4 Sugar & Spite Reviews: Bitten and Smitten, Tell it to the Moon, Kalopsia, Natural Witch
This one has been a long time coming! In doing individual recommendations I've been hyping the S&S scents I've tried a bunch. My first outing with S&S really impressed me (that 80% concentration tho) - so it's... full review o'clock!
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with a scented soap (it’s all I have available - shea butter Dove soap or almond Doc Bronners). Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off), so theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
Each sample was gently swirled before application. Each review is written without looking at the notes (in that moment… I obviously looked at them when I bought). At the end of the review I will list what the notes listed in the shop are and comment on how I think they interacted
The bottles from S&S I've had experience with are their dram bottles. they seem to be standard dram bottles - not prone to leaking or splashing. Even though they are clear they are covered almost completely by their labels. The only issue I've had with the bottles themselves it there's this little... white thing in the cap that I think helps it form a seal and on one of my bottles that has come loose and sometimes falls out or gets stuck to the mouth of the bottle.
I also wanna touch on S&S's labels because dang do these bad boys look slick and professional. They rotate labels frequently, and the current batch is definitely rocking some Hello Kitty adjacent cuteness. The design is so clean, eye catching, and well done. Huge kudos. The bottles each have a little portion where the name is written on in careful handwriting.
The labels have been resistant to handling and haven't run even with a huge oil splash while decanting.
My only complaint would be that the stock the labels are printed on feels a little weir to my hands - like it could easily peel off. It's very thick and a little stiff. It would be nice if the labels felt more tightly bound to the bottles.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
Bitten and Smitten
In the bottle: Lemon curd and flour - edges of berries. If I had to guess on the berries I’d say blackberry and red currant. I recall this having a ‘triple berry’ accord of some sort in it - I’d say, as a wild guess the third is a blueberry. I am not positive on these berries - just that what berry notes are there are rounded and sweet smelling and not tart. Any tartness is squarely in the lemon note. A tang of something in there that reminds me of honey or a particularly sweet musk.
Wet on my skin: The sweet fruitiness of the berries rises to the top and the lemon curd moves to the edges. The tangy, sweet musky-honey smell forms a base along with the flour smell. There’s something a lil sharp in there - almost herbal that might be from the berries or from the lemon. As a note, from the moment it is out of the bottle this scent wears strong. This is not a delicate gourmand - it is a rich, thick, honeyed smelling gourmand.
Drydown: Lemon remains at the edges and the berries start blending into the overall body of the perfume more. It starts to smell more like a baked good with berries involved than a baked good drenched in berry syrup. The flour blends more into the honey-musky smell creating a solid baked good accord.
After 30 mins: Still strong! Throw on this seems mild - but the scent cloud close to the skin it is on is so strong I wonder if I’m just mildly anosmic to it at a distance. I start smelling it about 8 inches away and as i get closer it gets stronger and stronger. It’s morphed very little. The flour and honey-musk smell have blended so thoroughly they just smell like a baked good. There’s still a touch of lemon at the edges. The strength of the berries seems to come and go with sniffs after a break smelling stronger and on repeated sniffs being more mild.
Notes on the site: A sweet triple berry scone drizzled with spoonfuls of London lemon curd
Yup, got all of it. Though if I’m gonna be deeply nitpicky I’d say it’s closer to a lemon curd scone with berry syrup drizzled over it. It’s a ‘dry’ scone at first with some sugary-honey-musky notes separate from that flour… but as it blends over time it starts to smell much more like a scone that would be pretty delectable
Verdict: Splitting the dram. I think it’s a ‘sometimes’ scent - gourmands can be touch or go for me - but I like it and can see wearing it often enough to justify keeping part of the dram. For someone who’s a giant scone scents fan I think this would be a 10ml scent.
Tell it to the Moon
In the bottle: Soft, white floral verging the tiniest bit on powdery - reminds me of the smell of pollen, but also a little sweet and silky (might be two florals? One might be tuberose?). An almost alcoholic tang. Textile note (reminds me of cotton). Something that reminds me of white musk but not as sweet as the white musks I’m used to. A little… waxy? I remember this having a vanilla note but I’m not getting anything I identify as vanilla. Sweet and silvery and like the smell of moonlight on a field of Queen Anne’s Lace.
Wet on my skin: More musky - a bright tang that’s kind of citrus. Now I’m getting something like a very sweet, soft vanilla. Nothing powdery about this. Edge florals. A touch of that textile note. Still a touch of what smells like candlewax to me. Still silver-y and nighttime-y. Anything that reminded me of alcohol is gone.
Drydown: Very similar - but the citrus has died back some, the textile has come forward a little. A touch powdery again. The citrus plus whatever that powdery smell is I think are what was pinging me as having an ‘alcoholic’ tang (it’s not a boozy tang though - it reminds me of perfumer’s alcohol). Not getting the wax-like smell as much. Vanilla is very subdued and is functioning as a midnote, not a base. The exact sweetness/frosting-ish of the vanilla reminds me a lot of the vanilla used by Hexennacht but is more subdued and a little less sweet.
After 30 mins: As I set and meditated on this scent while playing videogames and listening to podcasts my brain volunteered ‘Didn’t this have a wood note?’ and I was like A-HA. BINGO. THAT is the note I’m reading as sweet-slightly-powdery-alcoholic. It’s RESIN. So yes, a sweet, silvery, pale resin with powdery nuances and just a touuuch waxy has to be the base note for this scent. Anyway, after half an hour it’s pretty similar to the drydown. Edges of citrus and florals, midnotes of vanilla/textile/musk and base notes of a very, very pale resin.
Notes on the site: Precious woods, cashmere vanilla, resin, spice, and a swirl of bright mandarin.
The ‘precious woods’ must be some sort of resin accord - it doesn’t smell ‘woody’ but waxy/very-slightly-powdery/almost floral/almost alcoholic. It’s an extremely ‘bright’ wood in a nighttime way. The cashmere vanilla must be the vanilla+textile+musk scent I was getting. It does smell like a soft thing, like something that would be the texture of soft wool or fur but the textile note does remind me more of a plant based textile. The mandarin is definitely a citrus-y mandarin but it’s more ‘sweet’ and less acidic than I’d expect a ‘bright’ citrus to be. It more rounds the scent then brightens it (which, I mean, it’s already a very bright scent from the base). I didn’t get anything that stood distinctly as spice - maybe it’s part of the base notes that are very resinous.
Throw is solid on this. The strong scent cloud starts probably 4-6 inches from my hand with the very strong being 1-2 inches but I was catching wafts of it during the whole 30 minute process.
Verdict: Split the dram. The wet phase of this is perfect. Like, I was getting very excited about it as a kind of scent for my more femme days because it’s a little femme in an oversized-sweater way but not overwhelmingly so. It’s got a real ethereal moonlit vibe going to it. But as it drys down and that resin comes forward it becomes clear that this is another ‘sometimes’ scent for me. Like, maybe on femme days in winter. Just as a lil note: This scent does remind me of a book character. If you’ve ever read the A Court Of Thorns And Roses series this scent reminds me of Feyre - especially post transformation.
In the bottle: Smoke, spices, honey, tea and maybe a grass note. My sibling commented that it smelled like vetiver to them (vetiver often ends up smelling like Lowes hardware to us) and I can get a tiny touch of that. But largely this smells like smokey spiced honey to me with a very bitter tea note.
Wet on my skin: Smoke and honey. Honey and smoke. Tiny bit of tea and spice. It honestly smells like honey incense to me. Honey is very realistic.
Drydown: Smoke, honey, acrid bitter black tea. Lil bit of spice - maybe a nutmeg in that accord? And/or cinnamon? I wish I had more to say about this but it’s really straight forward. The honey is really realistic and bright. Excellent honey note. The smoke reminds me a little of the ubiquitous BBQ smokers around my region (I’m from the southern part of Appalachia and it’s hardly uncommon to smell smokers smoking meat while just driving around town). Tea is very black, and very bitter to my nose. What’s funny is the raw smelling tea + the honey reminds me of the ingredients for making sweet tea.
After 30 mins: Honey and black tea as described above. Spices have moved forward - I’m pretty sure I’m getting cinnamon and maybe some red pepper. Smoke has moved back some. Throw on this has been solid and it’s left a kind of… tannin texture in my mouth from repeatedly smelling it.
Notes on the site: Raw, sweet honey, amber syrup, ancient spices, and black tea leaves.
Okay, the honey and the black tea I can see. I don’t know where I’m getting the smoke from - maybe as part of the black tea - but my friends I am getting smoke. I think it might the ‘resin’ from the amber syrup but if this is the case this is a highly resinous, dark brown amber (I think that ‘golden grass’ note my sibling said reminded them of vetiver is part of the amber accord here). I wouldn’t call it syrupy at all unless the syrup is blending with the honey note. Like, this is Honey incense with raw tea, or, someone burning incense while they gather the materials to make their special, spiced iced tea.
Verdict: So here’s the thing: I’m not in to smelling strongly of incense, and I’m one of the few south of the Mason-Dixon line who doesn’t care for iced tea… or most black teas in general. Now, as perfumes I can enjoy some tea scents but gosh this is a black, acrid tea to me. It reminds me of the pressed-blocks of black tea I’ve smelled. So while this is a well crafted perfume and I think it would really appeal to a lover of resins, honey, and the blackest black of teas. But for me it’s a pass - I’m gonna pass on the whole dram, either as decants or just… as a dram.
In the bottle: Gosh, there is something in here that reminds me so much of BPAL. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Specifically it reminds me of Irrelevant And Disturbing Surreal Crawdad Dream - one of my favorite from the house. This is a subtle ‘your skin but better’ type scent. I’m getting musk - a very creamy near-marshmallow-y white musk and the barest touch of berry (I think I remember the berry note being blackberry?) and something kind of creamily tangy and very, very slightly earthy and salty.
Wet on my skin: Good throw on this. I can easily smell it from a foot away (hilariously it’s harder to smell up close. Probably anosmia from the strength of the scent). Something a touch (just a touch) dark green comes out - I think as part of the berry. It smells like clean, sweet, musky skin after coming back from a day in the forest walking through blackberry bushes. I think what is reminding me of BPAL is either the musk… or there might be a vanilla in here similar to the honeyed vanilla BPAL uses in Dragon’s Milk.
Drydown: The musk base of this perfume verges on nutty but is still definitely a musk. Topnotes of blackberry with a touch of a dark green like a moss or a leaf. Creamy midnotes that might be vanilla. I don’t know. I know this perfume has three main components and dangit, I remember the blackberry and the white musk is intensely (but extremely pleasantly) musky) but I’ll be danged if i have any clue what the third note was supposed to be.
After 30 mins: As a note - I rested my wrist on an object I’d touched while I had Bitten & Smitten on and I think I might have gotten some cross contamination. I’m avoiding that part of my arm (the perfume is s l a t h e r e d on) when doing this part of the review. There is a touch of extra sweetness to the part I think was cross-contaminated. But the rest of my arm where it went in the drydown. S&S perfumes seem really stable. Thinking on it I’m wondering if the note I recognize is a sandalwood one? Like a really mild almost-vanilla sandalwood?
Notes on the site: black fig, vanilla, white musk and blackberry
Lmao it’s note sandalwood at all and there are FOUR notes. That dark green earthy scent? Probably the fig. The white musk is obvious, as is the subtle edge-blackberry. And yes! That’s a vanilla - and checking both the BPAL scents it reminds me of they both have vanilla. I’m guessing this specific vanilla note (as opposed to the one used in Tell It To The Moon) is from the same source as the vanilla note BPAL used in Dragonsmilk when I tried it (in lol 2008) and in IADSCD.
Verdict: I am crazy about this. I’ve been wanting a nice, gender neutral, foresty-but-not-green, witchy-but-not-incense-based, vanilla-but-not-gourmand scent since I started my reentry to indie perfumes. I’m going to keep the dram and probably pick up some lotion from them in this scent… or grab a 10ml and make my own lotion because i want this all over me.