First Impressions: Arcana Perfumes

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Today I've got a First Impressions review for you! This is based solely on the scents offered by Arcana, as I didn't have any experience with their customer service. Arcana is one of the companies I've sort of avoided, not because their offerings don't sound awesome (they do!) but because they sell mostly through third party vendors, like The Rhinestone Housewife and Pretty Indulgent. They do sell some scents on Ebay as well. That's fine of course, but mostly I've avoided them because they don't do samples. That's their prerogative, and whatever helps them run smoothly is totally cool. But for me personally, samples are kind of imperative, especially when their full sizes are a little pricier than others in the 5 ml size range, around $18-$20, which is simply outside my budget for blind-buying from a new-to-me brand.

Recently a user on the IMAM subreddit, /u/worldwidethrowaway, was kind enough to host a general catalog decant circle for Arcana, and I thought it would be a perfect time to give them a shot and get a feel for their style. I've never done a decant circle before but everything went smoothly-it took about a month and a half, which was understandable as the response for this circle was overwhelming (I'm guessing I'm not the only one who laments the no-samples thing). The package I got was sealed perfectly, each vial was wrapped with plumber's tape, the vials were neatly labeled, and there were even a couple soap samples included. Everything was fine on that end and I'd feel comfortable doing another circle with that user in the future.

So, onto the scents! Since this was a GC circle, there is kind of a range of scents here-some I would gravitate more towards during the summer for sure, so even though I liked them a lot, I'm not as excited right now about them as I am the more fall/winter type scents. But check back with me later on that.



Leaves Falling Like Rain
In honor of our beloved Pacific Northwest and the best time of the year. A comforting base of brown sugar, caramel, gingersnaps and cappuccino is sparked off with hints of vintage patchouli, hyssop, mullein and white pepper.

Of course I will start with the one that has lately been discontinued due to a component issue. But, for posterity and if you find it available for swaps, I will still comment on it. On cold sniff it smells sweet, almost maple-y, but there is a bite of spicy ginger too- it's not sickening sweet. There is rich coffee and a fair amount of earthy patchouli grounding it. It smells like a toned-down version of Solstice Scents' Jack and the Devil to me, It's a very warm, cuddly, sweater-weather type scent. I am going to pretend that I don't like it at all. Blech. 

Vampire's Garden
For vampires and other dark souls addicted to topsoil, the sweetly herbaceous scent of freshly turned earth, blood oranges and staked tomato vines under a midnight sky

This is fresh and vivacious, oddly enough, considering it's named after the undead! This opens with a blast of juicy, astringent orange. It's almost cleaning product-ish but there is peppery,green tomato leaf and dirt notes too so it's not that simple. It's a little sharp and pervasive for my taste, but it's possible I will like it more in the spring.



Aestas
The ancient Roman goddess of summer: Madagasgar vanilla, yellow cake, soft peach nectar, golden musk, black musk and a hint of patchouli.


I knew it was a long shot, but I ordered this hoping for more cake, vanilla, and musk. Nope, lots 'o' peach. Peach and I don't get along so well. It's a deeper, earthier, more grounded peach with a hint of sweetness, but still, peach. If you like scents like Haus of Gloi's Peach Mama or Solstice Scents Chantilly Cream (which I actually do like somewhat), you may gravitate towards this.

Filthy Viking
Between the sea voyages and the pillaging, it must have been difficult for Odin’s henchmen 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 

One word sums this one up: bracing. Oh wait, that's already in the description. So I can't use it again. Argh. Okay. Um. Shivery. Biting. Almost-fruity juniper and evergreens. Icy mint. But it morphs rather dramatically after applying, when it suddenly becomes woodsy, like you're tucked deep in the lower levels of the longship, wrapped in some kind of toasty fur, surrounded by warm wood planks, a hint of slightly sooty smoke in the air.


Philtre Consumed
In its wake, this potion is said to leave a trail of ravenous longing and insatiable lust. Three gingers (fresh ginger, ginger extract, and gingerbread) are blended with a cheesecake accord, French cognac, butter co2 extract, caramel, black pepper, sugared milk, copaiba balsam, a pinch of ho wood, and a shameless slap of cassia


This is some deliciousness, right here. It's powerfully spicy ginger at first- more dry than sweet but still decidedly edible. It's tangy too- it IS like cheesecake. But a deep, mysterious, sexy, spicy gingerbread cheesecake. This is winner winner chicken dinner for me. 




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


Talk to me about this one in about six months, as it's really lovely, I'm just not woo-hoo excited about it right now. The scent is reminiscent of Solstice Scents Coquina- lots of orange blossom (and I love orange blossom!), light coconut and ocean spray notes. It's fresh, airy, sweet and summery and so not on my radar right now. Soon though. Very soon.


The Sweet Trade
This laid-back tropical tangle celebrates the less black-hearted side of piracy. With heady notes of caramel, honey, orange blossoms, rich coconut cream and dark Indonesian patchouli.

This is Surf's older, sexier, edgier wild-child sister. It's Surf with the lights turned down lowwwww. Wear this on a hot, sultry summer night and watch the magic happen. It smells a lot like a Haus of Gloi custom scent I made with orange blossom, mahogany, coconut, and red musk, and it has always been my favorite one, The patchouli is not heavy here, don't worry about that. It's mostly rich, almost syrupy orange blossom and coconut. Very heady stuff, and quite swoonworthy.


Philtre: Adoration
An aphrodisiac believed to draw one's beloved to the greatest heights of receptivity and indulgence. Three vanillas, sweet cream, banana custard, white pepper, exotic amber, pearl musk, black pepper, and cardamom. 

Somewhat like Philtre: Consumed, but this has a kind of sharp,boozy banana thing going on. It's another blend that is foodie, but also musk and amber and spice, and keeps you guessing. Of the two I prefer Consumed, but this is quite delish as well.


Song of Songs: Comfort Me with Apples
Honey-sweetened cider, green apples, vanilla, buttermilk, amber resin, and a hint of cinnamon bark. 

This is definitely a tangy, lip-puckering green apple, and there's not a whole lot of spiciness to my nose and it's not particularly creamy or resinous either. Just a lot of apple. One second I think it smells really realistic, the next it's like a green apple Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but not over the moon about it either.

Apples Crave Vanilla
Wild apples and green apples with delicate vanilla, sensual musk, and white amber


This is a more subtle red apple, not too sweet and not spicy. It's a little lackluster on cold sniff, but enjoy the drydown when more muskiness and depth starts to peek out and it behaves more like a my-skin-but-better type scent.

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. 

Holy moly! I really love this one. I thought it would smell like Solstice Scents Basilica (ultimate church scent), but it stands on its own. This has a lot of dusty, creamy beeswax candles and the most gorgeous incense smoke, not too strong but just acrid enough to feel that old familiar Catholic guilt kicking in. Full size material.

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


This smells like smoky lavender- a very potent, sharp herbal and coniferous element at first, It does have an atmospheric, eerily quiet twilight feeling to it. The drydown is similar to Holy Terror to me with the smoke and beeswax, but I think I prefer Holy Terror as is.


Will I try Arcana again? Sure! Everything was well blended and interesting, Consumed and Holy Terror were definite full size candidates, and Surf and the Sweet Trade might start tickling my fancy more come spring. I have actually have purchased from Arcana again- I recently blind bought a full size from the Ebay store, Vanilla Craves Bread- because I adore bread scents and it just sounds fantastic, I couldn't resist. I'm glad I went ahead and gave Arcana a chance!




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Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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