Thursday, May 30, 2013

Solstice Scents: Midnight Oil

Last week was a hectic one. We had a festival to work (we have a smoker and we make amazingly awesome BBQ that we sell at events and festivals--not that I'm biased or anything), and that cut into my review time. I will make up for it by reviewing a fragrance I've come to love in a very short time: Solstice Scents' Midnight Oil.

Midnight Oil was originally released as a scrub in the autumn collection, and people wanted it so much, it was brought back as one of the "dark" fragrances for this spring. I'm so glad it's here!

The notes are: "Coca Absolute, Blood Orange EO, Yellow Mandarin EO, Aged Patchouli EO, Labdanum Absolute, Coffee EO & Mushroom Absolute."

Here's the official description from Solstice Scents: "It is solely comprised of essential oils and absolutes. It is a deep, earthy, rich and citrusy fragrance. The cocoa, patchouli and mushroom absolute provide a dark, dank base for the bright blood orange and mandarin essential oils. A touch of labdanum adds a subtle sticky resinous quality to the scent. The cocoa and chocolatey-earthy smelling mushroom absolute combine with the orange to lend this scent a strong gourmand quality while the aged patchouli adds a deep musky and sooty character. The coffee EO in this blend is very subtle and works to add to the rich base."

In my sample vial, I immediately smell the dark and rich patchouli that I recognize from Jack and the Devil (another gorgeous perfume from Solstice Scents). I never used to like patchouli until I tried some of the perfumes from Solstice Scents, and, wow, it turned me into a convert. If you are a shrinking violet and don't like heady fragrances, you will want to run away from this one, and then you will be sad the rest of your life because you will know you are missing something, but you won't be quite sure what it is. This is rich. It's powerful. It will make you feel like you can take on the world.

I also immediately get a candied orange essence. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It smells freshly peeled, with some of the pith and zest lingering in the air. It almost reminds me of the orange and chocolate candies that are so popular around Christmastime, but this is less sweet and much more appealing (less waxy smelling than the candy).

Waaaay down underneath it all, I get a mushroom vibe, and a teensy dark rounding of the whole. This is mouth-wateringly tempting in a James Dean wearing a leather jacket kind of way (naughty, but oh so tempting).

On my skin: I want to bite something, this is so good. The orange essence is very present, the patchouli is deep and gorgeous, I get a teeeensy whiff of the edge of coffee, and there's something almost honeyed lurking in the depths. The cocoa is no weak milk chocolate. This cocoa means business. This is a dark perfume oil, and you definitely want to be careful when you put it on so it doesn't stain your clothes. My suggestion: put this on while naked, let it dry, then prance around your house sending out delicious wafts of this. Who needs clothes when you're wearing something this yummy?

As it dries: I get a bit of the mushroom coming up. It gives this a bit of earthiness, grounds it a bit, keeps it from being too smooth. I love my perfumes with a bit of edge, and this one delivers. I'm also getting varying degrees of citrus that range from candied orange to something a bit more deep and rubied (which I think is the blood orange coming in) to something that almost has the lightness of lemon on a very pale scale.

I have to repeat again that the Solstice Scents patchouli is really amazing stuff. I used to think patchouli was something (mostly) worn by hippies and people wandering in and out of headshops all day. But this, this is something that makes me think of something slightly dangerous and naughty. Yes, there is a part of it that could be seen as headshoppy, but that's only a very teensy edge. The rest of this patchouli is a bit gritty, a bit spicy, and so smooth you may be tempted to lick it. It adds an almost spice-cake edge to the fragrance, without any spices being dominant. It feels decadent and absolutely scrumptious--especially added to that (almost dusty) cocoa. Oh my!

As this dries further, the honeyed note is still lingering on my skin and it mixes so beautifully with the patchouli and citrus. This is a very deep gourmand fragrance, and has notes that could appeal to a lot of people. For people who hate sweet fragrances, this has enough grit to keep it from being too sugary and foodie. For people who are afraid of going beyond fruity florals, this has a softness to it that makes it seem like it's melting on the skin. For people who hate patchouli, you have to try it. Just a sample. Do. For women who may feel this could be too strong, I say you may be shocked at how amazing you feel wearing this. For men who may be concerned about the gourmand aspect, don't be. You'll be a sexy beast. Honest.

Fully dried, the patchouli stays solid and holds this steady, the mushroom plays along at the very bottom for a while--rounding this out a bit--then it slowly fades away, and the cocoa becomes something that comes across as a soft and sweet wood. This is definitely in the same family of Jack and the Devil--dark, strong, powerful, and sexy. But this also adds the sweetness of the citrus, a softness, a subtle yielding underneath that hints of a more gentle seduction.

This is a clear winner for me, and I placed an order for it before writing this review so I could be sure I get a bottle. Solstice Scents definitely hit another one out of the ballpark with Midnight Oil!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Testing Day--Possets Void, Curve, 3:5:8, Spirogyra

There are times, when I get several different bottles from a release, that I try little dabs in a sit-down test session. Instead of focusing on one specific perfume, I'm taking you to the "back room" so you can get an idea of what it's like to be in my house when I do a hodge-podge day.

Today, I'm finishing up my last few bottles from the Possets Sacred Geometry release for Spring 2013. Since I do a quick test on my hodge-podge days, you won't get many final dry down notes, unless I like something so much that I go back to it. If you like my initial notes, feel free to request a full review so I can go through the whole profile for you another day. I also reference some other perfumes that I may not have covered on this blog. If you'd like the notes/comments for the fragrances I reference, let me know and I can post them for you.

I'm covering Void, Curve, 3:5:8, and Spirogyra.

Void description from Possets: "Void--The heart of cold proud springtime. Deceptive simplicity. Sandalwood acts as a seductive and earthy base for a bed of grapefruit and refined grapefruit expressed oil to lie down on. Very cerebral seduction going on here, where foody actually provides the cold logic, and unusual task and aspect. White and pink grapefruit, a concentrate of grapefruit which is meant to make it last longer than the lilt of fleeting topnote. Sharp and insistent but loaded with charm. I constructed Void to mimic the vacuum of deep space where Sacred Geometry begins. Without the void, there can be no geometery. Foody, resinous, dark, almost unbearably sophisticated."

Void reminds me of Point (from this release) in the bottle, but a tad more grapefruity. On the skin, helloooo grapefruit. Ooohhh do I like you. But then, I like grapefruit. I eat it like oranges, and people watch me in horrified disbelief, and I tell them they are missing out on a lot by being so picky. This has such a pretty under-note rising up right now. Very perfumy. At the moment, this is all grapefruit made into perfume. I'm getting...hmmm...what is it...sandalwood? *Looks up notes* Yep! Sandalwood. Oh my. The way those two blend is seeeexxxxy. There's something in the grapefruit (that I found with Point) that is skin but better. This one almost has a sweaty skin quality that I find particularly alluring. Bright, happy, perfumy. I'm glad I have this. Definitely bottle worthy, but it's not making me scramble to beg the perfumer to change my vote. Having smelled Point and Line (the review for Line is here: Line Review ), I really like how these all seem to be natural progressions of each other--just as the geometry they are based on is a natural progression. This seems to be on par with Line in terms of vibe, but on a softer level, and I get that skin-but-better-than-skin note from Point.

Curve description from Possets: "You have the void, you have the point, you have the line, now bend it into a graceful bow and you have the curve. Beautifully feminine, classic, the perfect celebration of being a woman. Abstract purple lilac essence mingles with the theme-sign for the elegant classic shapes. Grapefruit (pink only) with an extra does of the zest. A drop of Hidecote lavender which has been aged and this becomes a fundamental piece of adornment for your wardrobe. Versatile, yet unique; this gem can stun and delight you alone or as a layering device."

Curve in the bottle is pure springtime and lilacs with a heady undernote that is reminding me of...hmmm not sure yet. On the skin, this blooms beautifully in the grapefruit and lilac. So far (crosses fingers), the way it's sitting on the skin is making me think this just might be the lilac scent I have been looking for. The lilac seems like the perfect companion to the grapefruit. I'm shocked at how much they compliment each other, blend, merge, play. Who knew? I'm wondering if it's the lavender, but something in here (very small, down at the bottom) reminds me a LOT of one of the other perfumes from this release--it's almost the nectar of Dodecahedron, but not quite. Or maybe it is. Hmmmm. Ahhhh now about five minutes in, the lavender is coming forward a hair. Delicate, soft, almost Arc of Venus (scaled down a lot) femme. Curve is definitely pretty springtime femme. If this holds, without going soapy or funky (as many lilac scents do on me), this would probably be in my top five from this collection (or maybe top six). So far, the grapefruit seems to be holding the lilac in line. I don't get much lavender from this, but what is there is baby soft and lurking way down on the bottom with occasional spikes for attention.

3:5:8 description from Possets: "The darkest of all black musks which I have ever used (very special and only obtainable in small quantities (and I have been aging it carefully in my aging cabinet). A gleaming DRY smokey vanilla which almost is something other than vanilla, it is so complex. Finally it is all finished off with a very light dusting of precious jasmine, but the kind I use is not stinky at all*. Finally a light version of night blooming cereus and a wild incense which is like the lovechild of nag champa, high and dark.

A deep sexual Tantric fragrance.

* I grow jasmines and know which ones are the varieties I like and which ones are the overly aggressive, stinky, or unpleasant types."

3:5:8 in the bottle is Helloooooo jasmine and black musk! I recognize you black musk, oh yes I do. Hah! On my skin, this becomes an almost grape-y jasmine (full and rich), with the black musk adding its comments. This one reminds me of the Valentines releases in the King Henry line (specifically Catherine of Aragon): a bit weightier, a bit more depth, having a more exotic tone. So far, I'm not sure if we're going to come to an understanding or hate each other. *Sulk Gaaaaah! As it continues to dry, I'm catching a whiff of dryer sheets. Is it that incense? Nooooooo! No, no, no, no, no! Aghhhh! Incense, why do you hate me so?! *Weeps bitterly. (Note for followers: some incense goes straight to Mexican Tienda dryer sheet aisle on me--which means I get a hint of the dryer sheets, a waft of the corn tortillas a few aisles over, and sometimes a smidge of chorizo from the meat section at the end of the aisle. I love it in the Tienda--not so much on my skin. Not all incenses do this to me, which makes trying perfumes with incense a continual adventure.) The jasmine and black musk are lovely, but that incense is destroying the whole thing for me. Booooo! No "deeply sexual Tantric fragrance" for me!

Spirogyra's description from Possets: "Lime, lemon rind, grey musk, and African Musk, a small touch of fir and a few drops of geranium. This is a bright blend which creates an aura of freshness. Great for anyone who has to work with the public or who likes to work out and wants to project freshness without projecting a harsh kind of clean. This is a versatile and winsome perfume. I love the way the musk and citrus played in the final version. Named after a beautiful algae which arranges itself into the neatest spirals and is green."

Spirogyra in the bottle is fresh and spa-like. A touch of green, a smidge of creamy coconut (although that could be sage, because the sage in Line felt like creamy coconut and it was gorgeous), a little floral, a little touch of wood. On my skin, this is very much like taking a day at the spa. Very soft and fresh herbal green, citrus (I get more lime although I can see the lemon rind also playing around), and a teeny tiny bit of geranium. (I love Mrs. Murphy's geranium hand soap, and this geranium slightly reminds me of that one. Very pretty and soft, and not overtly floral.) The musks are a bit heady, but this is (so far) a very public-safe scent. It rides nicely on the skin, projects a clean and soothing throw (without being a soapy clean--just a fresh clean), and minds its manners beautifully. It does seem to have some of the clean and classy aspect that I really liked in Line--a bit of wood (in Line, it's cedar, but this is supposed to be fir), and it also has the same creaminess rounding out all of the stronger edges and turning them silky. This could very easily be masculine or feminine. As this continues to sit, I get an almost aquatic tone from this--a little salty sea air mixed with the green. This is fresh, soft, happy, and glowing scrubbed-skin from a high-end spa. Pretty without being femme. Soft without being powdered. Smooth and refreshing. It's not what I would normally wear, but I could see it being just the thing on blah days where a mini-vacation is needed.

Final notes:

Void is a lovely comparison to Point and Line. I can see how those two came to be from this.

I'm still really liking Curve. The lavender has come out to play, and is soft and almost powdered--no spiky lavender here any more. It merges beautifully with the lilac and grapefruit. Believe it or not, I could see this being absolutely gorgeous on a man, although the notes would indicate more femme. The lilac is still holding as lilac (wooohooo!). Yep, this would be in my top five from this release (although, it's usually about an hour out when things can go funky with lilac, and I'm not there yet, so who knows).

Spirogyra is clean, clean, clean although the musks seem to be adding to my sinus headache that I woke up with (every time I sniff that particular spot, my head goes WHOMP), so this will probably find a better home. I'll try it again on a non-sinus headache day for a final verdict.

And 3:5:8? Incense, why do you hate me so? Whyyyyyy? Gah! I can see this being loved by a lot of people. I just won't be one of them. *Pouty stompy feet

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Solstice Scents: Gardenia

One of the reasons I love perfume oils is how informative the creators often are. I usually learn something fun or fascinating. Beyond that, I often feel involved in the process—whether it's because we (the buyers) are asked about our opinions, or we are included in a discussion about what the perfumer is coming up with next, or the perfumer does something interesting or unique and then shares that with us.

One reason I love Solstice Scents is because the perfumer talks about her process—her attention to detail, her search for the best ingredients, her devotion to quality. For spring, she released a very limited scent called Gardenia (suspended in alcohol, not oil). It is limited because she utilizes a time-consuming (and ancient) art of perfumery called enfleurage. Enfleurage (in short) takes thousands of flowers and infuses them down to a very precious bit of flower oil (instead of looking for other fragrances to mimic a certain flower or scent). The flowers Solstice Scents uses are her own (and pesticide free). As soon as I saw her talking about the limited batch she was doing for this year, I knew I would have to buy one of those very precious samples (it is much too costly to sell as a bottle). I love when people devote time and attention to a craft that is (largely) forgotten or out of use. It appeals to me on an aesthetic and cerebral level.

When I got my package, I sniffed the sample and felt like I should lock it away forever. But, part of the joy of perfume is that it is meant to be used, so today I'm taking out my sample and dabbing some on. (I may lock the rest away, just because I want to hoard this!)

Solstice Scents' description: “Solstice Scents is proud to offer gardenia essence from our homegrown pesticide-free gardenia flowers.  Only a limited quantity of .25 ml premium perfume samples will be available... Three different gardenia varieties (Gardenia jasminoides, Gardenia brighamii and Gardenia radicans) were used to create this 100% natural essence. Utilizing the principles of the centuries-old practice of enfleurage, we developed a unique technique to capture the fragrance of creamy white gardenia flowers in full bloom.” If you want to read more about their enfleurage process, here is the link: Gardenia--Enfleurage

Now to the review!

In the sample vial: pure gardenia (mostly flower, but some green and stem included).

On my skin: I immediately get GARDENIA. Milky, soft, and almost animalic. I also get a hint of something that comes across as cinnamon powder, but isn't. It's more like the pungency of cinnamon, but in flower form. At this point, my eyes are almost rolling back in my head because this is so very amazing. It's like gathering a bouquet of gardenias, slightly crushing the petals to release the essence, then putting that bouquet under my nose.

As it dries: I get a little more sap, a little bit of green, but the creamy pure gardenia note still dominates. This is probably the purest gardenia fragrance I will ever find, and although it breaks my heart that I won't be able to buy a bottle, I'm so thrilled that I was able to get a sample of this. It's beautiful (and worth the high price of a sample).

Dry down: this holds as pure and delicate gardenia. The pungency has dropped down, and what's left is smooth, smooth, smooth. It's like I rubbed a million flower petals on my skin, which is pretty much what I did—without having to do all of the work. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of fragrances. Something to cherish and love and be sad when it's gone, but also be thankful that I had a chance to try it. It never gives me a headache (which most white flower fragrances can do). It simply remains soft and drifts delicately from my skin, reminding me how beautiful the world can be when we take the time to see it.

This is pure gardenia. Pure and soft, beautiful, and comforting. To me, this is the perfect gift to give an adored mother or friend, or something to be worn on a wedding day. It deserves to be cherished because it's beautiful, but it also deserves to be used because it's beautiful.

I'm so glad I have this sample. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I need to buy a few more samples to hoard.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Possets: Line

Again, I'm going with a perfume from the Possets Sacred Geometry spring 2013 release. At this point, I have no idea how I'm going to narrow my vote down to three, because this release has been beyond amazing.

Now to the review!

Possets' description for Line is: "The shortest distance in any case. The way a particle likes to travel in space. More down-to-earth elements are introduced as the fragrances move more into the realm of Nature and away from the pop of pure intellect. Again grapefruit signals that this is a construct of the imagination, counterpoints of sage and cedar lift up the blend and cause it to be somewhat woody and slightly smokey. A delight, herbal and fruity."

In the bottle, I get citrus, a hint of pale smoke, something that comes across as green, and something that comes across as soft (almost bendable) wood.

Once this hits my skin, oh my this is so good. I get the faint hint of cedar, but this cedar is so very soft--perhaps like what baby cedar trees smell like. I tried this earlier today without looking at the notes, and I had forgotten sage was in here. I kept smelling a note that was creamy like coconut and slightly green like a coconut rind, but it wasn't quite coconut. I was going crazy trying to figure it out, but when I saw sage was in this, it made sense that that creamy almost green note was the sage. The sage never comes across as S.A.G.E. to me. Instead, this is like sage dropped down, flattened with an iron until smooth, and brushed until velvety soft. This is such a lovely sage note--so creamy and smooth.

As this dries, this almost comes across as tropical, but not quite. It's warm and caressing, but it also has an edge to it (without being edgy). The citrus holds and merges with the gorgeous soft cedar--which turns this into a high-class skin scent in some ways at this point. When I close my eyes and sniff, it makes me think of very classy department stores--the kind where everyone talks in whispers, the clothes are perfectly tailored, and the smell of money and power emanates from the walls. And yet, this is also much warmer than that, warmer and softer, gentle, and human in all the good ways of being human.

As it continues to dry, I continue to get that creamy coconut note that clearly must be the sage being a sneaky super soft sage mingling with the grapefruit. At times, the sage does amp a bit and try to get sharp, but it is calmed by the cedar. The cedar would never do anything as vulgar as yelling, spanking, or swearing to lower the sage's attitude. No, the cedar simply floats down like an angel and awes everyone into submission and good behavior.

I feel like I need a whole new lexicon of words to describe this collection. Right now, I'm trying to classify what I'm smelling and it's a jumble in my head. This is classy, but soft classy--no hard edges on this one. It's creamy, with the cedar (oh so soft and delicate) being a supporting base, so there's wood in here but it's soft and creamy and snuggly wood. The grapefruit is also so very soft in this.

I didn't think this was astringent, but at first application my mother called it astringent so I suppose it could have some sharp edges on it to someone else, but it doesn't to me. (Although, she did say as soon as it started to dry that it immediately changed from astringent to soft.)

In the final dry down, this merely softens the already beautiful notes from above. It's cuddly and beautiful and classy and gaaaah! I wish I had the words for it! It's creamy and lush, while, at the same time, also being somewhat austere, threaded with powder soft cedar and grapefruit. The faint smoky vibe I get from it reminds me of the soft smoky note I love in other perfumes from this collection. This is simply beautiful--without a girly floral in sight. Quite the achievement.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Possets: Dodecahedron

I'm continuing with the Possets Sacred Geometry spring 2013 release with Dodecahedron.

Possets' description: “The perfume which bears its name is as unusual and attractive as the dodecahedron itself. A very dry and unusual green vanilla, a touch of nectar, and a bit of smoke from a fragrant wood fire blend perfectly with the lovely citrus paradisii oil for a happily sharper side to all the emollient sweetness. A very likable perfume and serious in an unexpected way. I would say that this is a perfect perfume to dab on when you are in a devil-may-care mood this spring.”

In the bottle: brown sugar, a touch of grapefruit pith (not quite as sharp as grapefruit zest), and something that comes across as a soft and sweet vanilla.

On my skin: The brown sugar rises then drops down quite a bit, and the grapefruit comes forward. The perfume immediately shifts from food notes to perfume notes while retaining the food notes (although the brown sugar does lean more toward food and less toward perfume)—it's a pretty neat trick and my brain is boggled at how quickly it did so.

As it dries: The brown sugar note is a soft and sweet base. Something that almost comes across as green wood threads through (perhaps that's the vanilla?). The grapefruit is definitely grapefruit, but it's also grapefruit as perfume in the prettiest way. I'm getting something that reminds me a bit of the light sweetness of nectarines or peaches without getting any of those fruit notes, and it's very smooth. I'm also getting a soft pretty smoke vibe that I got from Fearful Symmetry (a Possets perfume from this same release)—very soft, pale pale smoke, that comes across as more of the memory of smoke and not actual smoke. Side note: I am so in love with that note, I want more, more, more!

As it continues to dry: Wow, this is becoming prettier by the minute. There's something waaaay down at the bottom starting to rise up that reminds me of Eternity by Calvin Klein. It's not overt, and it's giving this a slightly green melon vibe, without smelling like green melon. It's fresh, sweet (but not sugary), and perfumy.

This is a light perfume—nothing heavy or dark in it—but that's not to say this has no presence. When I wave my hands in front of my face, I get a drift of brown sugar, a citrus flowered note, that faint touch of fresh green wood, and the hint of pale smoke. This feels like a perfect perfume to wear in the heat and humidity of summer: it's fresh feeling, delicate, a little sweet, a little tart, a bit soft green, and it does this all without coming across as a creamsicle or a nose-clogging fruity floral.

This is my third perfume from this release that I've been struggling to wrap my brain around. I consider that a good thing: the notes are beautifully blended, it has a delicate touch, it's engaging my brain, and it's just so pretty.

When I close my eyes and sniff, this makes me think of the rose garden in Duluth, MN (off of Lake Superior), and times I spent wandering around up there, which means this is a happy and golden kind of perfume without coming across as too warm or too heavy (and I definitely don't get a bright yellow vibe from this one—this is more pastel with maybe a streak of grass green). This is a perfume that reminds me that I'm surrounded by beauty, by history, and something a bit dangerous, but all that matters is this moment of sunshine.

This doesn't have a lot of throw, but I did dab sparingly because I didn't want to be overwhelmed by that brown sugar note. Having said that, I don't think this one will be high throw, but it will make people who smell it want to get closer to you so they can get more of it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Possets: Fearful Symmetry

I'm continuing my reviews of the Possets Sacred Geometry spring release with Possets' Fearful Symmetry.

Possets' description: "The title is from William Blake's poems, Tiger Tiger Burning Bright. Inspired by the beauty of Sacred Geometry and the dynamic symmetry which we all respond to, this blend is the fanciful ode to secret knowledge, without the guile of logic, just the guide from the heart.

Deep crystal and grey musks, combined with an ambergris-like accord which I have developed to have less marine and more astringent edge to it. White oude and comfry, sandalwood, light smoke and black amber. A very mysterious and profoundly beautiful perfume, for when you wish to be seriously desired. Aromatic, strong."

I initially grabbed this one today because what I sniffed in the bottle indicated that it would be more of a "fun" scent than a serious fragrance, and I really needed a touch of fun today.

In the bottle: bananas (a mix of them--almost too sweet like the way they smell when they are over-ripe, and also the almost bitter green sweetness of them when they are not quite yellow), and something really deeply beautifully perfumy down on the bottom.

On my skin: The banana pops, but I also immediately get something that comes across as a very pale wood--could be the sandalwood with a very fine touch, could be the white oude. When I sniff close and deep, I get what comes across as a very smooth sandalwood. The banana note begins to ride up more on the green scale, while still retaining that sweetness of the ripe while dropping some of the heaviness of the ripe note. The notes already begin to shift and resolve into bringing up more of that beautiful perfumy base. I can't put my finger on that base, but it is lovely.

As it dries: The sandalwood is baby soft here--like sandalwood powder without being powdery. The banana note continues to weave in and out of the other notes, rising in sweetness then falling again. I normally don't go for crystal or grey musks, but I do get the lift of the crystal musk and I also get an almost zen feel of the grey musk, and I really like how they are playing around here.

As it continues to dry: someone on the forum said they got a dry sheet vibe from this, and I can see where they got that. I think that's part of the light smoke coming in because this feels like a very soft clean smoke, but it could also be the comfrey bringing in the clean edge. It rode that way for a while on me--like a fresh out of the dryer clean sheet, oh so snuggly and warm--then it began to shift again and all of a sudden I was getting the most amazing perfume rising on my skin. I am normally not someone that likes perfumes that smell like, well, perfume. I want it to remind me of something, evoke an image, make me close my eyes. I don't go for something that says perfume. Although this does that, it also does so much more. The banana remains, but what it adds to the whole is...I don't quite know how to put it into words. It's like a banana, but a banana wearing a little black dress, the perfectly matched pearls, and the smoothest kid-skin heels. It's banana, but that's like saying The Queen is rich. There is a small (teeny) part of this that reminds me of Issota and Sigismundo (a banana sandalwood perfume from Possets), but this is on a much softer but richer edge. There is a part of this that reminds me of upscale spas and luxury and quiet serenity. There is a part of this that brings to mind the softest white pepper in the world without smelling like any kind of pepper. When I sniff deeply, I get a very faint hint of sea air mixing with the above notes, rounding out the depth of this. This is smooth, perfumy, fruity (but not fruity floral), clean, soft, surprisingly good, and very very pretty.

The final dry down softened the above notes, but kept them riding on my skin for a long time. I first put this on around three this afternoon, and I was still smelling it nicely on my skin when I came home at 10:00 and washed my arms with the idea of putting a fresh spot on so I could do this review. I have a feeling this won't make the final cut, but it should. Oh my it really should. It's so different than anything I have in my collection--or even have smelled, for that matter--so far.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Solstice Scents: Private Eye

Solstice Scents is a treasure that I discovered about a year-and-a-half ago. I started with their sample collection and, upon delivery, quickly realized this was a perfume oil company to be reckoned with. Most of the Solstice Scents perfumes are heavy on woods and spices. At first sniff, I wasn't sure about the depth of the notes (deep, very deep), but the more I sampled, the more I appreciated the craftsmanship of the perfumes. Solstice Scents has come out with "lighter" scents, but even the flowery "femme" perfumes have a beautiful depth and richness to them. I will review some of those in the future, but today I am reviewing a new release: Private Eye.

Private Eye is a premium perfume (per the website, premiums are "...exquisite or rare essential oils, absolutes, exotic authentic Indian attars and/or top shelf fragrance oils..."), which means the bottles are smaller and the prices a little more expensive, but the oils are worth it.

Now to the review!

Solstice Scents description: "A mix of vices: dark chocolate, black coffee and cigarettes wrapped in a worn leather bomber jacket and staked out in a tan '72 Buick Skylark on a humid night... Private Eye is a raw, gritty and unusual fragrance that radiates atmosphere and mystery. This inspired scent is spicy, earthy, sweet and slightly smoky with the faintest trace of leather. An all natural blend of resinous myrrh, rich cacao, effervescent pink pepper, black pepper, tobacco absolute, coffee essential oil, choya loban, guaiacwood, tonka bean, aged patchouli, rosewood, and the woody, candied clove-like scent of buddha wood essential oil..."

Notes: "Cocoa Absolute, Myrrh EO, Pink Pepper EO, Black Pepper EO, Tonka absolute, Buddha Wood, Tobacco absolute, Coffee EO, Guiacwood, Rosewood EO, etc."

One of her discontinued fragrances, Black Leather Red Lace, is one of my top (ever!) leather perfumes. Solstice Scents has a beautiful hand with leather, so this was a Must Try for me.

Since the perfumes have roller balls, I can't get much from what's in the bottle, but what I do get is a sweet deep dark wood, a little myrrh (or maybe the choya loban), a touch of pepper, a faint hint of dark chocolate, and a bit of aged patchouli (not head-shoppy).

On my skin: This opens as very peppery--both pink and black. The myrrh is rich and almost sticks to my tongue. Waaay down underneath, the cocoa absolute gives this a dark and lush base. I don't see many perfumes with Buddha wood so I had to look it up, and I can see this providing the almost mossy tone that I'm getting. (According to one website, Buddha wood is, "...woody, mossy, and mild with a subtle leathery-smoky note.") It's a dirty mossy note that feels like I just ripped it out of a dark forest.

As it dries: The pepper softens some, the tonka rises quite a bit (sweetening the scent), I get a faint chai spice vibe, the cocoa continues to hold steady at the base, and the rosewood becomes more dominant. The moss drops down some, but it also adds to the dark base.

As it dries further: The guiacwood begins to rise to the top, bringing out a faintly smoky essence. The tobacco absolute rides along with this, giving the perfume a dried herb and dark and tannic feel. Right now, this smells like it's been threaded with licorice and comes across as a little musty (like books left to rot in a dark room where the floor is rotting along with the books).

This one shifts on me a lot. The waft I'm getting is rich, deep, and masculine, but definitely wearable by a woman who isn't afraid of unusual fragrances.

My left arm seemed to hold on to the musty/mossy note the longest. My right arm focused on the chocolate and spice, and brought up something that almost smelled like dried orange peel--adding a sweetness and zest to the whole.

Final dry down: This is spicy and rich. Leather flirts along the bottom edge of the base, rounding it out and giving this a lovely depth that feels exotic and comforting at the same time. I'm not getting heavy leather--it's more like the memory of leather--nor am I getting much smoke, but I could see that note coming up a bit more once this settles from travel. The pepper seems to hold steady and adds to the wood essence. This has a slight sweetness to it that I think will develop more as this ages. On both wrists, I get what comes across as anise with all of the sweetness stripped out of it--dry, dry, and more dry. The patchouli comes out on the back end of the waft, almost as an afterthought.

When I close my eyes and huff my wrists, I get the feel of an old office: cracked leather chairs rotting away in the corners, dirt keeping the sunlight from filtering through the windows, longer shadows than perhaps should be there stretching into the room, wood floors covered with dust and ash from old cigars, the desk surprisingly waxed and polished to a high gleam, and the memory of men's spicy cologne drifting by. I also get the feel of an old barn falling down on some forgotten property somewhere, with a beautiful classic car dreaming in the dust motes of days when its leather was fresh and the body without rust.

In short, I think Solstice Scents found the soul of a noir detective novel and squeezed it until it bled into the bottle. This is a dark fragrance. Dark, edgy, masculine, and somehow alluring--as all good noir mysteries should be.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alkemia: L'Encens à la Vanille

I'm going to one of my "comfy t-shirt" perfumes for this review (a scent I can wear just about any time and like): Alkemia's  L'Encens à la Vanille. I waffled on doing a review, simply because I feel like Alkemia is one of my secret corners of the internet, and I want to hoard it to myself. However, Alkemia has some lovely fragrances, and people should know it. You can find Alkemia on Etsy.

To the review!

Alkemia's description: "Madagascar Vanilla, golden amber, and resinous incense swirled together with a selection of beautifully aged incense woods and a dusting of aphrodisiac Silk Road spices. Intensely sexy in a mysterious kind of way..."

In the bottle: I get something a little sweet that is almost vanilla (but not quite), spices, an underpinning of polished wood, and something that almost comes across as a fake green/grassy note (almost aquatic, almost grass).

I will admit, when I got my sample of this, I was tempted to not try it. I was unimpressed by what I sniffed, but being the curious sort that I am, and knowing that a lot of perfume oils don't come out to play until they are on the skin, I dabbed.

On my skin: At first, this is almost off-putting. The spices pop out, and that fake green/grassy note rises and becomes a touch plastic-y to the nose. However, within a minute, what I thought would remain discordant notes begins to smooth out and resolve into something sweet, spicy, warm.

As it begins to dry: On my left arm, I get vanilla on the rise, cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, and a faint hint of that polished wood. On my right, the amber is starting to come forward as a faint powdered note, the spices are less sweet, and the vanilla is tinged with the pod.

As it continues to dry: The spices pick up a bit more, the wood becomes a bit less polished and a little more raw, the amber threads in and out--rising and falling on its own whims--and that almost green note smooths out to add to the spice and wood. The vanilla is a dominant note in an understated way all the way through. There is a point in this continued transition where the amber funks out on me and makes me think of urinal cakes. It's here that I was tempted to scrub this off the first time I tried it. I thought, "Ewww, no, not for me," and then I forgot to scrub this and I went about my day. Imagine my surprise when in about five more minutes this shifted again and headed toward the final dry-down.

Final dry-down: Vanilla, the very best of chai spices, warm--almost mahogany in depth but not quite so dark in note--wood, and a swirl of somewhat powdered amber snuggle close to the skin. In some ways, this reminds me of a fireball--one of those sugared cinnamon jaw-breakers that I used to hoard as a child. This has a touch of that same fire with the sweetness coming in behind. But that's only about 10% of this fragrance. The rest is vanilla with depth, something that makes me think of worn but polished wood floors, chai spices, and the continued weave of amber. This is an amber that I still can't quite put my finger on. It's not very powdery (until the fragrance begins to fade), it's not too sweet, it's not very sparkling or bright, it's just...there. It provides a steady note to this, keeping the perfume from going too sweet or spicy.

Note: This perfume changes a lot based on where it is on my arms. Closer to my left hand, this is more amber/vanilla, and I do get a bit of that initial funk note on a nose to wrist test (although, I don't get that note even an inch up from my wrist). On my right, it's sheer but dusty spices. Closer to my elbow, this is spicy wood floors, with vanilla extract doing a little bit of a tap dance.

This ends up as more of a skin scent that invites cuddles. It doesn't have much throw, but it does make getting close worth it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Possets: Arabesque

Arabesque is from the Sacred Geometry 2013 spring release. Only three of these make the cut in the final vote, and we won't know until June which ones will be final.

Now to the review!

In the bottle: This smells a bit smoky (sweet smoky), with a citrus vibe, and a touch of vanilla.

On my skin: The smoke is a little bit like the smoke from Gypsy Grave from Possets--a little bit ashtray, but cleaner. The vanilla is sweet, but not pudding sweet or candied. The citrus vibe holds strong--but it's a soft citrus like the mingling of lime blossoms and the heart of a grapefruit and a touch of clementine flowers all mingled together--but it's also not quite citrus at the same time. I'm sure that's the bamboo coming in, mingling with the amber.

As it dries: The smoke backs off a lot and drops down to the bottom, giving this a lovely wispy feeling base. The citrus note is becoming a bit woody, and makes me think of bamboo floors--clean, pale, softer in concept than other woods. I'm also getting a touch of amber that reminds me of the amber in Naples Yellow (a discontinued scent from Possets)--which is a lemony amber, and comes across as fresh and bright.

As it dries further: The vanilla comes forward a bit more. It's a creamy, perfumy, sweet vanilla, with just a hair of vanilla extract coming in to round it out a bit. The amber is stronger now, but hasn't gone to powder the way some ambers do, and it's helping to balance the sweetness of the vanilla. The soft citrus vibe has almost completely changed over to a citrus wood, but it's a pale soft wood that gleams in the sunlight.

Even though this is very perfumy, it also has a soft element to it. It's bright and tender. Sweet, but not sugary. The tartness of the bamboo and amber keep this from going overboard, although if someone is used to more masculine scents this might be too sweet.

Final dry down: This holds true to the amber/citrusy bamboo/vanilla for a long time, however there does come a point (hours out) when what remains is a sweet and cozy vanilla on the skin, with traces of amber and a faint suggestion of the bamboo. Every time I have worn this out in public, I have gotten compliments on it, and it's always one of those, "Oooooh, what are you wearing?! Do you mind if I sniff you?" moments.

One of the things I like most about this fragrance is that it is bright and clear and yet it is also calm and lovely at the same time. It's a perfect happy fragrance.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Arcana: Bonfires at Dusk

I was going to do a new review today, but I find myself longing for one of my favorite perfumes from Arcana: Bonfires at Dusk. So, I'm pulling up my old review and will add to it.

The description from Arcana: "Woodsmoke, sweet beeswax, Oregon lavender, sandalwood, charred juniper, and the scent of swiftly appearing stars."

As soon as I saw the description for this, I knew I had to have it. I am such a Scent Hussy when it comes to smoky perfumes. Some break my heart, some annoy me, but most make me fall in love. And I do fall in love, over and over again. Add the lavender, the beeswax, and sandalwood, and I am there!

Here's my old review: This one is woody and sweet and the lavender is definitely present, but it's softened by the charred juniper. I don't quite have the woodsmoke yet, but when I close my eyes I get the bonfires at dusk vibe. It feels like I'm on the edge of the ocean and the forest, and we just pulled some pine down to burn to keep warm as the night creeps in. As it dries down further, I am getting some of that smoke. Love. Love. So different than other scents I've tried. It has a depth to it, but it retains some lightness—the same way a sunset mingles both dark and light. This one sweetens up on the skin after a few hours. I cannot stop sniffing this one when it's on me. Really different, fun, and lovely.

My updated thoughts:

In the bottle this is very herbal--strong on fresh picked lavender (and I have three lavender bushes I've been pruning recently, so I have a good comparison)--with the juniper adding to the green herbal vibe (almost mentholish). Under it all lies a bit of campfire smoke and the warm waxy edge of beeswax.

On my skin: Everything I got in the bottle immediately opens up and expands on my skin. The juniper gets stronger here--almost like rubbing juniper branches between my fingers--and gives this a pine vibe, then it begins to drop down to hold on as a steady herbed/pine base. I get the charred note with this as it drops down, and the charred part gives this a bit of sweetness that rides with the sweetness from the lavender. The lavender is less bracing than in the bottle, and it immediately begins to soften and open on the skin.

As it dries: On my left wrist, the beeswax is rising and threading through the other notes. On my right, I get tangy/piney juniper branches with smoke. I get more sandalwood on my right arm--a sweet smooth sandalwood that is probably adding to the smoky quality.

As it dries further: My left arm is a mix of juniper, lavender, and beeswax. Threading through that is a beautiful whiff of pure campfire smoke--no plastic bottles, no dinner plates, no paper to mar the essence of burning trees. My right arm is starting to amp the beeswax and lavender, giving this a sweet herbal edge.

Final dry down: The smoke has come up beautifully on my skin, but it's a polite smoke--not too acrid, pungent with a sweet thread, and evocative of campfires in the distance. The lavender in this comes across as pure and unmuddied. The sandalwood adds to the charred juniper note and gives this a bit of a subtle kick. The beeswax is sweetness and wax. People who are afraid of honey notes should not fear this one. This is more the sweetness of honey without honey, added with the wax note of the hive. The longer this is on my skin, the sweeter and softer it gets, and the more beautiful it becomes.

I know this scent won't be for everyone. It's a little too pungent for people who only want fruity florals. It's a little too sweet for those who only want herbal or woody scents. But for me? Yeah, it's perfect.

When I close my eyes, I still get the sense of sunset on a chilly day at the ocean. We've piled driftwood onto the bonfire. We've tipped our heads back so we can see the first glimmer of stars as the sun drops behind the water. There's comfort here, comfort and love and laughter. All in one little bottle.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Possets: DNA

DNA is from the Sacred Geometry: Secret Knowledge 2013 spring release at Possets.

Possets' description: "Even the DNA strand follows the Sacred Geometric curve as it rotates around its 4 elements in endless combinations!

I wanted to make this an unabashed foody with lashings of: toffee, butterscotch, cream, butter, and a tidal wave of vanilla. if you like the foodies, this one is a rare beauty. I also wanted to play with a very very very small tot of coffee plopped in for a bit of depth to it all and that did make it ultra special. Wear it when you are in a hedonistic mood."

In the bottle: Mmmmm caramel, whiskey, toffee. Mouthwatering.

On my skin: Buttery creamy toffee, whiskey, butterscotch (in fact, my husband just walked by and said, "You smell like butterscotch!"), a touch of cream, and waaaay down at the bottom is something a bit darker and heavier that may be the coffee. (When I first tried this one--fresh out of the mailbox last week--I didn't get the coffee. I was surprised to see the coffee on the list today, but I remember that's one reason I grabbed this one. I'm always looking for a good coffee scent.)

As it dries: This is FOODIE. Unabashed, full on, hedonistic lick 'em all up now. I'm still getting a whiskey kick, and this is going more and more butterscotch by the minute. The cream is still coming through, but it's not the heavy cream from Cream (the perfume from Possets) as it was the first time I tried it. The cream now is softer, more rounded. Something slightly sharp to this almost comes across as plasticy--as in a hair away from plastic but not quite there. The vanilla is also very obvious in this, adding to the sweetness. I just had my mom sit next to me and I asked her what it smells like. Answer: "Oooh that smells good. Smells like sugar and spice and everything nice."

As it dries further: the whiskey note continues to ride along--I don't know why I'm getting whiskey here, but I think that's part of the sharp edge I mentioned above, and it's definitely hitting my nose as whiskey. I like it. It's keeping this from being over the top sweet. This is also coming up with a hint of a brown sugar vibe right now. It's veering away from butterscotch to more of a warm brown sugar, but still threading the butterscotch note through. I am getting a different throw than what is directly on my skin. My skin amps the bitterness of that whiskey-ish note, but when I wave my arms around, I get nothing but sweet yummy creamy toffee. My left arm seems to be the one pushing the plastic-y vibe, my right arm is all deep cream mixed with brown sugar with a touch of something herbal. When I stick my nose on my right arm, I love what I'm getting: warm snuggly sugared skin. When I stick my nose on my left arm, I get that whiskey/plastic with toffee pushing through that.

I still don't get much coffee from this, but then I am comparing it to the other coffee scents I've tried recently (Phyllotaxis and Quantum Interconnect from Possets) which were heavy on the coffee.

Dry down: This is now smooth brown sugar mixed with butterscotch and a hint of that note I'm interpreting as whiskey. A touch buttery. A little creamy. This is also much smoother than it was the first time I tried it, so sitting a bit did help this one develop a bit more. I have a feeling this one will be really scrumptious in a few months. If caramel or toffee notes go funky on you, I don't know how well this will play on your skin. But, if you love foodie scents, it's worth giving this one a try, just because it's foodie! The bit that got on my shirt is super lickable smelling, so even if it doesn't play well on your skin, it could be fabulous in a scent locket. Just don't blame me if you end up eating the scent locket half way through your day.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Launch-Frederic Malle's L'eau D'Hiver

After hoarding my perfume reviews for a couple of years and posting them on perfume forums, I'm ready to launch a blog that isn't quite as serious as my other writing (that can be found at

This blog will be Possets heavy since that is where I get the bulk of my perfume oil, but it will also include Solstice Scents, Alkemia, Arcana, Blooddrop, Sara Wen, Sweet Anthem, and whatever else I stumble across. I also have niche "regular" perfumes that I hoard and review occasionally (such as from L'Artisan, Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens) and I will include those as well.

To celebrate this launch, I'm adding a review I wrote a few years ago of one of my favorite scents: L'eau D'Hiver by Frederic Malle.

Description from the Frederic Malle website: "A fragrance entirely one's own - clean, crisp, but also warm, an endless source of reassurance. The transparence of water binds with the softness of white heliotrope, iris and honey for the gentlest composition imaginable. Jean-Claude Ellena set out to create the first "Eau Chaude," pushing his understated, minimalist style beyond traditional boundaries. Here he fuses the two extremes of the olfactory spectrum into a mellow, fragile fragrance of a new kind."

From the Now Smell This website, the notes that make up this scent are: "bergamot, angelica, iris, hawthorn, jasmine, honey, carnation, heliotrope, caramel and musk."

This goes on with a very spicy powdery iris note. On my left arm, I get a green spicy note threading through. On my right, there's more of a peppered powder. Within a few minutes, my left arm is bringing up bergamot and almost immediately threading it down to a low hum as the green swims through. I think the green is the hawthorn, and I may be getting a touch of jasmine. On my right, it's firmly in the heliotrope (I love heliotrope and can seem to pick it out of anything), iris, and musk.

As it dries down: the left arm is starting to bring up the heliotrope. This is a very sheer fragrance. I dabbed and dabbed from my sample before I felt like I truly had an amount I could sniff. I could see this (so far) being a great scent for any season. It feels very feminine, and that heliotrope is definitely in my "love" category. My left arm makes this a very powdery heliotrope, my right makes it a much more in-depth (rounded, slightly flowered, rich in almond) heliotrope. So far, I'm not getting much honey or caramel, but I think the carnation is kicking up the powder of the iris.

I dabbed again (I'm afraid of overdoing it, but I doubt that's possible with this scent) and immediately got a strong bergamot note on both hands but it falls almost immediately to the powder, although it stays a little more bergamoty on my left hand. Comparing it to the older dabs, the older dabs are bringing in more of the sweetness of the honey and caramel, but definitely not a pronounced honey as in Tea for Two from L'Artisan or the caramel in Madera from Omnia. This is very soft and pretty. It's not a scent that demands attention, but there's something so compellingly comforting about this that I can't stop huffing my wrists. Per research, angelica is part of the parsley family and I think that was the first green note I was picking up, and as it goes along there is an interesting “fresh” note that I think is the angelica keeping the notes really light and not falling down into heavy iris like it could. Interestingly enough, the small dot I put on my shirt is much more hawthorny and I'm assuming I'm getting the angelica a lot there as well, and the bergamot hasn't dried down.

Final verdict: this is sweet without being sugared, high on the powdered softness of iris, slightly vanillic/almond due to the heliotrope. It comes across as cool, but also snuggly and comforting, and it's that contrast that keeps me intrigued.

Years later, this still remains one of my favorite perfumes. I can only afford samples here and there, but whenever I wear it I feel both confident and soft, pretty, calm and collected, and ready for snuggles. It's such a great perfume.