot.
Last year, BPAL released a special collection called “The Art of the Unicorn”, which was a bunch of scents inspired by different artistic depictions of unicorns in various works. While the collection as a whole was very well received, one particular scent stood out from the rest: De Vos’ Unicorn. I’ve always had a soft spot for unicorns (I still have a plushie of one that I’ve taken with me to college), and this scent, while somewhat floral, had enough notes in it that I liked. This scent is no longer available.
In the bottle: Sweet. I’m definitely getting a lot of vanilla and mallow with the apricot. It’s pretty!
On the skin: It’s glorious. I was afraid that the rose and peony would take over the blend, but they’re so beautifully subtle. The vanilla, peony, and rose are so creamy, and the apricot adds some brightness. The mallow and musk form the base and ground the blend, making it a little less airy. For some reason, it really reminds me of the Moon Reflected in Every Rice Paddy hair gloss, which is a favorite of mine. It is a lighter fragrance, but that is to be expected since the notes are all very delicate and ethereal. I can’t stop smelling my wrist.
TL;DR: Delicate vanilla and peony with musk and apricot. Light and ethereal. If unicorns had a scent, it’s this. 7/5.
BPAL The Bow and Crown of Conquest
Sage, carnation, and cedar with lavender, vanilla, white musk, and leather
This perfume was pretty much marketed as “smell like the Antichrist”. With a description like that, I knew I had to smell it for myself. When it’s in stock, you can buy it on the BPAL website for $17.50 US for a full size or $4 US for an imp.
In the bottle: There are a lot of things happening and I’m having a hard time picking out notes. It’s quite spicy, but also floral as well. I think I can detect the sage.
On the skin: It doesn’t really change much from what’s in the bottle. Its very much a spicy floral along the lines of Alice, Reaper of Cruelty. Sage is by far the most prominent note, followed by the carnation and lavender. The leather lurks in the back grounding everything. It’s quite nice, but its not something I would wear. If you like spicy florals though, you’re gonna really like this.
TL;DR: A spicy blend of sage and carnation with a touch of lavender and leather. 3.5/5.
BPAL Theodosius, the Legerdemain
Earl Grey tea leaves, a white fougere, jasmine leaf, pearlescent white musk, and vanilla bean.
Since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a thing for carnival or circus related things. When I saw that BPAL had a collection called “Carnival Diabolique”, you know I immediately checked it out. This particular scent caught my eye because it seems to be in the same scent family of Dorian and Jareth, with the main focus being on the fougere. I was curious to see how this would compare to the other members of this perfume group. You can purchase this on the BPAL website for $24 US.
In the bottle: Very lemon, which is weird because lemon is not listed as a note. Perhaps its there along side the Earl Grey.
On the skin: The Earl Grey tea is quite strong in this blend, alongside the prominent lemon. It’s less sweet than Dorian and less floral than Jareth. Its definitely the most masculine smelling of those three though. I can detect some jasmine leaf, but it isn’t overwhelming for once. Its more similar to Dorian than it is to Jareth.
TL;DR: A less sweet version of Dorian with a stronger tea note. Masculine. 4/5.