Wednesday, July 17, 2019

5 Area of Effect Reviews: Dementia, Hist Sap, Skooma, Riften, Lavender Town

This is a review set I've been really looking forward to! The Elder Scrolls are some of my favorite videogames of all time. I grabbed Morrowind when I was but a wee 13 year old and never looked back. The series is rife with stuff that I think would make cool perfume concepts (The House of Earthly Delights! Twin Moons Over Tamriel! Shadowmere! Vivec (both the god and the city)! Moon and Star! The Nightmother! I can er, go on a while). I was quite excited to discover that Area of Effect perfumes had my back with an Elder Scrolls collection containing Skyrim/Shivering Isles/Tamriel-in-general inspired perfumes.
This review set will be covering four of those plus one inspired by another beloved game series - Pokemon. Because I needed somewhere to squish Lavender Town into.
Before getting into the reviews of the bottles or the perfumes themselves I do have to mention one thing: There was a bit of a problem with TAT when I ordered. The member of the AoE team who runs the etsy store had gone on vacation but the etsy message had not been updated to reflect this. Getting in contact (via etsy or email) was difficult because the person handling that contact was on vacation. Once the person running the etsy was back in the saddle they did get back to me and added two extra samples to my order to help make up for the wait.
I would like to gently caution AoE - if they happen to see this review - against not having some sort of alert up when you have stuff going on that might impact TAT. It's indies, stuff happens, these are often gigs run by anywhere between one and a handful of people - most of the time folks will be really understanding about TAT hiccups. But communication when these TAT hiccups happen is key.
Anyway - on to the actual products!
The perfumes covered in this review are
I'm absurdly pleased with myself for having this Skyrim map on hand. Waiting in line 8 years ago at midnight for a physical copy of the game finally paid off.
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 do 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 Bronner’s). 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
Bottle Review
The AoE sample bottles are standard 1ml bottles with standard size tags. they open easily, haven't had any leakage issues. They don't seem particularly splashy for 1ml bottles. The tip of the wand in the bottle is rounded, so it isn't sharp against the skin.
I like their font and color choices for labels. The pale blues. purples, and greens and dreamy fonts play into the Games Are Fun branding. I will say the '1ml' white text against the color of the labels is a lil hard to read. Also, if I had my wish all 1ml bottles would go to flat or half-size labels because the long/standard size tag labels make storage kinda difficult.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Kind of a fizzy golden brown smell. Sweet and toffee-like in the bottle. Something that kind of reminds me of root beer or birch beer. There’s spices - maybe a touch of vanilla. Kind of reminds me of a fancy root beer float.
Wet on my skin: Instantly nuttier and woodier with more botanical scents coming out. There’s a kind of creamy, golden subtlety I associate with heliotrope - but also a more piquant floral. There’s still creamy edges of root beer/vanilla smells. It lives on the line between sweet gourmand and woodsy herbal floral. I think the piquant floral in here might be tuberose, but I’m not super confident in that assessment.
Drydown: Still gourmand adjacent sweetness but that’s moved back. Tiny touch of powderiness that I am increasingly confident is heliotrope. It doesn’t smell like play-doh but it does kind of have that dusty golden brown character of a heliotrope. Woodsy/resinous basenotes - possibly an aged patchouli. There’s a very subtle note in here that kind of reminds me of barley or wheat - maybe a dried grasses or hay accord? Still a bit of that bright, possibly white floral that might be tuberose. Part of the gourmand - and I could be wrong about this - might be violets? It’s kinda got that almost-chocolate smell to it that reminds me of roo tbeer that I sometimes get from violets. Some sort of hint of spices in there - and there might be a breath of incense.
In terms of the imagery of Dementia from the game I think this fits pretty well. If it were up to me there’d be a touch of a noticeable dry-dirt note and I might go less sweet and maybe put something in that’s a touch bitter.
After 30 mins: Okay, so, I can play Guess The Notes with this all day so I’m going to touch more on the families of scents than the individual notes. The first thing I smell upon a sniff with this is something in the vanilla family. The next thing is a kind of gourmand-adjacent-sweet-resin (root beer? Dragon’s blood?). Then I get a hit of a deeper resinous scent that seems like part of a patchouli family or an incense. Finally I get just a hint of two different florals (heliotrope + a white floral) and some spices.
Official Notes: violet, bergamot, vanilla, clove, coriander, tuberose, caramel, oak, pine
OKAY so. The vanilla is the vanilla, and the caramel notes are what’s adding to the gourmand kind of character. The root-beer adjacent scent? IS in fact a violet. It’s one of the less purple violets - one of the ones that smells like a good. The spices are the clove and coriander (which are just there as a hint, a whisper). The white floral is in fact a tuberose. I think the bergamot is what I was reading as heliotrope - and it smells so much like heliotrope in this.
The oak and pine are the two resinous base scents I was getting. The oak is one of your typical woody-resins that kind of smells like incense. At first I was going to be like ‘Oh, I didn’t get the pine’ but I think it’s what’s adding to that ‘root beer’ impression - it’s not a strong pine and in the concentration its in it kinda gives off a birch-beer or sassafras vibe.
Verdict: I don’t know! This is very different from a lot of perfumes I’ve smelled and that makes interesting. I don’t know if I like it as a personal scent, or what kind of personal imagery it invokes. When I bought it I wasn’t expecting it to be this gourmand. It has a nice throw on it. I might experiment with it some more and see if I can make up my mind on whether to swap off the 1ml or upsize it. Update: I found myself coming back to this one - something about it is intriguing to me. I'll probably upsize it.
Hist Sap
In the bottle: Floral candy soda pop! There’s something achingly familiar in this - kind of a pina colada sno-cone topped with caramel and edges of sugared flowers.
Wet on my skin: Coconut milk, toffee, sugared pineapple, rich vanilla buttercream frosting. This smells less like a pina colada sno cone and more like a coconut cake with vanilla frosting topped with candied pineapple, sugared florals, and something perhaps even a little boozy? That coconut dominates though. If you feel like you can’t get enough of the scent of coconut milk then this is scent is here for you. Something the tiniest bit acrid at the edges - hard to place.
Drydown: Something kinda green-and-mulchy has come out. This smells so much like The Strange South’s Heat Lightning. Do you love Heat Lightning? Can you not get enough of it’s mulchy greenhouse vibes in your life? Then Meet Hist Sap! Which is like Heat Lightning’s younger, more coconut milk infused sibling.
Like this went from smelling like a delectable coconut cake to smelling like a coconut cake served on a bed of fresh mulch.
After 30 mins: I’m not feeling this green note. Is it a moss? It kind of reminds me of an oak moss but more well, wet. Dank - but not in the slang sense. While this is very evocative of Argonians and The Black Marsh it isn’t what I was going for in a perfume. Edges of sweet coconut milk and vanilla.
Official Notes: banana, walnut, vanilla, honey, butter, cardamom, maple sugar, teakwood, bourbon
Welp! My nose confused banana with coconut. And I can see why - this doesn’t smell like the bananas you get at the grocery store... But it does smell like banana candy (which in turn has a certain coconuttiness to it). I think my brain was also getting a certain amount of pineapple from it. Also I figure banana isn’t used that much in perfumery so my poor noodle brain was working overtime trying to draw comparisons. Regardless, it’s fruity lol.
The vanilla, honey, butter, and maple sugar are what smelled like a vanilla frosted cake to me. The bourbon is what I was reading as boozy. I think the walnut and teakwood are what’s smelling kind of green, mulchy, dank and bitter to me.
Verdict: Pass. It was nice in the bottle, nice wet, but when it dried down and those bitter notes came out it turned me off.
In the bottle: Sugared melons with a faint edge of booze. It smells like a really fancy mixed drink that’s ultra sweet to hide the fact that it contains enough alcohol to take an elephant four sheets to the wind. I remember this having a cactus note? There’s maybe a hint of that at this phase.
Wet on my skin: Sugar, a little narcotic edge, indistinct fruitiness, a touch of succulent-like wetness (reminds me of aloe) ...and not much else. I dunno if my skin is eating most of this or if I’m going anosmic but it’s so much fainter than it was in the bottle. I feel like the more I sniff it the less I get. So I'm probably going kind of ansomic.
Drydown: Blue-green sugared musky melony-fruit, swirl of aloe, tiny bit of… smokiness? And something sinister and piquant. Not boozy - but kind of sharp, almost herbal. Like I could see it being a spice like cayenne pepper. It’s kinda nose-tickly.
After 30 mins: Very similar to the drydown - a little more boozy. I cannot tell what this kind of sinister piquant note is. You’ve got me stumped, AoE.
Official Notes: mango, watermelon, papaya, honey, sand, marshmallow, coconut, cactus, sandalwood
Okay! So the fruit-cocktail-drink does involve a melon, a green fruit, and idk where i was getting the blue. Maybe from the coconut? Both the coconut and the marshmallow add a certain creaminess to the scent I kept failing to mention but is definitely there. The marshmallow and honey are both responsible for the sweetness of the scent. The cactus I am sure is that kind of zing of aloe type smell.
Now let’s talk about the kind of mystery sinister piquancy. I think what I was interpreting as that is a combo of the mango, the sand, and the sandalwood. I think the sandalwood is adding resinous smokiness to the base of the scent. I think the mango is what I was interpreting as spice (mango is often spicy smelling to my nose when it has its skin on), and I think some of the kind of… powdery sharp ‘edge’ to the scent is the sand. I can definitely see that part as being a sand accord with a name put to it.
Verdict: I actually really like this one, and when I get around to doing another order with AoE I’ll probably be upsizing it. It’s another of their perfumes with a really unique character. And this one does evoke the idea of Skooma strongly - a kind of narcotic drink made from “moon sugar” but a race of desert dwelling cat-people. (If I were to make one change to this scent in fact - it would be to include some sort of mint or catnip note. )
In the bottle: Okay, so I recall this having a ‘water’ and ‘docks’ note because of course it does. Also, I think there was some sort of blackberry note because if there isn’t what is this even doing as a Riften themed perfume? So, in the bottle I get bright, tart fruit with a touch of booziness - maybe a blackberry wine accord? I get a floral that blends well with the blackberry and then a breath of aged wood and water with maybe a hint of salt to it. The salt’s a little weird given… Riften is inland.
Wet on my skin: Tart, spiced, dark fruit. This might be more of a blackberry mead than a blackberry wine. Edge of a sweet floral. Kind of a caramel note. Old wood, a tiny bit of smokiness, and dark water. Still maybe a little hint of salt.
Drydown: Musky sweetness forward. As it started to dry down I instantly started to get honey - I dunno if the honey is part of a mead accord of its own note but yup… honey. That also explains the saltiness - especially if it’s honeycomb. Sometimes honey and honeycomb notes will smell kinda salty to me. Mostly getting musky honey with blackberry undertones here. Some deep woodiness. Not getting much of the water here, but that’s okay because I’m digging what I’m getting right now. It’s like a gently spiced mulled blackberry mead. Maybe - maybe - an edge of floral, some dark water and dark greens at the very edges.
After 30 mins: A little earthier than the drydown but otherwise about the same. While the floral I was smelling earlier I’m pretty sure wasn’t violet I think this might contain some violet as well, that’s adding to that kind of earthy quality.
Official Notes: blackberry, honey, amber, vetiver, oakmoss, cedar, oak, sandalwood
So, the blackberry, honey, amber and probably even the vetiver are what I’m reading as mulled spiced mead. I’m betting the vetiver here might also be what was smelling kind of floral to me. The sandalwood is probably what was adding just that tiny touch of smokiness, and the cedar and oak are what smell woody (the oak might even be adding to the mead impression). With the oakmoss - this is going to sound weird but I think I was reading that as a violet. It smells a lot like a violet.
Verdict: I really like this one! Will probably be upsizing at some point.
Lavender Town
In the bottle: So, lavender is in the title so I remember it in this one. I think it also had lemonade in it? Anyway - what I smell in the bottle is… lemon with some herbal lavender. The lemon note is a little lemon Pledge to my nose. The lavender is soft, herbal, but not overly medicinal. I also feel like I’m getting something ozonic or reminiscent of ozone - like a white musk.
Wet on my skin: Okay, lemon is strongly sweetened on the skin. Less like lemon Pledge and more like actual lemonade. Edges of fuzzy lavender. Some more of that kinda ozone, kinda white musk smell. This smell is clean without being acrid or soapy. It’s nostalgic and comforting. Appropriate for what it’s trying to evoke.
Drydown: Musky - kinda like a purple-vanilla-ozonic musk? Sweet and light and kinda feminine in a teenaged or tween reminiscent way. Again, nostalgic. The lavender is hanging around as kind of an herbal, floral fuzziness. The lemon is off at the very edges - but that’s fine because it’s gone kinda Pledge smelling again. If it were more prominent it would bother me, but right now it’s fine. There might be some honey or brown sugar in here from the lemonade accord.
After 30 mins: Similar to the drydown, but the lemon’s even more gone. There’s like a ghost that might have once been lemon. This scent could have easily been labeled “Twilight Sugar” and claim to be a body spray from 2001 and I would have believed it.
Official Notes: lavender, honey, lemonade, lemongrass
Well, the lavender is definitely there - and they’ve got a good one. The honey is the honey/brown sugar type of note I was getting - there may have been another sweet note in the lemonade accord as well. The lemongrass must be what I was reading as ozonic. It doesn’t really smell like the kind of citronella smell I expect from lemongrass. More kind of golden like hay and ozone.
Verdict: I don’t think I’m going to upsize but I dunno if I’ll keep the sample or not. It smells so unique compared to what I’ve smelled from other houses and I do like how comforting it is. I think I’d really like this in a soap or body spray… but less in a perfume. If the lemon smelled more realistic or full/rounded and lasted the life of the scent I’d be all over this - after all it's got a great lavender.

No comments:

Post a Comment