the gift of smells


Two bitsies + one 5ml + one 7.5ml. The cap is cracked on Vortex, hence the tape.



Perfume is much easier to mail.

Before I ever got my first real Darling Clandestine order, I was very generously gifted these babies by some lovely redditors over at /r/indiemakeupandmore. (Thank you /u/DerpYu and /u/janemorrisgoodall!) They were looking to re-home some unloved perfumes, and I had never tried DC – they were like my awesome-smelling fairy godmothers.

Reviews were done without looking at the scent notes – descriptions were added after the fact. Darling Clandestine’s scent descriptions tend to be lengthy and more like stories than a list of notes, so the most relevant bits were picked out where possible.

Harpy: Harpy is a sailor’s delight, with notes of sea salt and dark bay rum, milk and coconut squeezed with bitter lime.

In the vial I get lime, a lot of it, and a tiny bit of sweetness. On skin there’s a coconut-y sweetness, creamy and tropical, that is set off nicely by the tangy lime. The base is salty and musky and there’s something slightly alcoholic about it – it’s reminiscent of drinking salt-rimmed mojitos at night on a hot, sticky beach.

I really love this and can see myself wearing it a lot during the summer, because it makes the sticky humidity that is summer in Philadelphia feel almost appealing, instead of what it actually feels like, which is being inside of someone’s mouth.

I’m glad I tested this one out before the shop closed, because I was able to grab a solid to layer with my bitsy. A full bottle of the oil is definitely in my future as well, but since my order has already ballooned to epic proportions over the last week or so, I’m trying to show a modicum of restraint. (Also I need to leave some things to buy after she opens up again!)

Serpentina: A crisp, green, ethereal fragrance with a little opium bite.

In the vial this smells green – like green tea, but deeper, and almost a little smoky. On skin it’s the same – a big hit of green tea, with something slightly smoky underneath. Like smoke drifting in the window of a tea house. And it’s not a charred bonfire smoke or an acrid cigarette smoke – it’s sweet, but not like pipe smoke, which is usually what I think of when I think “sweet smoke.” It’s like burning tea leaves? I don’t know.

The base is deep and mellow, and after a minute or two something a tiny bit tangy starts to creep in. This one is really interesting. It’s heady in a way I usually ascribe to white florals, but it’s definitely not floral. It’s just got that kind of feeling. You take a deep breath of it and it fills up your head, like breathing in smoke.

I’m not sure I’ll need more of this, but it is really interesting scent and I’m glad I got to try it.

Dewlap Valentine: “He loved strawberries and bananas and dark leafy greens and usually had them smeared all over his face so he smelled like all of those things together, plus a little something . . . reptilian.” A wonderfully complicated blend, fruity, salty, musky, earthy, at once dark and sweet and green, morphing over and over on the skin.

In the bottle this is deeply, intensely fruity. Very ripe – almost over-ripe – banana and strawberry with a muskiness to it. On skin I’m immediately hit with an odd green tang before the sweetness starts to take over again. It’s very musky and sweet – first the banana is strongest, then the strawberry, then they mix together again before starting all over – but the whole time it has that green tanginess working around the edges. It’s almost salty. This is definitely not your average fruity scent. It’s a bit strange, and very strong. But also very interesting, which is a theme I see emerging with DC’s blends.

I do like this, but as I have a 5ml I don’t anticipate needing more. Also after looking at the description, I really can see it being described as “reptilian.”

Vortex: This winter is not your average winter, and Vortex is not your average “winter” fragrance. There’s no evergreen, no mint, no “holiday” spice—just a vast expanse of cold, white and blue, frigid, soundless. Stark and invigorating, this fragrance is purely unisex.

In the bottle Vortex is very brisk and clean, almost abrasively so. On skin it’s slightly more mellow, but still a cold, white-blue ozone kind of scent. But at the same time it’s almost a little warm – like breathing in through your nose on a below-freezing day, when the air is so cold that it burns going in. It’s an odd scent experience. I keep pinging back and forth between cold and hot.

This one seems a bit less complex than the rest of the DC scents I’ve tried so far – it’s not a morpher, aside from the cold/hot thing – but I like it for what it is and I think it’s appropriate, given the inspiration, which was the endless snow-covered hellscape that was our 2013/14 winter.

All of these save for Vortex are currently available from Darling Clandestine, though Evonne is closing up shop tomorrow (6/12) to move. She should re-open again in a month or so, at which point she will be doing DC full-time, which is so wonderful and really couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

haus of gloi hearth


The warm glowing center of home. Autumns last apple pickings, warm bread, orange rind, various fire roasted nuts, cracked black pepper all nailed down by an oozing sticking benzoin.

Hearth is part of Haus of Gloi’s recurring Winter collection. I picked this mini up from the most recent release in 2012.

In the jar Hearth smells like spiced apples and oranges. On skin I smell more of the nuts and bread and pepper. It’s much less sweet than I expected from the cold sniff, and the fruitiness is subtle. Once it settles I get mostly very peppery orange and I don’t love it. Given the notes, I should like this, but it just doesn’t work with my skin chemistry.

Would I buy it again? No. In fact, this little guy is being sent off in a swap to someone who will hopefully love it more than I do. Godspeed, Hearth.

Available from: Haus of Gloi

ohwto o holy night


A gorgeous blend reminiscent of a Christmas Eve church service – Roses, Beeswax candles, Moroccan Cedarwood, Lavender, Labdanum, Vetiver, and Honey.

O Holy Night was part of One Hand Washes the Other’s 2012 Winter release.

O Holy night smells, appropriately, like church. I smell incense, but really lovely, deep incense, and roses and beeswax. It’s not a scent I’d pick out (hence why I only have a sample), but it’s quite pretty in a Christmas Eve Mass sort of way. I am not a church-going person, but it’s the smell that matches up with the image of a grand old church in my mind – all dark wood and candles and stained-glass windows under an impossibly high, domed ceiling with glinting gold accents.

Would I buy it again? No. I like the idea of it quite a lot but it’s not a scent I would wear with any regularity.

Available from: OHWTO (still up for purchase as of this posting)

ohwto orenjipai


Orange cake! Tangerine, Slivered Almonds, Buttercream Icing, and Cake.

Orenjipai was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s 2012 Winter release.

In the tube it smells like a creamsicle. Exactly like a creamsicle! It is delicious and makes me want a creamsicle. Someone make a vegan creamsicle and sell it to me, okay? On skin I get the almond in a big way, it’s like buttery almond cake with orange zest. The almond fades pretty quickly after application and it becomes more of an orange cake with heavily zest-studded buttercream frosting. There’s not as much creamy sweetness at this point, so it doesn’t smell much like a creamsicle once it’s on. It’s very tangy, if I may co-opt a flavor word. It’s not complicated but it’s really, really yummy.

It smells so much like a creamsicle in the tube though. I kind of wish it stayed like that. Or maybe that I just had a different, for real creamsicle-scented perfume in addition to this.

Would I buy it again? Yes. It’s awesome. But it will make you want a creamsicle, so you know, be aware.

Available from: OHWTO (still available for purchase as of this posting)

ohwto not your grandma’s fruitcake


It’s not, it’s really not! Unless your grandma’s from the tropics and throws holiday convention to the wind, anyway. A scent made to whisk you from the frozen tundra straight to the Caribbean- Jackfruit, Acai, Sliced Fruit, Pluots, Passionfruit, Banana, Sugar, Coconut Milk, and Nectarines.

Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s 2012 Winter release.

In the tube it’s very fruity, with the passionfruit and coconut milk being strongest. On skin I get banana immediately, then passionfruit, coconut milk, and a whole overflowing bowl of unidentifiable “tropical fruit” smells. After the initial burst of banana, the passionfruit remains the strongest element on me. It’s really nice, and not at all your typical winter/cold-weather scent – it smells like something from a summer collection. The banana doesn’t smell fake and the coconut doesn’t smell like suntan oil, so if you normally aren’t into tropical scents for those reasons, you might want to give this a go.

Would I buy it again? Yes. I love banana, coconut, and fruity scents in general so I was destined to like this. I like that it bucks the convention of warm, spicy winter scents, but because I am boring and conventional, I do think this one will have to wait until the weather heats up to get a lot of wear.

Available from: OHWTO (still available for purchase as of this posting)

ohwto samovar


A warm cup of tea always at the ready. Three teas, Thyme, Honey, Pennyroyal, & Saffron.

Samovar was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s Winter release in 2012. I love notes of tea, honey, and thyme in scents, so I had to pick this one up.

In the tube it smells herbal with a bit of sweetness, sort of like those honey-herb cough drops. There is a touch of bitterness from the tea. On skin it’s thyme and tea. The honey is there but it’s not strongly sweet. I don’t really know what pennyroyal and saffron smell like so I can’t say if those notes are asserting themselves or not. Honestly the longer I sniff it the more I get those honey-herb cough drops. It’s not a bad scent, or even a bad thing to be reminded of, it’s just very specific. It makes me think of being sick in bed and loading up on hot tea and honey-herb cough drops. I even get an almost chilly rush when I sniff it that reminds me of popping a mentholated cough drop in my mouth. It’s a little strange but I like it.

Would I buy it again? Hmm. I think so? It’s a very specific scent-memory for me and because of that I don’t think I’ll wear it too often, but I do like it. And I can’t stop sniffing it when it’s on my wrist, which is an indicator that it’s interesting if nothing else.

Available from: OHWTO

ohwto it’s just fruit


Bosc and Bartlett Pears layered in a Buttery Crust, topped with a Ginger-Nutmeg crumble with a hint of Maple Sugar.

It’s Just Fruit was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s winter release in 2012.

This is one of those rare instances where I think the description of a scent is 100% accurate. In the tube It’s Just Fruit smells like an autumn fruit crisp. On skin it’s pretty much the same, all buttery pears and sweet, spicy, maple sugary goodness. I can smell the ginger and the nutmeg, but it’s not super spicy, just more like something spicy baking in the oven and wafting out all warm and enticing. There’s a lovely juiciness that comes out after a while, like very ripe pears.

It’s a pretty linear scent (most solids are), but considering how good it smells I’m cool with it not morphing into something different. It’s got pretty great throw and lasting power, too. Winner!

Would I buy it again? Yep. I love smelling edible.

Available from: OHWTO – the winter collection is still up!

ohwto holiday cheer



Amaretto, Glazed spiced Walnuts, & Vanillaed Egg Nog.

Holiday Cheer was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s 2012 winter release.

In the tube Holiday Cheer smells sweet and a little spicy. I definitely get the amaretto. On skin it’s amaretto and spicy eggnog. I do get a bit of the nuttiness as well. It reminds me a bit of OHWTO’s Pasticerria, which is an almond pastry scent (and which I adore)… I guess it’s the nuts combined with the amaretto. But Holiday Cheer is spicier. After a while I get more creamy vanilla and a little less spice, and the amaretto mellows out a bit. It’s really yummy the whole way through.

The lasting power is good on this one, too. Bonus.

Would I buy it again? Yes. It’s delicious, and a great winter/cold weather scent.

Available from: OHWTO (right now!)

ohwto winter vacation



Snow-covered hills, a pine forest, dried fruits, warm cocoa, and the glowing amber light of home, always kept within your sight.

Winter Vacation was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s 2012 winter release.

In the tube I smell cocoa and mint. It’s also a bit fruity and distinctly “cold.” Once it’s on the skin I get a lot more of the pine forest element. The cocoa is still there, but the fruitiness has moved to the background a bit. The amber isn’t strong and it’s working for me, which is rare. I think it just adds a bit of warmth. However it is still quite cold on the skin, which I think is mint, but it doesn’t exactly smell minty anymore, if that makes sense. It just feels minty. I guess that’s the “snow-covered hills” aspect. It’s interesting.

I really like this one, and I think the description is perfect. It’s chilly and woodsy but still a bit sweet, with a distant sort of warmth humming away underneath. The only bummer is that the lasting power is below average in my opinion – I need to reapply it every couple of hours.

Would I buy it again? Yes. It’s a really nice winter fragrance and I don’t think I have anything quite like it.

Available from: OHWTO

first sniff impressions: ohwto



My Winter goodies from OHWTO arrived a few days ago! Huzzah. I have to admit I was a little worried, my order didn’t ship until a good while after the stated TAT, but now I’ve got my grubby mitts on it just the same so in the end I’m satisfied. Plus there was an extra full-sized bottle of perfume oil included in my order, I guess just because Becca is amazing and super generous? It’s happened before, actually – I’ve gotten extra goodies in my orders a few times, and while I would never expect it it’s certainly a wonderful surprise. This time I got a full bottle of a scent called “Stuffed Stockings,” which I can’t find a description of to save my life – it’s not in the winter listings on the OHWTO website or anywhere. So I don’t know anything about it, except that it smells AMAZING. Like it might be my favorite thing in the whole order and I didn’t even order it. Ridiculous.

Here’s what I got, and initial “first sniff” impressions. Full reviews to come!

It’s Just Fruit: Buttery fruit. This one is so yummy. (Full review)

Samovar: Tea and something herbal and a little sweet. (Full review)

Holiday Cheer: Sweet and spicy. (Full review)

Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake: Light and fruity. Very fresh for a winter scent. I smell banana. (Full review)

Orenjipai: Creamsicle. (Full review)

The Cake is a Lie: Delicious lemon cake. (Full review)

Winter Vacation: Spicy cocoa and something minty. This one is kind of chilly. (Full review)

Stuffed Stockings: Rich and sweet and almost a little fizzy? I definitely get orange, and maybe chocolate. It smells incredible.

O Holy Night: Church.

White Lily: Inoffensive floral.