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BPAL Madness!


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About Rayleigh

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    lil stinker


  • Favorite Scents
    GC: Event Horizon, Dee, Bow & Crown of Conquest, Scherezade, Coyote, Tzadikim Nistarim, Death Cap, Morocco, Sin, Cathedral, Bewitched, Paladin, No. 93 Engine, Snake Oil, Mme. Moriarty. LE: Snow White, Raven Moon, Death of Autumn, To Lesbia, I Wish I Were Your Mirror

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  1. Rayleigh

    Lavender, White Clove & Ambrette Seed

    I'm not familiar with either ambrette seed or white clove, and part of why I tried this was to see if I could isolate ambrette seed as a note -- and no, I still can't, but I think I get how it contributes to a blend, at least. This starts off sharp and medicinal. I can just barely pick up on ambrette seed as a kind of musky note? But it's not at all prominent. The lavender and clove clash for a while, and I was sure this was not only not going to work, but it was about to veer towards headache town. Then the two decide to get along. The clove is toasty and bright, and the lavender is a clean (not soapy) complement. Lavender is generally used as a calming scent, and clove is so energetic, and I am a big fan of dissonance in all art forms. I'm happy to hang onto my decant of this, though the wear time is shorter than I'm used to.
  2. Rayleigh

    Lemon Peel, Marshmallow, & Orange Blossom

    I would love to find a citrus perfume my skin doesn't eat, so I wanted to try this to see if lemon peel has more staying power than regular old lemon. It does -- in that it doesn't flee the instant it touches my skin, but sticks around for a record fifteen minutes. I'm not sure how I feel about it while it lasts. It flips between a smooth citrus scent, with surprisingly tame marshmallow -- and smelling like those chalky Valentine candies, with fresh grated lemon zest on top and some bitter orange blossom. It seems to start to settle into the former, thankfully -- crisp but not cleaning fluid, sweet but not candied -- but then its time is up. I'm left with a whiff of marshmallow alone, which isn't my jam. That brief middle stage was pretty, but citrus and I remain star-crossed.
  3. Rayleigh


    Fuzzy, furry musk, dry dusty grass, and smooth, soft, suede leather. This scent has a lot of texture. The amber is unobtrusive, coming out mostly in the late dry down to add a faint sweetness and spice. The musk is animalic without being aggressive. Very evocative of the eponymous animal, dusty paths, and swaying golden summer prairie grass. The best word in the description is "downy," because it captures the fluffy, slightly wild quality of this blend. Soft, deep, and relaxing. Good to wear when you're feeling feral, but also really chill about it. I seem to be a magnet for frimps of Coyote, and I am never disappointed to have more of it around.
  4. Rayleigh

    Mead Moon

    Smells like summer! Nice, non-cloying honey, lightly scented with a muddle of herbs/spices that I can't easily pick out. No citrus for me. The lab's blackberry works well on me, and smells wonderfully realistic. I don't have many good summer scents, so I'm happy to have this one around.
  5. Rayleigh

    Hay Moon 2020

    This cements it -- I love hay notes. Starting off, I get a lot of honeyed oat cakes, but then amber and hay step up. I would love more cardamom (as usual), but here it adds a spicy whisper. The hay is lush and dry and pleasantly musty, and it pairs nicely with the oats, the drizzle of honey, and the richness of the amber. This was July's moon, but to me it smells like the end of August -- sweet grasses and gentle breezes, the last gasp of late summer under an orange sun.
  6. Rayleigh

    Hope and Fear Set Free

    This was practically a no-miss guarantee on me, and it's perfection. The frankincense is woodsy, grounding, and radiant, and the bourbon vanilla blankets it softly and unobtrusively. Resins hit an instant 'slow down, calm down' button deep in my brain, and this is simple and soothing. I adore it.
  7. Rayleigh

    Please Scream Inside Your Heart

    Firstly, the short version about this scent: This is a foodie, well-made, realistic scent, with enough spices to keep it interesting. I agree with pretty much everything above -- churros, french toast, fried dough, crème brûlée, all of it. And it's delicious and summery and amusement-park nostalgic, with lengthy wear time and powerful throw. Unrelated to the scent, I have developed an intense fondness for the possum on the label art. I'm really rooting for that screeching marsupial. I, too, have opposable thumbs and high stress levels, my friend. Now, the meandering, long-winded version, less about the scent and more about how I am a Dummy: Everything about this scent told me exactly what it would be -- foodie. And yet! My brain went, "Well, I like the smell of funnel cake and churros. And even though I don't like foodie scents on my skin, I do like walking around carnivals and smelling those things, and that in a bottle sounds fun. Let's go!" My attitude toward foodie scents is, fittingly, a bit like my attitude toward cake. I'm not that fond of regular old cake. It's fine in small doses, but it's just not for me, unless it has so many other things going on that it is no longer cake, to the point that it has to change its name to something like tiramisu or cheesecake, or else it gets in trouble for identity theft. If I'm given a choice between cake and something else, I'll usually pick the something else, even if I can appreciate how well-crafted the cake is. Same with foodie scents -- I can appreciate the craft of bottling them, but I only like them for myself if they're in the company of enough non-foodie notes to balance it out. So I was as nervous trying this on as I would have been had it been a real, live possum. But! I'm always happy to admit exceptions to my rules (Snow White killed No White Florals dead in its tracks and wears it around her neck in triumph), and this smelled good in the vial. It got the tiniest little dab. This possum is not screaming inside its heart; it wants to be heard, and smelled, and it has the throw to make sure it will not be ignored! Notice the possum, or there will be consequences. And at first, it was mostly spices -- like what a spice candle wants to be when it grows up, minus the fakey notes that make spice candles smell like potpourri. But as it dries, more and more buttery dough comes out. I swear that way, way down in the depths of this scent, I can smell the powdered sugar dissolving into the melted butter into bonus globules of deliciousness. Best-foodstall-on-the-promenade stuff, but still food. "I smell edible," I wail, and the possum wails back, "What were you expectinnnnng?" And that's fair, possum. This is a very good scent. Strong recommend for foodie-lovers. And I like smelling it! And I would like being around someone else who smelled like this, or -- even better -- around some place that smelled like this. I even liked catching whiffs of it when I was outside, where it seemed most at home. Inside, though, it kept following me, as one would expect with something applied directly on the skin. I wanted it to waft by for a gentle reminder that Summer Fun exists, and then let me keep working on All-Season No-Fun until I wanted the reminder again (aka, an unreasonable expectation for a perfume.) I will give this a chance to rest and try again, because it is exactly like a day at an amusement park, and I could use some unbridled happy in my collection. But I suspect it's a masterfully made slice of cake -- totally wasted on me.
  8. Rayleigh

    No Man is an Island

    This is a powerhouse of a scent. Strong stuff. More coffee than any of the kaffeeklatsch scents I tried. Something smoky, and a distinctive, decadent hazelnut cream mingled with the dank earthiness of the patchouli and the sage/cassis. It makes me think of college, of late night discussions with coffee, coffee, coffee. Or, perhaps something more convivial -- like sitting in a coffee shop with your friends and having a shockingly heated argument about, like, the logistics of time travel, or if vampires can catch blood borne illnesses (they're not alive, Eric! They don't have functioning physiology, ERIC!) This scent speaks its mind, but doesn't lose its nurturing qualities. It's very well made. The blend of sweet and savory is intriguing -- but there's a meaty quality to the smokiness that I was hoping would age out. Four months in, no luck, though that doesn't stop me from trying. I suspect my skin is not being kind to something in here. A shame, because it's perfect in theory, and I really want to love it. I still like it -- it's dark and unique and I feel warmed by it -- but the meaty note prevents this from being entirely wearable on me.
  9. Rayleigh

    No. 93 Engine

    No. 93 Engine is a true stand out in the general catalogue -- there are notes here I have never seen elsewhere, and they're quite distinct. I can't think of anything else that smells like it. It has a sharp, coniferous opening, but then the warmth of the resins and beeswax rise up. It is bright and dynamic, and deep and mellow. It smells both mechanical (the gleaming, sterile notes from the sage, mastic, balsam) and inviting (the soft glow of the beeswax and elegant resins.) Unique and atmospheric, yet eminently wearable. An enduring favorite.
  10. Rayleigh


    Carnation stars here, in all its spicy glory. The orange blossom is bright, and the patchouli is earthy. This blend is all about light and shadow. It's rich and warm, but not heavy. Orange blossom can be a little bitter, but it's well anchored in the smooth carnation/ambergris base and just adds a whiff of floral bite, while the patchouli provides a hint of grit. This also benefited tremendously from about a month of age -- if at first try, it is sharp and unbalanced, it's worth coming back to it when it has a chance to mellow. The loud notes calm down and let all the components shine.
  11. Rayleigh

    The Scales of Deprivation

    I have tried only two of the four Come and See blends (the other being my first BPAL love, The Bow & Crown of Conquest,) and I really need to get around to trying the remaining two. Both of the ones I have tried are complex, well-layered scents that are both evocative and just plain nice-smelling. They were also good when I was new to perfumes, because the individual notes are pretty distinct, even though the scent as a whole isn't at all disjointed. The Scales of Deprivation is fascinating for its striking hollowness. I test most of my imps blind, without looking at the name, because it gives me the best impression without being influenced by the idea behind a fragrance. Even without the name, this scent stood out for that vast, empty core. It's an olfactory cylinder. Citrus is doomed to a rapid demise on my skin, but the lavender and white sage seem to help sustain it a bit. The top notes are crisp. Then there's the depth of the resins. Frankincense is soothing, warm, and golden, so it contrasts with the colder notes around it. The labdanum is unobtrusive, but must be contributing some amber-like sweetness. Beneath that is the core -- that dry, dry vetiver. In my notes from the blind test -- which, in fairness, it wasn't hard to guess which blend this had to be -- I called that core a "scorched earth" scent, with the warmer notes contrasting. This isn't a big morpher. The frankincense gets warmer, and the lemon peel eventually succumbs to my skin's citrus-killin' ways, but for the most part, it stays remarkably consistent, and sticks around steadily for a good long while. This one grew on me tremendously, even over the course of the first wear. Most of this is about how interesting the scent is as a concept -- so far, the Come and See blends do "scent experience" very well -- but I also like wearing it. It's meditative and a bit bleak, but mostly, it's steady, cool, collected, and calm. It has a ruthless clarity. It goes great with those "get down to business"(1) days when you need to cut through mental clutter, though I wear it often enough just because, and even as a sleep scent. Some days, you have to raze some fields to the ground and stand in detached observation. And smell great while you're at it. 1. I don't know how to use anything remotely close to this phrase without adding "...to defeat the Huns," so here it is. I could have used different phrasing, but it was already too late for me to not have that song stuck in my head, so I was obligated to finish it.
  12. Rayleigh

    Lucy's Eyes

    I passed on this when it was first available, though I was curious about it. I've been on the lookout for a good lilac scent, but I thought the other notes would overpower the lilac, and I have a lot of ambers already. Lilacs are such a comforting smell, but I'm also particular about my lilac scents (looking at you, every "lilac" candle I have ever encountered.) I get judgey about the company it keeps, and on the other hand, I'm also leery of strong florals -- I kind of can't win. In my indecision, I let this one go. Then 2020 rolled around and killed my impulse control. I ran across a bottle for sale and snapped it up. And, unfortunately, I've been rewarded for my lack of frugality, because I have worn this regularly since I got it. The lilac is prominent in the first half hour or so, and it's a beautiful, vivid, non-soapy blue lilac. I'm going to have to double down on my lilac hunt, because it's so pretty and realistic. The amber ramps up with wear. This is a spicy, no-nonsense amber. It settles into a well-balanced compromise between the lilac and amber, between blue and warm tones. The amber is more prominent, but the lilac never leaves, just wafts around over it. Presumably, there is blue musk in there, but I couldn't tell you what it smells like. This is probably not as complex or interesting as my usual favorites, but I enjoy it exactly as is. I like this a lot. I love the label art. The search for the perfect lilac scent continues, but this was a wonderful first step. And no lessons in impulse control were learned.
  13. Rayleigh

    The Death Grapple

    I keep trying to come up with a different way to describe this other than lavender cola, but that's exactly spot on. This smells like lavender cola. Fizzy, darkly sweet lavender. Lavender is a little unpredictable on me -- sometimes it sticks around, and other times I get a whiff of it just before it poofs into the ether. This lavender waffles for a bit and then departs, leaving just the cola. I'm not a big fan of pop, either in taste or smell, so it isn't a keeper for me, but I can see how it would be cool and refreshing, and it's definitely interesting. And if there ever were a drink that tasted how this smells, I would be willing to give it a try.
  14. Rayleigh


    This is a dark green scent, like taking sage leaves and crushing them between your fingers. Crisp and wild. The musk adds a subtle haze. When the blackberry started to make itself known, I thought this would take a turn towards berry hand soap. Fortunately, the lab's blackberry is juicy and realistic, and and smells like plucking blackberries off the bramble and crushing them in your fingers. The berry never overtakes the greenery, and it never gets too sweet. Like florals, I like my fruits paired with strong supporting notes. Bewitched is beautiful. This scent will always remind me of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as I had an imp of it handy when I was reading the book. The two went perfectly together, and it got me thinking about other book/scent pairings. It was a joy to have a scent enhance the reading experience -- it helps that both the book and the scent were enjoyable on their own!
  15. Rayleigh


    Oh, Gaueko, we could have been so nice together. In the imp, this is dark, brooding lavender coiled around smoky incense. A hazy, mysterious nighttime scent. Then I introduced it to my skin. Bye, lavender, bye, smoke. Hello weirdly gooey, caramelized note clawing to the top. Is that the tobacco? Or the labdanum? There's an overly-sweet tobacco variety that doesn't agree with my chemistry, but it tends to be more mulchy-damp than this. Gaueko seems to be a GC gem for many, and I can get whiffs of what makes it wonderful on others beneath the note I'm amping. But on me, this is a sickly sweet chemistry clash. I would still say this is worth a try for those looking for a darker take on lavender, because it could have worked so well. For an alternative darkly smoky scent, I would recommend Hellfire or The Scales of Deprivation. Hellfire has a much warmer smokiness, with a dose of mischief in the mystery. The Scales of Deprivation has smoky lavender and is drier, ashen, and complex.