sixteen92 spring 2016 – women of shakespeare

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I feel personally victimized by this scent.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

sixteen92 fall 2015 collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

sixteen92 boardwalk

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boardwalk

Do you like the jaunty angle of my cap?

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

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

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

Anyway, on to the review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

122: sixteen92 la llarona

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La Llarona is a new addition to the Sixteen92 catalogue, and I received a sample with my recent Circle and EDP order.

“Deep in earth my love is lying
And I must weep alone.”
– Edgar Allan Poe

Bulgarian and Egyptian rose absolute, pink and white pepper, pink grapefruit, wisteria, cashmere wood, pale amber.

In the vial, La Llarona is spicy and a little floral-fruity. It smells like vintage perfume.

Wet one skin it’s more peppery – pepper and soft grapefruit. After a minute or so the floral elements come out more. It’s an old-fashioned rose, not sweet, but not too perfumey either. The base is musky, very slightly woody, and kind of velvety.

The pepper and cashmere wood both get a bit stronger as it dries. The grapefruit is an interesting, tart, slightly sour complement.

This perfume isn’t to my particular taste – too peppery, too floral (though it is less floral than I expected) – but I like it in concept. It really does feel like modern take on old-fashioned perfume.

Elevator Pitch: A spicy, peppery floral scent with a grapefruit tang over a base of velvety woods. La Llarona smells quite vintage.

117-121: sixteen92 summer circle review

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Hello, gentle readers! It’s been a while. My schedule was seriously crazy for a while, and as soon as my workload lightened I managed to sprain my back working out. Which: ow, avoid this at all costs. So I’m sidelined from my usual leisure time activities for a while, which sucks mightily, but also leaves me with no excuse for neglecting the blog. I’ve been spending my minor convalesence reading, catching up on podcasts and tv (including my new obsession, Outlander – which is also occupying the reading category), and yes, working through my massive backlog of perfume. I am, it goes without saying, dreadfully behind on my review-a-day project, but hopefully I’ll be able to remedy that before too long.

And as a first step in that direction, I present to you Sixteen92’s summer collection! My summer Circle subscription arrived earlier this week, and I’ve now tested out all five of the samples included. The inspiration behind this one was the Jazz Age of the 1920’s, and the scents lean toward the fruity end of the spectrum, which is always okay by me.

The Beautiful & Damned: Sparkling pink grapefruit, strawberry, raspberry, and currant with soft violet, gardenia, and tahitian vanilla absolute.

In the vial TB&D is more floral than I was expecting – gardenia and violet over a sparkling grapefruit cocktail. Wet on skin the gardenia is strongest, but there’s a good dose of bright fruitiness as well. The sweet berries are more noticeable on skin, as opposed to the bubby grapefruit I got in the bottle. The floral elements get stronger as it dries, and soapier as the violet, well, for lack of a better word… blooms.

My skin tends to amp florals, especially white florals and violets, and I’m not fond of either scent to begin with, so The Beautiful & The Damned was probably never meant to be for me. And it’s not. The fruits are nice, but I can’t with the gardenia and violet. At all. This one got scrubbed off.

Elevator Pitch: Gardenia and soapy violet over a sweet cocktail of berries. More floral than fruity,


Blood & Honey: Blood orange, wildflower honey (vegan), pale amber, honeysuckle.

In the vial, Blood & Honey is a resinous honey scent with a lightly floral edge. Wet on skin the honey is super strong, all golden and dripping. After a minute or so a slightly bitter orange comes out. The honey note here is wonderful, and gets even richer as it dries. The lightly floral honeysuckle peeks out just a bit – this isn’t really a floral scent at all.

I didn’t completely love the bitter orange at first, but as it dries down it does provide a nice complement to the deep, sweet honey. It smells like some sort of honey candy, maybe one of those flavored honey straws you find beside the cash register at farmers’ markets and little country stores. I really like this one. It’s quite strong, too, with good sillage and lasting power, which is something that can be a bit lacking for me with Sixteen92’s scents, so that’s a real bonus. I put it on before I went to bed last night and can still smell it pretty plainly this morning.

Elevator Pitch: Sweet, golden honey is the star of the show, with a touch of bitter orange and a faint whiff of honeysuckle.


Eternal Return: Peat moss and damp garden soil, tomato leaf, beetroot, grass, herbs, lavender spikes, galbanum, sun-warmed oak bark.

In the vial, Eternal Return smells, well, like a garden. Sharply green and fresh with dark, damp soil. Wet on skin the sharp green galbanum is strongest, but the other notes bloom very quickly and I can smell fresh, fuzzy tomato leaf, herbal lavender, and damp soil and peat moss. It smells very literally like digging in a garden – our garden, full of lavender, herbs, and tomato plants (among other things, like brussels sprouts, because get in me), which we planted in a raised bed in our back yard about a month ago. It’s exactly that, and stays as such throughout wear.

I like this one. It’s not an everyday scent for me – I’d actually love it as a candle or room scent – but it’s so spot-on to digging in a garden that I can’t help but enjoy it, and I can definitely see wearing it occasionally when the weather is particularly hot. However, given that the sillage and lasting power are quite low, it won’t be a full size purchase.

Elevator Pitch: Sharp green galbanum, fuzzy tomato leaf, and herbal lavender over dark, damp soil and peat moss. Eternal Return smells exactly like digging in a new garden, before the plants have really taken off.


Paper Moon: Soft vanilla musk, benzoin, oakmoss, trailing ivy, peach blossom, tea rose.

In the vial, Paper Moon is lovely – soft vanilla musk and light, sweet peach. Wet on skin the peach is a bit stronger, and the vanilla musk takes on a very slightly deeper spicy quality. A tiny bit woody and resinous. The vanilla musk reminds me a bit of Solstice Scents White Fox, but more delicate. It’s really beautiful. Soft, sweet, and comforting. This is hands down my favorite from the summer collection, and I plan to pick up a full size bottle for sure, and an EDP too if it makes it to that format.

I’ve heard some comparisons drawn between Paper Moon and Talia, the limited edition scent included in one of the past Hello Waffle Visage boxes. I’m not a Visage subscriber, but I managed to acquire Talia secondhand, and the two do share some similarities. Paper Moon is sweeter, though, and fruitier. I really love both.

Elevator Pitch: Soft, fuzzy vanilla musk and light, sweet peach with just a tiny bit of resinous, woody spice. Beautiful.


Theda: Tart sangria infused with ripe summer fruits (white peach, nectarine, berries, citrus), dark vanilla, wild vines, rose absolute.

In the vial, Theda smells exactly like sangria – boozy fermented fruits and dark, syrupy sweet vanilla. Wet on skin the boozy element is softer, and it smells mostly like very sweet summer fruits and dark vanilla. As it dries down the tart booziness comes out again, and it really does smell just like sangria or some other fruit-filled summer cocktail.

I like Theda quite a bit. It extremely summery, perfect for drinking fruity cocktails on humid nights. A definite bottle purchase.

Elevator Pitch: Boozy fermented fruits and dark vanilla – sweet and tart, pretty much spot-on sangria.


Overall Thoughts: I really like this collection! It’s easily my favorite seasonal release from sixteen92 thus far. Paper Moon is my #1 with a bullet – I just adore it. Theda and Blood & Honey round out my favorites list. I like Eternal Return but am content with my sample since it disappears pretty quickly. The Beautiful & Damned is the only scent I can say I dislike – it’s just too floral for me.

This collection goes live over at Sixteen92 on May 29th at 9 am central standard time (so 10 am if you’re on the east coast like me). I’ll be there to pick up bottles of Paper Moon, Theda, and Blood & Honey. Claire has said that some of the summer scents will be released as EDPs as well, but probably not right away. I’m crossing my fingers for Paper Moon, myself, because I want to cover myself in this scent in every possible way. It’s wonderful.

88: sixteen92 the awakening

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the_awakeningWhere am I? What is blog? Am I blog? Is this real life?

Things have been so busy lately that blogging has fallen by the wayside a bit. Obviously. Usually by the time I’m able to sit down at night and breathe for 10 seconds I’m too tired to want to write up a review or edit pictures. I haven’t even been fully able to keep up with basic physical and emotional wellness stuff (exercise, not eating like I’m a human garbage can, getting more than 5 hours of sleep), let alone hobby stuff. It’s depressing. Even weekends have been eaten up with freelance work and house chores/fixing. We painted the living room today and now my back hurts and I want to sleep for six years. And we still have seven rooms to go! And I still need to do my taxes! In the immortal words of Cathy: ACK.

But anyway. Here’s The Awakening from sixteen92. It’s the one I was most excited to try from the samples I picked up, so naturally I saved it for last.

She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again.”
– Kate Chopin, The Awakening

The scent of solitude among laughter, release through isolation. The distant merriment of boardwalk, salt and sand under the soft beckoning of a tragic sea. Ocean air, dark water, damp mosses, gulf mud, saltwater taffy.

In the vial, The Awakening is watery and mossy, dank and a bit murky, and salty with a touch of buttery sweetness.

Wet on skin the salty-sweetness is most prominent, over a base of dark, ozone-y water and moss. It really is quite reminiscent of the boardwalk in summer. (I’m not a beach person, really, especially in the summer – too hot, too crowded – but M and I usually take a day trip to Ocean City, NJ during the spring to play games on the boardwalk and eat our weight in saltwater taffy. Pro tip: some saltwater taffy contains egg derivatives, but Shriver’s taffy is vegan!)

As it dries, the ozone gets stronger and a bit perfumey, though it’s not as airy and blue as a lot of water scents can be. It’s definitely got a murkiness to it, but I wish the moss and mud were more prominent. They do get a touch stronger with wear, but not as much as I’d like. The salty-sweet taffy fades into the background a bit, too, but always remains sniffably present.

This one was a bit of a let down! Not because it smells bad or anything, it’s just not quite what I wanted it to be. It’s a bit too ozone-y and perfume-y, and the dirt, moss, and taffy get kind of buried underneath. But if you like watery scents but want something a little different, this would definitely be worth a shot.

Elevator Pitch: A dark, murky water scent with a bit of moss and dirt, and salty-sweet taffy. The taffy is most prominent to start, but the water gets a bit perfume-y as it dries. The moss and dirt also come out a little more during wear.

 

87: sixteen92 southern gothic

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southern_gothic“Men and women, they were beautiful and wild, all a little violent under their pleasant ways and only a little tamed.”

– Margaret Mitchell

Mandarin Orange, Apple, Coconut Pulp, Southern Magnolia, Jasmine Sambac, Balsam, White Sandalwood

In the vial, Southern Gothic is woody, with white flowers and coconut.

Wet on skin, it’s sharp and woody at first, a bit gasoliney? Or something like rubbing alcohol. Very astringent. The main things I get underneath are magnolia, jasmine, and coconut, with a very faint fruitiness, but honestly it’s all kind of fuzzed beneath a thick layer of that rubbing alcohol/gasoline smell.

The floral elements become more prominent as it dries, heady white florals with creamy coconut and slightly powdery sandalwood underneath. The awful alcohol/gas smell that plagued this scent upon first application does mercifully lessen, but it never entirely goes away. The balance shifts, but I can always smell it in there, and I really don’t like it.

I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to like Southern Gothic, but I was lured in by the apple and coconut. Alas, my initial suspicion was correct: this one’s a scrubber. If you like white florals, it’s worth a shot. I’m assuming the rubbing alcohol thing is my skin chemistry being wacky, so your mileage will probably vary greatly on that.

Elevator Pitch: Heady jasmine and magnolia over creamy coconut and slightly powdery sandalwood. Starts off on my skin with a strong rubbing alcohol/gasoline vibe that does fade over time, but never entirely disappears.

86: sixteen92 black sugar

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More sixteen92 today! Black Sugar, to be specific. I’ve only got a few samples left (The Awakening and Southern Gothic), but since I signed up for The Circle, sixteen92’s new yearly subscription thing, there will be no shortage of scents to review coming down the pipe.

“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”
– Neil Gaiman

A dark counterpart to Aquolina’s Pink Sugar. Spun brown sugar, red berries, vanilla and tonka bean absolute dance with a sprinkle of dirt, a swirl of cauldron smoke, and a drop of bittersweet cocao absolute.

In the vial, Black Sugar does remind me quite a bit of Pink Sugar, only darker, with a bit of incense or smoke. It also reminds me of Solstice Scents Foxcroft Fairgrounds that way – all cotton candy, dirt, and swirling incense smoke.

Wet on skin, it’s immediately very sweet, sugar and cotton candy, but there’s an undercurrent of cold, damp dirt.

The dirt gets stronger as it dries – a lot stronger. It’s still sweet and sugary, but the dirt is very prominent. It does still remind me of Foxcroft Fairgrounds, but FF is a little more subtle in its earthiness and its sweetness, and it has more of an incense vibe. Black Sugar is pretty in your face, and I mostly get a cotton candy/dirt pairing. A while into wear, the balance does start to tip back to the sugary side again.

I like it! I like sweet scents and I loooove dirt scents, so Black Sugar was pretty much destined to be a winner. Pretty decent sillage on this one, too.

Elevator Pitch: Sweet, sugary cotton candy and cold, damp dirt.

 

82: sixteen92 wicked

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Wicked was a free sample with my Supercell/spring sampler order, and Claire must be a mind-reader because I had it in my cart but removed it right before checkout.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
– Emily Brontë

Three vanillas, dark aged patchouli, almond buttercream.

In the vial, Wicked smells like almond extract or marzipan, with a dark underbelly.

Wet on skin, it’s sharp, sweet almond extract and dark patchouli. It’s like fresh almond muffins on the counter at a new age store.

More vanilla comes out as it dries, dark and sweet. I’m not a big fan of patchouli, but the combination here works pretty well – there’s enough sweetness to keep the patchouli from being overwhelming. There is a sharpness to it that I’m not overly fond of, though.

I’m middle-of-the-road on the this one. I kind of like it, but I think the patchouli is still a little too strong for me personally.

Elevator Pitch: Sharp almond extract and dark vanilla over a base of deep, resinous patchouli. Not too sweet, a bit heavier on the patchouli.

Bonus Boy Review: M said Wicked is “spicy… and almost kind of flowery?”

81: sixteen92 the grass harp

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So much for doubling up this week! The best laid plans, etc, etc. But here, finally, is the last scent from sixteen92’s spring collection, and the one that made me want to try it in the first place. This is a mix of notes I love – clover, basil – notes I generally dislike – orange blossom, hyacinth – and one I’m neutral on – grapefruit – so I’m interested to see how it unfolds.

The wind is us—it gathers and remembers all our voices, then sends them talking and telling through the leaves and the fields.

Orange blossom, clover, hyacinth, ruby red grapefruit, sweet basil.

In the vial, The Grass Harp is giving me lots of orange blossom. A truly unfortunate amount. There’s also a bit of spicy basil.

Wet on skin, the orange blossom is mercifully softer, but still the most prominent note. The scent is more green, though, with the basil and clover coming out to play. I get little to no grapefruit at this stage.

Oh, and there’s the hyacinth. It’s got a distinctly clean, slightly powdery, almost dryer sheet-y smell to it. It’s actually stronger than the orange blossom once it comes out, which is impressive, if not altogether an improvement since it also drowns out the lovely green bits.

As it dries, the hyacinth, and to a slightly lesser extent the orange blossom, are almost all I can smell. Clean, laundry-esque florals with a little bit of green and a very faint hint of sweet citrus. It only goes further in that direction as it wears, too, developing an a sharp, soapy edge that makes me feel like I’m going to sneeze when I sniff it too deeply.

Alas, Grass Harp, our love is not to be. This is the scent I was most excited for going in, but it actually turned out to be one of my least favorites. Almost a scrubber, to be honest. It’s definitely not something I’ll wear, but if you like clean floral scents this one’s worth a shot. Now I do want to try a blend that’s just basil, clover, and grapefruit, though. Maybe with a little raw sugar thrown in. That sounds awesome and also like it would make a delicious and refreshing summer beverage.

Elevator Pitch: A clean, laundry-esqe floral scent with a little bit of green and a faint hint of sweet citrus. Develops a sharp, soapy quality as it wears that makes me want to sneeze.