sixteen92 spring 2016 – women of shakespeare

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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

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HEY LADIES

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.

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GET FUNKY

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

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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

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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.

solstice scents estate vanilla & rose mallow cream eau de parfums

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Sample size 3.3 ml EDPs come in wee little sprayer bottles. Small but sturdy!

A little while ago, Solstice Scents debuted a line of eau de parfums (henceforth abbreviated as EDPs because I’m lazy) that includes several existed scents from their catalog as well as two new scents available only in EDP format: Estate Vanilla and White Feather. I haven’t tried White Feather, but I did pick up samples of Estate Vanilla and Rose Mallow Cream. Today I’ll talk mostly about Estate Vanilla, with just a quick note about how RMC compares to the oil version at the end.

Estate Vanilla: Raw Vanilla Pods, Vanilla Infused Sugar, Cream & Vanilla Extract. Our Rich House Vanilla

Estate Vanilla is a warm, floaty vanilla scent with a distinct creamy sugary-ness to it, like homemade vanilla bean sugar. It’s a light vanilla, not heavy or cloying or overly sweet. There’s a very slight alcoholic edge on initial application, but it disappears quickly and isn’t even close to the alcoholic astringency I get from commercial EDPs.

I find Estate Vanilla more or less linear on my skin – once the initial whiff of alcohol burns off, I’m left with a wonderful soft vanilla scent with great sillage and longevity.

On my initial testing day (the one where I took notes like a nerd), I applied 3 spritzes (wrist, wrist, neck) at 8 am. Around 3 pm I noted that it was slightly fainter but still very noticeable; at 7 pm I noted that it was wearing substantially closer to the skin, but was still perfectly detectable if I sniffed my wrists. I stopped taking notes at that point, but I’ve worn it many times since and can say that it routinely lasts 12+ hours on my skin. The throw gets fainter as the day wears on, of course, but even at the end of the day it’s still lingering close to my skin.

I’m sure a lot of people are curious how this compares to Solstice Scents’ old star vanilla fragrance, Cenobite, which was sadly discontinued a few months ago. I have Cenobite and on my skin they’re really not very similar at all. Cenobite is sweeter and thicker, with a distinctly boozy french vanilla vibe, and it’s just a heavier scent in general. Estate Vanilla is much lighter and airier, and less heavily sweetened. Both are wonderful vanillas, but they’re very different.

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The full size 60 ml EDPs come in a gorgeous, thick frosted glass bottle.

As I’m sure you can tell, I love this scent. I’ve worn it nearly every day since I got my sample, so frequently that I actually felt justified in ordering a full size EDP, which just arrived and is beautiful (as you can see above). It’s just a fantastic, wearable, everyday kind of scent. It’s not too heavy or sweet to wear in warm weather (it’s still in the 90’s here and halloween candy is already out, what’s up fall?), but I can already see all my cozy sweaters smelling like Estate Vanilla once the heat breaks. It would also be great for layering with any scent you’d like to sweeten up a little, though I haven’t tried that yet as I’ve been too enamored of it all on its own.

Short & Sweet: A warm, airy, sugary vanilla. Light and not too sweet, with just a touch of creaminess. A++, highly recommend if you like vanilla at all. Like, at all.


And now for Rose Mallow Cream: save for the fleeting whiff of alcohol on initial application, RMC smells spot-on like the oil on my skin. No differences large enough to stand out to me when I wore it. If you’ve never tried RMC in any format, my review is here.

sixteen92 fall 2015 collection

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sixteen92_fall2015It’s one million degrees here in Philly with no plans to drop below 90 for the foreseeable future, so I can’t say I’ve been too eager to try out my Sixteen92 fall and halloween collections. It’s gross, I’m sweating, the last thing I want to smell like is spices and pumpkin and candy. But since the fall collection goes on sale September 1st, I figured I should push through my heat-induced misery and try to get this review up before then.

But I’m not happy about it. Eat a dick, Philadelphia summers.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead: Night black clove bud, tobacco absolute, smoked benzoin resin, flame.

In the vial: Sweet resins with a bit of woodsmoke.

Wet on skin: The same sweet resins, a little spicy. Very warm. The smoke isn’t too noticeable here. It’s much sweeter than I expected from the description, the benzoin is almost vanilla-y.

Dry down: There’s the smoke. It’s not overpowering, but it becomes more apparent as it dries. It also gets a little less sweet and a little more spicy. However I’m pleased to say that the clove doesn’t take over and go nuts on my skin, which is what usually happens with clove (and cinnamon, and spice in general). It does get a little stronger with wear, but nothing crazy.

Short & Sweet: Very true to cold sniff on me. Sweet resins with a little woodsmoke, warm but not too spicy. Sweeter to start, smokier on dry down. The clove is more apparent with wear. Sillage is low.

(Every Day Is) Halloween: An overflowing candy pail, the crunch of leather boots on fallen leaves, cold stones, damp air & a wisp of bonfire smoke.

In the vial: Leather and chocolate. Further sniffing brings out some damp stone.

Wet on skin: Lots of candy at first, mostly chocolate to my nose. Then the leather comes out, then the damp stone and leaves. The sweetness hangs over everything and brings it together. I’m not fond of leather but the blend is very fall appropriate.

Dry down: Lots of leather. A little smoke comes out here too, but not a ton. It’s less sweet here, more leather and stone. I hated this one, but then after about 20 minutes it really surprised me – the leather fades into the background and becomes less sharp, and the candy sweetness develops a more vanilla tone that’s really nice with the cold stone and leaves. And suddenly I’m a fan.

Short & Sweet: Chocolate, vanilla, leather, and cold stone and leaves. More chocolate to start, then lots of leather and just a touch of smoke. A while into wear the sharp leather softens and fades, and more vanilla comes out – it’s a really nice development. Sillage is medium-ish at first but drops off to low pretty quickly.

Last Exit for the Lost: Orchard apples, woven wood baskets, dried hay, distant chimney smoke on cool air.

In the vial: Apples! And hay and wood. Not sweet, it smells like very dry hard cider.

Wet on skin: Dry, spicy apples and green hay. It smells like standing in an apple orchard in the fall.

Dry down: A little more wood, but mostly the same. Dry, crisp apples, green hay, wood. Nothing bad about this. A while into wear, the faintest hint of smoke comes out.

Short & Sweet: Dry, crisp apples, green hay, and wood. Slightly smoky and a little spicier with wear. Nothing revolutionary but a nice fall apple scent. Sillage is low.

Lucretia, My Reflection: Orris root, immortelle, white sandalwood, blackened vanilla, star anise.

In the vial: Anise, dark vanilla, and a little powdery sandalwood. It smells like spicy Amish root beer and cedar wood.

Wet on skin: Anise party! It’s mostly anise with a little powdery sandalwood. More spicy than sweet here.

Dry down: The anise is a little calmer and a good deal sweeter, but it’s still center stage. It smells like a spicy root beer float. The sandalwood grounds it in the background, but isn’t super present on its own.

Short & Sweet: Strong anise and a powdery sandalwood to start, dries down to a spicy-sweet root beer float. Sillage is low.

Spelllbound: Creamed pumpkin, spiced bourbon & tahitian vanillas, sticky marshmallow fluff.

In the vial: Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Delicious.

Wet on skin: The same. Sweet, spicy, creamy, totally edible.

Dry Down: A little less creamy, a little more spicy. A while later the marshmallow really comes out, which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Short & Sweet: Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Dry down is a little less creamy and a little more spicy, but it remains solidly in the “pumpkin cake” perfume family. A while later, marshmallow! Yum. It’s spicier and more cakey than Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Eater – my bottle, at least, which is several years old and starting to read almost a little peachy. I don’t have it to compare, but image their Pumpkin Cake Pops scent would be closer. In any case, it’s a nice foodie scent and fall-appropriate but not unique. Sillage is low.


Overall Thoughts: My feelings, they are mixed. I’m not over the moon about any of these, but I do like a few of them. The real problem is that they all suffer from a pretty severe lack of sillage and staying power on my skin. Most were barely detectable by the two hour mark, and the ones that stuck around longer wore so close to the skin that I had to shove my wrist under my nose to smell them. (Every Day Is) Halloween and Spellbound fared the best, with the rest disappearing at about the same rate. Obviously this is a YMMV situation depending on your skin chemistry and a host of other factors, but it’s disappointing that these are so fleeting, especially since these kinds of spicy/foodie/resinous scents tend to stick around better to begin with.

(Every Day Is) Halloween is my surprise favorite – it became really nice on the dry down after starting off as a terrible leather explosion, so I’ll probably end up picking up a larger size of that one. But I’d prefer an EDP if it comes out in that format, since those tend to stick around a little better. Lucretia, My Reflection is nice if you like anise, which I do, but I’m not sure I need more than my sample, especially since I already have Arcana Genteel, which is another sweetened anise scent with much better longevity on my skin. Bela Lugosi’s Dead is a classic spicy fall scent, but not really my thing, so that’s a pass. Last Exit for the Lost is apples, so it’s catnip to me, and I do like it a lot! But if I’m being honest I have several similar scents. Arcana Apples Crave Orchards and Comfort Me With Apples, and Haus of Gloi Old Cider Haus are all in this same wheelhouse. Do I need another one? Realistically, no, especially given the lack staying power. Spellbound smells awesome, but you can’t throw a rock without hitting a pumpkin cake scent in the fall, so given the longevity issues I’m on the fence about getting a larger size. This is another one that I might grab in EDP format if it’s available that way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a cue from my cats and sprawl on my back on the cold tile floor in the bathroom. Wake me up when it’s actually fall and we’re past this weak-ass “it’s September, pumpkin beers and spicy scents are everywhere but you’re still wearing tank tops and running the air conditioner” bullshit.

sixteen92 boardwalk

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boardwalk

Do you like the jaunty angle of my cap?

Boardwalk was a limited edition summer scent that was originally included in AFK Cosmetics Summer Lovin’ box, which was (I believe) a kind of Christmas in July advent calender… box… thing. I think? I didn’t order it myself, in fact I think I missed it entirely somehow, but mentions of Boardwalk kept popping up and I liked the sound of it. So when Sixteen92 released a batch of Boardwalk for sale, I jumped on it and ordered a bottle.

The words “limited edition” are seriously dangerous, guys. The struggle with indie FOMO is real.

As you can see in the photo, the lid on my bottle is kind of wonky… it doesn’t screw on straight. It didn’t leak in transit though, so it still seems to be secure enough.

Anyway, on to the review.

Coconut pulp, coconut milk, Coppertone, sand, sea breeze, driftwood, melted vanilla ice cream cone, sticky cotton candy

In the bottle: Salty coconut, oceanic-type ozone, a little cotton candy. Vanilla. Sweet but not super sweet.

Wet on skin: Salty! It’s still sweet, but warm and salty too, very much like baking in suntan oil on the beach while salty sea air blows by. (Don’t do that, by the way. Skin cancer is real. I avoid the sun like I’m going to burst into flames and it’s only mostly because I’m a mole person who hates bright light and being hot.)

After a while it gets a little more sandy (if that makes any sense… ) and the cotton candy comes out more, which I like. The “sea breeze-y” ozone also becomes more prominent, and I like that less – that sort of note always makes me think of air freshener or a blue “ocean breeze” scented candle – but it’s not a total life ruiner here.

This was a complete blind buy, and I’m okay with having it, but I think if I’d had a sample first I may not have gone back for a full bottle. I really love the initial application, but I’m a little less fond of the more sea breeze-y dry down. I think I like it enough to keep it, but I’ll need to test it out a few more times to be sure. Fate TBD.

Short & Sweet: Salty coconut suntan oil to start, becomes more sandy and sea breeze-y on dry down. There’s a some sugary cotton candy in the mix as well, especially as it wears.

long winter farm sea sprite

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At some point in the last couple of days, I lost my SD card reader, so all the photos I’ve taken of Arcana’s Summer Constellation collection and Sixteen92’s Boardwalk and Fall and Halloween collections are currently sitting impotently in my camera, mocking me. Le sigh. I ordered a new one, so I’ll be back in action in a few days, but in the mean time here’s a quick n’ dirty review of one of the scents I’ve been wearing constantly this summer – Long Winter Farm Sea Sprite.

I have it on good authority that mermaids serve coconut lavender cakes at their underwater garden tea parties, so I went ahead and put it in a perfume. Sweet coconut cream with some Bulgarian lavender and vanilla to keep it civil.

I picked Sea Sprite up on a whim from a destash on IMAM, and man I’m glad I took that chance! Sea Sprite is a well-balanced lavender/coconut cream scent, very sweet and golden. The lavender is a little bit stronger at the start and the coconut gets a little more prominent with wear, but both are present at all times on my skin. It’s thick and rich and perfectly summery.

Wear time is great – I put it on a little before 8 am, and I can still smell it fairly well as I’m writing this at 7 pm. Sillage is pretty good, too, though it does get more subtle throughout the day.

Elevator Pitch: A sweet, golden combination of coconut cream and lavender. A perfect late summer scent.


I don’t have many scents from Longwinter Farms, but they were actually one of my very first indies – I bought Iced Lemon Biscotti years and years ago, and I still have it. My impression of them has always been that they do simple scents very well, and Sea Sprite has confirmed that.

It’s also convinced me that I need to dive into their catalog again and see what else catches my eye. Unfortunately LWF doesn’t offer samples that I know of, but their full-sizes are pretty inexpensive at $9 so I’ll probably take a chance on a few in the near future.

arcana strawberries crave indulgence & rhinestones

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indulgence_rhinestonesHello blog! My laptop started freaking out last week and had to be sent to Apple for repair (again… there’s a graphics card issue that seems to plague 2011 Macbooks and mine has been seriously afflicted, like Exorcist afflicted), so I was computer-less for a while. It was actually kind of nice – I marathoned a bunch of stuff I’ve been meaning to watch on Hulu, including the first season of You’re The Worst (which is the best) and the 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (not for the first or last time… how you doin’, Mr. Darcy?).

But now my laptop has been returned to me in what seems to be working order (fingers crossed that the second time’s the charm), so I’m back with two more Strawberries Crave scents! There are just a ton of these and I am super okay with it.

Strawberries Crave Rhinestones: Sparkle strawberry with pink frosting, white musk, black raspberry, black cherry, pink pepper, and a drop of champagne. (Rhinestone Housewife Exclusive)

In the bottle: PINK! Sweet, sweet, sweet pink berries and cherries with a bit of fizz.

Wet on skin: So pink! Initially I get tons of syrupy cherry, reminiscent of a cherry lollipop, and a bit of bubbly champagne. After a few minutes a little more tartness comes out, as well as a tiny nip of pepper.

As it dries I get more of the sugary frosting and strawberry, while the tartness mostly fades away. The champagne fizz is still there, and I’m not super crazy about bubbly/champagne scents (they usually remind me of cleaning products), but it’s subtle and works here. It smells like a very fancy pink dessert, like sugared strawberries drizzled with pink champagne. The pepper is very subtle at this point, but it’s there if you look for it.

Elevator Pitch:  After an initial blast of cherry lollipops, Rhinestones quickly settles into sugary frosted strawberries and champagne. Sweet and bubbly with just a touch of tartness and the tiniest nip of pepper. Unabashedly pink and girly.

Strawberries Crave Indulgence: French vanilla, white amber, sugared vanilla beans, caramel, lady finger cookies, opium, strawberry creme, and the faintest whiff of tobacco. (Pretty Indulgent Exclusive)

In the bottle: Sweet, sugary vanilla and amber, a little cookie-ish, just a touch of creamy strawberry.

Wet on skin: The strawberry is stronger, and very creamy. I get lots of sugary vanilla and amber, and a little buttery lady finger (heh). The whole blend is very, very sweet.

As it dries the cookie and creamy strawberry are most apparent, and there just a faint whiff of tobacco, dry and a little smoky but still sort of sweet. It adds an interesting dimension to the scent, however it is still unquestionably a super sweet gourmand affair and sweet/foodie scent haters should pass on this one. If you like that sort of thing, though (and I do), Indulgence is pretty fantastic.

Elevator Pitch: Creamy strawberry, sugary vanilla and amber, buttery cookies, and just the faintest whiff of dry tobacco. Super sweet!


Overall Thoughts: I really like both! Who’s shocked? No one, I’m sure. I like Indulgence a bit more than Rhinestones, but I will keep and wear both. No losers here.

arcana strawberries crave incense, summer, and waterfalls

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incense_summer_waterfalls

Hello friends! I’ve got three more Arcanas for you today: Strawberries Crave Incense, Summer, and Waterfalls.

Strawberries Crave Incense: Burning frankincense and myrrh, rich red musk, and fraises des bois.

(This isn’t one I originally chose a bottle of, because red musk and I aren’t generally bros, but Julia included it as an extra in my package because she is the sweetest.)

In the bottle: Incense and red musk, with a hit of sweet strawberry. It smells almost candied, but like… smoky candy? I don’t know if that’s a thing, outside of the “put bacon in everything” trend. (Which, ew. Sorry guys, but no.)

Wet on skin it’s all red musk and incense, deep and resinous, with a sense of wafting smoke. Kind of like church incense, but dirtier? I don’t know, I’m a godless heathen. I’ve been in a church like 3 times in my entire life, and the last time it happened I was 7. I just turned 32. So take any and all church comparisons with a tub of kosher salt.

ANYWAY. Dirty church. The red musk is very prominent on me, and it’s got that same deep “smoldering embers” quality I’ve come to associate with Arcana’s red musk scents. It smells like a dying campfire, all intensely hot red embers peeking out from under cracked and blackened wood. Sometimes it can also go bacon-y, which I expected because of the incense notes, but thankfully it doesn’t. And the strawberry starts to make an appearance after it wears for a bit, adding a bit of sweetness and also emphasizing the “red” feeling I get from this scent.

Overall I like this more than I expected, but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll reach for. Or maybe I will, someday when it’s not a constant 90 degrees and the thought of smelling like a smoldering embers doesn’t make me turn the air conditioner up. I’ll likely keep it around until the fall and re-test. In any case, I expected to hate it and I actually kind of like it, so that’s a win. Also, great sillage.

Elevator Pitch: A dying campfire next to a strawberry patch. Alternately, eating strawberry candy in Dirty Church ™.

Strawberries Crave Summer: Tropical blossoms of tiare, tuberose petals, star jasmine, and neroli over melty pistachio and strawberry sherbets.

In the bottle: Super sweet, fruity tropical florals. The strawberry is tart and fresh.

Wet on skin it’s a little more overtly floral, but still super sweet and tropical, which is one of the only kinds of florals I really like. It’s got a lovely creaminess to it, and the strawberry is syrupy but still a little tart, like sorbet. The sweetness keeps the floral notes from being perfumey or overpowering.

It stays pretty linear throughout dry down and wear, and sillage is above average.

Kind of a short review, but I actually really like this one! I always hesitate when it comes to floral scents, but I’ve learned that I can like them if they’re sweet and/or tropical, so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I’m really glad I did, because it’s a beautiful sweet summer floral that I will definitely wear. It falls into the same category as some other sweet florals I have from Arcana – Nacre, Apples Crave Flora, Hnossa – so if you’ve liked any of those, Strawberries Crave Summer is definitely worth trying.

Elevator Pitch: An ice cream parlor on a tropical island, all sweet, creamy frozen treats and lush tropical flowers. A+, even floral haters should try.

Strawberries Crave Waterfalls: Rain, woodland strawberries, fresh water, petitgrain, osmanthus, clover, and smooth amber.

In the bottle: This scent is perfection. Fresh and watery, with tiny sweet strawberries and clover.

Wet on skin it’s a bit deeper, I get a lot of strawberry and amber with a little woody-citrusy petitgrain. It’s sweet but not candy sweet. As it dries down it gets a little richer, the base takes on sort of a golden tone, with just a little bit of fresh green around the edges. It’s warm and sweet and smells like the most idealized version of summer in the woods, where it’s warm but not hot and the sun is golden and streaming through the trees and it’s all kind of magical and you don’t feel like you’re simultaneously melting and boiling alive inside your skin. (Guys, I hate summer.)

Okay, this one is really gorgeous. To say I’m in love would be an understatement. Strawberries Crave Lucy just got knocked into the #2 spot. I seem to recall hearing that this one was pretty limited due to its ingredients, and that’s really a shame because it’s perfection and I would buy many backup bottles if I could.

Sillage and lasting power are both above average. I could easily smell it wafting around me.

Elevator Pitch: Ripe strawberries and warm amber with bits of fresh green clover and just a slight wateriness. Perfect.


Overall Thoughts: Oh my goodness, Strawberries Crave Waterfalls is amazing. Amazing. Strawberries Crave Summer is also great, and Incense was a pleasant surprise, though it’s not really a “me” scent. But oh. Waterfalls, you guys. I hate to gush so much about something you can’t get anymore, but… ugh. So good. New #1 with a bullet from the Strawberries Crave collection.