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Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: 12 of NAVA's Fall/Halloween Scents

Thanks to Ajevie's awesome decants (link to her decant circle page here), I got to try out a bunch of scents from Nocturne Alchemy VApothecary (NAVA)!

I know I've raved about Ajevie before, but I have to keep doing it whenever I mention her. Her decant circles are amazing. Not only do you get to try samples of perfumes that do not come in sample form, she's also fast, organized, and so freaking helpful. Check out how she labels the decants too!


Name, Brand, Year & Notes. So freaking helpful!


While it makes it harder for me to review stuff blind (I've trained my eyes to glaze over the descriptions), it makes organizing my collection so easy. Head here if you want to join in her decant circles!

Oh, one thing to remember if you're an international customer and ordering from Ajevie, NAVA's collections gets sold out/discontinued relatively fast (1-2 months). This sucks for international customers, since international shipping can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks (sometimes even pushing 5 if customs get cranky). As you can guess, ordering decants gets stressful since there's a huge chance the scents will sell out before the decants get to you.

You're also forced to choose between combining decant orders to save on expensive international shipping, or spend extra to avoid the risk of missing out on getting the scents you like. I ended up not combining my shipping, but most of the scents were still gone by the time I finally finished trying them out. It definitely puts me off from ordering from NAVA, especially since the scents are not straightforward scents you can figure out from the description.



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Perfume Oils General Review


The throw of these perfumes are great. They start of at faux whispering distance, though you can catch whiffs of it as you type if you put it on your hand. It stays at this strength for about 1 1/2 - 2h, but you can get traces on your skin for over 12h. While I didn't find many scents I like from these collections, I still like the quality. One thing I noticed is that NAVA's very good at capturing that ancient wood scent, and a lot of scents contain that note. While I'm impressed by it, I smell like I've just busted out of an ancient coffin, or have spent my life in a Japanese/Chinese temple.

As always, all scent reviews are done blind until the TL;DR's written. I write an overview if any notes surprise me.


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Bell Book & Candle 

"Leather accords, golden amber notes and soft honey, wax, smoke and white patchouli essences, just a pinch of black saffron and a drop of marzipan."

There's this chemical smell that smells exactly like spilled ink and honey. It's a bit disconcerting since I feel like I'm not supposed to be sniffing this. My skin eats this scent up particularly fast, because by slightly over 5 minutes, the scent has gone faint and I have to get close to my skin to sniff it. It's pretty weird since it started off as a burst of spilled ink that can fill up an entire elevator. The scent it leaves lingering on my skin is honey, a watery plastic and ink. Only the ink is more like the scent you get on your notebook after writing with a ballpoint pen rather than a pool of spilled ink. The watery plastic smells like that watery plastic some perfumers use as their "leather" note.

While searching for pics of spilled ink, I mostly only found clip arts. That probably shows how old school it is...
Image courtesy of fountainpennetwork.com


Random thought, with everything done on computers right now, I wonder how long it'll take before some kid reads what I wrote and goes, "Whoa! Ink! That's so vintage!"

TL;DR: Spilled ink & honey.

Overview: From the name, I'm not surprised by the spilled ink, but from the description, I definitely wouldn't guess it. This is why I'm worried about buying NAVA blind. 

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Black Crystal Candy Apple


"Black Vanilla and Black Vanilla Musk, and sweet plum, Black Musk and Black Amber, Sweet apples and a kiss of black sugar."

I'm confused. There's a very clean, soapy apple scent, but at the base, there's this delicious, edible baked goods smell. I'm not sure if I'm hungry or wanting a bath. The apple soap is definitely not the handwash type of soap -it's more of one of those luxurious, exquisitely wrapped bar soaps that's supposedly made by nuns for a few hundred generations or so.

This is from Santa Maria Novella and actually created by Dominican Friars since 1221! If you ever visit Florence, you have to visit this place. Whenever I think I'm in an upscale European apothecary, I think of that place. It's so beautiful!
You can buy it online from Privet House


At the same time, there's this rich, buttery vanilla cookies smell that makes me so hungry. It's like someone played a cruel joke on you and mashed up the worlds most delicious vanilla cookies into the world's most awesome smelling apple soap.

TL;DR: Vanilla cookies mashed into luxurious apple soap.


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Black Santalum Cider


"Rich Black Sandalwood drizzled into an old oak barrel, sticks of cinnamon, tart apple slices, cardamom and nutmeg."

This is an apple cider and very old wood. My friends and I were debating on the old wood bit. I think it smells like dark, old wood you get in the homes of Chinese old people or those traditional stores selling traditional items that are exotic even to me. The kind of wood that has been smoked over many years by thousands of joss sticks. While that old wood bit may not sounds appealing to most people, I've gotten jaded by so many apple cider scents that this is just mesmerizing. I swear I can smell my grandma in this.

TL;DR: Apple cider party at my grandma's home.

Overview: I think they captured that old, blackened wood smell really accurately, because everyone who sniffed this kept insisting the wood smells like wood furniture in their respective grandparents' homes. Screw you all, it's my grandma's home.



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Blood Moon

"Black Kashmir, Black Musk, Moon Incense, Black Dragon's Blood, Bastet's Black Amber, VA Nightshade, Sweet Boswellia Frankincense Tears and Hungarian Red Geranium."

It starts off with a very old scent, then takes on a powdery cool quality. It ends up smelling like an old lady who takes care of herself, dresses up nice (though in a dotty, old lady fashion), uses her favourite powdery, old lady scents to smell nice...but still has that old smell of herbal salves on her. Kinda burried in the background, but it's there.

You just know she's also carrying a giant bag.
Image courtesy of greenstag.net
TL;DR: Old lady perfume on a well-groomed old lady with old lady tastes.

Overview: Yeah, this scent isn't as dark and mysterious as I'd expect from that description. It's a scent that makes you think you're going to get a big, powdery-smelling hug from a sweet, old lady.




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Cobra Venom


"Pumpkin spice infused Carnation, N2 Musk, Black Fig, Sugared Snake & Spider Candied Webs, Blood Heliotrope, French Vanille, Black Crystal Vanilla Musk, Black Cardamom Pod, Egyptian Amber Musk Essence, Egyptian Patchouli and Cemetery Ginger Root."

It's like a pumpkin spiced tea. That's it. Just heavenly pumpkin spiced tea -slightly creamy, but not milky.

TL;DR: Pumpkin spiced tea.

Overview: I can't smell all that in this, but I guess they contributed in some way to create this amazing tea-like scent. I was looking to buy a full-size of this scent since I really like it, but the description I got on NAVA's  site is different from the description I got from Ajevie's decant, so I'm not sure if they're the same scent. I don't think I'll risk getting it.



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Dracula


"Corrupted incense, blood musk, clove, Tunisian myrrh and blood red pomegranate."

It starts of as a cool, dusty sort of cologne smell. After about 5 minutes, there's a sour yet still sweet peppercorn sort of scent to it. I'm thinking peppercorns because the spiciness is very mild in this, and it has that peppercorn sort of slight sourness to it. It doesn't smell like food though! It smells masculine, deep, barest hint of spicy and oh so sophisticated. It's a scent you expect on a hot guy wearing a suit yet still the kind of guy who can laugh at himself and be silly.

I kinda want this dude to be the model for this scent:

It's really hard not to have a celebrity crush on Wil Wheaton...his personality makes him hot..
Image courtesy of zap2it.com


It's not really for me but I definitely like it.

TL;DR: Masculine/unisex peppercorn scent.

Overview: Guess the pomegranate mixed with wood created a peppercorn scent. I tried this on my guy and it smells sooo good on him. There's a bit of a dry, dusty wood scent on him as it dries down, but I still love it. 




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Gunwitch

"Kashmir Red Musk, Himalayan Cedarwood, Hungarian Patchouli, Romanian Vetiver, Egyptian Sandalwood, Arabian Frankincense Resin, Egyptian Myrrh, Black Pepper Whole & sifted in a Cedar Barrel aged."

It starts off petrifyingly with that game-y smell again that I got from Kashmir chocolate. And wood. The wood is more of an old wood you get at Buddhist temples - the kind of wood that smells strongly of age and incense. By about 5 minutes, the game-y smell is gone and this is nice enough with all the ancient temple wood smell. Even though the scent does get sweeter with time, it's still ancient temple wood.

I like it but it's not really for me. It's a smell that makes me think of very wise, old Buddhist monks and I'm not wise or old enough. I thought it was just me, but my guy took a sniff of me and without me saying anything, he just went, "You smell like an old, Chinese monk. There's that temple smell."

This is actually Maha Ghosananda, a Cambodian monk. His achievements are extraordinary, and I really recommend reading about his life here.
Image courtesy of The Liberated Life Project


TL;DR: Wise, old Buddhist monks.

Overview: Judging from what I got from Kashmir Chocolate (review below) and this scent, I have to avoid anything with Kashmir from NAVA. I've never been to Kashmir, but if I'm basing my impression of Kashmir from NAVA's Kashmir scents, I'd imagine Kashmir to be overflowing with smelly bush animals.




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Kashmir Chocolate 

"Dark chocolate, Peruvian Chocolate, Cocoa, Hot Chocolate, Deep blood musk. Deep blood red musk blended together with Red Egyptian Musk (Crimson)."

Oh there's chocolate alright. Bitter, dark chocolate. There's also this game-y, herbal smell that various perfumers have labelled as opium or patchouli. It starts turning into very game-y milk at around 10-20 minutes. I really like the chocolate bit but the game-y part is horrible. It's like the milk of some smelly bush animal (anything except kudus..they're delicious) blended with chocolate. Just no.

TL;DR: Game-y milk with chocolate

Overview: I guess it's the deep blood part making it smell game-y? Either way, "Kashmir" from NAVA is officially my "death note".


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Mina

"Hungarian Blue Jasmine, Eternal Ankh Vanilla, Blue Sandalwood, Rosewood Musk, Santalum White, N6 (sweet Musk), Egyptian Musk and Sensual White Musk."

Oh this is gorgeous, it's like a sweet, clean floral syrup. It's definitely a white floral. There's also hints of that fresh smell that reminds me of cut leaves in the background, which makes this scent so refreshing. As it wears on, it develops a bit of a floral musk that's very sensual. If the scent stayed light, it'll be GORGEOUS. I'd totally pick this pic as a perfume ad:

I doubt she can walk elegantly without crashing into things with a hat that covers half her face though.
Gorgeous picture by Jean-Baptiste Fort


It's bright, light, elegant and refined, yet so very sensual. The scent is so perfect for someone in their late 20s & early 30s.

Unfortunately, the scent gets heavier and heavier and I'm not sure if it's supposed to be this way or it's my skin chemistry amping up the musk part. By 20 min, it's a scent that's more for a woman in her 40s.  It's like smelling the elegant, refined lady turn into an elegant, refined old lady.

TL;DR: Very sensual, refined older lady.



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Raccoon



"Halloween spices of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove and Cardamom blended into a Leather accord, Teak and Sandalwood Extract, Cotton Candy accord, French Vanilla Elixir, Lavender, Mandarin and NA Amber."

It's a soft, cottony, cinnamon and spices. It's not creamy cinnamon and spices, which is pretty often done, it's actually a soft, non-edible scent. It's a smell that makes you think of cotton and babies. With cinnamon. The effect is pretty awesome. It's like you're in a baby's room during the holidays, when the smell of the cinnamon candle burning in the house even reaches the baby's room.

Unfortunately after about 40 min, the scent this turns to is closer to cinnamon baby powder you put on a baby's butt. Yup, there's even that slightly off smell you get after a diaper change. It mostly smells nice after the baby's all cleaned and powdered, but there's still something off. You can clean that baby all you want, and cover it with all sorts of nice smelling powders & oils until it smells mostly amazing, but you still can't hide the fact that that baby sat on its own poop for a while. It no longer smells like poop and there's no traces of poop...but you can sniff something is off.

I noticed this scent made my skin feel warm, even though I didn't break out in hives. If you have a cinnamon sensitivity, it may be a good idea to test patch with this scent.

TL;DR: Soft, cottony cinnamon & spices, turning into cinnamon baby powder on a baby's butt after a diaper change.

Overview: I'm guessing it's the leather that's creating that off smell. I tried sniffing it again and yup, it's leather -the strong, bitter, brand new leather scent that's animalistic and heavy on chemicals all at once.

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Underlord Nefertiti 

"Raspberry Tea perfumed with NA Raspberry, Black Raspberry, Egyptian Blackberry, a drop of Crystal, a touch of Black Rose petal then blended into a deep black tea perfume and sweetened with resin of amber and Teak."

I smelled a burst raspberries at first, but it muddled with a soft, musky scent that somehow strikes me as pink musk. It's how I imagine this scene would smell like:


Trust me, it smells like an explosion of pink.
Photography by Mascha Seitz. Her work is GORGEOUS!


It's a fun, albeit slightly artificial, scent, and something I can see as a Victoria's Secret or Body Shop scent. It's a bit too young for me since it strikes me more as a late teens/early-20s sort of scent.

TL;DR: Pink musk.




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Vampire Queen

"Black Honey, Blood Wine and Cardamom. Threads of Black Saffron, Nile Patchouli and Black Musk. A drop of Blood Musk, Temple NA and Crimson scent the Vampire Queen."

This starts off as honeyed tart fruits and old wood  - the old wood bit is bitter and medicinal.

After slightly over 20 minutes, the old wood bit melded into the scent and turns it into this intoxicating scent. It's like sniffing and exotic, tart, gourmet candy. It'll be brownish-red in colour and clear, looks like a jewel, isn't so sweet, but is a burst of flavour in your mouth. There's still a hint of bitterness in it, but it just grounds the scent to stop it from going too sweet. It's how I imagine this candy would smell like:
This is actually for sale on Etsy! You can buy it from Lecarre Lollipops here! I'm planning to get it once my mail forwarding address is live!


I'm not sure if it's just my skin chemistry making this smell awesome though. A bit got on my cardigan, and the bitter, medicinal smell just doesn't disappear.

TL;DR: Candied Chinese medicinal herbs.

Overview: NAVA'S descriptions are hard to figure out for someone new to their brand. What's Temple NA??

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