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BPAL Madness!


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About Penance

  • Rank
    Stinky Hippie
  • Birthday 10/09/1982


  • Location
    Outside Chicago, IL
  • Country
    United States


  • BPAL of the Day
  • Favorite Scents
    A lot. Like a LOT.

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  • Mood
    Doom, doom, doom


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  1. Penance

    Osculum Inflame

    This is such a pretty scent, but the labdanum kills it for me. It's definitely one of those notes that either blends in and disappears and I don't even notice or it goes SUPER MEGA ULTRA COLA and I hate it. I hate it so much. And it went the cola route here, at least when Osculum was wet. Once it dried, it turned to a sweet, lovely, well-blended resin scent. Not a headshop incense or even really "incense incense," but something more subtle. The honey in this smells like agave nectar to my nose, rather than the syrupy, intense scent I'm used to. It's still very pretty, but not quite the same. I'm assuming it's the vegan vs. non-vegan honey component making the difference. I'm very happy to see Beth making this one open to everyone, vegan or not, though.
  2. Penance


    I didn't know what to expect here, with this mishmash of ingredients and, having tried it, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It goes through surprisingly great smelling stages and then some that are "meh" to me. Nothing bad, just "meh." When wet, the smoke, fur and chains dominate, with some chocolate in the background and maybe a tiny bit of mint? Then it turns into a sort of gourmand-adjacent scent that's made up of gourmand notes. I never get the schnapps, but I do get the bonbons (no malted milk, just chocolate) and the mint. The mint strengthens as it dries and all traces of the fur, smoke and chains is gone, which is disappointing. I'm on the fence with this one. It's reminding me so strongly of something else once it dries down; a GC, I think (maybe a discontinued one), but I can't put my finger on which one it is. I almost think. Or maybe a mish-mash...a little bit Death on a Pale Horse, a little bit Envy, a little bit Cloister Graveyard in the Snow, but not quite like any of those.
  3. Penance

    Weed & Whiskey

    This starts out strongly whiskey-forward - sweet and smooth, not too harsh - with a backing of weed that I wouldn't necessarily nail as weed if I wasn't already told (in spite of being a medical user who's familiar with the scent). The whiskey reminds me a bit of Sweeney Todd. I guess Sweeney likes the greeny? 🙃 Once it dries down on my skin, though? Through some sort of metamorphosis it's changed. Rich, deep, expensive tobacco with a hint of vanilla. Unexpected, but awesome. Love.
  4. Penance

    Lavender and White Chocolate Madeleines

    I bought this one one of those wild whims I'm prone to when ordering LE's and it had more likelihood to go wrong than right, but I do love me some white chocolate and the idea of white chocolate madelines sounded lovely. Lavender is just so herbal and strong on my skin. I can't tell if this scent is light or if it's my decreased sense of smell, but this stays close to the skin and doesn't last terribly long. At first, the lavender is the dominant note, though there's a nice creaminess from the white chocolate (which smells like white cholate, not milk chocolate as BPAL scents sometimes do). As it dries, the lavender fades into the background and it's mostly white chocolate madelines. I get just a little cakiness from the madelines and the lavender is a surprisingly nice addition. Surprise winner!
  5. Penance

    Single Note: Hag Musk

    I generally love musk, but who knows what hag musk smells like? Apparently it smells like a brown musk in the bottle, with a faint hint of something faintly spicy? It goes on a bit herbal or astringent with a strong backing of what still seems to be brown musk. On the dry-down, the astringency is long gone and it's been replaced by a soft, close-to-the-skin, sort of spicy (where is that coming from?) musk with the faintest hint of powder if I smell really hard. I mainly collect the weirdly named (and inspired) single notes because I love the weird factor, not because they're really wearable (necessarily), but this one is one of the wearable ones. It'd make a nice layering note.
  6. Penance

    Gingerbread and Leather

    Again, this is a weaker scent than expected, but that's probably my post-COVID nose. The first thing I smelled was gingerbread, then a touch of soft leather. The clove and tobacco come out later on the drydown and are subtle. A little smoky spicy and a touch of smooth tobacco in the far back. I like this a lot, but I don't know if it needs aged to let the notes really come out and get stronger or if it's just my nose. Either way, it's still a keeper.
  7. Penance

    Gingerbread Vampire

    A tiny bit "generic gingerbread" like one or two others in this line, but I like it. At first, it's all gingerbread, then the chocolate and coffee start to appear. I don't smell anise as its own note (thank goodness, I hate anise, but will try scents with it and am often surprised if it's well hidden). I end up with a chocolate-gingerbread with a hint of coffee sprinkled in. Not terribly unique, but nice!
  8. Penance

    Streets of Detroit

    I bought this because I'm loving the Lab's motor oil/grease note, unsure what to expect. I definitely didn't expect this to nag champa incense over this layer of smooth darkness in the background. Somehow this smells boho, elegant and a little dirty (in a "not dirt" sort of way) all at the same time.
  9. Penance


    I almost missed this one before it was discontinued and I'm so glad I got a chance to get some. Camazotz is a great scent if you love leather. Heavy leather (a worn in, saddle kind of leather to my nose) and a tiny bit of spice (soft clove and that slightly black pepper-ish note I always get from mezcal). This is going to age beautifully, I think.
  10. Penance

    Gingerbread Mummy

    I wasn't sure about this one (only because the non-gingerbread notes, while lovely sounding, seemed like they'd be drowned out by the gingerbread), but the Lab's gingerbread scents are almost all winners for me. This one reminds me a bit of Ghost Milk, sans goat's milk. If Ghost Milk had a baby with gingerbread and added a touch of very faint, almost sweet sandalwood and extra vanilla, this is what it would smell like. It's beautiful but quite light, just like the others I've tried. I'm hoping these deepen with age, because, right now, they're beautiful but weak. This is gingerbread + soft, smooth, creamy sweetness. Not like frosting. Just like a layer of ethereal vanilla/marshmallow over gingerbread with the faintest sandalwood on the late dry down (which really adds something here). EDIT: It looks like maybe my sense of smell is still suffering from post COVID effects since other people are saying the gingerbread note is strong. I'll bow to them and assume that my nose just can't detect that strength of scent yet.
  11. Penance

    Gingerbread Wolfman

    This is another of those scents that shouldn't work for me (I despise nuts) but for some reason I think I've got have it. Probably 95% of the time that that happens, I end up liking or loving it, so I went against my better judgment and bought it anyway. Chestnuts and hazelnuts? This should never work and yet it does! It has a soft, nutty smell (more like chestnut than hazelnut to me) that overlays the gentle spiciness of the gingerbread (all the gingerbread notes in these have been pretty soft so far to my nose; I'm hoping they strengthen with age). Sprinkled over all that is this soft, sweet combo of the honey, molasses and powdered sugar. ----- I asked my husband what he thought (without telling him what I was wearing or anything about it) and his responses were initially that it smelled like a Cinnabon (I can actually sort of see that) and then that it smelled "warm and spicy, like something you'd wear in the winter" and "it's heavy, especially for this time of year." He's literally never give me anything other than "I like it" or "meh" or "no," before and he was right on all fronts. But I'm still wearing this all year 'round because I don't hold with seasonal perfume. EDIT: It looks like maybe my sense of smell is still suffering from post COVID effects since other people are saying the gingerbread note is strong in the Gingerbread Monsters line. I'll bow to them and assume that my nose just can't detect that strength of scent yet.
  12. Penance

    Ghost Milk

    Whoa, holy morpher! This one goes through a few stages with a quickness. It starts out very tangy, almost sour goat's milk, then turns into marshmallow-white chocolate milk, if that were a thing. Then it turns again into a soft, snuggy, fuzzy musk. It stays very close to the skin and has very little throw and a light scent. It's a very soft, ethereal scent, but it's beautiful. I just wish it were stronger. I haven't tried layering it yet, but I may end up experimenting for the first time.
  13. Penance

    Baby’s First Chainsaw

    I'm a sucker for a perfume with weird notes. Chainsaw grease and chocolate chip cookies? Sign me up! I don't even normally like the smell of chocolate chip cookies and I'm excited about this. In the bottle, it's shockingly gourmand. I guess I was expecting a noticeable amount of thick, black grease, not just freshly opened cookie jar, but it is what it is. And when I put it on, it remains shockingly gourmand. There's basically nothing there but chocolate chip cookies (I can even smell that they're crisp, not chewy...how is that possible?). Slowly, though, an unidentifiable note comes out. It's impossible for me to describe at first, other than it adds a strange, but appealing darkness to the chocolate chip cookies. Not spooky darkness, just darkness of scent. As it dries, it turns from an almost complete gourmand scent into a sort of "break room at the auto repair shop", with grease-covered hands eating cookies. It's shockingly wearable and even more shockingly appealing. It really does smell better than it sounds and I'm considering getting a backup.
  14. Penance

    In Night When Colors All to Black Are Cast

    I had to have this one when I saw it. It screams "me." The only thing missing here is patchouli. This is a gorgeous scent. Dark and purple-black feeling with layers of soft muskiness, resins and warm, darkly fruity honey. It's so perfectly blended that it's nearly impossible to pick out the notes. This kind of scent is what drew me to BPAL in the first place. This reminds me of Panther Moon, a bit, though they don't smell the same. There's a similar feel to them that I'm loving.
  15. Penance

    Pumpkin Booze

    I debated on this one a lot before buying. I don't do well with the Lab's pumpkin note(s). They usually smell too buttery to me and make me a little queasy, but the rest sounded good and it was Halloween, so may as well give it a try. I'm glad I did! The pumpkin part is a little bit buttery, but it gives it a warm, cozy sort of note. The pumpkin spice is nice and not overwhelming, the bourbon is definitely there but not "I smell like a bar" level and the orange zest and cinnamon clove just warm it up that much more. This is less boozy than I expected, but also much better than expected! I'm glad I took a chance.