I bought a 10 pack (plus 1 free) sample set of perfume oils from Scent by the Sea on Etsy for $17 NZD and here is my review of them.
Kabuki: This was a free sample included and recommended to me by the perfumer when I said I liked oriental and warm scents. All I had to go off was the short description that said it was “inspired by the art of David Mack.” I had not come across the art of David Mack before so, naturally, I looked it up – it’s very beautiful (go check it out!) but I had no idea how it would transfer into a scent. Turns out it does this well as Kabuki is reminiscent of vague watercolour brushstrokes, warm colours and has a soft grace to it. It’s warm, wet, oriental, slightly soapy, slightly gourmand and smells like sunlight touching your skin. Now I’m not really sure of the notes but I’m pretty sure there’s some Sandalwood (reminds me of a softer version of Sandalwood Vanilla) in here, maybe a little vanilla, maybe coconut and something floral like Frangipani. It kind of reminds me of Madagascan Vanilla Flower by The Body Shop. This is one of my favourites from the set and I’ll probably purchase a full bottle – nice recommending! 7/10.
Cote d’Azur: Oh my god I can’t stand this this perfume. I actually can’t try it on again to review it so I’m just sniffing it from the bottle. It’s strong, almost medicinal and bitter to me. I’ve read polarising reviews on this; people either love it or hate it and I’m the latter. The notes are apparently lavender, champagne, vanilla and a hint of coconut but I can’t really tune into one as it’s a headache inducing blur to me. I think it’s the lavender and champagne causing the problem – they don’t blend well at all. Normally if I don’t like a perfume I’ll still wear it and let it run it’s course but I had to try to scrub this off immediately. It’s sad because I see where the perfumer was trying to go with this. 1/10.
Middle Earth: A perfume that’s meant to smell like Middle Earth? I simply had to get it. It’s quite strong on first application but settles down into something sweeter. I can’t find a list of notes on Etsy anymore so I’m going by my nose. I get a lot of Pine, a slight shampoo smell, hints of herbs (marjoram?) and other woods, it’s slightly fruity, green and resinous. It doesn’t necessarily smell like Middle Earth in a bottle to me but maybe a forest the fellowship would’ve camped out in. The kind of forest where your head is buried into the foliage. I don’t see myself wearing it but it’s an interesting experience. 5/10.
Cinema Rouge: This is a great and well blended perfume that I have become to especially respect since trying a lot of other perfumes. The name is very befitting for such a perfume and it matches it’s description well. The perfumer describes Cinema Rouge as “a willingness to consort with the seamy side of desire, excess and all things sensual and forbidden. A dedication to the vamp cinema style of Theda Bara.” It’s basically a smokey yet creamy amber with a touch of vanilla. It’s a little bit gourmand and spicy – the note I initially thought was anise turns out to be malabar pepper which is rather unique and prominent on my skin. Apparently black orchard is a note but I’m not familiar with it so I’m unable to comment on it. It gets a bit powdery on dry down and can easily be worn on a man. If you like amber scents I would definitely recommend this. It reminds me of various Tom Ford perfumes. I think it’s too dark for use during the day but I would wear it at night when I’m feeling moody, gothic and/or mysterious. 6.5/10.
Medusa: Goodness this is an interesting scent, I don’t think I’ve smelt anything like it before. This is a described as an “oriental chypre chaotic evil femme fatal depiction of Medusa the gorgan from Greek mythology.” It is rather intense, dark and incensey. I get a large dollop of Patchouli – a pure dark and earthy patchouli. It’s slightly medicinal and sweet at times which, again, would be the patchouli. I can smell a little bit of the oak moss and amber notes listed but I don’t really get much musk from this. I can see it suiting Medusa. As it dries down it smells a bit funky and it’s not really for me but, regardless, is very interesting. 4/10.
Ganache: I dislike this perfume oil but was at least able to put a little bit on again to review unlike Cote d’Azur. It’s described as “opposites attract: creamy chocolate meets an unexpected visitor for tea.” It’s a very bizarre one and upsetting because I was hoping to like due to chocolate. I don’t really get any chocolate or tea but rather a strange pastry-like scent. A review I read said it smelt like a “french pastry with butter and sugar and vanilla essence and dough” which I can kind of get but it’s VERY RICH and almost off too me. It’s rather gourmand. If done right I think I would have liked it but something in this smells very wrong – I think it’s the green accent and tea note that throws it off. 2.5/10.
Morpheus: I love this SO MUCH – it’s probably my favourite perfume oil from the set. It based on one of the Greek gods of dreams, Morpheus, and the notes are “French lavender essential oil, vanilla oleoresin, and a touch of ylang and amyris wood.” You can really tell it’s a natural oil and all of the ingredients smell high-quality. I never knew that Vanilla and Lavender smelt so good combined. The lavender note is very exquisite in this, it’s soft and dreamy – not overwhelming at all. The vanilla is creamy and rather yummy. I can get a little bit of, noticeable, ylang and amyris wood. It’s calming, slightly powdery and I put it on just before I go to bed most nights. I simply must buy a full bottle of this. 8/10.
Sandalwood Vanilla: Well, what can I say about this perfume oil; it’s basically just Sandalwood, Vanilla and Musk (to a lesser degree) which are my favourite notes so I love this. It’s a woodsy oriental with a hint of gourmand. I find the Vanilla the perfumer uses really yummy and I’m not sure why – it’s sweet and creamy which is good because sometimes I find this a touch too masculine for me. Sandalwood is a rather masculine note and this is basically a perfume dedicated to it. However, the musk and vanilla lighten it and make it gender neutral. It feels like a windy walk down a beach but is also a cozy cuddle up scent. It’s one of my favourite perfumes from this set and I’ll probably buy a full bottle of this. Love it. 8/10.
Vanilla Chai Tea: This was an interesting choice for me because although I like Vanilla i don’t like Chai Tea – at least the taste of it. I quite like this perfume oil as it’s warm, spicy, cozy and an oriental gourmand. I don’t have a list of notes but I think sugar is a note along with soft spices like cinnamon – it actually smells like Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath & Body Works. The vanilla is that same creamy and yummy note and takes the background/base on this but without it I don’t think this would work. I think there’s also a woodsy note in here – maybe Sandalwood? It’s definitely an autumn scent and very homey. It does smell like Chai Tea with it’s creamy spices but although I dislike it’s taste I like it’s scent a lot. It’s smooth and well blended. 7/10.
Winter Beach: This is a strange perfume oil for me as it evokes memories I can’t quite place. It smells cold and like night air – I can see myself walking along a beach at night with this on. It’s strangely freeing BUT it also smells heavily of soap or some other bath product. There is a smokey note at the very back of a sniff which is slightly reminiscent of a beach campfire. I think there’s a woody note in there too – maybe something like driftwood? This reminds me of my mother and childhood for some weird reason. It’s altogether not really pleasing but interesting. I see where this perfume is trying to go but I don’t quite think it gets there. 4/10.
La Goulue (not pictured above as I couldn’t find it at the time of this shot): I don’t particularly like this as it’s strong and soapy. Apparently it’s meant to depict “abandon and depravity – featuring chocolate, amber and musk.” I get the musk note but hardly any chocolate unless it’s that ‘chocolate’ note from Ganache which smells soapy and off. It’s a cold and sad perfume so it fits the theme of this perfume. I don’t really get any amber either as it’s meant to be a warm note and this perfume is altogether cold for me. I do get abandon and depravity. It smells like running away with tears in the middle of the night and is quite similar to Winter Beach. 4/10.
There is some sort of strange underlying note that I can’t place in the blending of these perfumes but it’s not really bad – just weird. If i had to try to place it I’d say it’s a slightly synthetic bath-product scent. In some of these perfumes this scent is more prevalent which distracts me from the other notes. I’d say the sillage of these perfume oils is soft to moderate (it hovers over your skin so you don’t have to press your nose completely against it to smell it) and is longevity moderate at about 5 to 6 hours. I want to buy more sample sets for my friends and family to help them find something they like as there’s a huge variety.