darling clandestine falloween pt. 1

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Electricity So Fine, What Mandy Makes, The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels, Tiny Ice Bees, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Vardogr

Part 1 of my Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! After almost all of the Falloween stuff has already sold out! Because I am the worst! Moving right along…

Today I have three of the new scents that DC released for Falloween, plus two returning fall/winter scents and one new scent that was released in August but that I’m just getting to trying out now. In October. This is how you know you have too much perfume, friends.

Electricty So Fine: A night-black canvas of artemisia absinthum and mosses and blackest tea and port wine, splashed with an electric sizzle of sparkling violets.

Not a Falloween scent, per se, but I got it when it was released and still need to review it, so here it is. In the bottle I get mostly violets, sharp and almost abrasive. Yikes. On skin it starts out the same, but I can pick out darker, deeper things underneath if I sniff hard. Honestly, though, I don’t like this one. At all. It’s sharp and bitter and hits me over the head with awful soapy violets. After about 5-10 minutes, it does mellow out – it’s not as sharp, not as loud, and much more tolerable – but the main scent is still soapy violets, more reminiscent of fancy grandma hand soap than something I want to wear as a perfume.

A very rare complete miss from DC – I’m not even sure I’ll keep the bottle, because I can’t imagine ever wearing it again.

What Mandy Makes: Mandy requested a scent that evokes “loneliness.” Very smoky. Ozoney. Faintest hint of “Oriental” musk. Topnote of cucumber, though there’s no commercial “cucumber” fragrance ingredient. Smoky drydown, sweet musky finish.

I should not have ordered this perfume. There’s almost nothing about the description that sounds like anything I want to put on my person. But DC inspires a Pokemon-esque collector’s mentality in me, and also it’s kind of got my name in the title (though the only allowed people who call me Mandy are blood relatives, on threat of painful death). So here we are.

In the bottle I smell mostly cucumber – deep, musky, smoky but still watery cucumber. It’s odd. On skin the cucumber is slightly less prominent, but still provides a distinctly cucumber-y wateriness to the scent. It’s light but deep, and I have a very hard time picking out any kind of individual notes. There is a smokiness to it, but not in the usual sense. As it dries it gets warmer and a little sweeter. It smells at once kind of like a traditional perfume but also nothing at all like a traditional perfume. I find this scent confusing.

I’m also mystified as to where this overwhelming cucumber-ness is coming from, since the description notes that there’s no actual cucumber in the mix. Evonne’s wizardry in action, I guess.

I like it more than I expected to, but I don’t think it’s a “me” scent. Cucumber has never done much for me, either as a food or a fragrance. (The Dude said it smelled like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, because his nose is broken.)

The Moon is Leaving for the Wheels: The tang of tawny dead grasses, parched by sunset, dampened by first frost. Brooding vetiver, ripe blackberries, sweet Melissa, shy mosses, pettigrain twist.

In the bottle, I smell berries and something herbal and grassy. The combination smells just a tiny bit like Flintstones vitamins. The purple kind. On skin – whoa, very different. Dry and grassy and herbal, like an overgrown field in late fall, just before it all turns to frost and dirt. The berry is there, in the background, but it’s not really sweet. There’s something deep and woody and a tiny bit citrusy in the base. There’s also a mustiness to it that I don’t really care for. It does soften with wear, but it never completely goes away.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one, to be honest – looking at the description, I should love it. Blackberries, check, sweet Melissa, check, moss, check. The petitgrain is what’s giving it the woody, citrusy thing. I’m guessing the vetiver is responsible for most of what I don’t like  – the harsh musty smell. In any case, I don’t love the overall effect. I don’t dislike it, necessarily – especially after about 20-30 minutes when the mustiness softens – but I’ll need to test it out some more before I can say for certain whether I actually like it. However it definitely did give me a headache, so there’s a strike against it.

Tiny Ice Bees: I wove a wisp of damp silk—crisp, delicate, ozoney, watery—with a subtle splash of pineapple and tart green orange and grapefruit. No honey. Come on; that’s predictable. This is a thing that happened in the dead of terrible winter.

This is the Falloween scent I was most excited for. In the bottle it’s tart and fruity – sweet pineapple and grapefruit? Definitely citrus. On skin it’s very light and crisp, with grapefruit being the most prominent note to my nose. There’s something faintly floral about it as well. It’s sweet – much sweeter and simpler than most DC scents. It’s very much in the same category as Tilt-a-Whirl that way.

I like this one. It’s a very clean scent – I read a review at Hello There, Blondie! that said it was reminiscent of wet laundry, and I think that’s very accurate. I think most people would probably enjoy this one, unless you have an extreme hatred of grapefruit. (When I shoved my wrist under The Dude’s nose, he said it smelled “herbaceous but also like the beach.”)

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Super-sized vegan solid action.

Don’tGoPleaseStay: My very favorite new little sliver of rock’n’roll, available ONLY in solid format because the ingredients need to “toast” to come alive. This is a true “natural” perfume, a slow infusion made with a fantastic cacao absolute, the very finest oakmoss, crushed juniper berries, cardamom pods, just a tiny bit of ylang-ylang, a pinch of chipotle pepper, and dark vanilla. Think deep, smoky, mossy chocolate gin.

In the tin, DGPS is chocolatey and herbal and a little cool-smelling. It’s like chocolate gin. (I don’t like gin. I think it tastes like a sad christmas.) On skin it’s sweeter, more chocolatey, but not foodie-smelling – the herbal/green elements keep it from venturing into that territory. It’s mellow and soft, sweet, a tiny bit spicy, but with a juniper edge. The overall effect is very comforting and snuggly.

This one wears very close to the skin, and sillage and lasting power are both quite low – Evonne does note this possibility on the listing page for the scent, since it’s an all-natural perfume, and it’s definitely true in my case. After about 10 minutes I could barely smell it anymore, even when I put my nose right up to my wrist. Which is kind of a bummer since I really like it. At least my solid is super massive for frequent slathering.

Vardogr: This weird little concoction is truly a masterpiece. Oh, it’s gooood. And weird. Dark, damp, herbal—mossy forest floors, sunken alleys, underground spaces—with a dozen unlikely notes including pure essential German chamomile, bitter black coffee, hazy Indian musks, sharp herbs and a whip of leather. It’s not for everyone. It’s strange. But oh my, is it fantastic.

I’m reviewing a solid of this, but I already bought a bottle when DC re-opened. So spoilers: I like it.

Straight out of the tin, I smell coffee and deep, musky green. A little sharp. Strange, in a good way. On skin the green is most pominent, a deep, dark, slightly murky forest green. It is a bit sharp, and quite strong, and the coffee I smell in the tin is pretty undetectable, which is a shame because I feel like it gave it a nice, smooth depth and counterbalanced the sharpness. After a while it does make an appearance, though it’s never as strong as it is in the tin. I’m curious to see how the oil is different, if at all.

After a little more time, the whole thing has softened a bit, and there’s something close and cozy about it. Not “cozy” like fluffy towels and a mug of tea, though – no warm vanilla musks here – but cozy is the word coming to mind nonetheless. Like… being inside by a dying fire while it’s raining buckets in the middle of the night.

Vardogr is kind of a weird scent. That’s a bit redundant, I guess – DC’s thing is weird scents – but I’d call Vardogr weirder than most. DC’s scent discography gives it a “boss level” of 9, which means that Evonne considers it pretty damn strange. It’s definitely not a scent with blanket mass appeal (The Dude didn’t like it). But I’m quite fond of it – obviously, since I already upgraded to a full bottle. It feels very much like a fall scent to me, too.

Overall Thoughts: This was a mixed bag – I like Vardogr, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Tiny Ice Bees (probably in that order), am on the fence about The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels and What Mandy Makes, and straight-up dislike Electricity So Fine.

Stay tuned for part 2 soon, which will feature the 5-scent Halloween suite of Squander, Wither, Falter, Spurn, and the new-for-2014 Smother.

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 2)

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We meet again, ladies…

In part 1 of this series, I covered the Apples Crave scents I have from the Ravenous collection. Today, it’s time for PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS! And the Soapbox Co contest winning scent too, because… it came in the same box as all the others… and it had to go somewhere… and I think it’s got pumpkin in it too? Sure, sounds logical.

Like Apples Crave, the Pumpkins Crave scents also feature one of my illustrations on the labels, which is mega-super-exciting.

Anyway – let’s get to the reviews. As always, these were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Pumpkins Crave Cappuccino: Super roasted coffee bean EO, vanilla milk, pumpkin, and rum with shots of blackberry and black raspberry syrup.

In the bottle this is ALL COFFEE. Sweet, dark, syrupy coffee. It kind of smells like a pumpkin spice latte, and it is STRONG. Like, I can smell it from a foot away, just opening up the bottle. On skin it’s still heavily coffee, but smooth and sweet, like coffee with condensed milk or coffee ice cream or something. After a minute or so, some more spicy sweetness joins the party, like pumpkin bread or cake. The whole affair is very sweet and rich and a little spicy, and frankly smells amazing, which is not something I was expecting to say because I don’t usually love coffee scents. But oh. Oh man. This smells like sitting in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning, drinking a cappuccino and eating a pumpkin muffin. It is extremely yum and very fall-appropriate.

Looking at the notes, I was a little surprised by the blackberry and raspberry syrups, but sniffing again with that in mind – yeah, I can smell it. Especially after about 10-15 minutes, it develops a noticeable fruitiness, exactly like flavored coffee syrup. Again I say: yum.

I wore this for real one day, and it was still reasonably detectable on my wrists after 10 hours. Sillage was low-ish after the first couple of hours.

Pumpkins Crave Honey: Spiced calabaza and beeswax candles smothered in acacia honey, buckwheat honey, and mead.

In the bottle – holy geez this smells good. Sweet, creamy, a little spicy, deep and rich and golden. Yum. On skin I get a strong blast of honey, but after a minute or so it smooths out and it smells like pumpkin pie drizzled with honey. It’s a little spicier on skin than in the bottle, especially more cinnamon-y, though my skin does like to grab cinnamon and hold on for dear life, so YMMV. After a while I notice that it’s not quite as sweet anymore – after the first couple of buttery sweet minutes, I wouldn’t really call it a gourmand or foodie scent at all. I actually wish the sweetness stuck around, because I’m the kind of person who enjoys smelling like pie sometimes. Or all the time. Pie allatimes.

Also because without it, this goes a little too cinnamony on me. Thanks, skin chemistry! I swear almost every spiced pumpkin scent I try just ends up smelling like I’m huffing a cinnamon stick. This one does not go full-on cinnamon stick – it’s not as one-note as that – but for a while it’s teetering right on the line. Thankfully it does mellow out after 20 minutes or so.

Skin chemistry hijinks aside, this one is super warm and very, very Fall. It’s like Julia condensed Thanksgiving into a perfume oil and bottled it. From the description and the bottle sniff, I thought this one would be my favorite of the pumpkin scents. It’s not – see above re: my personal cinnamon hellscape -but I do enjoy it, especially after dry down, and will definitely break it out around the holidays.

Pumpkins Crave Treats: Rum-laced caramel, cane sugar, pumpkin custard, and delicate, vanilla-infused marshmallows.

In the bottle this smells like some kind of frosted pumpkin cake, or a pumpkin whoopie pie. Very sweet, sugary, lightly spiced. On skin it’s stronger, spicier – there goes cinnamon again, making it all about him. The blast of cinnamon calms down pretty quickly, and then it smells more like cake or pumpkin pie again – sweet, spicy pumpkin, a little buttery, a little creamy. I also get some soft, powdery vanilla, like marshmallows. That part gets more prominent as it dries, which I love.

In the bottle it’s got a boozy caramel thing going on, which smells amazing – at first I don’t get much of that at all, but after about 10-15 minutes it comes out to play, and the yum factor is immediately boosted.

I really like this one. It’s very much in line with the sort of sweet pumpkiny blends that pop up this time of year, but I like this better than most. It’s not overly spicy, the marshmallow is a nice addition, and I love the buttery rum caramel note.

Pumpkins Crave Viola: Purple violets, lemongrass, Oregon lavender, coconut milk, and gently spiced pumpkin flesh.

In the bottle I get mostly violets, sweet and not too soapy, like those little French violet candies in the cute tins. Something a bit buttery and lightly spicy in the background as well. On skin – lemongrass! Oh, I love lemongrass. The violets are there, along with a fresh, herbal note – lavender, I think – and some deeper, spicier sweetness underneath. This is surprisingly lovely. The violet is present, but it’s not too prominent on my skin, especially at first. It does get a little stronger as it dries – admittedly a bit stronger than I’d like – but it’s never really overwhelming, and the tart lemongrass and fresh lavender balance it well.

This reminds me a bit of Winter Mirth, which has the lemongrass, pumpkin, and coconut without the lavender and violet. Winter Mirth is very much a fall/winter scent to me, and Pumpkins Crave Viola kind of reads like a spring version of the scent. I do prefer Winter Mirth of the two, but I enjoy PCV more than I expected to. I don’t tend to like violet scents – I can only think of one that I’ve liked enough to buy a bottle of (Solstice Scents Violet Mallow) – but I took a chance because I like all the other notes. Violet is never going to be a note I love, but this is a blend I like, which is no small accomplishment.

Autumn: Crisp dry air, leaves, caramel apples, pumpkins, chocolate candy, chimney smoke, warm apple cider, and cookies baking in the oven.

In the bottle this smells a bit like an autumnal candle. Sweet, spicy, a little smoky. There’s definitely apple and maybe a little chocolate. On skin I get smoke first, and then apple, and crunchy dry leaves. Then it starts to sweeten up, and I get a little chocolate for sure, and maybe caramel. Later on there’s a distinct apple cider smell. The overall effect is like walking outside on a crisp fall night, but not in a literal way – that’s Solstice Scents Foxcroft. Autumn is more like a scent story, all the various smells and associations of the season liquified and mixed together in a bottle. Dry air and crunchy leaves, spiced harvest fruit, a wisp of chimney smoke in the distance, a pocket full of leftover Halloween candy.

On cold sniff I didn’t expect to like this one much, but I actually really love it. Very much a surprise hit. When I first read the description, I thought it sounded a lot like Sleepy Hollow: “An atmospheric ode to romantically spooky Autumn evenings, with fresh pumpkin, spiced apple brew, and bonfire smoke.” And looking at the notes, they are not entirely dissimilar, but they really don’t smell alike at all. Sleepy Hollow is much more of an apple cinnamon, spiced cider kind of scent on me.

Overall Thoughts: I like most of these quite a bit. My favorite is, surprisingly, Pumpkins Crave Cappuccino, followed by Autumn and Pumpkins Crave Treats. Pumpkins Crave Honey and Viola rank lower, by virtue of excess cinnamon and the presence of violets respectively, but I don’t dislike either one.

Arcana can be purchased from The Soapbox Company and The Rhinestone Housewife.

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 1)

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LADIES…

Today I have reviews of a collection that’s a bit dear to my heart, because the lovely ladies you see on the labels are my own illustrations! I’ve done work for Arcana’s scent mastermind Julia before and always thoroughly enjoy it, but when she approached me about this series in particular I was over the moon. Why? Because APPLES, that’s why!

Did you know I’m obsessed with apple scents? It’s true. If it’s got apple in the notes list, I want to try it. So a whole line of apple-based scents from one of my very favorite brands was enough to put me into a state of perpetual shaking excitement all on its own. Add to that the fact that I get to draw sexy ladies for the labels?? Best day ever.

There are two halves to the Ravenous collection – Apples Crave and Pumpkins Crave. I have a number of bottles from both, and I’ll be giving each half its own post. Today, apples!

Apples Crave Flora: A fresh blend of Fuji apple, tropical Tiare blossom, tuberose, bergamot, orange flower, and a touch of vintage patchouli.

In the bottle: distinctly floral but with a sweet, crisp apple note. The floral is light and sweet, like apple blossoms. On skin it’s more floral, less apple. It’s a white floral, but not terribly heady. I’m sticking with fruity blossoms of some kind. The apple is there, providing a crisp sweetness, but it’s more of a background note. After a little while it gets sweeter overall, and considerably smoother, the floral elements a little softer and less aggressive. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but I actually really like the dry down. It’s a nice addition to my small collection of MTW-approved Florals For Floral Haters.

Before I picked this one out, I asked Julia if she thought I’d like it, since I’m largely a floral-hater. She does make one of the few florals I like – Nacre – so I used that as a reference point. She said that it’s more like Nacre than another floral of hers, Venus Libertina (which also happens to bear one of my illustrations on the label!), so I decided to give it a shot. She was right, of course – it’s kind of like Nacre’s lighter, fruitier cousin.

Taking a look at the notes now, I see I was mostly correct about the flowers – white florals and orange blossoms – but I completely missed the bergamot and patchouli. Even sniffing with those things in mind, I have a hard time picking them out. I think I can find hints of patchouli in the base, but it’s very subtle, just grounding the scent.

Apples Crave Orchards: Dry apple cider with French hay absolute, a touch of heartwood, and a hint of rain.

In the bottle this smells a bit like autumn potpourri, but not in a bad way. Hard cider-y apples, winesaps maybe (I love winesaps, we just picked a ton two weekends ago), dry grass, cinnamon. I think it’s the dry cinnamon smell that’s making me think “potpourri.” (Which, funny story – my dad ate some potpourri off my sister’s table at Thanksgiving one year, thinking it was a bowl of some kind of snack mix. He put a handful in his mouth and went “Yuck. What kind of nuts are these supposed to be?” and we all laughed so hard we died. The running joke now is that you have to make sure you take the potpourri off the table before Dad arrives.)

ANYWAY. On skin – the oil is green! That’s surprising. On skin the cinnamon is softer, miraculously (my skin amps cinnamon like mad), and I smell mostly dry, crunchy grass and herbs and a bit of cidery apple, also dry, with a slight tang. It’s a little spicy and woody, and there’s a crispness to it. It smells very similar to an apple orchard, appropriately. As it dries down it gets a little spicier and the apple recedes further, which is really my only disappointment with this – I want more apple! I know apple is a fleeting top note, so I guess I shouldn’t expect it to be a powerhouse here, but these are my unreasonable demands. The apple is present, though, don’t get me wrong. I just want MOAR.

This ends up being a dry, grassy, woody, lightly spicy scent on my skin, with a nice, crisp, tangy – if faint – bite of apple hanging over the whole thing. The dry down especially gives me an almost cuddly vibe, like I you just want to bury your nose in it. It’s very fall-appropriate and I do enjoy it, despite wishing for a little more apple. If you’ve ever tried Haus of Gloi’s Olde Cider Haus and thought, “man, this is just too sweet and/or too apple-y for me,” Apples Crave Orchards might just be your dream come true. However, I think this might’ve been discontinued already? At least according to the Soapbox Co facebook page. So if you want it, get it now!

Side note: I made The Dude smell this one and he said it smelled like “warm laundry.” Okay.

Apples Crave Peaches: Green apple hard candy with sugared peaches.

In the bottle this smells like candy. Sweet candy peach and tart green apple, hard candy versions of each. It almost makes my mouth water. On skin it’s an explosion of juicy, candied peach at first – sweet, ripe, sugary, and very lightly floral. The apple is in the background – green apple, crisp and tart. The overall effect is simple, sweet, and very fruity, smelling for all the world like those translucent fruit-flavored hard candies taste. The peach is more dominant on me, but both are detectable. The peach also leans rather floral on my skin, which I’m not super crazy about, but it doesn’t detract much from the fruitstravaganza going on here.

Side note: If you’ve had the chance to try any of Arcana’s single layering notes, this smells very much like Green Apple + Sugared Peaches. (I had a review in the works for the handful of these I have, but a couple seem to have gone missing, much to my chagrin. My desk is a black hole for perfume.)

Apples Crave Vanilla: Wild apples and green apples with delicate vanilla, sensual musk, and white amber.

My favorite of the apple scents on cold sniff. Sweet vanilla, slightly milky, and light, delicate green apple. Not tart, but not overly sweet either. On skin it’s the same – sweet, milky, mild vanilla musk with soft, fragrant apple. The apple starts off in the background, but get a bit stronger as it dries. The way I’m describing it sounds so simple… and it is, I suppose, but the combination is really wonderful and I don’t think I’m doing it justice.

I can’t accurately communicate how much I love this one. It smells amazingly soft and comforting and just dreamy. I want my life to smell like this, or at least my pillows and blankets when I go to sleep at night. I feel like it would make me have good dreams. Hands down my favorite of the Apples Crave scents, and probably one of my favorite Arcanas (and apple scents) ever. I have a strict no backups rule on account of how I’m a terrible hoarder who never uses anything up, but man, I’m going to struggle with this one. It’s just gorgeous.

Side note: I wore this one for real the day after writing this review, so I can actually comment on lasting power. I put it on when I left for work at 8, and it was still detectable on my wrists when I got home at 6 and beyond, so 10+ hours. Low-ish sillage, especially after the first few hours, but overall great longevity.

Apples Crave Resins: Citron-laced cider with dragonsblood resin, warm myrrh, and smoky frankincense.

In the bottle this smells very churchy. I don’t get any apple. On skin it’s softer than it is on cold sniff, but it still pretty much just smells like incense and resins to me. Like church. I’m bad with these sorts of scents – I can’t tell what’s what. It’s warm and spicy and incense-y and that’s pretty much all I’ve got. And I still can’t really pick up any apple. That may be my fault; my nose isn’t accustomed to these kinds of scents, because it’s definitely not my usual oeuvre. In any case, it’s nice. It smells exactly like a fancy witch store. Not something I’d usually go for, but I like it enough to keep it.

(That was the least helpful review ever. Sorry!)

Overall Thoughts: Positive, duh. It’s Arcana + apples, this was never going to be bad. My favorite is Apples Crave Vanilla by a mile, followed – surprisingly – by Apples Crave Flora.

Stay tuned for Pumpkins Crave in part 2!

Arcana can be purchased from The Soapbox Company and The Rhinestone Housewife.

notoriously morbid slay me swatches (wave 3)

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A little while ago, Notoriously Morbid released Wave 3 of their all-matte Buffy eyeshadow collection. It consists of six shades, but one of them isn’t vegan (a bright pink called I Wanna Do Girly Stuff), so I only have five shades to show you today.

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Swatched over primer. Indirect natural light.

I Call It Mr. Pointy: A smokey plum/burgundy that you’ve been searching for.

Kendra! A dark, dusty, slightly reddish plum. A very vampy shade, fitting for the slayer with a comically heavy accent and only one shirt.

So Goes My Nation: A velvet ivory as pure as the devotion of your first love.

Oz and Willow! The feels. A soft vanilla cream shade. I got a mini because I know it’ll get enough use as a highlight shade.

5×5: A burnt orange that ain’t playin’ around.

Faith! A rusty mid-toned orange-red, very warm. Not as bright as Blackbird Fire Pledge.

Rayne Brings Ripper: Magic duels in the forest come to mind with this lush woodland green.

Ethan Rayne! Aka a box full of farm fresh chicken. A dusty evergreen.

Lost in L.A.: A steely slate gray that makes you think of far off places.

Anne/Runaway Buffy! A dark, cloudy blue grey. Appropriate for the gloomy depiction of L.A. in the episode this shade is based on.

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Swatched over primer only. Not quite full sun.

There you have ‘em! Short and sweet today, kids. My favorites are I Call It Mr. Pointy, So Goes My Nation, and 5×5. Rayne Brings Ripper and Lost in L.A. are both pretty colors, but too cool-toned for me to get much use out of. I might try Lost in L.A. as a liner, though.

My overall feelings regarding this collection remain very positive. I’ll let Spike sum it up:

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Notoriously Morbid has a standalone site here, and can also be found on Etsy.

blackbird cosmetics matte neutrals v. 2

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A little while ago, Blackbird followed up their stellar Matte Neutrals collection with… another stellar Matte Neutrals collection! This is my kind of shop, guys. All of the neutrals, give them to me.

I ordered the complete sample set to try out, and that’s what I have swatches of today. It’s a great deal – 10 samples for $10 with free shipping. Awesome. Yes please. And it’s a smart move, too, because after trying out both volumes that are currently available, I plan to pick up the two complete full-size collections the next time I have the spare cash. Obviously, I’m a fan.

The quality of these shadows is fantastic – they’re pigmented and almost creamy, long-lasting over primer, blend well, and the color range warms this neutral lover’s heart. The finish is matte but slightly glowy, which is really flattering on skin. As I mentioned in my review of the first volume, they do have a unique smell – like clay or dirt. I don’t mind it at all, but it’s something to be aware of so it doesn’t take you by surprise.

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Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Half Full: Light whitened gold. A perfect highlight for any skin tone.

A light cream shade, great as a highlight on my skin

Modesty: Light neutral golden brown, resembles khaki.

A light tan, slightly yellowish. A great blending shade for me, or all over the lid.

Everest: Cool toned dark brown, leans a little towards green.

A medium khaki brown that’s screaming “put me in your creeeease!” That was creepy. I’m sorry.

Whisper: Light perfect grey.

A light grey, leaning slightly warm and purplish. There’s something very clean and clear about this shade.

Smudge: Medium to dark taupe, leaning a bit towards dark.

A beautiful medium-dark brownish taupe, maybe leaning ever so slightly purple.

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My favorites from this arm o’ swatches are Half Full, Modesty, Everest, and Smudge.

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Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Juliet: Dark muted pink.

A muted medium peachy pink. Reminds me of clay. Similar to Imogen, but a little warmer and darker.

Figment: Light muted plum.

A soft muted light plum. Very delicate and pretty.

Vintage: Muted, but somehow still vibrant mid-toned violet.

A mid-toned reddish purple. Slightly dustier than it looks here.

Ruca: Blackened red.

A burnt orange, terracotta sort of color – like Fire Pledge’s subdued older sister. Not so dark that I’d call it blackened, though.

Atlas: Dark slightly blackened brown.

A medium-dark neutral brown. Similar in tone to Beau, but much less warm.

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Favorites from this batch are… all of them, honestly. But Juliet, Figment, and Atlas if I had to pick.

Overall Thoughts: Extremely positive! I have nothing bad to say about Blackbird whatsoever. Four of her shadows have become my go-to look whenever I wear eyeshadow on regular work days – Thirteen, Dog Days, and Beau from volume 1, along with Half Full from this volume. I imagine I could probably sub in Modesty, Everest, and Atlas from this volume for a slightly cooler, more khaki-toned take on the same look. But I’m boring. The possibility for combinations within each volume, let alone taking the two together, is endless. A+++, favorite mattes to date.

Find Blackbird Cosmetics on Etsy.

smelly yeti perfumery intro & review

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GAZE UPON THEM AND REJOICE

Note: If you’ve read this blog at all, you know this is going to be a long, fangirly, gif-heavy post, right? Because yeah. Yeah. Strap in and grab yourself a snack, we’re going to be here for a while.

YOU GUYS. Many moons ago – or, okay, a couple of months maybe? – a lovely Redditor (hey /u/normalcypolice!) was talking about working on opening her own perfume shop. I perked up like a prairie dog. New perfumes, you say?  And then later on she was talking about Buffy perfumes, and we got to discussing them in PMs, and then about a week ago it actually happened: Smelly Yeti Perfumery flung wide its (internet) doors and revealed not one Buffy perfume… not two… but a whole collection with more to come.

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Needless to say, I threw caution (and my bank balance) to the wind and ordered immediately. I did show some restraint in only ordering samples, at least – so today I have the entire Smelly Yeti lineup for review, which includes 7 Buffy scents and 4 others, which for the purpose of this post we will call “non-Buffy scents” with the disdain we normally reserve for stepping on dog poo or people who claim to “not like dessert.” (J/k! The other four are based on Back to the Future, Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, an anime I’m not familiar with called Ouran High School Host Club, and my nemesis Nicholas Cage’s hilari-bad remake of The Wicker Man. But seriously if you don’t like dessert, I don’t trust you.)

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Super adorable package. LOOK AT THAT FANCY FRENCH YETI.

Non-smelly details first: I ordered on Saturday, October 11th, received my shipping confirmation on Monday, October 13th (but stupid Columbus day ruined all our lives by delaying shipping, and also being a holiday that honors a straight-up jackhole of a human being), and received my order on Thursday, October 16th. Everything was packaged really well, with the samples – which are the tiny screw-top ones that stand up on their own – tucked into little boxes that were decorated with stickers (a special Giles one just for me!) and cute twine bows. In addition to what I ordered, I also received: two Airheads (vegan! also, gone), two little plastic dinosaurs which immediately joined my shelf o’ dinosaurs, two dinosaur fake tattoos, 6 mini pipettes for decanting oil (which will come in very handy since the other night I decanted some DC Ballyhoo out of a full-size bottle and into a 1 ml sample vial just by pouring it reeeeeeally slowly and it was terrifying), and not one but two awesome Yeti drawings. Overall this package gets a super thumbs up, totally made my day A++.

Bonus: all of Smelly Yeti’s products are vegan! And all future products will be vegan as well. Swoon.

Now onto the reviews! As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

THE HELLMOUTH COLLECTION

cordy_preen Beauty Queen: Ah, Cordelia. A sorbet sundae that’s fruity sour, and above all, cool, this perfume features pomegranate, lemon, lime, blackcurrant, raspberry, and rich vanilla with a hint of ice cream sweetness. Juicy, fresh, and bright- perfect for the cheerleader everyone loves to hate. 

Queen C, you fabulously tactless and eminently lovable bitch.

In the vial, Beauty Queen is extremely fruity – tart and sweet and fresh, I definitely get lime and raspberry, but it’s a little creamy, too. It smells awesome and not at all like chewable vitamins, which is what I would expect raspberry and lime to smell like.. (Raspberry tends to go very medicinal on me for some reason.) On skin it starts out very tartly fruity, but sweetens up quickly, with that creamy vanilla base coming up to soften everything out.

It’s a very sweet, girly scent with a citrus tang. It almost smells like some delicious fruity drink… maybe the kind Cordelia would have some panting freshman fetch for her at the Bronze. Either way, this is totally something she would wear, especially in her Rich Bitch early high school days.

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Buffybot: With slightly singed wire, motor oil, ozone, and a smooth metallic finish, this perfume calls to mind warm electronics. Subtle and slightly sweet, this perfume is just strong enough to get people slightly worried that the robot uprising is upon us. Just slightly worried. And, you know, sometimes you just want to smell like a robot. A slightly malfunctioning, overly peppy robot.

Warm, sweet, plasticky, slightly metallic. Smelly Yeti’s evil genius mastermind talked about doing a “warm electronics” scent, and here it is! On skin it starts out warm and sweet with a distinctly metallic note, which gets stronger as it dries down. There’s something sharp and buzzing about it, almost ozone-y, but dark, black. The only thing I’ve smelled that’s even remotely similar is DC’s Supernova Sway, but Buffybot is warmer, sweeter and less sharp. Also lacking the slight floral-ness of Supernova Sway.

I had no idea what to think about this one going in, but I actually really like it. Not only is it incredibly unique, it just… smells really good. And like warm electronics. Which is weird. But awesome.

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Captain Peroxide: Spike. Dirty leather coat, smoky tobacco, bleached hair, with a soft spot for a certain slayer. He may act tough, but at the heart of it all he’s a marshmallow. Red Egyptian musk gives it a smooth finish and a distinctive bloody coloring. This is the scent that has it all. Sweet but dingy. Smoky and sexy. This perfume is practically bottled pheromones. 

In the vial this one smells… like bacon. Or this vegan’s recollection of bacon, anyway (it’s been… 18 years). Smoky, salty, a little sweet. Bacony. On skin it’s still bacon, alternatively smoky and sweet, dirty and musky, and it would be sexy if it didn’t make me think of… bacon. The thing is that I know there’s no “bacon” in this, but honestly, it’s all I can smell and if I liked that kind of thing I’d probably love it, but I do not, so… I do not. The bacon-ness fades a little as it wears, but not enough for me to want to keep it on my person.

Of course, looking at the notes, I’m cursing my skin for turning leather, smoky tobacco, and red musk into bacon, because it sounds like it should be dead sexy. Just like Spike. Literally. (I’m not sorry.)

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Putting the moves on his second demon.

Demon Magnet: Cedarwood, dirt, sweet and salty musks, and a trace hint of that lumberyard je ne sais quois. No wonder Anya can’t resist him. Maybe the demons will flock to you too, once you smell like a hot carpenter. 

In the vial: cologne-y! Woodsy and musky and manly. On skin it smells, yep, like really nice cologne. Spicy and woody, musky, a tiny bit dirty but also kind of clean. I like manly scents like this, so I’m into it for myself, but I bet it would smell amazing on a guy. If I recall from my conversations with Abby, Xander’s scent was meant to be based on his grown up carpenter job… and I would call it a rousing success.

However, I remain slightly disappointed that my suggestion of Xander’s scent being jelly donuts and Drakkar Noir didn’t come to fruition. (Not really. This is why no one lets me run a perfume shop.)

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Pipsqueak: A funky and fruity and extremely tweeny blend of mulberry, strawberry, and sparkling lime. Initially created as a joke, (to include as a surprise with other orders, a la her reveal in season five) it ended up actually being good. Too good, in fact, to keep secret. I was going to make some sort of “key” joke here but I couldn’t think of one. 

Oh, Dawnie. You’re kind of the worst, but it’s not your fault, I guess. Blame the monks. In the vial, Pipsqueak smells bubbly and intensely fruity. On skin it’s a sparkling explosion of fruitiness – red fruits, I’m thinking, because it smells like fruit punch. Fancy fruit punch, made with sparkling water and with bits of fruit floating in it and stuff, but still – it’s got that concentrated super syrupy sweetness going on. Citrus cuts the sweet a bit and adds a little zing.

This is so incredibly sweet and girly, it’s perfect for Dawn. It’s like Beauty Queen’s younger, sweeter, fizzier sister. I also have to note a few things here – 1) this is a fizzy/bubbly scent that I actually like, and 2) this is TWO scents now with both berries and lime that didn’t turn to Flintstones vitamins on my skin. Bravo.

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Queen of the Damned: Drusilla, Spike’s sometimes-paramour, wanderer of graveyards, makes for an enchanting and unconventional floral scent. Among the more traditional bouquet of roses is a mélange of darker, cooler notes of cabbage, cedarwood, tuberose moss, dewy grass, and damp earth. The overall effect is one of flowers in a graveyard. Feminine.

In the vial, Queen of the Damned is a dark floral, with lots of green. On skin I get mostly the green parts – it reminds me a bit of DC’s Limerence, lush and green and thorny, like crushed and dripping dark leaves and stems. It’s floral in the sense that it smells like, say, a greenhouse or a flower shop – or more accurately for Dru, a night-blooming garden in the courtyard of Angel’s mansion – not in the usual sense of smelling like a particular flower.

This is good. I like it. I’m not a floral person, usually, but this a whole other kind of floral, and very appropriate for mad, dark, damaged but deadly Drusilla.

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An epic battle for the ages… SLAP FIGHT!

Unicorn Collector: Oh, Harmony. You try so hard to be bad. Bubbly and bright tangerine strawberries nestled in creamy tahitian vanilla and tonka bean. Pretty much the fruitiest, girliest scent to ever exist. 

Holy sweetness, Batman. In the vial, this is sweet and it is PINK. Like somehow even sweeter and pinker than Pipsqueak. On skin it’s actually not quite as sweet – still super fruity, but a little musky and creamy as well, with something almost slightly grassy underneath. It’s interesting. I expected a fruit-splosion for Harmony, but it’s not that predictable. Sweet and girly, yes, and I would still call it pink if I were assigning it a color, but there’s some dimension to it.

It’s nice. Very wearable. It’s also very subtle, with probably the lowest sillage of all the Hellmouth scents. (At least until we get to Riley. HEYO.) And contrary to the description, I think Pipsqueak is both fruitier and girlier.

Thoughts on the collection as a whole: As if I’m going to have anything negative to say about a goddamn line of Buffy perfumes. PLEASE. I really like all but one of the scents – I just can’t with Captain Peroxide, sorry Spike – and I’m super stoked to see what Abby comes up with next. In addition to more Buffy perfumes, she mentioned (after I begged for a Veronica Mars collection) that she has a VM scent in the works. THIS WOMAN IS MAKING ALL OF MY DREAMS COME TRUE. For reals, yo.

I’m going to try to fight the urge to collect all of these in full-size just to have them, but I make no promises. Buffybot, Beauty Queen, Queen of the Damned, and Pipsqueak are likely bottle purchases, with Demon Magnet and Unicorn Collector being maybes and Captain Peroxide, sadly, being a bacony no-go.

Okay, take a breath. Maybe a bathroom break? Fresh snack? Beverage re-fill? I’ll wait.

*whistles*

MOVING ALONG.

EVERYTHING ELSE (AKA NOT THE HELLMOUTH COLLECTION, AKA FINE I GUESS I WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THE EXISTENCE OF THINGS THAT AREN’T BUFFY, GOD)

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Blurry Yeti, just like every cell phone video taken in the woods by bros gone Squatchin’.

I’ll spare you the gif-storm for the rest because I’m not emotionally invested in these entertainment properties.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: According to Douglas Adams, this drink feels a bit like getting your head smashed by a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick. While it doesn’t have Fallian marsh gas going through it, our version is a striking citrus mint cocktail with a powerful sparkling punch. Unisex.

In the vial: lemon, then mint. It smells good but also a little like sweet toothpaste. On skin it’s a very strong lemon and mint, pretty equally dominant, like some kind of sweet lemon cocktail with a metric ton of mint muddled at the bottom. It’s definitely sweet, and reads alternately like toothpaste, candy, and booze. (Not in a bad way!) It smells exactly like something I can’t put my finger on… like one of those lemon-flavored butter mints! That’s a thing, right? I’m not making that up? Because that’s what it smells like.

As such it puts me in mind of two scents that also smell like butter mints to me: Solstice Scents Snowmint Mallow, which is much sweeter, heavier on the vanilla and butter, and completely lemon-free, and Arcana Puppy Kisses, which is more of a melty coconut butter mint, very creamy, and again, no lemon. PGGB is an entirely different scent, but if you like either of those and also like lemon, you’d probably love this one.

There is a bit of fizziness in the background, like seltzer, and after a while the lemon does go a teeny bit cleaner-y on me (citrus + fizz, it’s nearly unavoidable), but overall I like it. The description calls it unisex, and I suppose it could be, but on my skin it’s distinctly sweet.

Hey, McFly!: Inspired by old 50s ice cream parlors, this scent mixes fizzy cola and root beer with sweetshop vanilla to create a surprisingly unisex/masculine end result. Slather some on, go to the big dance. It’s your density.

In the vial I get sweet, syrupy cola. On skin the cola is the most prominent note at first, but then I get something a little woodsy and spicy, like men’s cologne. It goes surprisingly well with the sweet cola. It’s sharp and a little fizzy, but also sweet and smooth. It smells like a root beer float, but like… manly. Sexy root beer float? (Halloween costume!)

Looking at the notes, it is indeed root beer that’s giving me the cologne vibe. Not that root beer smells like cologne, but root beer has that sharp spiciness to it. The description is spot on in calling it surprisingly masculine, considering what’s in it.

This one is a big hit for me. I like that it smells like a soda fountain without just smelling like a soda fountain. It has pretty strong sillage, too.

Not the Bees: It might actually be more accurate to call this “Yes The Bees” because this perfume is a lovely sweet confection of candied honey and honeysuckle, punctuated by citrus and underscored with smooth vanilla. Nicholas Cage screams not included.  

Goddamn fucking Nicholas Cage. YES THE BEES. YOU GO, BEES. FOUR FOR YOU, BEES.

Ahem. In the vial, it smells like creamy delicious honey. On skin it’s honey and vanilla, smooth and sweet and creamy and yum. There’s a hint of a floral note to it, but mostly it just smells like something I want to drizzle on ice cream and shove into my face hole. Nicholas Cage does not deserve this.

After peeking at the notes, I see that the hint of floral is honeysuckle, which makes sense. It’s a nice honeysuckle. I love the smell in real life, but often perfume versions smell way too flowery or heady or strong, which isn’t honeysuckle to me – it’s a delicate scent. But I really like it here. This whole scent gets two thumbs up. It smells goddamn amazing.

Ouran: Roses. Bulgarian roses. English roses. Rosehip jasmine, pikake flower, and yuzu. Basically, FLOWERS. Plus, a hint of the tropical flavor that signifies the mark of a true silly anime – the token beach episode. 

I have no idea what Ouran is. An anime, I gather, but beyond that? Nope. I’ll talk your face off about Buffy (OBVIOUSLY) and Firefly and Veronica Mars and Doctor Who and Hannibal and the goddamn delicious drama of Pretty Little Liars (someone please make a PLL perfume collection, btw. Please?), but anime is not my are of pop culture interest. So I have no frame of reference for this, is what I’m saying. It was my free sample, which is awesome because it’s the only one I didn’t order. Thanks Abby!

In the vial, I get… pink flowers. Roses, but also something a little citrusy. On skin it’s a rose-a-palooza, a whole bouquet of the suckers. I like rose, but not always – I prefer my rose quite sweet, and not perfumey. This rose is not sweet, but it’s also not too perfumey – it smells almost but not quite like real roses. Like some very fancy French hand cream made with the individually plucked and hand-crushed petals of the roses from the gardens at Versailles or something. It’s definitely the most floral of all the scents, and the most traditional.

I’m a bit on the fence about it for myself, but it does smell nice. I like it, but it will require more testing. I might like it better as a candle or a shower gel than as a perfume. However, if you like rose scents, particularly of the more traditional variety, I recommend giving this one a try. It’s a quiet floral, soft and sophisticated and decidedly feminine.

Non-Hellmouth Favorites: Hey, McFly! and Not the Bees. Hey, McFly! is probably my #1 favorite out of all of the scents, surprisingly.

Overall thoughts about Smelly Yeti: An emphastic YES. I’m really happy with everything about my initial experience with this brand, from the inspiration (Someone’s finally giving Buffy its due! Marry me?)  to the cute and thoughtful packaging to the hilarious and easy-to-navigate website to the scents themselves, and I can’t wait to see what Abby cooks up in the future.

If you actually made it to the end of this post, congratulations! And thank you! Because jesus this was long. Reward yourself by checking out Smelly Yeti maybe?

violette market state fair 2014

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What’s this? A post? A real live post?

It’s true – I am alive and well and trying not to ignore this poor blog anymore. So let’s start by talking about some Violette Market scents that I just shipped off to a new home. Hence the lack of a photo. Also I keep getting home too late to get any decent daylight shots. They were decants. Use your imagination.

I ordered these forever ago (months and months, honestly) and never even got around to skin-testing them before selling them off. Such is the enormity of my perfume backlog at the moment. But I did do regular old sniff tests before I decided to get rid of them, which is what I have for you today.

These are all just straight from the vial impressions, so I can’t speak to if or how they morph on skin. Might be useful, might not, but it’s the best I can do with this batch of scents. (Can you tell already that I didn’t love them? Violette Market and I don’t get along too well, it seems.)

Carrot Cremes Penny Candy: Confection of carrot candy swirled in vanilla creme.

Super super over-the-top cloyingly sweet carrot cake, heavy on the frosting. There’s a synthetic edge to it.

Rosewater Meringue: Sweet Meringues fluffed into high peaks infused with Spanish rosewater.

A gently sweetened rose at first, pretty nice, but it gets sweeter and sweeter with each sniff. Not nearly as sweet as Carrot Cremes, but it’s got a bit of the same synthetic smell. The rose is a little perfumey and the whole affair kind of gives me a headache. This is like Solstice Scents Rose Mallow Cream if you got it in a pink plastic spray bottle at the mall.

Brandied Peach Honey: Local Ohio peach blossom honey, dark buckwheat honey, brandied peaches, oat flower, milk weed flower, golden patchouli, sweet spices, and bee balm dust.

Oddly floral and spicy, a tiny bit fruity and heavy on the honey. It’s not sweet, golden honey, though. Again I’m coming back to it smelling synthetic. I expected to like this one, but I don’t at all. It also exacerbated the headache that Rosewater Meringue gave me.

Little Hawaii: Vanilla Sands: Rich vanilla bean, pink strawberries, vanilla paste, lemon blossom, brandied peach honey, lavender sugar, Bourbon vanilla, ripe white raspberries, Tahitian vanilla orchid, and coconut cream.

Incredibly sweet and fruity, this smells like strawberry cream candy. It’s the best of the bunch so far and I’m glad I kept the decant around.

Sea Salt Taffy Pull: Taffy, crushed white and pink sea salt with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.

This smells like Aquolina Pink Sugar or any of the million dupes or homages out there – sugary sweet, a little fruity, a little musky. There’s a little bit of butteriness underneath this one as well. It’s pleasant, but nothing unique and not really for me.

Sunset Over the Grandstand: Dusty vanilla, organic local Ohio honey, sun scorched sandalwood, golden vanilla, tumbleweeds, aged boot leather, saffron, and rodeo dust lifted into the air among the peach and pink clouds of the sunset.

Leather, full stop. And then an artificial fruity sweetness, vanilla and peach, with a sort of dusty note over the whole thing. Not as good as that sounds.

Parachute Swings: Wind-swept sheer vanilla, white lotus accord, strawberry seeds, vanilla orchid petals, chilled cream, blue cedar, an infusion of raw Tahitian vanilla pods, and Greek water mint.

Starts out a soapy floral, kind of like dryer sheets, and then I get a cool, creamy mint in the background. Meh.

Milk Maid: Creamy milk, pale strawberry musk, gardenia cream, light amber specks, home-grown yellow roses, sweet grass, and golden farm hay.

A sweet, lightly milky floral with some soft fruity notes (strawberry). If it were a color it would be pale blossom pink. In the same category as Solstice Scents Nightgown or Haus of Gloi Milkmaid, only… flatter, less nuanced. Also less creamy and more floral. Not for me, but I suppose it’s not altogether unpleasant if you like these sorts of scents.

Bourbon Vanilla Sugared Dough: Sweet Bourbon vanilla sugared dough with hints of Tahitian vanilla, coconut cream, and powdered sugar.

I wanted this to smell like a funnel cake. It does not smell like a funnel cake. Rather, it smells like a funnel cake-scented candle you might find on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond – waxy, overly sweet, and altogether artificial. If I had to break it down I’d say I smell mostly boozy vanilla with hints of coconut and sugary musk, but that makes it sound way better than it is.

Dunk Tank: A refreshing splash of cold water, followed by a fruity assortment of watermelon musk, passion fruit, cantaloupe, lime peel, water lily, red mandarin, litsea blossom, creamy vanilla, and caramel sugar.

Melon! This one is pretty pleasant. It’s all melon – watermelon and cantaloupe – plus some other light, fruity, summery-smelling things. It’s like a melon sorbet or something. There’s a cool wateriness to it that smells very refreshing. If I hadn’t already promised this one to someone, I might keep it. Alas. Smell before you sell, ladies and gentlemen. (Not really. This is nice and all but I don’t like it enough to weep over passing on the decant.)

Candied Apples: An assortment of local Ohio apples, coated in thick red candied shells, with hawthorn wood, oak wood, and cherry wood sticks.

Smells like wood and cinnamon with just the barest hint of apple. It smells a bit like a Thanksgiving or Christmas scented candle (probably called “Roaring Fire” or “Mulled Cider” or something), which I didn’t expect from a summer collection, but there you go.

As I’m sure you can tell, these didn’t do much for me. Maybe if I’d tried them on my skin I’d feel differently, but based on the Violette Market stuff I’ve tried in the past, I’m thinking it wouldn’t have made a huge difference. It’s a company I’ve generally stayed away from, because nothing I’ve tried has ever really worked super well for me, and these continue that trend. I’m at the point where I’m confident in saying that Violette Market just isn’t for me, and that’s totally fine. Less stuff for me to lust after and collect!

Hopefully these will work out better for the lovely redditor I passed them along to. Godspeed, little samples.

midsummer dreams apothecary cologne oils

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I’ve had this review half-done forever. FOREVERRR. But now it’s actually finished! Finally. Mercifully. Not because it was unpleasant – it was not! – but because my pile of “to try” perfumes is quickly becoming a very daunting mountain. If I don’t post again within a week, send help.

Anyway, here we have Midsummer Dreams Apothecary’s new-ish collection of unisex cologne oils. They are, as with MDA’s other scents, fairytale-themed (which I love), and the samples come in adorable little mini bottles that don’t leak and stand up on their own. A+.

Beast: Warm spicy amber blends with sultry sandalwood amongst a base of white musk, rosewood, rounded out by just a hint of patchouli. This is a warm, woodsy, and earthy blend. (Amber, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rosewood, Sandalwood, White Musk.)

Warm and musky in the vial. On skin it’s all wood and spice, with a dry, powdery sort of vibe, which usually means sandalwood. After a few minutes I get more amber and musk, and it gets to be a bit much for me.

This is a very manly smell – warm, musky, woodsy, and spicy, and not sweet at all. It definitely smells like a masculine cologne. That’s not a bad thing – I love man smells, hence why I got these in the first place. But this one is a bit too strongly something for me – I can’t tell if it’s the amber or the musk or the various woody notes. It’s just very strong and a lot. However, I do think it fits the Beastly inspiration.

Charming: A heady blend of masculine, earthy, and wood scents are complimented by a hint of equal parts sweet floral and rugged leather that’s fit for a dashing, heroic prince. (Balsam, Basil, Bergamot, Cedar, Leather, Oakmoss, Sweet Grass, Rose, Rosewood, Tobacco, Vanilla, and Ylang Ylang.)

In the vial it smells slightly sweet, green, and floral. On skin it’s still a bit sweet, but more fresh and herbal, with something a little spicy and maybe citrusy going on. After a few minutes, it becomes a touch more floral, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s not a loud, heady floral, and it’s balanced out by the more masculine notes. There’s a deep, smooth sweetness to this that I really like.

Charming is much lighter than Beast, both in character and actual sillage. But it’s lovely. I really enjoy this one and can see myself getting a solid or a smaller bottle at some point.

Dragon: The scent of sharp, tangy grass, rich and fertile soil, earthy rosewood, musk, and the sweet incense of dragon’s blood. (Dragon’s Blood, Earth, Rosewood, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial, Dragon is earthy, warm, and dusty (not in a bad way). It almost smells a little oceanic at first. There’s something murky about it. On skin it’s warm, woody, and dirt-y. That musty, dusty murkiness translates into something really wonderful – it smells like an old stone building with a dirt floor, with sun streaming through the window, illuminating millions of floating dust particles. Forgive me for waxing poetic, but it really does.

I love this one. I didn’t expect to, because dragon’s blood, vetiver, and white musk are all iffy notes for me, but the earth really takes center stage on my skin, and I’m very glad for that. I’ll definitely be picking up at least a solid and probably a bottle of this one.

Hook: A herbaceous, masculine, earthy blend of bay rum and tobacco that is softened by sweet caramel on a base of rich leather and musk. (Bay Rum, Caramel, Leather, Tobacco, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Leather, mostly, with something a little tangy underneath. On skin the tanginess is the main thing I smell. I’m not entirely sure what it is. Not exactly citrus. It’s also pretty spicy. It smells like cologne, which it is, obviously, but like the classic “cologne” smell, if that makes sense. Bay rum? (Bay rum.) It smells good. I like those kinds of scents. The leather lurks beneath the bay rummy, maybe-citrus, spicy notes, and I’m somewhat less fond of that (I just generally don’t like leather scents), but it all works well together. It’s appropriately pirate-y.

Not one for me, I think, but it would smell awesome on a guy.

Sea Witch: A cool and crisp blend of green and aquatic notes with just a hint of sea salt and moss. (Bergamot, Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Lotus, Water Mint, Oakmoss, Ocean Mist, Sea Salt, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Ooh. A spicy green aquatic, really interesting. On skin it’s more spicy than green or aquatic at first, but after a few minutes it all melds together. It’s cooler and more watery-smelling in the vial than on skin, where it’s deeper and muskier. I’m not always a huge fan of aquatics, but I like this one – it manages to fall squarely into the aquatic category without smelling like a generic blue candle in a beach house bathroom. I credit that to the murky saltiness, which is common to most of the aquatics I end up enjoying.

Still not my favorite category of scent, but I’ll consider grabbing a solid of this one eventually.

Three winner for me here – I love love love Dragon, and like Charming and Sea Witch (in that order). Beast and Hook are perfectly nice, but not quite to my taste.

Everything in this post is available from Midsummer Dreams Apothecary.

darling clandestine ballyhoo, step right up, fire eater, & pestañas

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As I’m sure you can tell from the lack of posts, things are still crazy around here! My new job is awesome, but I have way less down time, and house-hunting is so stressful and miserable, I can’t even accurately describe it. We’ve only been looking for a few weeks and I’ve already had like four panic attacks. Everything about it makes me want to hurl a couch through the wall and light something on fire. Ugh. Seriously, HGTV is a network of LIES.

Anyway. I had hoped to be back in the swing of swatching/reviewing/posting regularly by now, but clearly that hasn’t been in the cards. Sorry dudes. I’m working on it! In the meantime, here are a few Darling Clandestine reviews.

As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Ballyhoo: A surprising melange of amber and sage and fig and spice with notes of creamy coffee and lime and dozens of other fascinating notes. Thoroughly appropriate for bold ladies and gents. (The solid version is pictured here, but I have since acquired a bottle as well.)

In the bitsy: deep and musky and sweet, rich, with an unexpected hit of lime. On skin I get a whiff of coffee, which sounds like it should be gross with lime, but it’s not at all. It actually smells amazing. And I don’t usually really like coffee scents! But this one isn’t all coffee, and it really works. After drying down for a while, it gets more ambery.

Ballyhoo reminds me slightly of Harpy – it’s the lime. I wonder what they’d be like as a FrankenBitsy? BallyHarp? HarpyHoo?

Fire Eater: This version lights up with hot mesquite wood and bluegrass, bursts of wild grape and apricot and lilac, and that blaze of blood orange and gasoline.

In the bitsy: a fruity, berry-ish scent with a strong background of something plasticky or gasoline-y. Or like rubbing alcohol? On skin that gas/alcohol scent is STRONG. The fruitiness is in the background, but it’s tainted. Something about this combination smells exactly like cat pee to me. I don’t know what it is, but it smells like a litter box that hasn’t been cleaned in way too long. It’s really disgusting. My nostrils flare involuntarily every time I sniff at it.

If I push past the eau de cat pee, I can pull it apart and say that I guess what I’m getting is the combination of grape, lilac, wood, and gasoline… it’s strongly astringent and abrasive like gas or rubbing alcohol, and there is fruitiness and something floral around the edges. After a while it gets a little better… but just a little. I still recoil from it, and if I sniff at it for longer than a second, lord, it still smells like cat pee. Like ammonia. Ugh. No. This is a very rare complete miss from DC. Do not pass go, do not collect a solid or a bottle. I actually scrubbed this one off.

I should note that I had The Dude smell this, and he didn’t get the cat pee thing. He just said it was “kind of floral.” So YMMV wildly here.

Step Right Up: A clean, oceanic, very unisex fragrance with notes of tea and vanilla and wood and spice.

In the bitsy: seriously blue. It’s ozone-y, but also a little hot and a little sweet. Mint? On skin it’s whoa, spicy! It’s still got a blue kind of background, but it’s very spicy and woody. There’s a bit of sweetness too, smooth and vanilla-y. It smells like men’s cologne and a fancy old-school library with dark wood and a roaring fire and scholarly men sitting around drinking tea and whiskey and eating scones.

After a little while I almost start to smell a little bit of the cat pee thing from Fire Eater… what? What is this? I thought it might’ve been leftover from what I scrubbed off, but I tried it on the other arm and got shades of the same thing. Not nearly as bad as Fire Eater, but still not awesome. I’m really confused, because I don’t feel like these two scents have much in common. Maybe it’s the wood? In any case, I definitely like Step Right Up BETTER, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it once all is said and done. More testing is required.

After yet more time, on the non-Fire-Eater-tainted hand, that smell starts to smell tea-like and less like cat pee. I think it might be that, plus the wood? Who even knows. I don’t dislike it, but I need to try it again another day.

Pestañas: A whirlwind of memories, from my grandparents’ courtship to the home they nurtured together in Illinois, including notes of cotton, tobacco leaf, rose, marigold, leather, machine oil, amber, lilac, pepper, copal, chocolate, wine and pimento.

In the bitsy: leather and a little wine. Mostly leather. On skin: it starts out sweet, and then deepens into something a little floral and a little spicy. The leather is there, and it gets stronger as it dries, and there’s something sharp and metallic. (looking at the notes – machine oil?) This is a weird scent. It’s clean but dark, a little floral, sweet and sharp and spicy. Every time I think I don’t like it, I get a hit of sweetness and I rethink my stance.

I wouldn’t say I love this. I’m not even sure I really like it. But it’s interesting.

timelord_shark

I love the little shark stamps on DC packages. YES I AM A TIME LORD.

Overall, this batch was far more miss than hit, which is rare for me and DC blends. I love Ballyhoo, am on the fence about Step Right Up and Pestañas, and want to strap Fire Eater to a rocket and shoot it into space. I had a very strong initial run with DC, liking or loving nearly everything I’ve tried so far, but they can’t all be winners! Still, of course, the customer service and general shopping experience were fantastic. And as always, you can check out all the goods available from Darling Clandestine on Etsy.

detrivore vow and apocalyptic

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vow_apocalypseJust a quick swatch post today! Things may be a bit slower than usual around here for a little while, because I’m starting a new job (yay!) and my fiance and I just put an offer in on a house (yay! but also: interesting! oh god oh god we’re all going to die!) and things are just generally kind of in a state of good but stressful upheaval at the moment.

ANYWAY. Here’s some blushes.

vow_apocalyptic_swatch

Vow: Delicate peachy-pink with a satin finish.

A warm light pink, slightly peach. Not a super pale baby pink, just a nice, wearable, everyday peachy-pink color. The description says “satin finish,” but for all intents and purposes this is matte.

Apocalyptic: Matte reddened beige.

A ruddy brownish rose sort of color, darker and less pink than Vow. This would be great in cooler weather.

These are my first Detrivore blushes, and while I haven’t tried them out on my face yet, I can tell just from swatching that they’re nice. The texture is soft, not chalky or grainy – similar to their matte eyeshadows, actually. They’re pigmented, but not so intensely pigmented that you have to apply three grains of powder with a stippling brush from 12 feet away from your face. I can’t comment on how they blend yet, though.

There are currently nine shades available on Shiro’s website, seven of which are vegan. Of the five vegan shades I haven’t tried, Concubine, Cyanide, and maybe Lilith appeal to me, so I’ll pick up samples of those in future Shiro orders.