nava apricot kobalt, blueberry crystal special edition, and bastet’s snow white


apricot_blueberryse_snowwhiteAnother trio of random NAVAs today! Kind of quick-fire reviews as opposed to the more in-depth bottle/wet/dry run-down, because I made notes on these throughout last week rather than testing them all on one day.

Apricot Kobalt: African Apricot, Apricot Cream, Vanilla Cream, Nokturne:Kobalt.

A beautiful, rich apricot vanilla scent. The apricot is fuzzy and freshly sweet, distinctly apricot and not peach. I really like Kobalt, it’s deep and creamy, not too sugary sweet, with a slight floral/fruity edge that complements the apricot really well.

Apricot Kobalt reminds me a little of a scent I liked back in the day before I got into indies – Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanilla Abricot, but richer and just better.


Blueberry Crystal Special Edition: Egyptian Summer Blueberry within the beauty of harmonized Vanilla and Musk (Nokturne:Crystal). Supple and fresh.  +Egyptian Frankincense, Rich NA Solar Amber, Green Peppercorn E/O and original Nokturne (Egyptian Musk).

I bought this by mistake – I had a sample of regular Blueberry Crystal and loved it, so when I saw a bottle listed in a destash that I was buying other things from, I grabbed that too. Except that when it got to me, it wasn’t regular Blueberry Crystal, it was a “special edition” version with a bunch of things I don’t care for added in. It was an honest mistake on the part of the seller, but was still pretty disappointing since I don’t actually like this version.

OG Blueberry Crystal is a sweet blueberry and vanilla scent, not too candy-like, with a bit of soft musk. Simple, beautiful. The Special Edition version is not as sweet, and as it dries down it gets muskier, and I get a lot of frankincense and a little bite of pepper, neither of which I’m really fond of, and both of which detract from what I like about Blueberry Crystal in the first place.

So that was a fail. I ordered a bottle of regular old Blueberry Crystal from NAVA, and will probably destash Special Edition to someone who likes their blueberry with a heavy dose of musky frankincense.


Bastet’s Snow White: A variety of 15 Vanilla Beans from Madagascar, France, Egypt, and all over the world. Crystalline and Crystal. Butter and caramel essences. Moonstone and Egyptian White Musk.

This scent is what prompted my first NAVA order – it got nothing but raves on IMAM while it was around, so I blind-bought a bottle and a set of samples. It didn’t disappoint, but it’s not my favorite of all the scents I’ve tried from them at this point either.

Bastet’s Snow White is a pretty vanilla musk with a very slight floral edge. It smooths out and gets less sweet and more musky with wear, but it never changes drastically on me. Having tried Crystalline alone, I can definitely pick it out here, fluffy and cloud-like. Overall I like it, but I think I was expecting something more mind-blowing from all the reviews. Still, it’s pretty and if you like vanilla, you’d like this.

Overall Thoughts: Apricot Kobalt is the easy favorite out of this group, but I do like Bastet’s Snow White as well. Blueberry Crystal Special Edition was a sad disappointment for me all around, but I’m sure someone else will love it.

nava coconut cockatoo, devil cake kobalt, and eternal egypt summer


cockatoo_devil_summerI’ve been picking up NAVA bottles and samples from destashes here and there lately – I’m really trying not to blind-buy too much from them, since they’re a very new and not entirely successful brand for me, but since prices tend to be a bit lower destashes are hard to resist! Anyway, here are three that I tried out recently.

Coconut Cockatoo: Coconut Husk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Sugar all bound together in the harmony of Crystalline vanilla.

In the bottle: Musky sugared coconut, it smells very white. Maybe slightly artificial.

Wet on skin: Warmer coconut, but not too sweet. Very beachy smelling, kind of light and sandy.

Dry down: That artificial edge has returned with a vengeance – I’m not sure what it is, but something about this smells almost plasticky. Like if Strawberry Shortcake had a friend named Coconut Cupcake and she was made into one of those scented plastic dolls, she would smell like this. Warm, mild, slightly plasticky coconut. It’s not unpleasant, exactly, but I’m not sure I want to smell like it.

Short & Sweet: Coconut-scented plastic.

Well, that was disappointing. Thankfully I found a new home for this guy over on IMAM, so it’ll be going to someone who will appreciate it.


Devil Cake Kobalt: Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Frosting, Sugar, Evil, Cocoa Dust, Kobalt Vanilla Orchid, Egyptian Musk and Vanilla Musk. (Rhinestone Housewife Exclusive)

In the bottle: Dark chocolate and vanilla, sugar, musk.

Wet on skin: Chocolate and Kobalt (vanilla orchid). The chocolate is pretty dark at first but lightens into a more milk chocolate/chocolate fudge cake situation pretty quickly. The deep, creamy, ever-so-slightly floral Kobalt is very present here. (Which is a plus as I really enjoy Kobalt.)

Dry down: Lots of Kobalt! The chocolate is present but the balance of chocolate and vanilla seems pretty equal on my skin. Creamy, almost fruity Kobalt and mild fudgy chocolate. The Kobalt keeps it from being heavily foodie or overly sweet.

Short & Sweet: Creamy, almost fruity Kobalt and mild fudgy chocolate. A balanced mix of chocolate and vanilla, not heavily foodie or overly sweet.

Chocolate scents can by iffy for me (with the exception of sixteen92’s magical chocolate scents), but I like this one. Of course, I think I mostly like it because of the Kobalt vanilla, but still. You get to stay, Devil Cake.


Eternal Egypt Summer: White Amber, Limestone Essence, Lime Leaf, Lime Zest, Saffron, White Tea Leaf, Sandalwood, Mandarin

In the bottle: Lots of citrus – orange and lime.

Wet on skin: Heavy citrus, mostly lime with some juicy mandarin, over a base of creamy white amber. I’m a bit wary of white amber because it has a tendency to go kind of chalky or powdery on me, but this is really quite nice. After a minute or so I get a subtle hint of tea, and something smooth – at this point it reminds me a bit of Mighty Leaf’s Chamomile Citrus tea.

Dry down: This has developed a sort of stony edge, cool and earthy, and the citrus has calmed down a bit. It’s smoother and a little deeper, though it’s still a rather light scent. I can smell the saffron more now, deep and earthy but slightly sweet.

Short & Sweet: Smooth citrus and a bit of tea over a base of creamy white amber and earthy. A bit of a stony edge. Deep but light. Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus tea.

This was sent as a freebie with a large destash order and I have to say I didn’t expect to like it at all – I never would’ve tried it based on the description. But I actually like it quite a bit. Nice surprise!

Overall Thoughts: Coconut Cockatoo was such a let down! The notes all sound lovely, I generally love coconut scents, and I’ve tried and enjoy Crystalline on its own. Sadly it seems like NAVA’s coconut may not be so great on me – I have a sample of Coconut Moonstone as well, and the notes from my initial testing are “really mild coconut, kind of plasticky?” I’m seeing a theme develop, unfortunately. But I like Devil Cake Kobalt – I think I might like anything heavy on the Kobalt to be honest – and Eternal Egypt Summer was a nice surprise, because I expected it to be an immediate destash.

arcana the rhinestone housewife


rhinestone_housewifeIn honor of The Rhinestone Housewife’s third birthday, Arcana whipped up an exclusive scent called – naturally – The Rhinestone Housewife. The notes are as follows:

Caramelized banana trifles and blueberry cakes are deepened with dark, resinous amber and soft, creamy patchouli.

Blueberry is one of my favorite notes, and I’m of the opinion that there aren’t nearly enough banana scents in the world (plus as we all know I’m a huge Arcana fangirl), so of course I jumped on this one immediately.

In the bottle: Lots of banana and a bit of blueberry, dark and sweet with an almost boozy edge. The banana reads a bit artificial to my nose, like banana Runts, but for once “artificial” isn’t a bad thing – I love the smell (and taste, I love me some banana Laffy Taffy!) of fake banana.

Wet on skin: A strong whack of banana right off the bat, then hints of a more tart blueberry fruitiness come out. Dark amber oozes underneath, with an edge of patchouli. (I’m a patch-hater and this is more than a hint of patchouli, but it’s tolerable.) The base really cuts the banana and takes away a lot of the artificial qualities.

Dry down: I’m getting a bit more patchouli now, and more blueberry too – it kind of smells like blueberry banana bread with some sort of dark, boozy caramel drizzle on top, or blueberry banana pancakes. It’s actually not very sweet, though – when I read the description I was hoping for a sweet, creamy, cakey banana blueberry confection, but that’s not how it reads on my skin. I think I like it, but it’s different than I thought it would be, much less gourmand and if I’m being honest I’m getting a bit too much patchouli for my taste. I may try layering this one with something creamy like Isolde or Philtre: Embrace.

(I did layer on a bit of Isolde and highly recommend the combination! Rich, creamy Isolde – speaking of which, I don’t think I ever reviewed the Sunk Lyonesse collection, must remember to do that – doesn’t add an undue amount of sweetness, but the creaminess really cuts the patchouli nicely while still leaving the dark banana and blueberry to shine through. In this combination, I really like The Rhinestone Housewife.)

Short & Sweet: Strong banana and a bit of blueberry over a base of dark amber and patchouli. The banana is strongest to start and mellows out as it dries. Not nearly as sweet as expected, and heavier on the patchouli than I’d like. Not my absolute favorite on its own, but really lovely layered with Isolde and probably any similarly creamy scent.

arcana prynne collection, part 2


We have a fox in the hen house this time around…

The four scents from part 2 of Arcana’s Prynne collection arrived in my mailbox earlier this week, and after letting the pretties sit for a few days they were up on the chopping (testing) block this morning. This part of the collection features the one lone male courtesan, Fancy Boy, which I believe sprang from a rather entertaining conversation on Facebook about whether male customers would mind wearing scents named after ladies of the evening. (The general consensus was no, but I’m glad Fancy Boy exists anyway! Maybe Dandy, Gigolo, Rent Boy, Hustler, and Leisure Suit Larry will follow in his footsteps?)


Why is thye lord so sluttish? –Geoffrey Chaucer


Coquette: A flirty blend of honeyed strawberries, pink cotton candy, Tahitian vanilla, French cognac absolute, and balsam of Peru.

In the bottle: Honey sweet sugared strawberries and booze, like a really sweet daiquiri.

Wet on skin: Sweet strawberry, dark red and ripe, covered in honey. I get the spun sugar cotton candy floating in the background, and the boozy edge that was so prominent in the bottle is markedly less pronounced. It smells more like candy and less like a pink drink. The peru balsam is detectable as a soft, plush sort of woodiness underlying the whole scent. It’s subtle but cuts the sugary sweetness just a bit.

Dry down: The scent has smoothed out a bit and the peru balsam has melded with the other notes in a way that it’s near-undetectable if I’m sniffing for it, but the effect it provides remains. The vanilla is a touch stronger, lending a creaminess that works so well with the strawberry.

Short & Sweet: Sweet red strawberries smothered in honey and vanilla, whiffs of sugary cotton candy, and a subtle, plush woodiness underneath to balance it out. Sharply boozy in the bottle and on first application, but that smooths out quickly and doesn’t last. More noticeable vanilla on dry down.


Floozy: Silky opium smoked with boozy amber, dark vanilla, and sandalwood.

In the bottle: dark boozy amber and vanilla, a bit woody.

Wet on skin: WOOF. This is strong. Strong smoky vanilla and rich amber over a woody base. I think I’m reading the opium as smoky but it’s not JUST smoky, if that makes sense. It’s kind of heady and slinky, like, well, rather like I imagine opium dens would’ve been like in the roaring 20’s.

Dry down: The amber has overtaken the vanilla a bit and now there’s something almost a touch savory about the smoky opium + amber mix. It’s not bad but it’s a very unusual blend. I can’t decide how I feel about it, except that I think I might want it to be sweeter? But sometimes not? My feelings keep changing from sniff to sniff. I like it and then I don’t and then I do. This is a strange one.

Short & Sweet: Strong smoky amber + vanilla over a woody base. The opium is heady and slinky and the amber really takes over on dry down. An unusual blend.


Tramp: Red roses, worn leather, blood cedar, oudh, and 3 trampy musks.

In the bottle: Cedar, rose, and LOTS of musk. Dirty, trampy musk. This scent has been very naughty.

Wet on skin: Cedar and rose with leather floating over top. The rose is kind of juicy, not sweet, and the leather smells like worn brown leather, soft, not harsh. The dirty musks are hanging underneath. Nothing is too strong here, all the notes are very well-blended.

Dry down: I get a bit more rose, still more juicy than heady or perfumey. Everything is still present, but the musks are much less intense, which makes the scent smell less like a night with a dominatrix and more like, I don’t know, someone role-playing a saloon girl in the old west. I actually didn’t expect to care for this one at all, but I kind of like it in the end. I may still layer on a touch of vanilla when I wear it, though, because I always want my roses to be sweeter, forever and ever.

Short & Sweet: Softly musky rose and worn leather with touches of wood.


Fancy Boy: So indulged! A slice of warm bread smothered in golden honey, white chocolate, almond bits, and rich vanilla.

In the bottle: I get mostly white chocolate and almond, sweet, creamy, and a bit sharp.

Wet on skin: Strong almond at first, like almond extract. Sharp. After a minute or so a soft powderiness develops, then morphs into a yeasty bread smell. Not exactly like bread, but more of a perfume interpretation of bread. I’m not sure what the powderiness is, but it’s my least favorite bit. Usually I’d blame the honey but Arcana honeys rarely go that way on me. Hmm. After a few minutes more, the smooth white chocolate becomes a bit more prominent.

Dry down: That odd powderiness isn’t going away. It almost smells like baby powder. What IS that? It almost has to be the honey + almond. I don’t dislike it, per se but I wish the honey was more like Arcana’s lovely dripping golden honey notes. Anyway, no major morphing here. Slightly perfumey bread, white chocolate, almond, powdery honey. Later into wear the powderiness does fade down (yay!) and the bread comes out more, warm and very nice. At this point it’s warm bread, smooth white chocolate, and a hint of almond. Really beautiful.

Short & Sweet: Warm bread, smooth white chocolate, and a hit of almond. Lots of sharp almond to start, and rather powdery for a while, but the dry down is very nice.

Comparison to Vanilla Craves Bread: VCB is more bready-smelling to me, like a sweet bun covered in a vanilla glaze. Fancy Boy is less obviously a bread scent and the almond is pretty strong. I also think it’s a bit less sweet. Of the two I prefer VCB, only because the initial phase of FB has a powderiness I don’t completely love.

Overall Thoughts: In order of preference we have Coquette (love), Fancy Boy (like a lot once it dries), and then a tie between Tramp (moderate like, may need some layering) and Floozy (just because I can’t decide how I feel about it). Tramp was a pleasant surprise while Floozy is a bit confusing, since I really can’t pin down whether I like it or not. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t, and those times can be about 3 sniffs apart. It’s an odd duck.

arcana prynne collection, part 1.5


We meet again, ladies…

Earlier this week I received the last few outstanding ladies from part one of Arcana’s Prynne collection (I have all the new ladies – and one gent! – from part two as well, but they need to rest a bit + get their picture taken) – I had gotten half bottles of Jezebel and Qedesha from a decant circle because I wasn’t sure I’d like them, and while I missed the original release of Fille de Joie, a super generous redditor over on IMAM had accidentally ordered two and was kind enough to offer me her extra bottle. So here we are! Let’s see how they fared, shall we?

Jezebel: Tiare, gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, and stephanotis are suffused with white musk, pearl musk, and citron.

In the bottle and on skin, Jezebel is strong sweetened white florals. Not too sweet, just a little bit. Citron and musk provide a nice base. It’s actually nicer than I expected, but not sweet enough for me. After a while on skin it goes bit perfumey and heady, and too overpoweringly floral for my taste.

Qedesha: Neroli petals dripping with honey, bee nectar, warm musk, and pearl musk.

Super strong neroli on first application. SUPER strong, gag-inducing. (To be fair, I don’t like neroli/orange blossom very much.) After a minute it calms down a little and I get more of the lovely honey and a powderiness that I attribute to the bee nectar. It’s got a nice clearness to it, if that makes any sense. I like it more than I expected to given the strong neroli, but it’s definitely not one I need more of.

A little further in it just turns to baby powder? All baby powder. Baby powder nightmare. I scrubbed it off. No bueno. This one may end up getting re-homed.

Fille de Joie: Delicate lavender marshmallows and yellow peaches cured in a vanilla absolute bottle.

Oh, Fille de Joie. This lovely little gem caused a lot of people (myself included) some consternation when the initial stock at Pretty Indulgent sold out in about 12 minutes. I missed it myself, and was super bummed, but had resigned myself to waiting for the restocks when I got a PM from a really lovely redditor who offered me the extra bottle that she’d accidentally ordered in the frenzy. Of course I jumped all over that, and now lovely Fille, she is mine! The restock IS happening at Pretty Indulgent in the near future, though, so fear not if you too missed it the first time around.

In the bottle: GORGEOUS. How’s that for descriptive? On skin it starts off with lots of lavender, sharp and a little powdery, balanced overall but not very sweet. As it dries down the peach becomes more assertive. It’s a soft, fresh peach, not candy-like. That powderiness is from the marshmallow, which gets stronger and sweeter, and the whole scent becomes this beautiful fresh peach and sweet marshmallow blend with a bit of calming lavender. It’s a lovely soft scent, very delicate and pretty.

Overall Thoughts: Very positive on Fille de Joie, surprising absolutely no one. I have mixed feelings about Jezebel (it’s just not my style), and out-and-out dislike Qedesha (as expected). Three more ladies of the evening and one fancy gentleman to go until this collection is complete!

nava resurgence: art of love reviews


This picture is terrible, I don’t know what was up with my camera settings.

I’ve been dipping my toes into the mysterious and frankly pretty intimidating world of Nocturne Alchemy/VApothecary (otherwise known as NAVA) lately, to somewhat mixed results. I’ve found a few things I love, a few things I hate, and a lot that fall somewhere in between. It’s been interesting because when you’re familiar with a perfume house you already have a sense of how things will work on you – I’m comfortable blind-buying full sizes from Arcana and Solstice Scents because nine times out of ten, I can tell if I’m going to like something just from the notes list. But NAVA is a mystery to me, with their esoteric Egyptian theme, extensive catalog, elaborate but not always terribly helpful scent write-ups, and specific yet confusing names for particular notes or blends (Crystal vs Crystalline vs Kobalt vs Moonstone vs Diamond vs Crimson vs N2 vs N4???). I have virtually no idea, at first glance, whether I’ll like something, and am still compiling my mental database of how their scents work with my skin chemistry. It’s an adventure… one that I was trying to avoid because the last thing I need is to get into another perfume house, but what can I say, all the raves intrigued me.

Which brings me to this review! These are not the first things from NAVA that I’ve acquired, but they are the first ones that I’ve gotten around to photographing, and since this collection is still currently available it seems like a good place to start. I picked up a handful of decants from Ajevie, and blind-bought one full size direct from NAVA because I was 99.9% sure I’d love it and I like to live on the financially irresponsible edge.

Ariadne: Somnambulist Almond-Cherry-Heliotrope infusion, Blue Sugar, Crimson Musk, Black Cherry Peel and White Coconut-sugar.

Ariadne is sweet cherry or amaretto in the vial. On skin it’s all amaretto, strong boozy cherry/almond. That’s really all there is to this one on me, first to last.

The Roses of Heliogabalus: Apricot seed essence, Roman Desert Rose accord, Bastet’s Rose Red Accord, Pyramid Sand accord, Crystalline, Rosewood eo infused with Cherry Skin, Nutmeg eo, Blue & White & Limestone Amber with a touch of Santalum.

In the vial: sweet honeyed rose. Very similar on skin, rich honey and roses, not too perfumey. It reminds me a bit of HoG Come Hither, but with more rose. After a few minutes it does get a bit perfumey and more floral on my skin, which I’m not as fond of. I like my rose scents to be quite sweet. A little while later I get some green that tempers the floral bits nicely.

It’s actually quite pretty, but I don’t think I need more than a decant.

Miranda the Tempest: Blueberry-infused-Lemongrass Water, Alexandrian Sea Salt, Blackberry Wine, Crystalline-Amber with Salted Caramel and Egyptian Blue Sugar crystals.

Musky berries and citrus in the vial, a little sweet. On skin it’s berry lemonade with a similar skin musk feel to Adele. Sweet but not too sweet, musky, soft, not too tart. The berries are a touch artificial smelling, but berry scents often are to my nose. I like it, though. This would be a great summer scent, because it’s got that warm, salty-sweet skin musk going on.

Later on the artificial tang fades and the salty-sweet musk is stronger. There’s a sort of spicy wine thing going on too. I think it’s the wine that gives this a slight sour tang that I don’t really care for. That plus the lemongrass, which skews a bit citric acid-y (think powdered lemonade mix) on my skin. I like it but don’t love it… I’m a bit torn. Further testing is required.

This is one I nearly blind-bought, because I love pretty much everything in the notes list, but I’m glad I didn’t in the end… something about it doesn’t work as well as I’d like.

Ophelia: Japanese Plum, Cranberry Absolute, Crystalline Essence (softer version of SL Crystalline), Crimson Musk, Sweet Musk, Pink Sugar Cube, Kobalt Blue and SL N4 Musk.

In the vial Ophelia is all juicy red fruits. On skin it’s sweet and juicy but also a tiny bit soapy? Not sure what’s doing that. It’s a musky-soapy-fruity-smelling thing. I’m not a fan.

Mariamne: Greek Honeysuckle, Japanese Vanilla Milk, White Sandalwood, Apricot Essence, N2 Musk, Crystalline Vanilla Water and soft Japanese Umber Incense.

Strong honeysuckle in the bottle, very floral. Wet on skin it’s softer and a bit milky, but still predominantly floral honeysuckle. It doesn’t smell like real honeysuckle to me at all. It smells like a honeysuckle candle or air freshener. There’s a sharp, powdery sort of incense thing going on as well.

After a while it takes on an almost soapy tone? It smells like strong honeysuckle soap with a little vanilla. Eech. I really don’t like this. Scrubber.

The Lady of Shalott: Lightly scented Clover infused with Kobalt Vanilla, Alyssum Flower, Santalum White, Spun Sugar and White Musk.

Beautiful sweet vanilla and greenery in the vial. Soft. Pretty. On skin it’s soft vanilla musk with hints of fresh green. It reminds me a little bit of sixteen92 Talia, but turned up to 11. After a few minutes the green and some clean floral notes do come out more, but they never overpower the vanilla musk.

I almost blind-bought a bottle of this one but held off because I read a review describing it as a sort of clean laundry scent – it’s not that on my skin, though I can see it reading that way because there’s definitely a cleanness to it. But I really like it! It’s soft and pretty and feminine without being a typical heady floral. I’ve already purchased a bottle.

adeleAdele: Gold Alexandria Sea salt, Gold Peach Skin, Crystal Vanilla, Kobalt Vanilla and a kiss from Moonstone.

This is the bottle I blind-bought (obviously). I’d heard nothing but raves and there isn’t a single thing in the scent list that I wasn’t drawn to, so I just went for it. It’s stunning in the bottle, peaches and cream but not too sweet. On skin it’s a subtle peachy skin musk scent. It’s a tiny, tiny bit perfumey for a little while, but that fades quickly enough and I’m left with a very pretty, not too sweet musky peach with a bit of soft vanilla. It’s a “skin scent” to me, because for some reason it seems to almost meld with my skin and it’s like I just smell like this naturally and not because I’m wearing perfume. It’s an odd thing that’s hard to describe, but you know it when it happens.

Obviously I love this one. Good buy, no regrets, highly recommend.

Overall Thoughts: Mixed! I love Adele and went back for a bottle of Lady of Shalott, so those are the clear winners. Most of the rest fall in the middle of the pack, with the exception of Mariamne and Ophelia, both of which have an odd soapy quality that I really dislike. I’m finding that NAVA is definitely more hit-or-miss for me, but when something works it’s really lovely. I’ll keep feeling out the brand but I’m definitely inclined to stick to samples or decants when I can. (She says, having blind-bought several full size bottles in the last few weeks. Do as I say, not as I do.)

sixteen92 spring 2016 – women of shakespeare


circle_spring2016The final shipment in my 2015 Circle subscription arrived recently – the Spring 2016 collection, inspired by the women of Shakespeare! This shipment also included the Circle-exclusive full size fragrance, All the World’s a Stage.

I’ve really, really enjoyed my Circle subscription and will absolutely be re-upping for 2016. It’s so nice to not have to worry about ordering samples for new collections, and between the amount of samples, free shipping, discount codes, and exclusive full size, it’s honestly a really great deal. Bravo to Sixteen92 for their flawless execution of a wonderful idea.

This collection goes live on February 12th, so let’s get to the reviews!


Blanket of the Dark (Lady Macbeth – Macbeth): Narcissus absolute, two jasmines, yellow champaca blossom, coffee bean, bergamot, oakmoss, benzoin

In the vial this is earthy, a little woody (at first I thought sandalwood, but I’m guessing it’s the oakmoss), and heavily floral.

On skin the floral notes are more subdued, though it is definitely a floral scent. Jasmine is the most prominent, but jasmine always is to my nose. Soft but still heady, waxy and white. After a minute or so I can pick up the bitter bergamot, tamping down the headiness just a bit.

Further into the dry down I get a little bit of coffee bean, which is an unusual addition that works surprisingly well. At this point it’s an earthy, slightly woody white floral with touches of bitter bergamot around the edges. It’s a little sweet but not what I’d call a “sweet floral,” per se. Sillage is low, but I only dabbed on a bit for testing.

This isn’t really for me, as my dislike of heavy floral scents is well-documented, but I actually don’t hate what it turns into. It’s a really interesting blend and I imagine lovers of white florals will really enjoy this one.

Short & Sweet: And earthy, slightly woody white floral with a really interesting coffee note and touches of bitter bergamot around the edges.


Merely a Madness (Rosalind – As You Like It): White sandalwood, clover honey (vegan), sweet orange, rosewater, blond patchouli, cedar heart

In the vial I get fuzzy, woody sandalwood with a bit of citrus and a slight patchouli dirtiness.

Wet on skin I smell mostly sandalwood, cedar, clear honey, and orange, with a tiny bit of patchouli. It’s kind of woody and watery at the same time, sweet-ish from the honey, with a nice citrusy brightness.

The white sandalwood is pale and sort of fuzzy-smelling. It’s nice but also a little bit headache-inducing for me personally, though I’m not sure why.

Further into dry down, the woody elements are stronger and the honey has faded. I wish the latter didn’t happen, in particular – the honey note that’s there in the beginning is quite nice.

Short & Sweet: A fuzzy, woody orange scent. The sandalwood and cedar combo is pale and a bit powdery, and there’s a nice clear, sweet honey note in the beginning that doesn’t last into dry down.


The Primrose Path (Ophelia – Hamlet): Soaked earth, lichen, ancient oak roots, grass, water lily, heavy stone, a tangled garland of faded spring blooms

In the vial: wet dirt and stone, very earthy, with the slightest hint of papery florals.

Wet on skin it’s very wet and green and vegetal, like a forest floor matted with wet leaves after a heavy rain.

Further into dry down it’s still quite green, but a little drier, with an edge of papery flowers, like they’ve been dried and pressed until nearly translucent. There’s a wateriness to it, but I don’t get the dirt or wet stone I was smelling in the vial, which is a little disappointing.

I like this one on skin, even if I like it more in the bottle. I want more dirt! Still, it’s a nice green spring scent, and I appreciate the inclusion of something a little less flowery in the collection. This will probably be one I get a bottle of.

Short & Sweet: A wet green scent with an edge of papery dried flowers. More vegetal to start, a bit drier and more aquatic-floral on dry down.

Side Note: This basically smells like my favorite painting of Ophelia, by John William Waterhouse. Smells the way it looks, anyway. I imagine the real thing smells like oil paint.


Storm of Fortunes (Desdemona – Othello): Star jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose absolute, hyacinth, ambergris, Mysore sandalwood

(Fair warning: there are so many things that I hate in this perfume. All the things.)

In the vial I get soft tan sandalwood, jasmine, and orange blossom.

Wet on skin the jasmine is the strongest element, followed by the heady, powdery orange blossom and hyacinth. God it’s like almost all of my least favorite things shoved into one perfume. It’s heavily floral, and not sweet at all, more powdery or chalky. I’m assuming the sandalwood is contributing to the chalkiness, but I can’t be sure since literally all I can smell is all of my least favorite floral notes assaulting my nose.

I feel personally victimized by this scent.

Further into dry down (I wanted to scrub it off but I left it on solely to finish this review, FEEL SPECIAL) I smell mostly jasmine, sandalwood, and orange blossom, heady and powdery, with a little bit of an oddly warm/salty/dirty scent that I associate with ambergris hovering around the edges.

I hate this so much. Sorry guys. Don’t listen to me on this scent; it might be beautiful on you and you might love it, but on me it is the worst and I want to kill it with fire.

Short & Sweet: Jasmine, sandalwood, and orange blossom, heady and powdery, with a little bit of an oddly warm/salty/dirty scent that I associate with ambergris hovering around the edges.


A Thousand Times More Fair (Portia – The Merchant Of Venice): Honeysuckle nectar, magnolia blossom, passion flower, white peach skin, ripe plum, bright vanilla bean, delicate musk

In the vial: sweet, fresh, and fruity – the peach and plum are the first things I smell, and then the floral notes start to come out.

Wet on skin it’s surprisingly spicy! Not sure what’s causing that, but it smells like spicy peach and plum, warm and musky, with vanilla and sweet florals layered over top. Honeysuckle is the strongest of the floral notes to my nose – it’s not quite a realistic honeysuckle scent (we have a bush in our backyard), but it’s not overly floral or heady like some honeysuckle scents can be. The whole thing smells almost candy-like, like one of those translucent hard candies if they came flavored with stonefruits and honeyed florals.

It stays pretty linear as it dries, no major morphing. The florals do get a bit more prominent, but never overtake the fruity notes entirely. I’m surprised to say that I really like this one! It’s sweet and fruity and floral, but not so floral that it’s overwhelming or heady. It’s candy-like and bright and girly, fresh and very definitely Springy. I’ll be getting a bottle of this one as well, and floral-haters should give it a hot.

Short & Sweet: Bright peach and plum, warm and musky, with vanilla and sweet honeyed florals. Candy-like (but not too sweet) and perfect for spring.


All the World’s a Stage (2015 Circle Exclusive): Rum-soaked apricots, dark chocolate, hazelnut liqueur, praline, amber, bourbon vanilla

In the bottle I get mostly chocolate and hazelnut with a bit of apricot. I just love Sixteen92’s chocolate scents. It reminds me a little bit of Arcana’s La Befana on cold sniff. (Turns out they’re nothing alike, though.)

Wet on skin I smell the boozy hazelnut liqueur, amber, and vanilla most strongly. The chocolate isn’t nearly as present as in the bottle. The apricots come out in a rummy, caramelly fruitiness. It almost reminds me a little bit of fruit cake, but with a touch of chocolate.

Further into dry down it develops a nice toasty, nutty tone, very warm, and the chocolate comes out a bit more. It’s still not a chocolate-heavy scent, though. More fruity and boozy with a strong praline scent. A while later, the praline softens and I get more amber, slightly powdery. Sillage is average and it lasted pretty well – I wasn’t tracking it closely but I’d say at least 6 hours.

I really like this one and am happy to have it in my collection.

Short & Sweet: A boozy, caramel-y apricot scent with some toasty, nutty chocolate. Sweet and fruitier than you’d expect, with a strong praline scent to start and more amber a while into wear.

Bonus Dude Review: I held my wrist under my husband’s nose and he made a face and said “it smells really flowery. And kind of like a daycare.” … ???

Overall Thoughts: This isn’t my favorite collection, but I didn’t expect it to be. Spring means florals, and you all know how I feel about florals. That said, I do like a few of them – The Primrose Path and A Thousand Times More Fair will both be joining my collection. The only one I really hate is Storm of Fortune, while the other two are just not for me.

arcana valentine’s day 2016 – the prynne collection



HI GUYS. It’s been a while. I’m a terrible blogger, please forgive me. As a mea culpa, I return to your screens with a review of Arcana’s 2016 Valentine’s Day collection, which is all about the saucy ladies of ill-repute who sent starched-collar puritans into fits of sputtering indignation and angry boners.

I picked up most of the collection from The Rhinestone Housewife when it was released, with the exception of Jezebel and Quedesha, which I went with half bottles of from a decant circle, and Fille de Joie, which went up at Pretty Indulgent and then immediately sold out during the 40 minutes that I was commuting home yesterday. GRRR. Thankfully there will be a restock in a few weeks, so I’ll be waiting (impatiently) for that and then ordering ASAP. So I only have 7 out of 10 scents to review at the moment – I’ll post the rest when I receive them. (I’m not too confident about liking Jezebel and Qedesha, but I’m really excited for Fille de Joie!)

Anyway – reviews!


“It hath evermore been the notorious badge of prostituted Strumpets and the lewdest Harlots, to ramble abroad to Plays, to Playhouses; whither no honest, chaste or sober Girls or Women, but only branded Whores and infamous Adulteresses, did usually resort in ancient times.” –William Prynne, Militant Puritan

“That girl, she holds her head up so high!” –Bikini Kill


Demimondaine: Sugary milk, Venezuelan coffee CO2 extract, espresso, and rich gateau.

Milk? Coffee? DID SOMEBODY SAY CAKE? This one was a no-brainer. In the bottle it smells like sweet, syrupy coffee with a bit of milky cakiness. Wet on skin the coffee is a little less intense, more milky, and I get more cake. The cake is buttery and not overly sweet (as far as cake goes). It smells like tiramisu! Oh my god, I love it.

It dries down to a sweet, milky coffee with a bit of buttery cake. It reminds me a little of Ooomph, if you layered Yellow Cake LN on top – though that would probably be significantly sweeter. In any case, it’s a winner. I’ve really grown to love coffee scents. Sillage is a bit above average, noticeable but not crazy strong, and it lasted 12+ hours on my skin.

Short & Sweet: Sweet, milky coffee with buttery cake. The coffee is stronger to start, but gets milkier as it dries. Tiramisu!


Harlot: Three bittersweet chocolates, French cocoa absolute, and caramelized vanilla bean.

Harlot smells like the most delicious, rich, grown-up brownies. It’s intense chocolate, but not too sweet, and there’s an almost fruity liqueur note to it. Like if someone told me that there was a bit of apricot in there, I’d believe it. (I don’t think there is, though.) It’s not powdery or artificial like chocolate can sometimes be. Honestly the best way I can describe it is to repeat myself: super rich, bittersweet grown-up brownies. The kind of brownie or flourless chocolate cake you’d get at a fancy restaurant, drizzled with dark, dark chocolate ganache.

It smells really goddamn amazing, is what I’m saying. After about 20-30 minutes, the caramelized vanilla comes out more, thick and smooth. Yum. Sillage is good but not crazy strong, and it lasted 10+ hours on my skin.

Short & Sweet: Super rich, bittersweet grown-up brownies, drizzled with dark, dark chocolate ganache. A bit more vanilla on dry down.


Strumpet: Plush, rich vanilla, tart cassis, brown sugar, and green cognac absolute.

In the bottle, Strumpet smells like blackcurrant creme brulee. Rich, creamy vanilla, caramelized sugar, and berries. Wet on skin it’s a bit less sweet, with the tart cassis taking center stage. It stays that way for the first 20-30 minutes or so, and the cognac makes an appearance, a shot of sharp green over creamy vanilla and tart berries.

After a while, the sharp green element fades back, but the scent remains much more tart than I expected from the bottle sniff. It’s not a bad thing – it’s really quite beautiful, tart and creamy at the same time, like a sour berry smoothie or milkshake. Sillage is good, I could easily smell it wafting around, and it lasted 12+ hours on my skin.

Short & Sweet: Tart blackcurrant and creamy vanilla with a little shot of sharp green cognac. More sweet in the bottle and more tart on first application, the two extremes equalize as it wears. Smells like a sour berry smoothie or milkshake.



Tart: Sweet lemon cakes, fluffy coconut frosting, and a dash of bergamot.

In the bottle Tart is, well, tart – all zesty sugared lemon cake. On skin the cake bit isn’t as strong, but the coconut asserts itself more, not too tropical or overly sweet, more just a smooth base for the tart lemon. There’s a little bite of bergamot to balance out the sweetness.

Later on it’s a little less tart, warmer and a bit sweeter, but never overly so and definitely always a citrus-heavy scent. It’s not nearly as cakey or foodie as I expected, but I really like it. Sillage is average, but lasting power is stellar, especially for a citrus scent – I could still smell it on my wrist after more than 13 hours.

Somebody asked me on IMAM how this compares to Ambrosia, and in my opinion they are very different. Ambrosia is SO sweet, almost cloyingly so; Tart is much, much less sweet, more balanced, and warmer, and obviously there is no peach or honey involved. I’m a little biased since Ambrosia isn’t a favorite of mine, but between the two I much prefer Tart.

Short & Sweet: Sweet/tart sugared lemon, warm, smooth coconut, and a little bite of bergamot that balances out the sweetness. Definitely on the tart side, not too foodie or sweet.


Bawd: Bright red cherry, brassy tobacco, Anjou pear, and white amber.

In the bottle Bawd smells like a Luden’s cherry cough drop, aka candy they couldn’t stop you from eating during class in elementary school. Wet on skin I get a BLAST of cherry, holy shit. It’s intense. Definitely candy cherry, red and shiny like a cherry lollipop, with a bit of sweet, wet tobacco. I think that fresh tobacco smells a little like cherry anyway (my dad smoked a pipe when I was a kid and I loved the smell of the tobacco), so it’s a combination that seems surprisingly natural. After a few minutes I start to pick up the pear, a crisp, wet fruitiness around the edges of the bold cherry candy that’s center stage.

During dry down the tobacco gets stronger, vying with cherry for top billing, and it develops a touch of soft fuzziness, which I tend to associate with white amber. The pear is there, but it’s an accent – this remains unmistakably a cherry scent.

I like cherry scents more in theory than in practice, since they often end up just smelling like cherry candy on me – which this one does, but it’s got more depth and grounding from the tobacco. It’s interesting, if not my favorite out of the bunch, and a great blend if you’re a cherry lover. It’s also incredibly potent! I didn’t do a full day test of this one so I can’t say how long it wears, but sillage was high while I had it on for testing.

Short & Sweet: Strong, STRONG cherry candy wrapped up with wet tobacco, fuzzed around the edges and accented with crisp pear.


Odalisque: Thick vanilla syrup, golden musk, black musk, kyphi, and spikenard.

This scent is a bit tricksy. When it’s wafting around me – which it does, heavily, the sillage is great – it smells like a root beer float drizzled with thick honey. Spicy and syrupy, a little creamy, with a golden honey sweetness (though it’s really not that sweet overall). It’s deep and rich and unexpected. When I sniff closer to my skin, it’s a little smoky and the root beer bite is much less sweet, almost a little like dry tobacco, and bordering on medicinal.

Thankfully I don’t spend a ton of time with my nose pressed to my wrist (though still probably more than normies who aren’t obsessed with smelling things), so my experience of Odalisque is mostly the odd and lovely spicy honey root beer cloud that surrounds me when I’m wearing it. Which I really like. Sillage is, as I said, fantastic, and it lasted 12+ hours on my skin.

Someone on IMAM posited that this might be a softer, friendlier version of Honey and Venom – I do have a decant of Honey and Venom, but I hate it a lot. Honey and Venom smells like smoky burning plastic cat pee on my skin, so while I can intellectually recognize some similarities between the two scents, I’m not sure I’m the best person to make a direct comparison. Odalisque would win by default, because I want to shoot Honey and Venom into space.

Short & Sweet: A spicy root beer float drizzled with honey. Not overly sweet, especially close to the skin, where it’s a little smokier and borderline medicinal.


Trollop: Vintage patchouli, resinous amber, boozy apple rum, and vodka.

In the bottle Trollop smells wet and earthy, a little sweet, with a distinct booziness. Wet on skin it takes me a moment to smell anything, which is odd – it’s surprisingly subdued. It’s warm and earthy, a little dirty, with a bit of boozy fruitiness. It’s definitely not as strong as I expected from bottle sniff. The amber is nice and rich, the apple rum lends a touch of sweetness. I actually don’t hate it? The patchouli isn’t my favorite element, and it is center stage, but it’s not nearly as “stinky hippie” as strong patch can often be. It’s a softer, warmer scent than I expected, with an almost honeyed tone to it. It’s not particularly sweet, though – it’s just got a warm reddish-gold quality. (Because that’s a smell, right?) Especially after a while, when it dries down and mellows a bit. The apple rum comes out a bit more then, with almost a hint of smokiness.

Still my least favorite of the bunch – strong patchouli just isn’t quite in my wheelhouse – but I might actually keep it, which I didn’t think would be the outcome here. So that’s a pleasant surprise. I didn’t give this one a full day wear test, so I can’t comment on lasting power, but when I had it on for testing sillage was average. I only dabbed a bit on to test, though, so I’m thinking if you load it on you might get stronger throw.

Short & Sweet: Patchouli – warm, earthy, and a little dirty – with rich amber and a bit of boozy apple rum. If Trollop were a color, it’d be a warm reddish-gold.

Overall Thoughts: Positive! Which is shocking to pretty much no one. The only one I can’t see myself wearing is Trollop, though it went over better than I expected. Bawd is kind of middle of the pack, just because I’m not always big on cherry scents and I’m not sure how much regular wear it will get, but I still like it objectively. The rest are definite winners, with my particular favorites probably being Odalisque (I don’t have anything else like this), Strumpet, Harlot, and Demimondaine.

arcana miranda & de minimus non curat lex


miranda_deminimusHere are the other two scents in Arcana’s Lady Justice mini-collection – Miranda and De Minimis Non Curat Lex. I was on the fence about both of these, De Minimus more so than Miranda, but I ordered them anyway to complete the set… let’s see how they fared!

Miranda: Inspired by a soft grey kitten named after Miranda v. Arizona. Pink tuberose petals, Monoi de Tahiti, pearl musk, strawberries, and sugary watermelon.

In the bottle: Pink! A super pink, sugary floral. Sweet and a little fruity.

Wet on skin: Creamy florals and sweet strawberry. A little musky. A minute or so later I can pick up fresh watermelon. I’m no fan of florals but this smells really, really nice.

Dry down: The fruitiness is a little more prominent and the florals, while definitely still present, are a bit calmer. They’re not heady or perfumey at all. Concerning the fruits, I smell strawberry most strongly but can pick up the watermelon as well.

Short & Sweet: A sweet, creamy fruity-floral blend with a bit of musk. Sugary, pink, and very girly. This one was a really unexpected hit for me! I love it. Miranda is gorgeous and should be on every floral hater’s list of florals to try.

De Minimis Non Curat Lex: The law does not concern itself with trifles. AKA Circus by the Sea. A cool blend of saltwater, ocean air, rain-soaked blackberries, neroli, coconut, and a hint of green cognac absolute.

In the bottle: Cool and watery, a little bit sharp and floral with some berry sweetness.

Wet on skin: It’s immediately deeper and a bit salty. A little sweet but not really sweet. A little floral but not really floral. Just a hint of coconut. This goes back and forth between being a little too floral for me, and then not.

Dry down: After a short period where it smells a bit like a dryer sheet, De Minimus settles in as a musky, slightly salty ocean scent with hints of neroli, berries, and coconut. It does occasionally tip back over into smelling like a dryer sheet, but I think that’s just my general impression of slightly floral ocean/ozone/sea air kind of scents, especially if they contain neroli or orange blossom. They just usually smell like dryer sheets to me. I’m saying dryer sheets a lot. Dryer sheets dryer sheets dryer sheets.

Short & Sweet: A musky, slightly salty ocean scent with hints of neroli, berries, and coconut. Only occasionally smells like dryer sheets.

Overall thoughts: Julia may not be a big floral lover, but the ones she does, she does well! I’ve consistently loved her sweet floral blends and Miranda is no exception. It’s beautiful.

De Minimus was the scent I was least certain about, and it is indeed the one I like least – but I do still like it, I think. I’m not generally a huge fan of oceanic/ozoney scents, but this one has enough murky saltiness to (mostly) keep it out of dryer sheet territory. Mostly. I ended up with a sample of this as well as a bottle, and I’m not sure yet which one of them I’m going to destash. I don’t mind having a bottle, but I think I’d probably be happy enough with a sample.

arcana gideon & peppermint candyflip


gideon_candyflipIn mid-August, Arcana released a mini-collection called Lady Justice. As with the past Cocktails for Charity collection, the Lady Justice collection was created for a cause – in this case, 100% of profits are being donated to help a wrongfully arrested friend of Julia, the perfume mastermind behind Arcana.

I happened to have just finished placing a Rhinestone Housewife order a few minutes before I saw the news about this release, so I emailed Jeanine from RH to ask if I could tack the four Lady Justice scents onto my order. Because it’s Arcana, and it’s for a good cause, and if I was going to get two bottles I might as well just get the other two as well and complete the collection, right? I have no self-control.

Anyway, today I have half the collection for you – Gideon and Peppermint Candyflip. These were the two scents I knew I was going to get right off the bat.

Gideon: Inspired by a spunky orange tabby kitten named after Gideon v. Wainwright. Apricot, golden amber, and a saucerful of cream.

In the bottle: Sweet, creamy apricot. Like one of those fruit and cream swirled hard candies I can’t remember the name of… Creme Savers! Yes, like that but apricot.

Wet on skin: Intensely fruity and sweet at first, it mellows quickly into a beautiful creamy apricot and warm amber blend. It’s pretty evenly balanced and not as heavily fruity as it was in the bottle.

Dry Down: No big changes as it settles in. The apricot is more subtle than in the bottle or on initial application, and does get softer with wear, but it’s definitely present.

Short & Sweet: A really soft, pretty, creamy apricot and warm amber blend. This one is beautiful.

Bonus Boy Review: “I like it. It’s got a peaches and cream thing going on.” He was very pleased to have guessed correctly.

Misc: I was asked how this compares to Estella, and I would say they’re not similar at all. Amber is present in both, but Gideon is creamier and fruitier, while Estella is a slightly boozy amber/vanilla blend. I like both, but they’re definitely different on my skin. Gideon is my favorite of the two.

Peppermint Candyflip: A psychedelic blast of cold peppermint dries down to a trippy candy center of blue frosting, sugar cookies, pink musk, blueberry candy, bakery vanilla, bergamot syrup, and lemondrops.

In the bottle: Sweet peppermint! A bit musky and somehow smells blue.

Wet on skin: The mint is less intense, but it’s still the star of the show, and it’s got that cooling sensation going on when I sniff it. In the background I get a sugary musk. It’s got a cotton candy-ish vibe.

Dry Down: The mint calms down a little bit, and I get more musky vanilla and a bit of citrus. I was afraid this one might be insanely sweet given all the candy/bakery notes, but it’s really not. It’s sugary, yes, but not to the point where it’s cloying. The citrus is a nice touch and while it’s by no means tart, it does serve to balance the sweetness a bit. Further into wear, the vanilla gets stronger and smooths out the whole blend a bit.

Short & Sweet: Bracingly minty to start, Candyflip calms down into sweet mint and musky vanilla with a little of citrus. Definitely sugary but not cloyingly sweet. The vanilla is a little smoother and more prominent with wear.

Overall Thoughts: Gideon is hands down my favorite of this pair, but I like them both. I really like sweet mint scents in general, so Candyflip appeals to me, especially once it settles down and smooths out. If I’m nitpicking, I wish it was just a tiny bit less sugary and/or a little creamier, but that’s personal preference and mostly works itself out once it dries anyway. Gideon, however, is just gorgeous. I have zero nits to pick, and though I haven’t tested Miranda or De Minimus Non Curat Lex yet, I suspect is going to remain the winner of this collection for me.