Monday, 30 November 2015

Arcana: General Catalogue Reviews

That's right, more Arcana. There is always more Arcana. I think it's safe to say that Arcana is my favourite indie perfumer. When a general catalogue decant circle was announced on reddit's Indiemakeupandmore, I joined. There have been several GC scents on my list of "to try" and several I was on the fence about. I ended up picking eight half-decants - I was trying to be conservative, but still get a good lot of things to try. The decants (fortunately) arrived shortly before I moved - I had joined the circle just prior to accepting my new job and I was uncertain that they would arrive in time. And then I chucked them in my sample tin and forgot about them until I unpacked after a whirlwind couple of weeks. And here we are. 

Holy Terror

There are utterly somber and fearsome spirits which are known to haunt certain long-deserted chapels, monasteries and abbeys. An unsettling, austere blend of burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles.

Noon of Peachy Noon is completely and totally obsessed with Holy Terror. She has sung the praises of it for so long that it has been sitting on my to-try list for months. I've always been a bit apprehensive about it - the notes are very incense-y and smoky, and while I've enjoyed similar scents in the past, I still have a mental block. When the GC decant circle came up, I knew that this would be on top of my list. 

Everyone was right. This is so good. It's smouldering in the vial, all incense and wood and smoke. It does remind me of midnight mass on Christmas Eve, as the candles are dying after mass. It's got a rich wood background, like heavy pews and a carved altar. It starts off as a thick, smoky incense. It smooths out and becomes a little lighter and sweeter as it dries down, and over wear, the smoke recedes and the incense and wood meld together. I love it. The sillage is moderate, and the staying power is amazing. It lasted fourteen hours on my skin.

Bonfires at Dusk

Woodsmoke, sweet beeswax, Oregon lavender, sandalwood, charred juniper, and the scent of swiftly appearing stars.

In the vial, this is a sweet green scent, with lots of lavender and beeswax and juniper. I wasn't crazy about it at first. It kind of reminded me of eucalyptus cough drops. On my skin, it's still pretty heavy on the lavender and juniper, with a hint of beeswax. As it dried down, it started to get smokier and deeper, and the beeswax came out more. I started to like it as the lavender receded. It faded to a smoky wood scent, similar to the end result for Holy Terror. This one isn't really my thing. I don't like lavender that much, and while the wear did turn into something I liked, I think that Holy Terror satisfies this smoky itch better. The sillage is high-moderate, and it lasted about ten hours on my skin.


Sweet ruby guava, coconut, pineapple, and a drop of ocean water.

As soon as I sniffed Keel in the vial, I knew I was in trouble. I loved it. It reminded a bit of a really delicious fruity drink, and also a bit like a really fancy blue freezie. It's really really bright and cool. On my skin, it remains mostly the same, though it gets a little less sweet and a little more oceanic, though it remains much heavier on the fruit and in particular, the guava. It's lovely. I really, really like it. The sillage is moderate and it lasted about six hours on my skin.

Puppy Kisses

The essence of pink sandpapery tongues, silky ears, and sleepy little sighs. A batter of rich cream, soft coconut milk, rice syrup, copaiba balsam, massoia bark and milky pearl musk is gently licked with sweet peppermint, sugared bayberry, and the tiniest smooches of Oregon lavender and Dalmatian sage.

I'm not sure why I picked this one, after taking a second look at the notes. It doesn't seem like my kind of scent, and after wearing it, I'm not crazy about it. I know I've read lots of good reviews of it, but they've never really swayed me. I'm going to guess a slipped click. I don't know what I intended to choose instead, but regardless, I'm glad I got to try this. Trying things sometimes not in my favoured scent profiles leads to happy surprises, or at least helps me reaffirm what I like.

In the vial, this smells sharp and herbal, sort of a dull dark green. It's also heavy on the lavender, with a minty edge. On my skin, it's much milkier, and is more like a lavender-coconut scent, with sage peeking out the back. It's an herbal milk for most of the wear - there's not a ton of morphing once it's on my skin. Minty and slightly sweet and creamy. I can appreciate it, but it's not for me. The sillage is on the lower end. It's the kind of fragrance that hugs your skin, and it lasted about six hours on my skin.

This one was part of the general catalogue, but has been discontinued due to component issues.


Orange blossoms with beach coconut, skin musk, and warm sand.

This one reminds me a lot of Bobbi Brown Beach, except a saltier, wilder version. If I finish my rollerball of Beach, I'm getting Surf. In the vial, it smells of cold, salty Atlantic ocean, with waves crashing and the wind high on a sunny day, as well as sunscreen (very classic Coppertone) and sand. It's a great beach scent, warm and sunny and sandy and salty. I really like it. And if I didn't already have Beach, I would immediately get this one. As it dries down, it shifts from being saltwater heavy to more sunscreen and sand. The sillage is moderate and it lasts about seven hours on my skin.

Philtre: Embrace

This sensuous formula is believed to induce delicious caresses and kisses without end. Three ambers, French vanilla, Bourbon custard, golden musk, sweet coconut milk, and a soft whiff of skin musk.

For the lovers of cream and vanilla. I'm not as nuts about vanilla as I once thought I might be, so this is just nice. It's very pleasant, but not a need for me. In the vial, it's creamy and rich, like a really fancy custard-based dessert. Very warm and heavy on the vanilla, with a slight boozy hint. It doesn't change a ton once on my skin, remaining a delicious, creamy vanilla custard scent. I feel like this would be served at a Christmas dinner. Maybe I'm being influence by the time of year. But it is of that ilk. The sillage is low-moderate, and it lasts about ten hours on my skin.

Red Giant

A radiant, stellar blend of brightest sweet orange, toasted pumpkin, warm cinnamon, lemongrass, yuzu, pink grapefruit, white grapefruit, and sparkling bergamot. 

Red Giant reminds me of a sweeter, more accessible version of Jabberwocking. Since I never got around to ordering Jabberwocking, Red Giant is a perfectly acceptable alternative. And it's general catalogue, so I can get it whenever I feel like it. Good deal. This also happens to be a pumpkin scent I don't hate. Who would have thought?

In the vial, this smells like sweet citrus: there's some grapefruit in there, but the most dominant note is orange. There's also a bit of warm and toasty cinnamon in the vial. It's nice, kind of unexpected. It sounds like it could smell like potpourri, but it doesn't. On my skin, it starts off with a burst of spiced, cooked pumpkin. It veers toward way too much cinnamon for a few minutes before settling down, and the citrus comes back out. Once more, it's heavily on the orange side of the citrus spectrum. It's a nice, warm, cinnamon and citrus scent. I think it wears well in the fall and winter - it definitely has lifted my mood when I've come home from work to try it on. The sillage is moderate, and it lasts about eight hours on my skin.

Filthy Viking

Between the sea voyages and the pillaging, it must have been difficult for Odin’s henchman to stay fresh. Too bad they didn’t have this ferocious blend of scents from the Viking world: bracing Norwegian juniper, frigid Icelandic mint and the hardy wood of a longship.

This is a dark, green, cold, masculine scent. I don't think my partner is quite at the point where he's willing to put on any indie scent I hand him - soap, yes - but I have a feeling this would smell really, really good on him. He has the appropriate beard, anyway. In the vial, this smells of bright, cold mint, and juniper. I've always been very fond of juniper; my parents had two juniper bushes in our front year growing up. The bushes have passed on, but I still can't imagine my house without juniper. On my skin, it remains cold and minty and juniper heavy, but there's some dry, weathered wood. As it wears, the mint recedes, leaving just a hint of coldness, and the scent becomes juniper and wood. I like it. The sillage is on the lower side, and it lasted about ten hours on my skin.

Verdict, aside from "I love Arcana a little too much!": Need Keel and Holy Terror. Red Giant will probably be picked up at some point. Surf will be a backup for Bobbie Brown Beach if I ever finish it. I will find a way to get Filthy Viking on my partner. 

This general catalogue decant circle was a great way to try out a bunch of scents I otherwise would have had to buy full sizes of (or hope to get in orders from the Arcana eBay shop - I tend to do most of my Arcana ordering from Pretty Indulgent because Canada - and so I'm glad I got to do it.

You can buy Arcana at their eBay store, The Rhinestone Housewife, and Pretty Indulgent.


  1. I received Filthy Viking as a soap slice and loved the scent!

    1. Filthy Viking is really nice! If I didn't have a zillion bars of soap in my linen closet, I would order it in soap (I guess I thought that I had to stock up on Nova Scotian soap before I moved).

  2. I don't think I got Holy Terror...I haven't even opened my package I have so much perfume.

    1. You need to try Holy Terror. For shame!

      I feel you. So. Much. Perfume.


Collection Inventory: Red Lip Products

Kicking off my collection inventory project with the most ridiculous category of makeup I own: red lipsticks. I have a lot, as determined by...