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BPAL Madness!

starbrow

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About starbrow

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  1. starbrow

    Schmendrick

    Schmendrick truly is a TRICKSTER. I keep going between thinking he smells like a freshly showered, slickly dressed court magician lacquered down in ~manly cologne~ ...and a raw-boned wannabe wizard a week into an epic journey, smelling of grassy patches of sage and clover that he's been sleeping in. I had a decant of this that was all the latter, so grassy and a little dirty and sweaty but so so cozy. In the bottle, less aged, it's a lot of slick cologne Schmendrick, and I'm not as BIG a fan of him? But fortunately for my tastes, it's not a hugely oakmossy cologne, and I appreciate that. If anything, it's a classic cologne that dabbles a lot in sage and chamomile, which is really unique and herby. I really wish my Schmendrick would roll around in the grass a little bit more; that would make him an absolute keeper. I tend to like femme-to-androgynous scents, and this one is just on the cusp of what I would love to wear. I am curious enough to age him longer and see which direction he turns.
  2. starbrow

    Coconut, Smoked Vanilla, & Fig

    This one could have easily gone suntan lotion or *whispers* Bath and Body Works, summer-style. Fortunately, fig elevates this from pure tropical explosion to a Mediterranean beach, lounging in a floppy hat and designer bathing suit. There definitely is some element of sweet coconut lotion, but the delicate drabbles of fig brings something lovely and mature, fancy gourmand. The fig is juicy and ripe to me, but not dominating. It's quite balanced, in a way that many BPAL figs are not, because it can be a pretty bossy note. In this trio, it dances well with the other two. If I could wish for anything, it'd be more of the smoked vanilla. It's such a gorgeous note in the Cedarwood duet, and it could totally afford to POP more in this trio. If anything, I wish it'd been paired with something other than coconut, because I can *tell* there's a smoky sweetness beneath that coconut but it is just so obvious a tropical note. I think coconut fans will find this a wafty, elevated blend that is perfect for summer. I am still debating whether to keep my bottle or not, but it is undeniably beautiful.
  3. starbrow

    Dies Patribus

    This is EXACTLY what I hoped it would be! It smells like the bottom of a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles, when the cold milk and creamy half-and-half has taken on the coma-inducing sugary fruit flavors of the cereal. Sometimes milk can be "off" or sour as a note, but Dies Patribus is sweet sweet SWEET! That heavy cream is totally grounding the milk, richly gourmand, with soggy bits of Fruity Pebbles or Froot Loops floating around to bring you straight back to childhood. So cozy and yummy, very nostalgic. 'Fresh strawberries' is a little different than my experience with this note, however. Eat the Strawberries is definitely representative of the best of BPAL's fresh strawberry. Dies Patribus's actually reminds me of the dried strawberries found in Special K! So still very much in the cereal realm. A very authentic dried strawberry, extra sweet and a little crunchy. But if you're hoping for fresh, this might disappoint. For me, I was wholly satisfied with what this Father's Day served up for breakfast. Recommended for the sugary carb-loving gourmands among us!
  4. starbrow

    Valuable, Powerful, Deserving

    Orange blossom is a note that I actively hunt down blends where it's the star. It's such a delicate, romantic floral that it can easily get buried in a blend. I thought Valuable Powerful Deserving sounded like a great place for it to shine. And that is absolutely the case. The resin of the amber encases the orange blossom so beautifully, like a little glowing nimbus of light, and sweetened and deepened by the vanilla of the oudh. I remember getting this scent and thinking it was a little, well, boring, and that's why I've never worn it. But in the time since it's aged (did I try this on fresh from the mail or something?), it has gotten anything but boring. My indolic-sensitive nose says that this is the GOOD OUDH...the GOOUDH if you will. Good oudh, like here, is creamy, rich, expensive, a cloud of scent that is billowy and indulgent. Nothing to taint the scent pool, just delicious aged wood here! It pairs beautifully with vanilla, in not-quite-foody ways. I don't get creamsicle, but I do get youthful, joyous vibes from this blend. Hugging the skin and only rolling off it in small-range billows, VPD is such a livable scent for the summer. Sweet and yet resiny, nothing too heavy, the perfect tide-over for the oppressive heat of Florida nights when the curl of orange blossom on the stray breeze reminds you that there are some good things about these swampy summers.
  5. starbrow

    Prince Lir

    Prince Lir in the book was ridiculously charming, and so is his namesake blend. Where most princes - I mean colognes - are smugly overbearing, blanketed in headachey oakmoss, Lir isn't like that. His fougere has a cuddly quality, all softness instead of sharp angles, and any oakmoss is just there to give it some clean-cut good looks. I would kind of love the vanilla to pop more, but the sweet fuzziness of the hay-like coumarin and bergamot (no sharp citrus either) permeates and enhances the cuddly effect. The one note that might remind people of a classic men's scent is the juniper berry, which is not pine-y here but just has something classic and foresty to it in this context. In combination with the basil (and perhaps even a drop of lilac in the fougere?), it pops with fresh greenness, light and springy rather than heavy and thick. This, too, wholly fits Lir's character. He's not that angry, slick-haired, cologne-wearing prince. He's a sensitive soul, and his scent soothes rather than instigates. As a fairly femme woman, I am totally comfortable wearing this cozy charmer. If you love I Too Die of Love or Jareth, consider giving Prince Lir a whirl. To me, it has a lot less vanilla than Dorian but it falls in the same "friendly fougere" category. One of the major winners for me from The Last Unicorn line.
  6. starbrow

    Apostrophe of Time

    Look at all those beautiful notes! To convince myself I *needed* this blend out of all the activisms, I whipped up a diffuser blend with these notes as close as I could get it, and it was very beautiful. I took the plunge into the Apostophe of Time. The bottle sniff is murky but promising. Onto the skin it goes. My brow furrows in confusion. All I smell is...oakmoss. Big-ass, cologney, smug oakmoss. The more it sits, the more I recognize the lemon peel from one of my old favorites, Dead Leaves Cream Amber and Lemon Peel HG. In fact, these two would pair very well together. It's a pithy lemon, without the recognizably bright citrus that can scare some people off. But mainly....oakmoss. I really don't get any bergamot, amber, certainly no resiny or cola-y labdanum, none of my beloved neroli/orange blossom, and clary sage is not here for this party. Apostrophe of Time is for unabashed, whole-hearted oakmoss lovers. I am rather distressed at the secret oakmoss and how it takes over in this blend, because it is a headachey note for me and it means this blend is not for me, but I am very happy for all the oakmoss fans out there that you will have a great option that also supports a great cause. Quite gender-neutral, as long as you love....well, you know the drill by now. If there are any concerning notes listed, I really wouldn't be scared. Just ignore that list and go with your gut. Do you want BIG-ASS oakmoss? Put an Apostrophe on it!
  7. starbrow

    The Night is Waning Away

    This is a 3 A.M. jasmine, the dark-night-of-the-soul sister of The Bindle, velvety and softly glowing by moonlight. Something almost blue peeks through - cereus? - but overall this reads deep, dark burgundy, luscious and resiny. I am a red musk fan, and I don't really smell it here. Whether it's too buried under the jasmine to peek through or ruddy musk is truly a different kind, the underlying musk is almost opium-spiced to me. It's sad that jasmine has not been my friend lately, because this is a gorgeous blend and jasmine lovers SHOULD try it!
  8. starbrow

    Es Lacht der Mai

    What an oddly cute intersection of scents! "Chilly amber perfume" was the most vague of the notes from this collection, and the one I wondered about a whole lot, eager for my decants to reveal its mysteries. I don't think that description really prepared me for what I was in store for. Snow covers this scent, but it's a snow with a very interesting fruit tinging its chilliness. PINEAPPLE. No, I am not crazy! Yes, I smell pineapple up in this piece! The distinctive sweet-acidic brightness is very familiar to me and very unusual in a cold snow. It is like a snowcone effect over the glowing redness of the resinous amber, which is also sweet, and an unlisted but definitely present conifer. I am still learning the difference between that family of trees, but I suspect this one is in the balsam fir or spruce family, because it's not a strong pine but rather something wildly, warmly foresty. For those who might have issues with pine, I think this might suit just fine. I wasn't sure if I quite liked this at first brush, but the more I wore it, the more I was charmed by its funny, quirky family of notes. Pineapple snow, amber, spruce. This probably sounds weird, and one of those scents you just have to smell and try yourself to know if it's your style. I think I'm going to look for a partial or full bottle of Es Lacht der Mai!
  9. starbrow

    Various Penises Hair Gloss

    All these notes sound like a foodie WIN. The one wild card was the pink oud, but into my cart it jumped anyways. Interestingly, this oud does not go indolic (pooud) at all. It ends up a little bit on the "foot" side of things. Musty and funky, yes, but nowhere near the danger zone. For me, though, the foot smell (or, ahem, I guess you could interpret it as a smell more relevant to the name?) does not go well at all with the sweeter/more foodie elements. The pinkness (raspberry?) is working in concert with the vanilla and burnt cocoa to synthesize a sort of waxy box-o-chocolates vibe to me, the kind that you pick up at the drugstore in a heart shaped box. I don't really get amber or even specifically vanilla. Just fruit-flavored cheap chocolate and feet. A weird one for sure. As artisjok mentioned, a little queasy in the bottle but surprisingly light and fluffy in the hair. I'm not in love, but it could be much much worse. (Damning with faint praise, but that's how oud goes!) So the question - what do Various Penises smell like? - can be answered thusly: moist skin of an intimate nature, freshly washed with chocolate raspberry LUSH.
  10. starbrow

    Darjeeling Tea, Cocoa Dust, & Incense

    I was confusedly huffing on this for a day or two, wondering why I smelled gingerbread of all things, when it hit me like a brick. This reminds me very strongly of the Gingerbread, Cacao, and Champaca Yule of 2018! That must mean this trio's incense is champaca. I feel like a freaking Sherlock. That said, Darjeeling Tea, Cocoa Dust, and Incense smells a whole lot more rough around the edges than GC&C, which from the beginning had a gloriously well-blended "perfumey gourmand" waft. The trio feels concocted rather than blended. Maybe they need more time to gel together? For sure, the cocoa disappears within the first couple of minutes, rather than being steeped into the essence of the blend, and leaves the champaca at the forefront. I am not opposed to champaca, it just has to be cleverly blended, and here it is a little out of its element as the star. The tea's spiciness is surely what's reminding me of the gingerbread, but it's more tannin-bitter and doesn't have the foodie sweetness. That's perfectly fine with me - I don't need my tea to be sugared - but I have to ride out the first hour of champaca and its flowery, high-pitched incense to get to the good stuff. I would recommend this to champaca lovers, even if you are not a fan of cocoa. Chocolate really is not even a player here! I really would love for "incense" to be labeled more precisely in the notes, because there are so many kinds of incense, and it's very helpful to know what you are in store for.
  11. starbrow

    Die Flamme Reinigt Sich Vom Rauch

    RAWR! Heed the order of the notes! Die Flamme is, not surprisingly based on the name, showing up to my nose as all bonfire smoke and scorched chestnuts. The smoke note is the charred embery kind that is in certain BPALs: The Storyteller, Midnight Bonfire, The Hearth, Hearthflame and Incense. It's a smoke that tends to get into my sinuses, and I wish it weren't so strong here, but I think it may be my particular sensitivity. Nothing sweet or Christmasy about these chestnuts: they are meaty, sweaty, ballsy. (Come on, admit it. Chestnuts out of their shells totally look like balls.) I've come to realize I like my chestnuts in gourmand or spicy blends, where their nut-swinging is balanced by sweet foodie notes or rich spices. Here, they seem a little naked in all that smoky char. When the smoke finally calms down, the roasted acorn note emerges, a little gourdiness for spring. I just don't get the resins, the cedar, the frank, or *sob* the vanilla bean. I have heard from others that they DO, though! "Spiced muffins" YUM. I want that! I could use a whole lot more sweetness in this blend, or richness, or just something rounded and woodsy and resiny. Will aging bring those out? Probably!
  12. starbrow

    Hilf, Ach, Hilf Mir, Kriegsgeselle

    A gorgeous array of notes earned this a blind bottle. I am always in search of a good orange blossom, and everything else seemed right on point. I have to say, the sweet orange peel is DOMINATING. Right down to the bitter white pith that makes peel different from the fruit itself. It is sweetened considerably by honey, thick and syrupy and a little stomach-churning. It's like an orange liqueur candy, pungent and saccharine, lightly spiced, but with something unsettling about it that is faux-boozy. I think the beeswax might be adding to the thickness of the mixture. I can't specifically smell anything smoky in here, with either the beeswax or the khus (vetiver). It is more high-pitched, short of floral but definitely loud. I wish I could pick up more of the fragrance of the orange blossom. ever-present in humid Florida nights and a comfortingly familiar note to me. I would love to extract the orange peel and leave just the blossom to shine. At the moment, the individual notes aren't harmonizing perfectly. Orange peel is just too much of a diva, and honey WANTS to be a diva, and they're sort of trying to out-scream each other. I'll be interested to see how this ages, and whether the full cast steps up as I'm hoping.
  13. starbrow

    Body, Remember

    2018: Fun fact, this was in my first BPAL order as a blind bottle! I just thought it sounded pretty. Now when I smell it, I get hella nostalgia. A personalized reaction to this scent for sure, but it no doubt colors my impressions. Something about Body, Remember makes me think of - bear with me - an idealized version of sex. One with sweet skin-musk, coconut oil from a massage, sugared bodies mingling. It's a romance novel version of sex aromas. It doesn't have quite the raw sex skank that will openly remind you of the real thing, or make it too X-rated to wear in public. But it definitely is the memory of sex, softened with a glowing filter. The black coconut brings to mind the same dark purply note from Death Adder, and the sugared champaca is much like Temple Viper. If you like either of those two scents, Body, Remember might be a good chance to take. Weirdly, I agree that this is vaguely orange-blossomy. Could it be the champaca flower? It is in such harmony with the other notes in the bottle, gleaming like candlelit skin. I would definitely wear this on a third date.
  14. starbrow

    Snake's Kiss

    2018: Snake's Kiss is the most dramatic example of aging I've experienced. Fresh, it was so quiet, in bottle and on skin, the whisper of a kiss, lemon sugar. I almost let it go. Instead, I tucked it into a drawer with the other 2018 Lupers and forgot about it for a year. When I remembered it, I was stunned. The coy whisper had turned into a full-on smooch of honeycomb, a sweet and gooey honey with none of the bite and a smear of beeswax creaminess. The sugariness is here and it is LOUD. The vanilla almost reminds me of the 90s vanilla obsession, verging on that generic bodysplash that I get from Antique Lace, but not quite tipping over into it. It stays unique thanks to its base in BPAL aesthetic. It is a snek, through and through. Yet the Snake Oil is the quietest of the notes in Snake's Kiss arsenal from its incipient year. It is, arguably, the Snake Oil variant that is farthest away from its mother scent. It keeps that verging-on-playdo-quality of classic Snake Oil and, obviously, the vanilla, while bumping up the creaminess to an eleven and letting the spices fade into a distant murmur in the background. I would say this is more like Morocco than Snake Oil, and indeed, fans of the former will find a lot to love in this kiss. This would be an excellent gateway drug into BPAL. Interestingly, I think the drop of lemon sugar is a little reminiscent of the 2020 March "13" blend. If you missed that one, Snake's Kiss might give you vibes.
  15. starbrow

    Awake

    THIS ONE, Y'ALL. THIS IS THE ONE. It's so, so me. I am a red musk lover and an amber lover, so already I had a good chance of loving it. Let's dive deep. From a single whiff of my decant, I knew this would be an instant bottle. It smells aged to perfection, and it's only a few weeks old. Holy yes. Onto the skin it goes. This is sparkly amber. S P A R K L Y. It's Alleviate the Frenzy, Elle Est Heureuse, Galerie Des Glaces, House of Mirrors Atmo, amber. She glances at her reflection in a glassy pool, fluffs her hair, and spins into a bright cloud that is magnificent to linger in. Divine. Her bestie is a playful and dressed-for-springtime red musk. You may be used to heavy, thick red musks. Well, she's barely clothed here. It's delightful. Somehow, she brightens up the amber even more while also singing a high, piercing call that might just beckon some wayward sailors. If Abalone Vulva is pink mermaid musk, Awake is red siren musk. She smells like she could kill, and you would die happy. Red musk fans need this in their life. Amber and glass-note lovers need this in their life. If you liked Abalone Vulva and could picture yourself wearing a more sultry version of it, don't hesitate, take the plunge. I just want to sing the good news that is Awake.
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