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.


  1. I ordered a sample of each of the Dark Spring collection the other day and I can't WAIT to get them. This sounds so amazing.

    1. I'm so glad you ordered it, Dee! It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is a very compelling perfume. It's more dry than I was expecting, but it fits a craving I didn't know I had lol.

  2. Squee! I'm glad I chose this as my sample with my summer purchase. This sounds very intriguing and you gave such a beautifully detailed review. Awesome!