85: darling clandestine monstre delicat

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monstre_delicatYou guys, how far behind am I at this point? 6, 7, 8 posts? BLEH. Life is really blog-blocking me lately and it’s damaging my calm.

Anyway – today’s scent is Monstre Delicat from Darling Clandestine. I’ve had mixed results with DC’s blue/water scents, so I resisted the urge to hoard and only picked up a bitsy of this one.

Clean, spicy, rainy, moody, wonderful. Sweet blackened fig, rain water, spiced wood. The nostalgic longing for storms. It’s a haunting watercolor “blue” scent.

In the bottle, is a deep, spicy blue water scent. Not a clear, ozone-y blue, more of a dark, inky blue.

Wet on skin, it’s quite spicy, definitely a bit woodsy, and still deep, dark blue.

As it dries, it develops a kind of dark, murky undertone. It’s definitely moody. I read a description of Monstre Delicat once as being something like hard rain on a big city rather than a clean, clear rain on an open space, and I think that’s pretty accurate. There’s a darkness, a murkiness, a bit of grit to it.

It gets spicier on my skin as it wears. I don’t always have the best luck with DC’s blue scents – I like Mishigami, but Step Right Up isn’t great on me – and this leans a bit toward the latter as it dries further. The spicy woody notes are stronger and slightly chalky or powdery, mostly overpowering the murky blueness. Further on, a tiny bit of sweetness comes out.

I liked the initial application, but unfortunately the dry down, while not quite a scrubber, isn’t something I’m very fond of. It’s strong, though, so if you do like it that’s a plus.

Elevator Pitch: A deep, dark blue scent with a heavy dose of spicy woods. It’s more murky and watery to start, but becomes quite strongly spicy and a bit powdery as it dries.

84: darling clandestine inked

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inkedAnother DC scent today – Inked. It’s one of the few “classic” Darling Clandestine scents that I haven’t tried yet, so I picked up a bitsy when I pre-ordered Mad as Birds.

A sting of sea salt and leather, splashes of communion wine, the essence of raw skin. Inked is one of my favorite little sex machines.

In the bottle, Inked smells sweet, sharp, and musky. A bit more perfumey than I expected.

Wet on skin, it’s deep and salty-sweet. I can see why this is sometimes described as smelling like sex; it smells like an idealized version of hot, sticky skin. Like when it’s not quite the end of a brutal winter and you’ve been so cold for so long that you’ve completely romanticized summer, so that when you think about it being 103 degrees and humid, instead of remembering how it’s disgusting and like being inside of someone’s mouth, your cabin fever-induced memories are all glowy sweat and tan lines and sunsets that don’t come until 9 pm. Like that.

There’s a sharp, leathery edge to it – I don’t tend to like leather scents, but it’s working for me here.

As it dries it loses a bit of the sharpness and sinks even further into that intoxicating salty-sweet skin scent. I’m really surprised by Inked – I didn’t like Aragon much at all (another DC scent with leather notes), so I expected that this one wouldn’t be for me either. But I actually really love it. It’s just sexy.

Sillage is pretty excellent on my skin as well – I can definitely smell it while typing this, nose-to-wrist contact required.

Elevator Pitch: Deep and salty-sweet, Inked smells like an idealized version of hot, sticky skin. Very sexy.

83: darling clandestine don gato

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See that plant in the background? I forgot it was there for three months and now it’s super dead.

Don Gato! This is a winter scent from Darling Clandestine, one that I heard a lot about but was never able to catch until this last release. I originally only picked up a solid (because I’m trying to be “frugal” or something?) and regretted it as soon as I sniffed it in the tin. So when I spotted a full size bottle up for sale in a destash recently, I jumped right on it.

So um… spoilers? I like it.

… It’s clean, sun-baked, green-soaked cat. It goes on subtle but lingers strong.

In the bottle, Don Gato is strongly green, sweet, maybe a little minty, and very fresh. I adore DC’s green scents, so this is off to a good start.

Wet on skin, it’s cool and green, a little musky. The most intense greenness softens pretty quickly, letting the sweetness come out. It’s warm and cool at the same time – cool from the bit of mint I swear I’m getting, warm like sun-soaked grass. After a bit longer it gets a little earthy, like clay or soil. Combined with he musk, which is soft and almost fuzzy, it really does give the impression of rubbing your face into the belly of a warm, adventurous kitty who may still have little bits of grass and dirt clinging to his fur.

My two kitties don’t go outside – we live just outside of a major city, and a few blocks back from a very busy thoroughfare, but even if we didn’t, they still wouldn’t go outside. I still get sad, nearly 10 years later, about my cat who was run over outside of my mom’s house in the middle of nowhere, in a little town with one road running through it. So, no. I get my warm, green kitty fix after they spend some time napping in our sunroom, which is home to most of the plants in our house. (Except the one in my office, which I murdered with my neglect.)

Anyway – after a while, I start to get a bit of something almost cucumber-y. Cool and green. It might be what I took for mint at first. Hmm. Interesting.

I really like Don Gato. I’ve seen a few reviews mention that it’s similar to La La La, All Right, which is my #1 favorite forever from DC, but they don’t really feel that way to me. They share some similar green notes, as most DC scents do, but Don Gato is mellower and sweeter, with a dusty or clay-like earthiness, as opposed to La La, which is sharper and more intensely green, with an earthiness that’s more like petrichor and steaming asphalt.

Sillage and lasting power are both pretty strong on Don Gato (in oil format). Bonus.

Elevator Pitch: A mellow, sweetly green scent with soft musk and a clay-like earthiness.

february 2015 favorites

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Among other things, yesterday’s very snowy snow day gave me the opportunity to finish up the February favorites post I’ve had sitting in draft form for like two weeks. Progress!

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Excuse the shitty photo, I forgot to adjust my f-stop and then the battery died so I had to make it work.

First up is the smelly and smelly-adjacent stuff. Lots of Haus of Gloi this time around.

Haus of Gloi First Blush Pumpkin Butter: I wasn’t 100% into First Blush when I reviewed it, but man, I’ve since fallen head over heels – especially for the pumpkin butter. I originally just ordered this mini, but went back for a full size during one of the restocks (and a hair oil in a subsequent restock, can’t stop won’t stop), and I have no regrets. I have literal mountains of lotion in my hall closet, including pumpkin butters from 2012, if not earlier, because I go through lotion at a glacial pace. But not this guy. I’m almost finished with the mini in question, so now I’m extra glad I have that full size waiting in the wings.

The formula is fantastic, of course, but mostly it’s the scent I’m loving – soft and fruity and girly, it’s been bringing a bit of springtime joy to the icy winter hellscape from which I’m increasingly convinced we will never emerge.

Haus of Gloi Come Hither Perfume and Hair Oil: I looooove Come Hither. Love. It smells like sexy honey vanilla roses and I look forward to its return every Valentine’s day. I have a bottle of the perfume already, and a pumpkin butter too, so this year I just picked up a hair oil to round out the set. I really like HoG’s hair oils, though I use them more on my hands than my hair. (Review.)

Haus of Gloi Lip Balms: Hazelnut Mocha Latte just happened to be the nearest HoG balm when I was taking pictures – I have three of these open right now. This one lives on my dresser, Caramel Apple lives in my purse, and Rose lives on my desk at work. I also have four more waiting on deck… you know, for when I finish these three in 2016. I’ve noticed that the texture of these balms varies a bit from batch to batch – Caramel Apple feels thicker and more emollient than the other two I have going at the moment, so it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Darling Clandestine Reddit Hug of Death: Smells like grown up gummi bears. Get on me. Plus the bottle is so fancy. I generally prefer tinted glass bottles for extra light protection, but this thing is just pretty. It looks like something Princess Jasmine would dab on before climbing out the castle window and going for a magic carpet ride with that dreamy hobo Aladdin. (Review.)

Solstice Scents White Fox: Musky vanilla goodness with serious throw. I wore this out to dinner with some friends and I was almost a little self-conscious about how strong it was, which is rare with perfume oils, although SS scents do tend to have more sillage than most. This is just a cozy, comforting scent, like the perfume equivalent of an oversized cable knit sweater. (Review.)

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Next up, makeup and also a scrub because it didn’t fit anywhere else.

Pumpkin and Poppy Oak Bark Contour Powder: Perpetual favorite status. I use this every single day and it’s the perfect contour for fair skin. I’m not tempted by anything else. Oak Bark is all I want or need. If it’s ever discontinued, I will buy 115 backups and also cry.

Pumpkin and Poppy Aphrodite Inner Glow Powder: Second verse, same as the first. I use this every single day and love it to death. One day I’ll get around to doing a review, maybe? Maybe. I am like the wind, lazy and irresponsible, so I make no promises. I did recently make another P&P order that included the Celestial shade of this same powder, so if/when I do finally get that review together, I can do a comparison of the two.

Blackbird Cosmetics Thirteen, Dog Days, and Beau Eyeshadows: I’m a broken record on the indie makeup front! I love these. These three plus the next item on the list make up my perfect everyday matte neutral eye look. I really need to pick up a full size of Beau. (Review.)

Notoriously Morbid So Goes My Nation Eyeshadow: The missing piece in my perfect matte quad, So Goes My Nation is my matte highlight of choice. It’s similar to Blackbird’s Half Full, but I think a bit softer and creamier in tone, which is why I generally use it in place of Half Full. The fact that it’s Buffy-themed is just a bonus! (Review.)

Paintbox Soapworks Buttercup Facial Scrub: Described as a moisturizing scrub for dry, delicate skin, I picked this up in an attempt to help soothe my gross, flaky winter skin. I never used to have dry skin, but as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten increasingly drier, and this winter is the worst yet. This scrub hasn’t worked any miracles, but it does exfoliate while providing a little moisture boost. It doesn’t break me out (though I’m not particularly breakout prone, so ymmv) and as a bonus it kind of smells like chocolate oranges. I’ve been using it 2-3 times a week for over a month and have barely made a dent in the tub, so it’s definitely worth the price and will last quite a long time.

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Finally, all the miscellaneous shit I’ve been loving lately. Some indie things, some not.

Upping my Torso Game: I’ve purchased a bunch of new tops from various Etsy sellers in the last couple of weeks, and am super happy with all of them.

The Pizza pullover from Xenotees was my first purchase, because I love pizza with an affection only rivaled by the love I have for my fiance, my cats, and my parents. Plus Xenotees is based here in Philly, and supporting local small businesses is always nice. The shirt itself is a bit short for my taste thanks to American Apparel and its obsession with weird, unflattering proportions, but the print is great and it’s really loose and comfy layered over a tank top.

Next was the Full Moon sweatshirt from Blackbird Tees, which is possibly the coziest sweatshirt I have ever owned. It’s got a wide scoop neck instead of a boob-strangling crew neck nightmare, and the inside is soft like bunny fluff. A++, will purchase from again. In fact, I’m already eyeing another top from this shop for next payday.

Finally (for now), the super rad “Ask Me About My Cat” sweatshirt from Kinship Goods. I have two cats. They rule. Ernie is a fluffy-as-fuck Maine Coon, and Lily is a rotund short hair who has zero shits to give about anything that isn’t lounging in her special chair in our sun room. So you know, this sweatshirt called to me. It’s another super cozy top, and yes, it’s a crew neck, but it’s not a boob-strangler. It’s also really long, pretty much tunic-length, so it’s excellent with leggings for the ultimate comfy cat lady outfit.

Contigo Purity Glass Water Bottle: I’ve been wanting a glass water bottle for a while. I have an obnoxiously bright yellow plastic Nalgene that I use in the gym (go bright or go home, bitches) and around the house, but I wanted something a little nicer to use at work. I got this one from Contigo about 3 weeks ago and really enjoy it. It’s simple but attractive – multiple people have told me that it’s pretty completely unprompted – and I love the turquoise sleeve (there are other colors, too, but if given the choice I’ll always go with something in this family).

Also water just kind of tastes better out of a glass bottle? Or maybe I’m making that up. But I think it does. I originally found this on Amazon, but it’s cheaper direct from the manufacturer, even with shipping. Two thumbs up, will definitely buy again if I find myself needing another bottle.

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham: I’m a huge Veronica Mars fan, and while it’s a totally different format than the show or the movie, I’ve really enjoyed the two VM novels that have come out so far. This is the latest one, and while it’s hardly an American classic, the mystery is suitably creepy and engaging. The VM voiceover translates well to the page, and it’s just nice to keep getting new stories set in this universe.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me: “An advice show for the modern era,” as the tagline goes, from brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. Straight up: MBMBAM is fucking hilarious. If you’ve never listened, do it now. Right now. And then do what I’ve been doing, and go listen to the entire back catalogue obsessively and laugh to yourself like a weirdo. I’m also a fan of some of the brothers’ other podcasts: Sawbones (a podcast about medical history from one doctor and one guy who has no idea what’s going on) and The Adventure Zone (in which they play D&D with their dad).

Dusted: An episode-by-episode discussion about Buffy from the folks at StoryWonk, Dusted is hands down the best Buffy podcast I’ve ever listened to. These two are huge fans of the show, but are still able to discuss the good and the not-so-good critically. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and very much worth a listen if you’re a big nerd like me who enjoys listening to people talk about shows you love for hours on end. The same duo also has another podcast I’ve been enjoying, The Light Bulb, where they discuss all manner of pop culture-y topics.

Fantasies by Metric: This album isn’t new (it came out in 2009), nor is it new to me, but it’s been getting a ton of play lately so it seemed worth mentioning. “Gimme Sympathy” is probably my favorite track, but I like the whole album, and several – “Sick Muse,” “Gold Guns Girls,” and “Stadium Love” – have made it onto my workout playlist. Honorable Metic mention goes to “Monster Hospital” from 2005’s “Live It Out.”


So that’s it for last month! Is there anything you were loving particularly hard in February? Let me know in the comments!

 

61: darling clandestine blue valentine

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I have a few DC bitsies kicking around my cabinet that I haven’t gotten around to trying out yet, which is a real oversight, so here’s one: Blue Valentine.

Inspired, of course, by Tom Waits, this one will make you die a little more each Saint Valentine’s Day. A moody bouquet of hyacinth and violet and poppies and figs, washed down with shots of real whiskey and bitters and delicate musks and mint. Very potent, very heady.

In the vial, Blue Valentine smells like a cold white floral. Heady.

Wet on skin, it’s still predominantly white florals, but it’s a bit more subdued and moody. There’s a faint powderiness to it, and a cold edge from the mint, though it doesn’t really smell minty at all.

As it dries, it develops a bit of sharpness, and I can smell hyacinth. It also starts to smell just a tiny bit spicy. Further on, the powdery violets dominate. (Bleh.)

I’ve heard from some fellow floral-haters that Blue Valentine is an exception to their rule, but I have to say it’s not an exception to mine. I don’t dislike it, really, at least not until the violets come out – at that point any hope for me and Blue Valentine is lost. I don’t like violets as a rule, and I particularly don’t like DC’s violet scents because they’re just… really strongly violet-y. Not for me.

Elevator Pitch: A moody white floral blend with a touch of powder and spice; dry down is nearly all powdery violets. Headier at the beginning, less so as it wears.

45: darling clandestine mad as birds

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More Darling Clandestine today! Evonne just put Mad as Birds (and Monstre Delicat, but I haven’t tried that one yet) up in her shop for pre-orders, so it seemed like a good time to haul my bitsy out for a review.

Mad as Birds is a sweet, cool, garden-dew fragrance with a resiny undertone—notes include pear and mint and smoky amber and marigolds.

In the bottle, Mad as Birds is sweet, minty, and a tiny bit smoky. Just a tiny bit.

Wet on skin, it’s cool and green, less sweet but also a little reminiscent of bubblegum. Darling Clandestine’s green scents all smell very different, but usually have just a little bit of something similar at the base of them, and in this one I’m getting shades of my favorite DC scent, La La La, All Right, only less intense, a little sweeter and cooler, with subtle floral tones. So really not very similar at all, but there’s a kernel of something that’s striking me in a similar way.

The bubblegum sweetness fades as it dries, and the marigold comes out more. It’s got just a very slight smokiness, and mintiness, and overall combination is very close to Evonne’s description – sweet, cool, reminiscent of a dew-covered garden. It is slightly floral, but not heady or perfumey. I don’t get much, if any, pear, which is a bit of a bummer, but I really like this scent in general. It’s very Springy.

Sillage and lasting power are both on the low side with this one – it’s not a powerhouse scent.

I pre-ordered both a bottle and a solid of Mad as Birds, because apparently I like redundancy in my perfume collection, but also because I really enjoy it and I’m yearning for Spring with a fervency you cannot even imagine. It was 9 degrees out when I left the house this morning. We’re supposed to get more snow tonight, and I am so beyond over Winter that I can’t accurately express it in human language. I’m hoping Evonne will tuck some warmer weather into my package when these babies ship out from Texas.

Elevator Pitch: A cool, minty, slightly resinous green scent with a bit of sweetness and subtle floral tones. Wears close to the skin.

44: darling clandestine coma cluster

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This was my other purchase from DC’s Valentine’s release – the all-natural solid scent Coma Cluster.

An all natural botanical fragrance featuring classics like dark sweet coffee oil and cocoa absolutes, delicate essence of orange blossom, and an oh-my-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me dynamite Bulgarian rose otto. Hugs close to the skin, all night, all night.

I asked for a vegan version of Coma Cluster, as I always do with DC’s solids, and Evonne was – also as always – kind enough to make one specially for me. I also asked her to leave off the pretty wax seal, since they’re made with beeswax, but she went above and beyond and made a special seal with candelilla wax instead! I thought that was so thoughtful. The seal did pop off when I opened the tin – I’m sure I could melt it back on, but I just wet ahead and put the little sticker label on top since I don’t want the seal to get damaged in storage, but I plan to melt it onto the top of a little Mason jar I keep on my desk.

Anyway. In the tin, Coma Cluster is mostly orange blossom. A little chocolate, but very heavy on the orange blossom. This is a Bummer Alert, and also what I was afraid of, since I hate orange blossom.

On skin, the orange blossom is still the most prominent note, with mild chocolate and a little smooth rose underneath. I really like the rose in this, but oof, that orange blossom. I don’t get much coffee at all.

After a while, the orange blossom mellows a bit, and the chocolate and rose come to the front more. I do still wish the orange blossom wasn’t so strong… or, you know, not there at all… but that’s personal preference. For the most part, I like this – the rose in particular is gorgeous. Since it’s all natural, it doesn’t have much lasting power and wears very close to the skin, but DC’s last all natural solid, Don’tGoPleaseStay, was the same, so I expected that.

Bonus: I shoved this under M’s nose and he said it “smells purple.” Alright then.

Elevator Pitch: A soft, chocolatey orange blossom and rose scent. Heaviest on the orange blossom to start. Wears close to the skin.

43: darling clandestine reddit hug of death

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LIT FROM WITHIN WITH SMELL MAGIC

For Valentine’s Day this year, Darling Clandestine released a trio of limited edition perfume oils – Bouquet of Scorpions, Noose Jewelry, and Reddit Hug of Death  – as well as a limited edition solid scent called Coma Cluster. I was tempted to go whole hog and get everything, but I showed a modicum of restraint and just picked up R/Hug of Death and Coma Cluster.

First, prepare to get hugged… to death.

Intense black tea infused with a trio of fruits-strawberries, blackberries, and sweet red apples-grounded with vetiver and ginger and tonka bean.

I think this might have the most clear and “normal” notes list/description I’ve ever seen from a DC scent.

In the (very pretty) bottle, Hug of Death smells very sweet and fruity, with just a bit of black tea. This is easily the sweetest DC scent I’ve ever smelled, at least on cold sniff. Sweeter than Tilt-a-Whirl.

Wet on skin I get more black tea and a little spicy ginger, but it’s still predominantly fruity. Red fruits, very juicy. I read a description where someone compared it to gummi bears, and yep – that’s about right. When I shoved my wrist under M’s nose, he said it smelled like a Fruit Roll-Up. It’s really delicious.

As it dries, the deeper elements come out a little more – the tea and vetiver, the sweet, hay-like tonka bean – and temper all the fruity sweetness. It also develops a very slight powdery edge. It remains pretty sweet and fruity throughout, though. I think it’s probably the sweetest member of the DC catalogue now, and definitely one that would appeal to most people.

And hey, a black tea blend that works for me! In Evonne We Trust, guys. The black tea is present here, but it’s not super strong and it really works.

Elevator Pitch: Sweet, juicy red fruits grounded with black tea and vetiver. The black tea is the most prominent of the grounding notes. Smells a bit like a grown-up version of red gummi bears or Fruit Roll-Ups.

darling clandestine shark friday scents

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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.

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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.

darling clandestine falloween pt. 2

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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.