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.