Arcana – The Righteous Uterus

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photo by smellallthethings

The name, the label art, the cause … it’s all wonderful!  For the unawares, The Righteous Uterus is part of Arcana’s bid to help Planned Parenthood40% of proceeds from this scent are automatically transferred from each sale to Planned Parenthood.  Julia, bless her hedonistic heart, is very transparent in how much has been sent thus far.  Curious?  Visit her company’s Facebook page or the fan page.

Like I said, the cause is wonderful.  Even if the notes are not “your thing”, this is another way to donate to a worthy cause.

But that label art!  And the notes!  And the name!  It’s the complete package really.

The Righteous Uterus – A power blend of fresh ginger root, bergamot peel, black vanilla, spruce branches, balsam of Peru, and sparkling water rests on a base of unbreakable sandalwood and corporeal amber.

In the bottle this is a huge, freshly peeled blast of ginger root.  I’ve peeled and grated enough and I enjoy that scent (mostly because I enjoy the food I’m cooking it in as well).  And on the skin that fresh ginger root is there, it’s strong and flowing.  It’s so strong that it’s overtaking everything else at the moment.

As this dries down I get that citrus-y bergamot peel and something that is reminding me of Arcana’s “fir jam” which might be the spruce branches (maybe a bit of the balsam as well) coming through.  Eventually I get that dark, caramel-y vanilla scent and it pulls the sandalwood and amber with it as it makes its way through the brighter notes.

It takes a while, but fear not, the ginger and bergamot falls to the back of the line and lets the other notes come to the fore.  The throw is not as large as it was when wet, but it’s still nice and I get a waft of it whenever I move my hand.

I really like this.  It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  I’d seen it compared to ginger ale, and I don’t like ginger ale.  I don’t think it’s like ginger ale.

Once this has had time to settle it is a gorgeous, soft scent with an edge.  It has that feel that is quintessentially Arcana.  Soft, slightly sweet, with a brightness that lifts you up and a base to keep you grounded.

Sixteen92 – EDP and oils

Another wonderful order from the fabulous Sixteen92!  They had something of a flash sale for the oils, a return of past favorites, and having only recently begun dipping my toes in the proverbial water and being smitten, I had to grab them!

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photo by smellallthethings

You may also notice that EDP is from their Spring 2016 Collection that I reviewed here.  I couldn’t pass it up!  The Primrose Path is just like spring and the earth in a bottle it’s so lovely.  The notes are Soaked earth, lichen, ancient oak roots, grass, water lily, heavy stone, a tangled garland of faded spring blooms.  Not much of a difference between the oil and the EDP.  I get so much of that lovely moist earth on initial spray.  And stone!  Who knew stones had a scent?  It’s all greenery, soft and warm, with the earth underneath and the breeze gently blowing.  The longer this sits the more you get the old oak tree and the lichen.  It’s almost like being in an ancient forest surrounded by plants and trees that you just know have been around for centuries.  For some reason the EDP feels older than the oil, whereas the oil is more fresh.

And of course I have to follow that beauty up with The Orchard Keeper whose notes include night blooming jasmine, peach, apricot, pink pepper, sandalwood.  This scent opens with a beautiful jasmine and peach combination that is sweet and almost sultry.  It doesn’t take long for that sandalwood to come into the picture.  The apricot adds a bright, but not juicy, sweetness to the blend and the pink pepper gives a touch of perky spice.  I could see this being the perfect scent for a peach orchard.  Beautifully soft, slightly decadent, and sinfully sweet.

Finally I grabbed a 6ml of The Sound and the Fury and its notes include southern sweet tea, Carolina jessamine, balsam, fern, warm skin musk, loam.  Oh wow, now I wish I hadn’t chickened out of the big bottle.  The jessamine is soft and velvety, perfect for those relaxing days.  The tea isn’t strong, like I had feared it would be.  The balsam, fern, and loam give a wonderful greenness to the blend that isn’t overdone.  I have quite a few ferns growing in my front garden and I recognized the scent!  The skin musk gives that warm glow you can only get from sun warmed skin.

Overall I am super pleased with my blind purchases!  It means I’m finally learning how Sixteen92 works for me and my skin chemistry!

Nocturne Alchemy – Spring 2016 Samples & Seth’s Super Secret Scent

Man that’s a lot of S’s in that title.  Say it 10 times fast!

Anyway, what we have today are scents from Nocturne Alchemy/VApothecary. or NAVA for short.  They are a wonderful company with lovely owners who enjoy all things Egypt … and cookies.

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photo by smellallthethings

So I may have already sniffed and purchased full size bottles of Evening Star and Mysteries of Udolpho (which came with cute scarab beads and the sample of Seth’s Super Secret Scent) because I had a mini-freak out that the scents were coming down today.  They aren’t, but that didn’t stop me from ordering them!  Decants were purchased via Ajevie, again.  She’s awesome!

Evening Star is first up, since you know I already bought one, with notes of Crushed Jasmine and Crushed Violet, Egyptian Rose de Mai Absolute, Nutmeg, California Redwood, Raw Papaya Seed, Arabian Cedarwood, Bastet’s White Amber, Champagne Musk and Chrysanthemum star petals.  In the vial it’s all jasmine and violet with a touch of rose.  On my skin, however, the scents blossom.  The redwood and cedarwood give this blend a nice grounding place to layer on top of.  The nutmeg is almost undetectable but I believe it is what is giving a “warm” glow to this.  Bastet’s (one of the perfumers at NAVA) White Amber gives a feeling of the sky to me – it’s ethereal and floating.  The champagne musk is soft and almost fuzzy in feel.  Overall this is a soft, sweet, and flowing blend that makes me think of laying in the grass looking up at the night sky.

The Mysteries of Udolpho is next and this one blew me away with its notes of Venice Violet infused Bergamot Tea, Castle Oakmoss, White Amber, Vanilla Crystal Musk and a drop of Italian Galbanum Incense accord.  So, so, so good.  Warm and spicy with a hint of sweetness.  Normally I don’t compare or mention a scent smelling like one from a different perfumery because I don’t think its fair to the perfume house I’m currently reviewing.  However, what this smells like is a discontinued scent from another house that will not be brought back.  It’s not an exact match (I did test my samples side by side), but it’s similar enough in feel that those that missed out (like me) on the other scent might be able to find something similar and possibly a new perfumery at the same time!  Win-Win right?  Enough already, I’m talking about Black Phoenix’s Fruminous Bandersnatch – so if you missed it and are hording your little stash, like me, get this – it’s awesome.  Udolpho is, as the name indicates, mysterious.  I honestly can’t go through and pick out the notes because if I hadn’t seen the note list I would’ve sworn there was carnation, amber, and maybe galbanum.  Oakmoss?  Bergamot tea?  Violet?  I can’t find those it’s so well blended.  This is warm and cozy and just amazing.  After a few hours this is a soft amber and vanilla scent with just a whisper of spice.

Pharaoh Anniversary is not part of the Spring Collection, but is instead part of the Studio Limited Collection, which has a chance to stick around a bit longer and even, sometimes, be re-stocked.  It’s notes are comprised of Water Lily, Heliotrope, Mimosa, Bergamot, Alexandrian Sea Salt, Amber and Musk. Anniversary blend brings the smokiness of NAVA ICONIC Arabian Oudh, NAVA Amber Resin Absolute, Frankincense Pure and White Myrrh of Aswan grown especially for our perfume company. Oh wow, this is gorgeous!  The water lily, heliotrope, and mimosa give this such a fragrant opening, soft and flowing.  And ICONIC!!  (No longer available notes are: Our Rose and Jasmine Oudh, more notably Rose Oudh. NAVA Oudh blend with Egyptian and Arabian White, Pink and Blood Rose Petals, Spanish Jasmine Grandiflorum, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute and Indian Jasmine Sambac. The Jasmine is a stabilizer for the rose and both botanica are the heart of this Oudh.)  NAVA does Oudh like no one else does Oudh.  This blend is at once flowing and resinous and truly a work of art.  I can smell the Nile, the floral gardens in the palace, the sand under my feet and the sun on my face.  It smells like a celebration on my skin.  The salt is barely there as to be non-existent.  Well, I know what’s going in my next order!  Mmm the longer this sits the more the ICONIC Oudh comes out.

Next is A Room With A View from the Spring Collection and it boasts notes of Florentine Frangipani, Essence of Florentine Violet, Italian White Musk, Plumeria Cream, Santalum, Italian Bergamot Tea Light Essence and Italian Cyprus infused Balsam wood. In the vile it’s all violet and plumeria cream (in the best way!) and on my skin the fragipani and white musk come out. It takes a minute but the santalum begins to warm up with a hint of cyprus and a soft touch of balsam.  The bergamot tea is giving it just the barest of hints of spice.  It always blows me away with how delicate and gentle some of these scents are when NAVA also does super good heavy incense and resin blends.  This is gorgeous.  It’s like an open window to the most lush of floral gardens.

Last, but most certainly not least, is Seth’s Super Secret Scent – Very Vanilla Crystalline Angel Cake!  No notes listed for this as it’s Seth’s own secret blend.  Sometimes he makes enough for full size bottles, sometimes just little teaser samples go out.  Typically these secret scents are sent out with update orders that were placed within a few days of a new update going live on the site.  Sometimes they are sent out until gone.  Just remember, I’m not a gourmand lover, and Seth is known for his gourmands.  In the vile I get a super buttery blast of vanilla cake.  On my skin it almost disappears!  I can barely get a hint of something resembling cake.  There’s a slight buttery vanilla note, but it’s so soft.  Boo!  It might be that I’ve gone nose-blind to it after the two stronger scents.  I’ll try again later and edit if it changes!

 

Valhalla Soap Co. – Samples Part 2

This is a continuation of Part 1 of the Valhalla Soap Co. reviews.  If you missed it, check it out here!

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photo by smellallthethings

You’ll see these aren’t all samples.  I did splurge on a 5ml of Victoria & Albert because it was part of their Limited Edition Creepy Couples Collection and I was worried it would sell out before I could try it.  It hasn’t, but it’s gotten some rave reviews on the FB page.  Valhalla Soap Co. has this to say about the scent:

It was love at first sight for these cousins. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were nearly inseparable during their 17 years together. After Albert’s untimely death at only age 42, Queen Victoria went into mourning, wearing black from head to toe for the remainder of her life. During those remaining 4 decades she employed a personal medium to hold regular seances so that she could speak to and remain close to the departed Albert, the one and only love of her life.

Delicate and green. Pure, unadulterated English violet. Creamy coconut milk spiked with fresh coriander and infused with warm tonka bean, musk and sandalwood. No suntan lotion, no buttery bakery notes to muck things up. This is one of the most beautiful blends we’ve ever done. We are totally smitten with it and think you will be too.

So, it has violet, tonka, musk, and sandalwood … some of my favorite notes!  Only thing making me hesitate is the coconut milk.  Not a big coconut fan, and I don’t cook much with coriander because I don’t like the smell.  However, I trust perfumers to know what they’re doing in the mixing department!  In the bottle it’s straight up coconut.  But I’m not giving up!  I put it on and most of the coconut smell dissipates almost immediately and I’m left with just the suggestion of it.  Delicate and green is a very apt description for this scent.  The violets are not overpowering, but sit atop the musk and sandalwood while the tonka bean gives that brown fuzzy feeling I enjoy out of that note.  The longer this sits the more it smooths out into this creamy, dreamy, and fuzzy scent.  Very pretty!

Alter Smoke boasts notes of ancient amber and precious myrrh entangled with hints of relaxing spikenard and spicy clove leaf, rise from a base of sweet vanilla, earthy patchouli, exotic sandalwood and sultry musk. In the vial it is soft, sweet, with a slight wood smell.  On my skin this bursts with beautiful myrrh and vanilla tinted amber.  There is no burning smell, there is no spice, there is no off-putting incense blasting away … it is just peaceful, content, glorious, and personal.  Meditative is a good description for this scent.  I could close my eyes, inhale, and be at peace with everything.

Next I have a sample of 540 Doors whose notes are green florals and mosses, woodsy fir and balsam, spruce, teakwood and fresh cut cedar mingle with a rich, earthy base of amber, musk, patchouli and mysore sandalwood.  I feel like I’m a broken record with the notes on the scents I choose, but I swear, they may look similar but they are not at all.  540 Doors is green and fresh in the vial.  On my skin the moss, balsam, and spruce come to the fore with hints of cedar and sandalwood.  There seems to be a touch of fresh turned and moist earth.  The amber shines through here and there while the musk and patchouli lend a nice base to this.  Another wonderful blend!  I love how fresh and green this smells.

To round out this batch of scents is Crone Magick whose notes consist of a deep, dark yet gorgeous blend of frankincense, myrrh, amber and sandalwood.  Seems almost simple compared to the last two blends but I’m willing to bet it’s anything but simple.  In the vial it is sharp and almost acrid.  There is something coming across as vaguely burnt citrus, as though a orange was tossed on a dying embers of a forgotten fire.  This blend feels languid, acerbic, and unchanging.  It is dark, indeed, yet it mellows slowly as it dries.  The sharp barbs of scent slowly smooth out to something more pleasant to the palate.  I get the feeling of needing to just … leave it alone, yet I can’t stop sniffing.  Something is pulling me back in even when I want to walk away.  How odd.  After a few hours I’ve noticed this is one of those scents that is better when appreciated from afar – meaning I don’t like the scent up close and personal when I put my nose close to the spot on my skin, but as I move my arm around and the scent comes to me, I find myself enjoying it immensely.  Some scents are like that, and Crone Magick happens to be one of them.

Sixteen92 General Catalog Samples

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photo by smellallthethings

I just had to go and get some more samples from Sixteen92‘s general catalog after having such a good experience with their Spring Collection.  There has been discussion on their Facebook Page about discontinuing a few scents and making room for others, possibly A Thousand Times More Fair from their Spring Collection as well as three others.  Two of the scents I’m reviewing (The Awakening and La Llorona) are on the chopping block!  Eek!  Discontinuations are expected and understandable, but they are still sad.  I always get this knee jerk reaction of OMG I NEED IT (even if I’ve never liked the scent before) because what if it gets better with age and then it’s all gone and you can’t find it anywhere because everyone else knew it was awesome and then you missed it and can never have the awesome again and …. *deep breath*  Yeah, so, I got those two specifically to see if I truly want them or if I’m just having discontinuation anxiety.

The Awakening has notes of: Ocean air, dark water, damp mosses, gulf mud, saltwater taffy.  Now normally I’m not one for ocean types as it usually means ambergris and I’m not a fan of ambergris.  However, I really enjoyed Storm of Fortunes which has ambergirs so I decided to give this a try.  Plus it’s on the chopping block (eek!) and I’m going to the beach on vacation soon and I like “water” scents to wear when I’m at the actual water.

In the vial it is mostly the dark water, a bit of mud, and moss.  As soon as it hits my skin the water deepens even more and the ocean air starts blowing.  There’s a small hint of sweet saltwater taffy.  The mosses are wet from a recent storm and the mud has been churned by the waves.  This morphs and moves through phases as it dries, letting each note come to the fore like the coming and going of the ocean waves.  There’s also something cold in here.  Not physically cold, but it smells cold.  This is a very interesting blend, but a bit more salty than I care for.

Paper Moon is a Premium perfume and contains: Soft vanilla musk, benzoin, oakmoss, trailing ivy, peach blossom, rose.  Paper Moon isn’t awe inspiring in the vial and is mostly benzoin.  On my skin it blooms though.  The rose and benzoin are initially the strongest notes.  The vanilla musk is at the base, soft and light and barely there while the ivy and peach blossoms weave through the rose and benzoin.  This is a soft skin scent with very light silage (throw).  Pretty, but I like things with a little more oomph to them.  It does end up having a paper-like quality to the scent which is neat.  Eventually the benzoin calms down, the oakmoss comes out and all the other notes blend and play nicely together.

This is growing on me the more I wear it.  Soft, slightly sweet, with a nice green base and a hint of flowers.

La Llarona (the other one on the chopping block) consists of: Bulgarian and Egyptian rose absolute, pink and white pepper, pink grapefruit, wisteria, cashmere wood, pale amber. At first this is all wood, soft and brown with a hint of pink grapefruit and a whisper of wisteria.  This was one I put on right when I got it a few days ago and fell in love.  Which is sad because it’s going away so I’ll have to jump on a bottle of it! This is not only a golden blend in the vial, but also on my skin.  The rose is soft and velvety, the pepper adds just the barest touch of spice while the grapefruit burns off as it dries.  Now the wisteria is coming out stronger with that beautiful base of wood and amber.  Truly a warm blend that just makes me think of snuggling up and being cozy.

Southern Gothic has notes of: Mandarin Orange, Apple, Coconut Pulp, Southern Magnolia, Jasmine Sambac, Balsam, White Sandalwood. In the vial I get all the high notes: orange, apple, magnolia, and jasmine.  I’m a sucker for jasmine sambac.  On my skin the mandarin orange comes and goes fairly quickly leaving behind just a golden bright sweetness in its wake.  The coconut pulp comes out and gives a creamy almost tropical feel without going completely tropical.  It’s a nice balance.  The sandalwood and balsam are the base on which everything settles on.  This blend reminds me of Georgia, sitting out on my Mom’s porch when she lived down there.  It’s a languid, sweet, and comforting blend meant for porch sitting and tea drinking.

And last, but not least, Wicked with its notes of: Three vanillas, dark aged patchouli, almond buttercream. In the vial this just SCREAMS almond buttercream.  Unfortunately that intensifies on my skin.  Normally my skin chemistry turns almond into this sour mash smell and unfortunately it’s doing the same thing, only now it’s surrounded by moldy buttercream and off smelling vanilla.  I’m not even getting any patchouli as my own chemistry is amping that almond.  (Because I wanted to point out chemistry, I did not wash this off as fast as I’d intended and now …) Now, after a while the patchouli has come out and the almond, while still this weird mash thing, isn’t screaming at me.  It’s a bit on the foodie side and not my cup of tea, but others may enjoy it.

Not sure if this needs said or not, but my experiences may or may not be what you would experience in a blend.  If you notice with Wicked I mention my own skin chemistry.  Everyone is different.  Hormones, hydration, medications, diet, and even the water in your house and the lotion you use can effect how a scent smells on your skin.  Please bear that in mind and take all reviews with a grain of salt (or a sniff of perfume …).

 

Alkemia Perfume Sample Set

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photo by smellallthethings

I purchased a set of 6 samples from Alkemia Perfume about a week ago.  They shipped quickly and I’ve let them sit for a day to rest after their journey.  This is my first time purchasing from this perfumery and I’m excited to try something completely new to me!

First up is Midnight Garden whose notes consist of: A lunar intoxication of night-flowering white flowers – tuberose (flower of dangerous pleasures), lily (flower of majestic beauty), honeysuckle (flower of binding love), gardenia (flower of secret passions) and moonflower (flower that inspires dreams of love).  This opens with a lovely lush blast of soft and sweet flowers.  However, this isn’t an “in your face” blast, this is a gentle breeze bringing you the scent with a hint of fresh and clean dew.  You can smell each flower individually if you go “hunting” for them, yet they meld seamlessly together at times as well.  I can totally see myself sitting on a concrete bench in a beautiful garden at night and letting the warm summer breeze flit around me while inhaling the intoxicating scent around me.  I’m not normally a floral person, but this has most of my favorite floral notes all in one … and it works!  The longer it sits, the more you can smell the greenery around the flowers to.  It’s a very true-to-life scent in my opinion.

Now, for something completely different … Autumn.  (Notes include: Sun warmed fallen leaves, golden amber, light wool warmed with skin musk.) You can smell the sun as it beats down on the Earth in this blend!  How neat!  The wool has a freshly cleaned scent as though you are hanging your laundry out to dry on one of the last warm nights of the year.  The leaves are golden, dew covered and newly fallen.  This is a skin scent as it stays close.  It is clean smelling, warm, and reminds me very much of that first warm but breezy day when you decide it might just be time to bring out your winter clothes and get them ready.

I ordered Deadly Nightshade because it has most of my favorite notes in it, such as: deep purple violets, dark leather, patchouli, black amber, and a narcotic swirl of opium.  In the vial it’s all leather and violets which makes for a rather unique scent.  The leather is black and sleek.  Once on my skin, it does this weird meld that isn’t gelling totally.  It’s like walking into the leather store at the mall – slapped in the face with leather, and not in the good way.  This may need a bit more time to itself to figure out what it wants to do.  I will set this aside for a week and check on it again later then update this if anything has changed.

Madam X is up next and she touts a note list of: An homage to unsettling, eccentric, irresistable beauty – bergamot, mandarin, dark violet, Italian iris, black orchid, Japanese incense, orris root, sueded musk, white sandalwood, Tahitian vanilla, and pale patchouli. In the vial I get a pleasant Oriental vibe from the oil.  On my skin it goes on close and I’m finding it hard to pick up anything, but what I do get is soft, purple in color, and sweet.  This is a scent that stays close to the skin.  The bergamot and mandarin seem to burn off quite quickly and the patchouli is so, so soft.  Mostly I get violet, orchid and a touch of vanilla.  Almost everything else gets lost.  This might be another blend that needs a bit of time and age to come into its own.

Sol Invictus is a specially aged blend of fine frankincenses drenched with a slightly woody, luminously golden trio of ambers. I adore resins and sometimes they are done best when done simply.  And this is one of those times.  This starts off with a glorious whiff of golden amber. The frankincense comes up and gives it a beautiful resinous boost.  This is simple, beautiful, golden, and perfect.

Finally I have a vial of Vamp whose notes include: a darkly erotic blend of opium, labdanum, Tonka, balsam, sueded leather, and black musk.  This is a dusky scent, shadowed yet soft.  The opium and labdanum give it a gossamer feel while the tonka, leather and musk keep it grounded.  It’s that scent that hides in the shadows and comes out when you least expect it.  I find I’m drawn to sniffing the spot I put it more than I thought I would be.  The scent has snuck up and laid it’s spell on me in the best possible way!