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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
    Anne Bonny
  • Favorite Scents
    A lot. Like a LOT.

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  • Mood
    Doom, doom, doom


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  1. Penance

    Gingerbread Haunted House

    Strong, extra gingery gingerbread gives way to a softer gingerbread with candy (something fruity, cinnamon red hots and a general mixed candy smell). Dries down into gingerbread, cinnamony, fruity candy and a touch of pretzel.
  2. Penance


    I so wanted to love this and I really thought that if it didn't work, the downfall was going to be the tuberose. Or maybe even the crystalline musk. But no, I think it was the opium! One of the notes I was most looking forward to! In the bottle, this is very pretty. Dark, smoky, a little mysterious, feminine without being overly so, just a tiny perfumey. But on me? Baby powder. Or, maybe, a tiny, tiny bit like the scented talcum dusting powder my mom kept in our bathroom when I was a kid (for use on fancy occasions). But pretty much just a baby powder single note. Skin chemistry decided this one for me. It's a no-go.
  3. Penance

    A Hailstorm of Knitting-Needles

    Straight out of the bottle, I get cologne. Expensive cologne, but cologne. Normally this is a Very Bad Thing in my book (I hate perfumey, too). But, I soldiered on and tried a bit on my skin. Wet, it's even more intensely cologne-like and I was disappointed that the fact that every note in here should work for me but just wasn't. Once it dries, though, it's rather lovely. It's still got a bit of that expensive cologne vibe to it, but I can start to pick things apart now. I get wood (not cedar or raw lumber, but expensive hardwood furniture - no varnish or the like, though). Dark wood. And vanilla with a backing of black tea. I'm not sure I'd have identified the tea as black tea if I hadn't seen it in the notes, in spite of being a black tea lover. It's here and it's not hidden, it just melds with the wood and vanilla husk, as if it were a part of each of those notes and not something on its own.
  4. Penance

    Please Scream Inside Your Snake Oil

    Initially, in the bottle, this was a fresh Snake Oil scent but with more musk than usual. There is indeed a kind of...funky note to the musk. It's not something unusual to a Snake Oil scent, but it is stronger than usual. On me, this one's a confusing morpher: fresh Snake Oil with extra funk --> fresh Snake Oil (not super funky anymore) and something sweet and pastry-like --> pure baby powder --> pure baby powder turns into about 1/3 powdered sugar --> funk is back, along with the Snake Oil, but it's covered in baby/powdered sugar. 😕 I think this needs some aging. It's a bit confusing right now.
  5. Penance

    Skin Musk, Cream, & Honey Dust

    This is beautiful. Does anyone else remember the mix-up with The Infernal Lover when there was a batch that was made and shipped without the red musk in it? So rather than "a creamy, sensual, honeyed red musk" it was more like heavy, creamy honey. So similar to Skin Musk, Cream, and Honey Dust, notes-wise. This is The Infernal Lover (mix up edition)'s younger, more naive sibling. The honey is softer and not as heavy and sticky smelling and the cream is a little more present here, while the skin musk is maybe there? There's a sort of softness that I can't identify. I won't be needing a backup because of the similarities, but this is very nice. If you're looking for something similar to the no red musk version of The Infernal Lover, you might give this a try. It's not identical, but similar.
  6. Penance

    We Wear The Mask

    Preconceived notions: I wasn't sure if I should buy this. I'm not sure why I bought this (other than supporting a good cause), but it was calling to me. Me. Hater of virtually all florals. I don't even know what carrot seed smells like, let alone whether I've even smelled wisteria or iris before. I probably have (in flower form), but definitely couldn't ID them in a million years. But still, it was calling me. That sandalwood smoke sounded fascinating and I'm generally on an okay-ish basis with lavender. Dry woods sounded nice, at least! I should also preface this with the note that I'm not even sure I should write this review because of how clueless it is exactly what I'm smelling. I can't do this justice to really explain what I'm smelling, but I'll do my best. First sniff: This is actually...interesting. I'm not sure what other word to describe it. It's not bad "interesting." It's a good "interesting," for sure, but I'm not sure that that means that I like it? It's complicated. I get a big gust of looming, lush florals. Definitely not white ones or any kind of rose, would be all I'd be able to tell you without having the notes in front of me. I'm guessing maybe it's the wisteria, but, like I said, I'm no floral expert. But then I also get a lavender in the background, but it's a roughed up lavender. Almost scorched smelling, but not in a bad way. My nose is confused. Wet on the skin: This is all heady, perfumey florals. Huge, looming florals. I think it's the wisteria, but maybe there's iris here in these overpowering flowers? I just don't know. There's other stuff there, too, I think. Somewhere. But I'm buried in flowers and I can't tell what it is. Dry down: Much more like the bottle scent, but more complicated still. The predominant scents at this point are a scorched sandalwood (it smells like the burnt top of the sandalwood incense cones I burned in college, minus the charred parts) and a dirty, rough lavender. I don't know what carrot seed smells like, but there's something almost like mustard seed pods here. It's kind of earthy, kind of vaguely plant-like. The verdict: This is actually nice. It reminds me, somehow, of a classic department store perfume but at the same time it doesn't at all. I think my brain is trying to struggle to understand what it's getting here. I like this, but I can't quite decide if it's something that's going to be staying in my collection.
  7. Penance

    Caramel, Smoked Chilis, & Black Vanilla

    Preconceived notions: I don't dislike the smell of caramel, but it's not something I generally like smelling like. But when I saw the other two notes, especially the smoked chilis, I had to try it. I'm not sure what to expect here. I've had chili caramel before and it was delicious, so I guess I sort of know what to expect? First sniff: This is where it gets a bit odd. When I first got this, it was so, so strong on the caramel note right out of the bottle. Like smack you in the face, pure burnt-sugary caramel. Maybe a tiny hint of spice? Nothing else. But once I let it set for a good while and came back to it, caramel is still the predominant note, but I can smell some deep, creamy sweetness from the black vanilla and a tiny touch of spice. Wet on skin: I'm going to stick with the scent of this once it's sat for a while, because I'm not sure I remember it perfectly enough to give a straight out of the mail review, and this is probably more helpful anyway. Wet on my skin, the caramel remains the predominant note. It's not sticky and chewy, it's a sophisticated smelling burnt sugar caramel. I also get the vanilla in the background, but, being in a sweet scent, it gets a bit lost behind the caramel. The chilis are there, but add just a subtle smoky spice. Dry down: I really like this! I wish there was more of the chili note (because I think there should be more perfume with it, especially with sweet notes), though. I was kind of expecting more of it, but I'm not mad. The caramel and vanilla meld into a particularly creamy caramel with a sprinkling of burnt sugar. Interestingly, my mom had sort of a reverse experience smelling this on me. She could smell the spice well before the caramel, but that was from a distance. Up close, she said she got caramel and spice. The final verdict: Winner! This is a really nice, somewhat unconventional foody scent. It's like a high-end, gourmet caramel from a fancy chocolate shop. Very nice blend of all three ingredients, but a little light on the chili. I'm glad I didn't swap this one away right off the bat, when it was too caramel-intensive for me. A good reminder to let things set for a bit and retest.
  8. Penance

    White Chocolate, Marshmallow, Honey, and Goat’s Milk

    Preconceived notions: Been trying to track this one down for a while. I love white chocolate and I've been digging every goat's milk scent I've tried from the Lab. Honey is so, so hit or miss on me. And marshmallow sounds great, but can be cloying. So I'm prepared for this to be sweet. I'm afraid of it being cloying. First sniff: So sweet. So, so sweet. Like, oh-my-god-I-miscalculated-when-buying-this sweet. Cloying sweet. White chocolate slaps me right in the face right out of the bottle. But there's more sweetness here. Layers of it. I'm a little intimidated at this point. Wet on skin: This is better. Still very sweet, but I can start to smell the goat's milk a little bit and things are somehow both coming together and becoming identifiably their own thing, if that makes sense. This is a lovely gourmand scent at this point, but still too sweet for me to wear, though it is nice. Dry down: There we go! It's so strange. If I just sniff, I get a sort of mix of all the different notes, so seamlessly together I can't pinpoint anything in particular other than the chocolate, though everything else is there. If I stop and smell and pay attention, I can pick out each note individually. The white chocolate is strong on the cocoa butter. The marshmallow is a soft, fluffy sweetness. The honey starts out a little sour (as it can be on me and some other people) but then turns smooth and golden. The goat's milk has a slightly sour tinge, too, being goat's milk, but it melds beautifully with the honey and evens out into this lovely creaminess that makes me think of the way a goat's milk caramel is sweet with a hint of tang. The final verdict: Winner! I liked all stages of this, but only the dry down is something that I'd wear. That's okay, though, because I really like where this ends up! 😀
  9. Preconceived notions: I've had bad luck with the Lab's strawberry scents. Literally all of them I've tried with a noticeable strawberry scent have smelled like nothing but that bagged strawberry flavored gel that's used for making cheap pies. They make me a little queasy (and sad because I want to love them). But this says dried strawberries and I'm willing to give it a try, hoping it'll be different because I want to love this one. Red musk is one of my favorite notes and vanilla is something it's hard to go wrong with. First sniff: Red musk. Lots and lots of red musk. I'm getting a bit of strawberry candy here, too, which isn't boding well. Wet on skin: The strawberry candy almost immediately starts disappearing once it hits my skin (thank God) and is replaced with something very much like dried strawberries (not freeze-dried, dehydrated) with red musk. I'm not sure I'm getting the vanilla from behind the other notes. Dry down: This is lovely! In the end, it dries down to a very slightly powdery red musk and almost vanilla dust (if that's a thing) scent with a very faint breeze of dried strawberry that I probably wouldn't have picked up on if it wasn't right in the name. It's there, but it blends so seamlessly with the red musk that it's not quite it's own entity anymore. The final verdict: Finally, a BPAL strawberry scent that really, truly works for me! This is a very nice blend. You can't really go wrong if you like the notes in this because they blend beautifully.
  10. Penance

    Frostbitten TKO

    Preconceived notions: I've never tried any of the Frostbitten scents because I associate "Frostbitten" with Numb, which I hated. But since I hear that Frostbitten here means Snow White, which I like, I had to try this. First sniff: TKO for sure! There's that familiar lavender vanilla wonderfulness. But I can smell a faint something in the background. Unidentifiable so far, but it's a bit creamy, but not in an actual "cream" way. Wet on skin: Mostly TKO, but the Snow White is coming out. It's faint, but it's adding a smoothness to the herbal-sweetness of the TKO. Dry down: This is just lovely. An almost perfect mix between TKO and Snow White. A soothing, calming scent. The Snow White adds a bit of marzipan-like creaminess with a faint hint of a sort of green, faint floral note, like lilies, complete with the stems. The final verdict: If TKO and Snow White had a baby, this would be it. It's beautiful and I'm sure it's going to age well.
  11. Penance

    Please Scream Inside Your Heart

    Preconceived notions: I'm not a super big fan of foody scents, but I do love some and between the name, the label art (who doesn't love an adorable opposum?) and the description, I had to try it. I actually do like the smell of funnel cakes a fair bit, so hopefully this one works for me. 🤞 First sniff: I can see the french toast comparison. What I'm getting, though, is more like crème brûlée mixed with fried dough. Not what I was expecting, but not bad. Wet on skin: That burnt sugar note from the "crème brûlée" deepens into a sort of burnt sugar-caramel with a hint of spice. There's no dough or cake here at all at this point. It reminds me a bit of Mitzvah. Dry down: Much more balanced now. I'm getting fried dough (a familiar note from Midway) with a touch of spiced drizzled with a light coating of burnt sugar. It's got a buttery note to it as well, but that seems to be part of the funnel cake part of the scent. Final thoughts: I like this, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Where I expected traditional funnel cakes, I got a sort of funnel cake meets crème brûlée mashup, heavier on the funnel cake. The "balls-in-your-throat feeling" isn't really showing up for me, I don't think. Fusion pastry arts aren't exactly balls-in-your-throat.
  12. Penance

    Lupercalia Single Note: Riding Crop

    Preconceived notions: I get overwhelmed by the smell of too much leather but I still love a good leather scent. I've tried basically all of the Lab's leather-heavy scents and they're all quite different, so I'm really excited to try a new one. There's probably going to be something here other than leather, though, or else it wouldn't be called Riding Crop. Some wood or something? We'll see! First sniff: Pure leather. It reminds me somewhat of De Sade or the leather note from Rivet.Goth. Black leather for sure. Very, very slightly chemically. Wet on skin: Mostly leather, but there's something almost chemical or harsh in the background. I can't figure out what it is, but it's not wood. It could be rubber or latex...or even shellac or some sort of rosin. Dry down: This is like a mish-mash of De Sade, Assassin, Rogue, Rivet.Goth (minus the motor oil and metal) and a black leather single note all rolled into one. There's something almost cologne-like about that non-leather note and I still can't place it. It's kind of like the rosin scent in Rogue or maybe the shellac in Rocking-Horse-Fly. It's hard to tell under the very heavy leather overtone. The final verdict: I can see the riding crop in this. It's not a cat o' nine tails. There's a lacquered handle sort of vibe along with the leather. I'm not 100% sure about that chemical undertone, so I'm going to have to try this a few more times on my skin. If I'm still not quite getting along with whatever that is, I'll just wear it in a scent locket, because I otherwise enjoy it.
  13. Penance

    Bulgarian Tobacco

    Preconceived notions: I love tobacco scents. Love them. I have French Tobacco (which needs tested for reviewing), as well, but I was excited to see another option! I read the reviews, but I'm still not sure what to expect in terms of this being different than French Tobacco. First sniff: Oh! So pretty! It wafts out of the bottle beautifully. It's definitely tobacco (of course), but there's something almost spicy to it? It smells like a very pricey tobacconist's shop. I find this to be somewhat dry, not really "chewy," but that's me. Wet on skin: Beautiful. Strangely almost perfumey or floral, without being either one. I think it's just the sillage and throw coming together. This one wafts. There's no other word for it. Dry down: This almost doesn't read as a single note. I could be convinced that this was a blend, actually, because it's surprisingly complex. It's a dry, but not dusty, tobacco with an edge of spice and that same almost floral waft to it. The final verdict: This is beautiful. Definitely the most complex true single note I've tried. I'm just not sure how to describe quite what I'm getting here. I keep thinking "perfumey," but that's not right. And then I think "almost floral," but that's not quite right, either. It has the same "feel," somehow. I wish I could be more helpful, but I just can't find the words.
  14. Penance

    A Dead Death

    Preconceived notions: I've been wanting to try this one since the notes sound great and the label art is amazing. I can see this one being a winner, but maybe not something that will need to stay in my collection since it sounds a bit similar to several other BPAL scents I already have? Still really looking forward to trying this! First sniff: This has that "BPAL Smell" as I refer to it. It's the smell I associate with the early days of my addiction before I had any foody scents in my collection and it was all dark and mysterious. This is right in that vein. I'm smelling a mix of sweet patchouli, vetiver and cypress here. I'm hoping the vetiver doesn't get too aggressive on my skin, but this is pretty much what I expected. Wet on skin: Pretty much the same as in the bottle, though I get wafts of the blackcurrant. It doesn't smell fruity necessarily, more like a dark, purpley-black sweetness that blends beautifully with the patchouli. Dry down: Everything's getting a chance to shine, now! The patchouli is grounding this nicely, along with the vetiver, which isn't too intense. Over that is a layer of deep, rich wood (the cypress, which I love and reminds me of redwood, particularly here) and that soft, purple-black sweetness that's not identifiably "fruit," but adds the same sort of sweetness that the Lab's dark purple fruit notes tend to add to anything they're in. The final verdict: This is similar in a lot of ways to various scents in my collection, which should tell you that I like it! It's pretty much exactly what I pictured. BPAL in a bottle for me; the smell of my early BPAL collecting days. Gender neutral, leaning masculine, though it works well for this lady!
  15. Penance

    Gingerbread Snake

    Preconceived notions: What's there not to like about the idea of this? I love Snake Oil and I've been loving the Lab's gingerbread note for a while now (all these new Gingerbread Cotillion scents use a lovely gingerbread that's not quite the same as Gingerbread Poppet; it's softer, more of a spice cake gingerbread than a heavily gingered, almost lemony one.) First sniff: All I smell here is gingerbread. Not too uncommon for the Gingerbread Cotillion scents. I was hoping for more Snake Oil, especially since this is old enough for the SO to have aged a bit. Hmmph. Wet on skin: Slightly sweeter than usual gingerbread. I would have just guessed a little extra vanilla or something, not Snake Oil. That's disappointing, since I was hoping to get a pretty equal amount of both. This is pretty much all gingerbread, all the time. Dry down: At first, this is more or less the same as when it's wet, but the longer it dries down, the stronger the Snake Oil becomes until it turns a 180 and ends up being almost all Snake Oil, all the time. There's some gingerbread spices in the background, which is lovely, but it's mostly Snake Oil. Final verdict: I was thinking about re-homing this one just because I didn't feel like I needed another similar sweetened gingerbread scent, but I'm thinking it's going to stay. It's not too dimensional or complicated, but it does smell good! It would be better with a more balanced approach between the gingerbread and Snake Oil, but I like it as is, too.