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Candice Chen

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About Candice Chen

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    wrist-sniffing wench
  • Birthday April 3


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  • BPAL of the Day
  • Favorite Scents
    Snow White, Alice, Bastet, Hecate

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  1. Candice Chen


    Silky bitter cacao absolute bolstered by a bone-dry teak wood. The rice milk note seems like an after-thought, gently smoothing out some of the edges but not really prominent in my 4-year-old bottle. The Snake Oil hums along just behind, neither overpowering nor being overwhelmed by the additional notes. The overall mixture is one that is dark and luscious but not quite foody or sweet. Well balanced enough to not feel overtly gourmand unless someone reads the notes to you.
  2. Candice Chen


    Took me a few years of aging to appreciate this. The sarsaparilla and leather used to be a bit harsh and sharp but now that it's about 3 years old, it opens as a gorgeously sweet Sarsaparilla/Sarsi, before it warms up into a subtle old (but clean) leather and the remains of a cream soda float. Not overwhelmingly sweet and heavy. Just a whiff from a glass.
  3. Candice Chen


    Lovely sweet rose petals fossilized in powdered sugar. This smells more like old-fashioned confectionery than a floral to me. It's lovely as an indulgence on its own but my favorite layering mate for this is not twin sister Faith, but with the nutty almond musk blend that is Hecate. Instant rahat loukoum / Turkish Delight!
  4. Candice Chen

    Womb Furie

    An itch that needs to be scratched: Snake Oil and three types of honey. Totally loved the 2015 formulation and beat myself up when I accidentally spilt half my bottle, so I've been rationing it very carefully since. Then I saw it again this year, I just HAD to get some backups. I'm one of those who enjoys Snake Oil but will on certain occasions find it a bit too spicy and dark and powdery. If you're just in the mood for something similar, but with a little less kick and less of that powdery drydown, then Womb Furie is perfect. It's more ambery and gold and clear, compared to the husky dense darkness of the original. The honey takes away some of the spikes without diluting the luscious complexity. But at the same time, I don't ever find it overly sugary, since honey is nuanced and has floral, leathery, animalic, and musky tones mixed in with a golden sweetness. Will not ever be without this one. (I'd wondered awhile ago if I could get similar results mixing O with Snake Oil, but - NOPE. Womb Furie is Womb Furie.)
  5. Candice Chen

    Seven Word Story: Sloth

    The notes sounded like they wouldn't work. Firstly, banana isn't the sexiest thing in fragrance. The idea of smelling like banana is neither exotic nor alluring; not even cute like strawberry or apple. It's just - banana. But the reviews kinda sucked me in and I'm quite glad. From the bottle, I get that artificial candied banana flavoring note that some other reviewers did, which scared me a little. But once it hit my skin the banana became subtler, fleshier, no longer screechy and fake. In fact it's more of a supporting note, lifting and adding dimension to the darker ingredients which quickly take over, making the scent surprisingly "masculine" and not at all sugary. The dark tobacco and cocoa are there but play second fiddle to this super-smoky vetiver, which seems to amp on my skin. It's like the note has been charred or singed, and is smoking a little. If you don't like vetiver, you might want to steer clear of this one because it's pretty dominant. As it settles a bit more, the vetiver softens and some of the vegetal tobacco comes back through. Overall, a dark, bitter scent. (In a good way.) Sloth is far from a gourmand despite the initial impression the note list may give, because the banana and cocoa add their nuances but stay very much in the background after that short-lived calorie-laden opening. Not a scent I'd douse myself in to go out because I can't see this being a crowd-pleaser, but it is pleasingly weird at the same time. Something that intrigues me and that I enjoy pulling out to sniff and wear when I am alone.
  6. Candice Chen

    Pumpkin Sugar

    I wasn't entirely sure if I would like this but it's become one of my favorite scents from Halloween. Like many others I don't get so much pumpkin as I do strong toasty spices blended with fine white sugar crystals. I get a faint tartness but it's more like ginger than anything fruity. Once it dries down and calms down somewhat it has a medium-soft throw. Smells like sugar-crusted gingerbread with a dusting of pumpkin spices. Sweet, spicy, and intriguing but there is also a brightness to it; not cloying in the usual calorie-laden baked goods way (if that makes sense).
  7. Candice Chen

    #20 Love Oil

    Spicy, heady and floral-sweet. I definitely get a rose-like note and a pepperiness that reminds me of carnations and cloves. I don't get strong almond but there is a backnote of subtle nutty sweetness which could be that, or could just be the blend of spices. When it dries down, a powderiness comes out which might remind some people of old-fashioned perfumes, but which I feel adds to its charm. This reminds me a lot of Noir Epices by Frederic Malle (dark spices, rose and carnation). Not what I consider a seductive scent despite what it was originally intended for, but one that does invoke feminine strength for me. I reach for this when I don dark clothes and deep red lipstick and want to feel womanly - not girly.
  8. Candice Chen

    Guatemalan Volcanic Coffee Bean

    Sweet roasted coffee beans right at the start when wet, but as it warms up on the skin, an interesting burnt coffee facet comes out, which is not bad despite how it sounds. Makes this smell like a very strong shot of espresso. However about a few minutes in, a peppery, bitter, almost savory clove/nutmeg-like undertone comes out which sort of takes away from the coffee note itself. I haven't drunk Guatemalan Volcanic Coffee so I can't say if this is how the real bean tastes or smells, but I do wish the initial phase lasted a bit longer and the spice notes were a bit more subtle and not so acrid. That's just my personal taste though. I personally prefer good ol' Coffee Arabica extract which is less exciting and doesn't morph as much as Guatemalan Volcanic Coffee, but dries down to a yummy, almost mocha-like scent.
  9. Candice Chen


    A honeyed rose with an interesting pepperiness from the carnation. I don't get any noticeable milk in this, and if you want a less spiky, more delicate and tangy alternative to this, you might want to try the Tea Rose centered Dawn: Maiden. I personally far prefer Alice as Maiden has a more prominent milky note, which combined with tanginess creates a soured milk effect to my nose. Alice is sweet but not foody, rich but not creamy, present but not cloying. I didn't love it when I first tried it, and I still find there is a slightly metallic tang to it if I put my nose right up to my skin to sniff. But thankfully nobody else smelt that when I asked. To them, what projects off my skin is just a gorgeous ambery-sweet spiced rose. If you've never smelt carnation absolute you might be slightly put off by the peppery opening of this scent. But give your nose a chance to adjust to new things. This flower has some thorns. Only thing is this seems to be one of those scents that I get anosmic to after a few hours I don't smell much of it. But apparently it's still there cos others can.
  10. Candice Chen


    Creamy, sweet, delicately aromatic. Like lavender earl grey tea folded into cream and poured slowly over ice. It's silky and cool and yummy all at the same time. Very inviting and comforting but also quite unique. I occasionally layer this with TKO to bring out the fougere a little more. Not the biggest projection with this one - it stays close to the skin but lasts quite well, which makes it nice for most occasions where you will be in close quarters with others and don't want to assault their noses.
  11. Candice Chen


    A perfect balance between astringent, sharp, medicinal lavender, bright chamomile, and the most gorgeous sweet, clean vanilla sugar. Argh - how do they create this soft sugariness?! It smells like someone dripped a few drops of high-grade French Lavender oil onto a white sugar cube and held it over heat. As the sugar heats up (but not to the point of burning yet), a lavender cotton candyish sweetness comes out. I am not a fan of lavender by any means - besides not liking the harsh, medicinal smell in and of itself, I associate it with unimaginative men's fragrances and cliche aromatherapy blends. TKO does start off with a sharp, strong lavender for the first 5-10 mins, but it's juxtaposed against that hypnotic, "lying on a pile of sugar" sweetness, which makes the astringent lavender bearable for me. The further someone is, and the longer it dries down on the skin, the softer the lavender and the more toasty and caramelized the sugar gets. The lavender also gets softer with age, and the sugariness more apparent. It's not perfume-y; neither is it too much like an "aromatherapy oil" to wear out. I have done it and had someone remark that "something smells beautiful here" without knowing whether it was an ambient scent or a fragrance. For me, it's not a sleep-inducing blend as much as it's a soothing scent. Which I guess winds me down and prepares me for sleep. I'm usually the sort that will lie in bed with my mind racing for an hour, not at all helped by the fact that the husband starts snoring 10 seconds after his head hits the pillow. I've been sleeping better than him recently. Maybe he needs some TKO. It's not perfume-y; neither is it too much like an "aromatherapy oil" to wear out. I have done it and had someone remark that "something smells beautiful here" without knowing whether it was an ambient scent or a fragrance.
  12. Candice Chen


    Strange, my experience is exactly the opposite to Christine's. I get clean laundry-soft florals from my bottle - and only soft clean florals. Like sheets fresh from the dryer. Nice, but probably something I will never wear since I avoid laundry-fresh, clean-linen smells. I was hoping for more noticeable Snake Oil and something a little warmer and more ambery. I almost wonder if there was a mistake and there is no Snake Oil in my bottle at all. If you're looking for something quite feminine, this is the softest and "girliest" Snake of the bunch.
  13. Candice Chen

    Snake Oil

    Exactly how I feel about Snake Oil. I tried Snake Oil before Womb Furie, but I ended up loving Womb Furie more because I like how the honey sweetened and smoothed things over. With Snake Oil, I kinda have the strange feeling everyone else likes it on me more than I like it on myself though. Compliments galore. People mentioned "baby powdery" a few times, but in the best possible way. Like it is intriguing and familiar, and they want to sniff more. Out of the bottle, none of the "Indonesian spices" (I think I smell clove and patchouli in there; maybe even a little anise?) stand out particularly on their own; they meld together to create a vaguely spiced-incense vibe over the vanilla, which is very prominent and smells like smoky, dark, resiny absolute rather than the more recognizably-foody vanillin note commonly used in perfumes. (If you don't think you smell vanilla, it MIGHT be because you were looking for that sweet ice cream cookie cake vanillin.) On the skin, it smells darker and more sensual up-close, and softer and more powdery-sweet to those smelling it some distance away. I also echo reviewers who mentioned Shalimar. This smells somewhat like the divine powdery-smoky amber-vanilla dry down of Shalimar in the extrait de parfum form after it's been on your skin a few hours. Despite the compliments, to me this is sensual, not sexual. More a purr than a growl.
  14. Candice Chen


    My absolute favorite sweet yummy scent from BPAL. It's not my most complimented (Snake Oil and Alice take that honor) and it's not the one that intrigues me the most (Candy Butcher, Milk Chocolate Myrrh and Gunpowder), but it absolutely embodies hedonistic pleasure for me. This thing is golden, languid, syrupy, almost narcotic, and so rich that I think it should be as dense and thick as liquid gold. And the honeyed amber smell almost sends me into the best sort of sugar-induced coma. If I had a signature scent (which will never happen because I'm the world's worst fragrance polygamist) this might vye for top spot. Ironically it is such an absolute comfort scent for me (there are no sharp edges or any strange kinks in this scent for me) that I don't wear it as often as you'd expect. It's like walking around in the buff. A big pleasure, but something I enjoy in small dozes, in my own company.
  15. Candice Chen

    Snow White v2

    Was very happy to see some overstocked bottles on the Etsy store and snapped this baby up. This is unlike anything else I own, as I don't usually go for mint-dominant perfumes (I like it as room scent but on the body it reminds me of toothpaste or breath-freshener). And I am enjoying this far more than I'd expected. At the start, when the cool mint lifts off your skin, it does have a chilly fresh spearmint vibe, but there's enough of other notes present that it's not straight-up Wrigley's gum. This is like fresh powdered snow with a slight sweetness. Then the mintiness starts to soften, though the coolness remains. It's like walking into a sweet, chilly mist. It's ethereal in a pleasant, benign way. I smell a light, milky vegetal note in the background which might be iris or watery violet. And something that's reminiscent of, but not quite coconut to me; maybe violet leaf. I can't tell for sure but it's intriguing.