Firstly I adore a good typeset. They look like apothecary labels. Beautiful. I'm not sure how practical it's going to be when you're sifting through them looking for a particular scent, but - still beautiful.
I bought ten samples, basically using the five samples option twice, and with shipping to Australia I think it was around $18. Bargain. And it arrived wrapped in tissue and in a pretty bag and all that wonderful stuff that's so rampant in good indie stores.
And I'm a sucker for a personalised thank you.
I chose heavily from their chocolate range - my love of foodie scents is huge, but also a little dangerous, since when it's right it's delicious and when it's wrong it's nauseating, and often ruins the intended food scent forever. Like how I can't eat cherries because of a childhood of cherry flavoured cough syrup. Same approximate idea.
Oh I just know this is going to take me a long time. Where is an expansive olfactory vocabulary when you need one?
Oh it's sweet. Cotton candy-ish crossed with caramel popcorn, then lemon drops as it settles. Oddly enough though it doesn't feel like a young girls scent. There's nothing fruity (yes, I said lemon, but "fruity" as a scent is quite different) in it's combination, and as it settles on the skin it becomes a bit warmer, closer to a musk than a straight sugar. It's - nice, but my main reservation is that I do smell like a delicious carnival food stand. And it's not a scent that you stop noticing, so you will be very aware of it for a good long time.
These two scents are two that I like separately and adore together. It's a combo that crops up fairly often with varying degrees of success. This particular combo leans slightly more to sandalwood, especially as it settles, and the creaminess of vanilla as a backdrop makes it seem a little soapy. Unfortunately it's only a very slight tilt towards sandalwood and probably needed a far stronger sandalwood presence to take it out of the "older lady" territory. Pleasant, but yes, doesn't feel like a "me" scent.
I will proclaim an instant bias because I desperately want to love a perfume called Ninja. Just so you know. It's lacking a current full listing on the shop, but a sample set listing says that it's "Inspired by the women of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" - a spice/orchid mystery". All of which translates to awesome street cred.
It's not the incensebomb I was expecting - it's sort of marine and sweet, cool blue water and green plants. Reminds me very much of a chemist perfume I used to wear as a teen called Mystique (Google has not been forthcoming. I know it's not made any more, does that mean all record of it has disappeared off the face of the earth?). Anyhow it's subtle and mature and very ladylike. Not something I would have mentally aligned with a name like "Ninja" but a class act all the same.
This is listed as a "dark and evil" scent, which is a Big Call. It'd better poke my eyes out or burn my sinuses or something. And yep - here is the potent incense scent. With a strong - blackcurrant? - undertone. For the Australians - ever had Dimetapp cough syrup? Medusa smells like that. Medicinal, strong, potent, but sweet, and ultimately tasty (I loved Dimetapp). How I've managed to wind two different cough syrup references into one perfume review is beyond me and completely unintentional. I was a sickly child.
Tropic of Chocolate
An island-y take on a foody scent, and it smells like biscuits. Coconut biscuits. And baking. And your grandma's cooking apron. Delicious and warm and enveloping. It's such a foody scent though that it feels like a Demeter Fragrance Library scent in it's accuracy. I can't imagine wearing this on a day to day basis, I would be making everyone around me hungry.
I gravitate towards the "volatile dangerous lady" smells, probably because deep down I wish I had a backbone of steel and could just bulldoze my way towards what I want. It's probably why I like Cersei so much in Game of Thrones. And maybe I believe deep down that if I smell like a woman to be feared I might command more respect. Or something silly like that.
Anyhow Salome has no description in it's sample listing, so I am almightily flying blind here. And it's immediately familiar, in a nostalgic way, and I can't isolate how which is infuriating. There's some lavender, but it's a smoky, incensey lavender and not an old lady lavender. This is amazingly difficult for me to explain. There's a lot in it. a lot of flowers, a lot of herbs, a lot of illicit substances. A heady, sexy and very feminine fragrance, worth a smell if you like your fragrances to enter the room before you do.
Exactly how it sounds - violet and chocolate. Together. In a rampant and overly touchy way. It's bewildering to smell something that's certainly a flower and immediately go "yum..." but that's pretty much what happens. It's delicious, but again, a little too delicious to be a feasible personal fragrance - it would be amazing as a room spray. Somewhat of a letdown for those coming into your house and immediately hoping for delicious foodstuffs though.
Oh, good grief. What are they trying to do to me? Ganache happens to be my holy grail of the chocolate world, and something that I don't run into very often, thus reducing me to a quivering heap when I do. An intensely rich, french bakery scent, very potent and must be applied sparingly. The longer it sits on the skin the less chocolatey it becomes, ending up smelling like - pastries I suppose is the best comparison. Like butter and sugar and vanilla essence and dough. It's still certainly adult though, and could actually probably be worn by a dude (not a man, note. A Dude). Closest thing to a unisex fragrance in this bunch.
Interesting choice for me because honey isn't a favoured scent of mine (or many peoples, surely? It's far to sickly to be pleasurable). The site lists it only as "mysterious sweetness" which is monumentally unhelpful for my purposes, but very accurate. It smells like sweet liqueur crossed with scented tea rose soaps. I'm not getting honey at all, but to be fair I have no idea what Egyptian honey smells like. In fact it's the only one where I can sort of smell the alcoholic smell that a lot of department store perfume has. That isn't a negative, by the way, just unexpected. Unsure about this one. Suspect it could swing either a later-favourite or a headacher.
Yet another chocolatey scent, this time with a dollop of orange liqueur. The chocolate note that's been used in a few of these is a very biscuity chocolate, which I think is the repeated "baking" vibe I keep getting. This one however is very dessertish. Or a creamy post-dinner cocktail maybe. Yummy. But the fruit note is a far more logical counterpoint for chocolate (for me) and it meshes well. It's not into Chocolate Orange territory, it's far more sophisticated than that. Will be worn. Time will tell if I absent-mindedly chew my wrist while doing so.
A very strong showing by Scent by the Sea - a must if you like foody smells, it seems to be their strength. My suspected most worn will be Ninja and Salome, followed by Arancia Nero. Beautiful presentation and great customer service - give a sample set a go and enjoy.