darling clandestine shark friday scents



HELLO BLOG. It’s been a while. How have you been? I’ve been busy. We move this weekend. Work is good but crazy. My schedule is totally out of whack. Nothing is packed. One of our cats is sick, and things are generally really stressful around these parts. It’ll be worth it, of course, but right now I’m pretty much just like D: D: D: 24/7. Actually, is there an emoticon of the kid from Home Alone screaming? Because that would be more accurate.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. But for this exact moment, I am here, with new smells! The above is what I picked up from Darling Clandestine’s Shark Friday release in November. It was quite a frenzy, and as you can see I ended up just grabbing everything, which I don’t regret but wasn’t really necessary.

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

Grace: Eleven different botanical essentials and extracts are featured in this year’s Christmas exclusive, Grace. Elements include sharp, bright spikenard, the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus Christ, as well as lively gingergrass, moody Haitian Sandalwood, piquant blue lotus, sweet Melissa, mellow myrrh, and that precious oud.

This is much tinier than I was expecting. Smaller than the regular 5 ml amber bottles that I’m used to from Arcana or Haus of Gloi. In the little bottle it smells herbal, sharp at first, then a little sweet, and kind of churchy. On skin it’s bright and warm, very zingy. Still herbal and churchy. It’s very strong and in your face at first, gingery but also a bit savory. I’m assuming that’s the oud, because I tried Tyto before this in my testing, and there’s definitely a similar thread running through them – but I like it more here. The gingery citrusy herbal-ness balances it out nicely, so that it smells deep and fragrant instead of like curry. It smells like an anointing oil.

The strong gingery bite settles down a bit as it wears, but otherwise it remains pretty constant. It wears close to the skin and sillage and longevity are low. It’s nice – not something I’d usually wear, but since it was a Christmas LE I’m glad I picked it up to try. Given the disappearing act it pulls on my skin, though, I probably won’t keep it around.

Note: Grace was supposed to come with a silk ribbon and a wax seal, but since neither silk nor beeswax is vegan, I requested that Evonne leave those off of my bottle – which she did, because she is a sweetie.

Tyto: For Bridget’s owl companion; his story is to come. Bright, tart pomegranate, blinks of green undergrowth and a tangled suite of woods, including a divinely excellent oud from Sumbawa, courtesy of an Indonesian friend.

In the bottle it’s unusually sweet for DC, a blast of fruit (citrus?), but then there’s something almost savory underneath. Like pepper, but more… unctuous. It almost reminds me of curry powder? Weird.

On skin it smells very similar, starting out bright and fruity and giving way to a savory, peppery base. There’s a bit of green as well – deep green and trampled, not crisp spring greens. On skin the balance of sweet and savory is better – it doesn’t quite veer into curry powder territory, but it’s still a bit of an odd bird. (No pun intended, believe it or not.)

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. It was my favorite on cold sniff, but the deep savory base is something I’m not super into. A few more trials are in order before Tyto’s fate is decided.

My Lady Ser: Muddy roads, dinted iron, horses and stables and miles in the saddle, whispering woods, misty fields, a cup of watered cider in a dark tavern, a flash of steel, a breath of wildflowers. But not roses. Never roses.

In the bottle it smells metallic, dankly mossy, and maybe a little floral. On skin it’s more mellow – green and mossy, deep but not so dank, with a breath of small, soft flowers. Nothing heady. The green-ness reminds me a a bit of some other DC scents – La La La, All Right (but softer), Gram-Negative (but brighter), and Maudlin & Bedlam (but less herbal).

There are other smells underneath the soft green mossy-ness – that metallic tang, something cool and watery, a touch of leather, maybe, and a little dirt. But mostly it reads as a mellow green scent, like a carpet of lush, damp moss deep in the forest, with little wildflowers growing up in spots where the sun shines through. Further into wear, the metal and leather becomes a bit more pronounced, but thankfully not overwhelming.

This one is really lovely. I expected it to be my favorite, and it is. No regrets on the full bottle blind buy.

Halochrome: Tanika showed me a really pretty fluorescent germ-cell stain. It made me want to create something deep but bright. She told me she’s fond of the term “halochromism”—color changes that happen in certain substances and tissues because of a change in pH. I suddenly decided I wanted a fragrance with a “color shift,” one that would run the gamut of ROYGBIV. Thus was born a synaesthetic adventure for your skin. She’s a rainbow.

Evonne is known for her long, somewhat cryptic scent descriptions, but this one might take the cake. I don’t think anyone who ordered Halochrome had any remote inkling of what it was actually supposed to smell like. Smells like a rainbow? Okay then! So this is really and truly a blind review, and would be even if I’d had the description right in front of me the whole time.

In the bottle it smells… bright and clean. A little fruity, a little soapy? A little cold. Not bad.

On skin it starts out clean and a bit soapy, like one of those “clean laundry” scents. A faint whiff of fruitiness, and something cold and almost metallic. A little ozone-y. This is a weird one. I’m not sure what I think of it. I don’t know what I expected a rainbow to smell like, but this isn’t it. Is it? I don’t know!

It’s a subtle morpher – it smells a little different with every sniff, sometimes a little sweeter, sometimes a little more metallic, sometimes deeper or brighter, sometimes a little green (at which point it reminds me a touch of La La La), always over a clean, musky white base. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. It confuses me.


Love & Sharks Blue: In the tin I smell blueberry, chocolate, and the same sort of musky, salty-sweet base of the OG Love & Sharks. On skin it’s a deep, musky berry scent with a dark cocoa sweetness, much less salty and strange-smelling than the original. It’s not entirely dissimilar, of course, but if you tried L&S and found it a bit too strange, peppery, salty, or murky for your taste, you might just like Love & Sharks Blue. Not that it helps you anymore. SAD FACE.

As it wears the fruitiness gets a little sharper, the cocoa a little dustier, the overall scent a little bit “sharkier” and less sweet. It’s like huffing blueberry hot chocolate mix while a salty, slightly briney wind blows in from the ocean. I like it – a bit more than the original, actually, which I appreciate conceptually but isn’t something I reach for. I feel like L&S Blue is a bit more wearable for the masses. It’s not your run of the mill gourmand or anything, but if Love & Sharks has a Boss Level of 9, L&S Blue probably falls somewhere around a 7.

Note: The little cocoa “shark bites” are just on the surface and were swirled away with the first application. Also, and this just made me feel special – I always request vegan solids, and usually they just arrive with a little sticker on the back proclaiming them as vegan, but this one’s little sticker just says my name. Aww.

Overall Thoughts: A bit of a mixed bag. I really like My Lady Ser, I like Love & Sharks Blue, Halochrome sends me down a spiral of existential confusion, I’m on the fence about Tyto, and Grace is nice but short-lived and not really my jam regardless. I could’ve gotten bitsies of everything but My Lady Ser and been just fine, but hey, live and learn, or don’t, if you’re me and have serious emotional problems that express themselves through the compulsive collection of enough perfume oil to drown a man.
Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy, although the shop is currently closed.

blooddrop autumn part 1



Blooddrop’s autumn collection has been a prolific several-part release this year, and while I’ve skipped a lot of the offerings, I couldn’t resist getting in on a decant circle for part 1 of the release. And since my Forever Head Cold has finally started fading and I can actually smell things again, I figured a review was in order. (So many reviews are in order. Seriously. I still haven’t gotten around to testing out my decants from Blooddrop’s summer simplicities release. As you may be aware, IT IS NOVEMBER 18TH. I am the worst.)

Anyway. As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, though since the notes are printed on these decant labels it’s not easy to avoid them entirely. Notes and descriptions were added after the fact.

Enchantment: A beguiling blend of white tea, apple cider, a squeeze of Italian lemon and fresh ginger.

In the vial: hot cider with a heavy squeeze of lemon. On skin it’s mostly the same – apple cider, lots of tart lemon, and a kick of something a bit spicy. Not your typical mulled cider spices, though – no heavy cinnamon – it’s more like fresh ginger. That spiciness gets a little stronger as it dries, but it never ventures into cinnamon candle territory, which I appreciate. The lemon keeps it light.

Enchantment is nice, if not bottle-worthy.

Interlude: An elegant little perfume of black tea, vanilla shortbread, and strawberry jam.

In the vial: Ick. Very generic and artificially fruity strawberry, a little buttery, with something headache-inducing in the background. On skin I get black tea, lots of it, coupled with that artificial strawberry. The combination smells like one of those fruit-scented markers I loved when I was a kid – fake and harsh.

I really hate this one.

Bats in Silhouette: Wild blackberries, meadow sage, soft dirt and barn dust, St. John’s wort, cranberries, clove, and pumpkin.

In the vial: All I get from this is glorious dirt. Love. Further sniffing reveals earthy sage and a hint of berry sweetness. On skin it’s berries, dirt, and sage – it smells like a cup of very earthy blackberry sage tea. After a few minutes it takes on a dusty quality that really works with the herbs and berries and dirt-y goodness.

I love this one. 100% bottle-worthy and hands down my favorite from this collection.

Sweets for Rowan: Dried apples, vanilla sugar cookies, gingerbread, and cinnamon oats.

In the vial: Smells like apple crisp. Buttery apple, oats, brown sugar, spices. On skin I mostly get apple and spice, with little of the butteriness or oats I smelled in the vial. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s much more generic-smelling. More like an apple cider-scented candle or autumn potpourri than delicious apple crisp. So that’s disappointing.

I almost bought a bottle of this one un-sniffed, but now I’m glad I didn’t.

By the Light of the Moon: Pastures edged with forests, shadows of mice, deer, and owls dancing their nighttime waltzes, cool air stirring up the fragrances of fallen apples, boysenberries, moist tree bark, moss, silver fir, and herbs all by the light of the moon.

In the vial: Berries at first, and then damp wood and earth. A little musty. On skin it’s a very cool scent, wet, crisp apple with a hint of herbs. After a minute the berry sweetness comes out again, then the damp woodsy smell. It’s deeper, earthy, more herbal, but still a bit crisp and fruity-sweet. It smells like standing in an orchard at night. Needless to say, I’m a fan.

This is one I might need a bottle of, in the imaginary world where I actually need a bottle of anything, instead of the real world where I’ve been collecting indie perfume for more than 5 years and I’ve never even finished a single sample vial of anything.

Reality! What a bummer. Suck it, loser.

Side Note: When I was looking over the offerings for this release, I immediately honed in on this scent and Bats in Silhouette, because dirt, forests, apples, moss, sage, dust, etc, etc. These things are like catnip to me. I was also curious as to how Bats in Silhouette and By the Light of the Moon would compare, because the notes are sort of similar. Well, to my surprise they’re not much alike at all – By the Light of the Moon is deeper and fruitier, heavier on the apples than the berries, and less dirt-y and herbal. Bats in Silhouette is heavier on the dirt and dust and herbs, very earthy, and less sweet.

Of the two, I prefer Bats in Silhouette (MOAR DIRT), but I really like both.


Buckskin: Teak wood, honey, black tea, butterscotch, and black musk.

In the vial: Butterscotch candies and musk. On skin it starts out all sweet butterscotch, but some other notes quickly appear underneath – the musk I smelled in the vial, plus a bit of wood – and after a few minutes, quite a lot of black tea. It smells like you dropped a butterscotch candy into a mug of black tea that’s sitting on a polished wood table.

It’s interesting, but I don’t think I need more than a sample.

Chestnut: Warm apple, cinnamon oats, cider, chestnut cream, gingerbread, nutmeg, and tangerine.

In the vial: Apple, orange, holiday spices. Smells like mulled cider, but creamier. On skin it’s spiced cider with a big shot of orange. The apple and orange are both bright scents, not overly spiced. After a few minutes I get a bit of the toasty creaminess I that I smelled in the bottle, but it’s much more subtle. Overall the scent is very holiday-ish, and I’m sticking with my original assessment – warm, spicy mulled cider with a squeeze of orange over a creamy base.

This is one of the nicer “spiced cider” scents I’ve tried; they tend to turn extremely spicy or candle-ish on my skin. The heavier citrus note really works. Not a bottle candidate, but it’s nice, and I’ll keep the decant.

Palomino: Sunny mimosa, honey, vanilla milk, Italian lemon, and white grapefuit.

In the vial: Smells like lemon-scented bug spray. On skin it’s more of a light citrus – not just lemon, but some more bitter citrus as well – with milky vanilla. Not overly sweet. It’s a bit fizzy or bubbly as well, which I think is what made me think “bug spray.” (I swear that connection makes sense in my head.) And the longer I have it on, the more it just makes me think of that or a citronella candle.

I’m not a huge fan of bubbly scents, and citrus can easily go floor cleaner-y on my skin, so it’s no surprise this one doesn’t work out too well for me. It doesn’t smell bad, but I don’t really like the smell of it for myself.

Dappled Grey: Earl grey tea, sea moss, pussy willow accord, palo santo, and grey sky accord.

In the vial: Black tea and the ocean – ozone, salt, seaweed. It’s kind of a nose-wrinkling combination. On skin I get mostly Earl Grey (my favorite tea, though Earl Grey perfumes usually don’t do anything for me for some reason), with a sort of salty-sweet marine undertone. There’s an ozoney bent to it as well – looking at the notes, I’m guessing that’s the “grey sky accord.” If this perfume were translated into colors, it’d be pale grey and seafoam green, so kudos to Astrid for nailing the theme.

It’s not for me – I’m finding that Blooddrop’s black tea scents don’t appeal to me, and honestly I find the combination of black tea with marine notes pretty off-putting myself – but it’s an interesting blend and if you like marine scents and/or tea scents, I think it’s worth a shot.


The Frozen Horse: Its scent is an angel food cake cupcake with pear compote filling and eggnog frosting dusted with pumpkin pie spice.

In the vial: Holy yum. Some kind of lightly spiced pear cake. On skin it’s pear-heavy at first but the light cakey sweetness comes out quickly, followed by spice that reminds me of eggnog – nutmeg, mostly, but some cinnamon later on as well. The cake here isn’t a heavy yellow cake, it smells like light, fluffy white sponge cake. After a little while the spiciness increases, mostly thanks to my #2 nemesis cinnamon. It’s not completely overpowering, and I do like the scent, but I wish – as I almost always wish – that the cinnamon spice factor was more subtle. I realize that this is almost entirely a skin chemistry thing, though, so if your skin doesn’t grab onto every tiny particle that might at one point have even been in the vicinity of cinnamon and turn it up to 11, this will probably smell like a delicious fruity eggnog-y sponge cake on you, and you should know that I’m very jealous.

Thankfully, the cinna-splosion calms down after a little while and I end up really liking this one. I’ll definitely be keeping my decant, but I may also grab a bottle of this after a few more tests.

The Coffin Horse: Its mourning cake is that of pale vanilla infused with rose and topped with white butter cream frosting and thin slices of candied white grapefruit cut to look like cross bones.

In the vial: Seriously sweet vanilla cake with a little bit of citrus to lighten it up. On skin it’s like a softer version of the cold sniff – more cake and less frosting, but it’s definitely white cake, very delicate and sweet. The citrus is probably grapefruit, and it’s also very sweet and smooth. This is a lovely little cake scent, not as heavy as they can often be, and not cloyingly sweet. It smells like wedding cakes look.

Looking at the notes, I see there’s a bit of rose in this – I don’t get any at first, but after a while it does come out to play. I sort of wish it didn’t – I’m starting to realize I don’t love Blooddrop’s rose notes – but it’s not overpowering and it totally fits with the overall vibe of the scent. And with the wedding cake thing. Sweet, delicate, pretty. I like this one. Not bottle-worthy, but the decant’s a keeper.

The Falling Horse: The Falling Horse’s cupcake is vanilla cake sweetened with maple syrup, holding a hidden center of pumpkin apple butter and covered in lightly spiced butter cream frosting with a maple candy leaf on top.

In the vial: Spicy sweet pumpkin and apple. Kind of reminds me of pancakes. Or a candle. Pancake-scented candle? God someone please make that happen. Anyway. On skin it starts off all spicy pumpkin, much more reminiscent of an autumn candle than delicious pumpkin pancakes. After a minute some apple starts to peek out, but not enough to interrupt the Pumpkin and Cinnamon Show. After a little more time the apple mostly fades away and I’m left with a wrist that smells like cinnamon Red Hots or Big Red gum. Every time! Every single time! GAH. Damn you cinnamon!

Looking at the notes – maple syrup, wherefore art thou? Cake, why hast thou forsaken me?

There you have it! Bats in Silhouette, By the Light of the Moon, and The Frozen Horse are all winners. Interlude, Palomino, and Dappled Grey are at the opposite end of the spectrum – the end where I where I would like them to be very far away from my person, particularly my nose – and will go (or have already gone) in the swap/sell pile. The rest fall somewhere in the middle and will likely sit in a sample box until I decide I’ve got too much stuff and go on my next stash-busting spree.

All of these scents and the rest of Blooddrop’s autumn collection can be found here.

october 2014 favorites


I’ve had a nasty head cold for about a week now – a fate worse than death for a perfume-o-phile! Okay, not really, but the prolonged sniffles and generally non-functioning nose region have largely tanked my planned perfume reviews. So instead I’ve got a slightly belated October favorites list for you! With illustrated representations, naturally.

Just the indies this time around… no real reason except that I didn’t feel like drawing anymore stuff.

Blackbird Cosmetics: Both of my reviews (v1, v2) of Blackbird’s matte shadows have basically been love letters, so it’s no surprise that they’d turn up on my favorites list. The four shades I’ve been loving the most are Thirteen, Dog Days, Beau, and Half Full. All brownish colors, because I am boring. Thirteen is a great soft lid color, Dog Days is literally perfect in the crease, Beau gets smudged in as a subtle liner, and Half Full is a great browbone/inner corner highlight. Soft, neutral, easy. All the hearts.

Haus of Gloi Olde Cider Haus: Smells like apple picking! My bottle of Olde Cider Haus has been kicking around since 2011, so it’s aged a bit, and I think it’s much better for it. The vanilla is deeper, the woods and hay are smoother, and the whole scent just smells a little richer. This is one that I get the urge to reach for every fall, right when the leaves start to turn. (Also, I have apparently never reviewed this? What? That needs to be remedied.)

Solstice Scents Manor and Foxcroft: Smells like a formerly grand/currently ramshackle estate and a chilly fall day, respectively. Manor is deep, smooth woods and rich vanilla, and Foxcroft literally smells like you bottled the essence of a damp, chilly fall afternoon. It’s dirt and leaves and cold wind and the last bits of golden sunshine, and I just want to roll around and bathe in it. The Dude doesn’t like it; he thinks it smells like a damp basement. It’s okay, he’s allowed to be wrong. Cellar smells like a damp basement.

(And here are two more that I’ve never reviewed! I am seriously terrible about reviewing stuff that I’ve owned for a while. If I don’t do it when it first crosses my desk, I’ll put it in my perfume drawer and never give it another thought, even if I use it all the time. For shame.)

Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contouring Powder and Aphrodite Inner Glow Powder: Oh, these two products. I cannot adequately express my love. Honestly, I am way overdue in reviewing these. I’ve had them both for a few months now, and I’m not lying when I say that I’ve used them every single day that I’ve put on makeup since then. I haven’t found a single indie makeup product that’s made more of an impact on my daily routine.

Oak Bark really is the perfect contour powder for pale people. And it’s extra super perfect for pale, warm-ish or yellowy/olive folks like myself, because it’s a pretty neutral-toned brownish-taupe – it doesn’t lean too grey or too orange. It’s pigmented but not too pigmented, blendable but long-lasting, and just generally my holy grail of contouring products.

Aphrodite is one of P&P’s Inner Glow Powders, finishing powders meant to mimic Hourglass’ super-spendy Ambient Lighting Powders. I haven’t tried those, so I can’t compare, but Aphrodite is intended to be a dupe for Diffused Light, and it is amazing. It’s a very pale cream sort of shade, so I doubt it would work for those with darker skin, but it doesn’t seem to deposit much actual color on my skin in any case. I apply it all over after foundation with a big fluffy brush, and it just makes my skin look better – a little brighter, more awake, and yes, glowy without being shimmery. I adore it. I never buy backups, but you best believe that as soon as I make a decent dent in this jar, I’ll be going back for another. It’ll probably take a while, though – I’ve been using it nearly every day for several months and it pretty much looks brand new. (Same goes for Oak Bark.)

Smelly Yeti Perfumery: Just, in general. Smelly Yeti is a brand new baby perfumery that just opened about a month ago – you can see my review of the whole opening lineup here. I really enjoyed almost everything I tried, but of course my favorite thing is that there’s a Buffy collection. And plans for more Buffy scents, and a Veronica Mars scent! Be still my heart, you guys. I’m all a-twitter. My eyes, they are as large and limpid as the moon, and full of love. What I’m saying is: I just can’t.

My favorites, and on the top of my list to buy when I have some cash, are Buffybot, Beauty Queen, Pipsqueak, Queen of the Damned, Hey, McFly!, and Not The Bees.

So that’s what I’ve been loving lately! Now it’s your turn, gentle reader, if you care to comment – do you have any favorites at the moment? Enable me.

darling clandestine falloween pt. 2


Itsy bitsy… bitsies.

Part 2 of my extremely belated Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! Considering that DC’s winter collection and Shark Friday will be upon us in a mere couple of weeks, I’m way behind the 8 ball on this. But here it is nonetheless – if it’s not useful now, perhaps it will be next year.

I picked up the itsy bitsy set of DC’s Halloween Suite, which used to consist of four scents, but a fifth (Smother) was added to the lineup this year. I don’t actually love the itsy bitsy format – they’re half the size of regular bitsy vials (half a dram, or 1.9 ml, vs a whole dram, 3.8 ml) but more expensive – so I wouldn’t normally order them, but I wanted to try out the whole suite and I didn’t need or want the full-size set of 8 ml bottles. I do appreciate a smaller, more affordable set being offered, despite my general feelings on the itsy bitsies.

Anyway – on to the reviews. As usual, they were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Falter: Startling, misty, herbal, with notes including avocado and ozone and clary sage.

In the vial I get something sort of like cucumber, but not cucumber… green and ozoney, but not as watery or sweet as cucumber. On skin it’s a little more mellow, less sharply ozone-y, with an herbal dustiness to it. Probably sage? That’s as far as I can get with picking out individual notes in this one. DC is like that, magically and frustratingly. As it dries the sage gets much more prominent, and it ends up being mostly an herbal scent over a light, misty background. It almost of reminds me of a brighter, fresher companion to What Mandy Makes.

This is an interesting scent, and I like the dry down, but it’s not one I would wear super often – I think an itsy bitsy is enough.

Side note: Avocado! That was the green not-cucumbery note. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen avocado in a scent. Interesting. It gives it a creamy green smell that’s really unusual.

Wither: Unsettling, ethereal, with notes including ozone and blueberry and trampled leaves, soaked in black rum.

In the vial, this is sort of an astringent blueberry with lots of ozone. I get much less ozone on skin – it’s deeper and lacking that astringent edge. Darker and a bit musty, but not in a bad way – like dry leaves, “withered” up and crunching underfoot. The blueberry is still there, but it’s not as bright or fruity, and reminds me more of blueberry black tea than blueberries themselves. The base gets a bit muskier as it wears.

This one is, again, interesting – I feel like I say that a lot about DC scents – but I like it better than Falter. I wouldn’t mind having more than an itsy bitsy of this one (though if I’m being honest, 1.9 ml is all I ever really need of anything), so when it comes back next year I may grab a larger size.

Squander: Deep and decadent, with rich fruitful notes including clove and nutmeg and sandalwood and ripe red apple.

In the vial, Squander is warm and fruity, lightly spicy. This is the apple one. On skin it’s crisp apple and something a little green over a warm, musky base. It’s a very “hot” scent, not in the sense that it’s overly spicy or burns my skin (cinnamon oil! *shakes fist at sky*), but it just feels… hot. If it were a color, it would be a saturated goldenrod yellow. It is a little spicy, though – no cinnamon, but combined with the apple it got a bit of a mulled cider thing going on. The base of the scent has a soft, incense-y vibe. (Note: There’s the sandalwood!)

I really like this one. My favorite of the Halloween suite, hands down, and the one I’ll definitely be grabbing a full-size of next year. It is the apple one, so no surprise there, I’m sure.

Funny story: Squander just wants to escape from me. Months ago, when Evonne put last year’s Halloween suite stock up for sale, I got an order from DC that had a bottle of Squander tucked into it as an extra. A full size bottle! Or at least… it had been, before it was shattered into a million pieces by the industrial car crusher that masquerades as my mailman. The package smelled amazing. The bathroom trash can where the package full of broken glass and Squander oil was deposited also smelled amazing for several weeks afterward. Fast forward to now, testing out my itsy bitsy. Falter and Wither go off without a hitch, but as soon as I open Squander, my clumsy sausage fingers fumble the tiny lid and it goes bouncing off my desk, spraying oil all over the desk, the laptop, and my shirt. I retrieve the lid, wipe up the oil, and try again. And I drop the lid again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thank god it was just the lid and not the bottle, but goddamn Squander, just let me love you.

Spurn: Fierce and passionate, with bright bursts of pomegranate, tempered with aged wood and haunted by marigolds.

Side note: My itsy bitsy bottle of Spurn has a hairline crack in it. Boo-urns. It kept expanding, so I decanted the oil into two sample vials. I have really terrible luck with DC’s bottles breaking in transit, for some reason. It’s happened no less than 3 times in the span of about 6 months.

In the vial, Spurn smells warm and a little fruity. On skin it’s similar, but with a more woody base. The fruitiness is less prominent on my skin, but still enough to provide a bit of brightness and sweetness to what is mostly a warm, woody scent. After it dries down a bit more, I can smell what I gather from looking at the notes is marigold – it’s smooth and fresh, but not floral in the typical way. It’s really nice.

I always feel dumb trying to describe DC scents, because it’s often less about picking out notes and more about trying to describe a feeling that it evokes, or an overall vibe.

Oh well. I like this one. I’ll grab a larger bottle next year for sure.

Smother: Green, woody natural pistachio (no pudding here), rich moss-covered oak, and a shy bloom of a gloriously superior essence of jasmine grandiflorum.

Smooth and a little sweet, with a deep, creamy floral – kind of reminds me of the orchid in Gram Negative? On skin I get more of the floral – white floral, a bit headier. There’s something very smooth about this scent, almost buttery, but not buttery-smelling, if that makes sense. A creaminess, I guess, but it’s not milky. I’m not describing this well. Unfortunately for me, the longer it’s on my skin, the stronger the floral element gets. Jasmine, I assume, from its strength and my visceral NOPE reaction.

If you like jasmine, you’ll like Smother. I do not like jasmine, so I am not really into it. I will say that it’s one of the more tolerable jasmine-heavy scents I’ve tried, but at the end of the day it’s just not for me. Looking at the notes, I wish I got more of the pistachio and mossy oak – I think I did a bit at the beginning, and in the bottle – the pistachio was the creamy/buttery thing I was trying to describe – but ultimately my skin was only interested in the jasmine. Boo.

Overall Thoughts: More positive than not on these. I like Squander, Spurn, and Wither (in that order), am indifferent to Falter, and don’t really dig Smother.

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

darling clandestine falloween pt. 1


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Super-sized vegan solid action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 2)


We meet again, ladies…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 1)



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for Pumpkins Crave in part 2!

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

notoriously morbid slay me swatches (wave 3)



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


Swatched over primer. Indirect natural light.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Swatched over primer only. Not quite full sun.

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

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


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

blackbird cosmetics matte neutrals v. 2



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

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

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


Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

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

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

Modesty: Light neutral golden brown, resembles khaki.

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

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

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

Whisper: Light perfect grey.

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

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

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


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


Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Juliet: Dark muted pink.

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

Figment: Light muted plum.

A soft muted light plum. Very delicate and pretty.

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

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

Ruca: Blackened red.

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

Atlas: Dark slightly blackened brown.

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


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

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

Find Blackbird Cosmetics on Etsy.

smelly yeti perfumery intro & review



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

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


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


Super adorable package. LOOK AT THAT FANCY FRENCH YETI.

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

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

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


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

Queen C, you fabulously tactless and eminently lovable bitch.

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

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

buffybot_naked0 buffybot_naked

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

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

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


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

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

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


Putting the moves on his second demon.

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

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

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

dawn_pterodactyl1 dawn_pterodactyl2

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

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

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


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

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

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


An epic battle for the ages… SLAP FIGHT!

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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