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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review & Recommendation: 11 Scents from Arcana's Cocktails for Charity, Honey and Venom, & Meow Collections

I ordered Ajevie's decants for Arcana's Cocktails for Charity, Honey and Venom, & Meow collections, but only just got my decants since I had them sent to Singapore. A lot of the scents I ordered are sold out already, so I'm only reviewing the scents that are still available for purchase. So if you want to purchase Arcana, you can go to either of these sources:

Since the scents available are spread out between these stores, I'll list out where you can purchase each scent from to make things easier. Arcana sells out quickly though, so the listings may have changed.

For my previous Arcana reviews, which include a discussion of their longevity and sillage, you can click on the Arcana label on the right or here. As usual, reviews are done blind until the TL;DR's written. If anything surprises me, I write an overview.


Cat's Whiskers 

"Only for true sybarites. Rich eggnog, dark rum, a suggestion of waffles, a hint of smoky bacon, and 1 tiny drop of sparkling mint." (Arcana, Pretty Indulgent)

The first thing that hit me is that kind of oily sort of of gourmand note that's often referred to as pancakes/donuts/funnel cake/etc. It was cloying at first, but started getting lighter. There's a maple syrup sort of sweetness and something else in this that reminds me of Pumpkins Crave Bacons, and I love it as much as I love Pumpkins Crave Bacons. This just has more of a wood resin sort of dryness to it and a real soy milk sort of milkiness to it.

By 10 min, it smells really close to Pumpkins Crave Bacons, so I need to sniff both at the same time.

TL;DR: A light version of that pancakes/donuts/funnel cakes note with a maple syrup-like sweetness and a real soy milk sort of milkiness.

Overview: Here are the notes for Pumpkins Crave Bacon:

"Sugar pumpkin with maple, nutmeg, and smoky bacon accord."

Now that I'm sniffing them side by side, they're definitely very different. Cat's Whiskers is warmer and more "oily" in scent, and also has that wood resin sort of dustiness to it. Pumpkins Crave Bacon is cooler, with a drier sort of bacon. You also get pumpkins in it, which can go slightly tart on my skin. The bacon in both scents are also very different; Cat's Whiskers is maple syrup drenched, streaky, and oily bacon, Pumpkins Crave Bacon is dry, savoury, maple-glazed bacon. If I'm asked to pick my favourite out of the two, I'd pick Pumpkins Crave Bacon.


Cupid the Archer: Silver

"Petitgrain, sweet coconut, Omani frankincense, tiare petals, and silvery narcissus." (Arcana, Pretty Indulgent)

When I first opened the bottle, I got coconut water –not artificial coconut but actual coconut water. Not the soft drink type of coconut water either, it's the kind of coconut water that's fresh from a newly opened coconut. On my skin though, I just got a burst of smoke at first. It worried me a bit but after three minutes I start getting this very rich musky coconut. There's the scent of tropical flowers mingled into this. The tropical flowers tries to lighten the scent, but overall the coconut weighs it down and it becomes a very heavy, heady scent.

The coconut bit start reminding me of sun tan oil after 10 min, with slightly piercing florals. The florals kept getting more and more piercing on me to the point where it smells like obnoxiously perfumed sun tan oil. The initial scents are just so perfect, that I'm cursing my skin chemistry right now. I think this scent will smell heavenly on a different skin chemistry!

TL;DR: Obnoxiously floral perfumed sun tan oil.


Cupid the Archer: Gold

"Bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa absolute, spiced rum, 10 year aged cruelty-free beeswax absolute, and a pinch of blood orange." (Arcana, Pretty Indulgent, Rhinestone Housewife)

I got delicious cocoa wafting up, but at the base there's an off smell that didn't reveal itself to be this waxy orange until 2-5 min into the scent. Theo cocoa is the richest, dark chocolate that makes me drool. The orange part smells like the gooey, liquid centre of an orange chocolate truffle. Unfortunately, the waxy part makes me think of these sort of orange-flavoured wafers:

This is actually a soap! You can buy it from LoveLeeSoaps on Etsy. I've never tried this company though!

It just spoils the entire scent for me. Luckily, after about 30 min, the cocoa is the most prominent part of the scent, and the part that wafts around as I walk. If I go close to the skin, I still get orange wafers, but if I avoid sniffing too close, it's rich, decadent dark chocolate. 

When the scent dries down after about 2h, the scent that gets left behind unfortunately smells like curdled milk on me.

TL;DR: The most luxurious orange chocolate truffle smushed between artificial orange wafers.


Fanning the Fur

"Almond, vetiver, luxuriant amber resin, coconut milk, peru balsam, and whiskey." (Arcana, Pretty Indulgent, Rhinestone Housewife)

I get fragrant almond milk with something savoury, which makes me think of large chunks of chopped almonds. It really smells like chopped almonds. Actual chopped almonds, not a romanticized almond. Sure, the bit that smells like almond milk smells like a perfumed version of almond milk, but the savoury part smells like actual almond chunks. They even have that fibrous sort of smell. I feel like I'm sniffing a high-fiber, trail-mix sort of muesli with lots of almond, served with the most fragrant, sweet almond milk. I'm actually getting hungry sniffing this. I'm not sure how I feel about this scent. I love this scent, I'm very impressed by it and it makes me hungry....but it's like BathSabbath's November Coming Fire, which smells like the most gastronomically orgasmic lamb chops –it's not really something I want to scent myself with.

As it dries down, the scent becomes closer to a Japanese milk pudding flavoured chewy candy, with hints of wood.

TL;DR: Fragrant almond milk with actual chopped almonds.

Overview: Huh, on second sniff, I can smell a bit of the whiskey, which I think is the reason for the almond milk bit smelling as fragrant as it does. I think the amber resin, vetiver & balsam's the one that adds realism to the savoury chopped almond scent.


Honey & Venom

"Honey amber, black amber, smoky oudh, black vanilla, and kyphi." (Pretty Indulgent, Rhinestone Housewife)

Oh wow. When I opened the bottle, I got hit by that fragrant, thin honey note I just love. The kind that has an almost wooden touch to it and will be a melodic high note if it were a sound. This one has wood though. Old wood. Only it's not the kind of old wood that reminds you of coffins and grandparents' homes like NAVA's old wood. This is the kind of wood that makes you think of Indonesian palaces that are rich in history –it's dark, rich, almost incense-like. For the Asia-based readers, don't worry, this does not smell like a mama-san store/your grandma's altar/one of those old Chinese store manned by an old Chinese man in a singlet.

It's a very seductive scent and definitely makes me think of mystical Indonesian myths and legends. If I'm asked by the Indonesian tourism board to pick a scent that would represent Indonesia (the way we'd like to be represented...not how Indonesia actually smells), this is it. I need a full bottle of this. It's a matter of national pride.

indonesia, francesca tanmizi, bali
A photo I took of a barong dancer. Yup, he's jumping over fire.

TL;DR: Indonesian myths & legends.

Overview: Holy crap. That's it. There's oud in this and this smells so close to the Sumbawan oud I get from my dad's friend! I wonder if the oud Julia uses is Sumbawan oud.



"Fresh gingerroot with ginger grass, strawberry, satsuma, raspberry, ruby grapefruit, apricot, chai, and green musk." (Arcana, Pretty Indulgent, Rhinestone Housewife)

Oooh....this is a burst of fruits. It smells like a pink fruit punch, but with something vegetable-ish that I can't place. The scent ends up smelling like a pink fruit punch from a healthy juice bar, where they add stuff like wheatgrass, ginger and cayenne pepper to make the juice healthier and help you detox/balance/whatever.

TL;DR: Pink fruit punch made healthy.

Overview: I'm guessing it's the ginger grass, chai & green musk making it smell like a healthy vegetable juice.


Paddling the Pink Canoe

"Dragonsblood, vintage patchouli, citron, pink salt, pink musk, and amber." (Pretty Indulgent, Rhinestone Housewife)

This is musky and sugary, in a soft, pink way. I don't know if I got pink from the suggestion from the scent's name, but it's very girly, and feminine, and just makes you think of soft, pink rooms. The sugary bit is cool and light, and not the piercing sort of "sugar" note that's similar to Aquolina's Pink Sugar.

Unfortunately, after 10-15 min, I start getting a bit of a searing, fizzy tartness that reminds me of room sprays. It's a really lovely scent, but I just can't get over that room spray bit.

TL;DR: Pink musk room spray.


Giggle Water

"Champagne infused with tropical white blossoms, citron, mango, sweet skin musk, and green galbanum." (Pretty Indulgent)

At first I got a burst of mangoes but then it becomes that fizzy citrus scent that's often referred to as a champagne note, with the mango in the background to make it smell like a tropical fruit champagne cocktail. The fizzy citrus bit is definitely prominent and it starts getting sharp and almost woody at times. Unfortunately, the fizzy citrus bit also gets so amplified on my skin that it drowned out the other subtler scents, and this scent ends up smelling a bit one-dimensional on me after about 20-30 min. If I force myself to keep sniffing it until my nose gets used to the assault of the fizzy citrus note, I can pick up subtler scents like crushed, fresh, young green leaves, and mangoes. Unfortunately, the only thing I can catch when the scent is wafting around is just that single fizzy citrus note.

TL;DR: Fizzy citrus assault, with crushed, fresh, young green leaves, and mangoes hiding in the flank.


Sitting Pretty

"Sugared rum poured slowly over warm, sensual vanilla musk." (Pretty Indulgent)

This reminds me of Pumpkins Crave Treats in that warm, brown sugar pie sort of way. If you've ever tried Momofuku's crack pie, it's similar to that scent, only a bit more perfumed. 

You can get the recipe for this here from The pie is basically made up of sugar, egg, vanilla,  and cream. It sounds disgusting but it's really like crack – you can't stop eating it even though you know you'll hate yourself afterwards.

This one has an oily, margarine-like quality to the scent though, and it ends up being much more heavier than Pumpkins Crave Treats. In suffocatingly hot, tropical weather, it gets too cloying and heavy, unfortunately. There's also hints of a raisin-like sweetness, similar to Possets' Gelato: Vaniglia and Solstice Scents' Kitchen.

TL;DR: Oily, margarine version of Momofuku's crack pie with raisin-like sweetness.



"A deep, dark blend of labdanum resin, worn leather, Mysore sandalwood, smoked resins of frankincense and myrrh, red dragonsblood, kush, and a hint of zazz." (Pretty Indulgent)

Crap. This kinda reminds me of a Chinese medicine store. One that tries to be brightly lit and modern, but the resulting scent is bitter Chinese medicine, a bitter, sterile smell, red joss sticks, and some lush, musky Lampberger room fragrance trying valiantly to hide all the other scents. 

It does get more luxuriously musky with time, but it's still mostly red joss sticks. Definitely a more luxurious, perfumed version of red joss sticks, but still red joss sticks. It's the way you can create a gourmet mac & cheese with 5 types of cheese and truffle oil, but it's still a mac & cheese. Red joss sticks reminds me of my grandma's creepy altar that glows red at night, so I'm not a fan of this scent.

You can fancy it up all you want, it still smells like your grandma's creepy altar.
Image courtesy of

TL;DR: Luxurious red joss sticks.


Twirling the Pearl

"Rich, golden honey, marshmallow, lavender milk, soft musk, and a tiny hint of green galbanum." (Pretty Indulgent)

Ok. I'm confused. On one hand, there's this light, watery lavender that makes me think of lavender toner swiped across your face during a spa treatment during. At the same time, there's the most realistic marshmallow note I've ever encountered. It's so realistic, it goes straight to my stomach and makes me hungry. But the lavender toner bit is inedible. It's two awesome scents combined together to confuse my brain —can I eat it, or should I keep my mouth shut?

As it dries down, it becomes powdery lavender marshmallow with freshly cut plant stalks. I love this marshmallow note so much, I hope Arcana does an entire marshmallow collection!

TL;DR: Lavenders and marshmallows.


  1. From your review, I'm now curious about Travelers. I was hesitant to purchase it as I thought the leather smell was super-strong. I do like the smell of incense.

    1. Hope you get tons of incense from it then! The leather was definitely not obvious on me, so hopefully you get the same results!