This is the first entry in a series I’d like to call: Project Smelly Fox. I test perfume oils on my boyfriend’s skin and he reviews them with his self dubbed “unrefined but honest nose”. I’ll also be giving my (snooty, according to him) opinions based on how great (or icky) the oils were on him.
How it all began:
The Fox (aka my indulgent, long suffering boyfriend) and I have been keeping a List. On this list are things that we used to adore but can no longer enjoy because they were taken away from us permanently. I’m talking about the most gorgeous and sinful baked rice whose shop got closed down. Limited Edition flavors of cookies, ice cream and other delectables that got removed when the season was done. Beloved television series that got discontinued just before shit got real. You know, that kind of tragic stuff.
How is this related to a perfume review? Well, unlike me, he used to be completely devoted to a single fragrance: Cool Water Game by Davidoff. As luck would have it, that fragrance got discontinued. He made a desperate attempt to hoard every stray bottle he could get his paws on, but eventually, his stash ran dry. Since then, we’ve attempted to find a commercial replacement, but being the fussy fox that he is, he always managed to nitpick and turn his nose up at every possible offering. Since then, he’s lived on soap and water and while he’s naturally quite a sweet smelling dude, I’ve always missed having him smell, well you know, divine.
That happened sometime before I discovered indie perfume companies. And it just hit me on the head one day that while searching for my personal holy grail(s), I needed to factor in my poor boyfriend as well. He was a little wary of the idea because in his caveman mind, perfume is still something sold at the mall, but since when have I been one to take no for an answer? I’m a Mink with a Mission!
Today’s review is based on a handful of unisex blends from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL). They are all from the General Collection.
I ambushed the Fox just before he took one of his “I’m ready to hibernate” naps. He was in a sleepy mood, but some cajoling and a healthy dose of
emotional blackmail encouragement got the game going.
Mink: It’s time for your first review! Are you excited?
Fox: Wait, waaaait. I’m not sure I’m ready for this. *looks on helplessly as I swab the oil on his skin.* I see that this is how it’s going to be. Alright then, here we go!
— after 10 seconds of sniffing and nodding thoughtfully —
Fox: This smells like laundry, or body soap, very clean and fresh. I don’t want to smell like this! It’s…. nice, but I smell just like I would after a shower. I might as well not be wearing perfume! Wait, what’s that? *sniffs hand again.* Okay, this smells a bit more interesting. Is that… leather? It smells like leather, and a bit of wood. Okay, this smells good. It smells sharp and masculine. I would wear this.
Mink: I’m actually jealous, it smells a lot better on you than it does on me. I mostly got fresh ozone with a tiny hint of leather, but on you, there is this oceanic saltiness mixed with the sexy dryness of leather with just a hint of rum in the background. You smell very sexy.
Fox: *preens smugly*
Our Verdict: Yo ho ho and a bottle of win! This was truly sexy on him in a clean, yet dirt sort of way. I love it.
Test Subject 2 – Burial
deep, brooding forest scents, including juniper and patchouli.
Fox: *suspiciously* Why are you giggling like that? What is this mischief?
Mink: I think you’d like this one. Try it!
Fox: Holy shit. What is this? This smells like incense. *wrinkles his nose up in disgust* Yes, you know when I visit the temple with my parents? I smell like one of the joss sticks there. Yucks! What is the name of this one?
Fox: *unimpressed* You mean I’m supposed to smell like something they put into the ground? No. I will not wear this. What would one even wear something like this to? *brightens up after observing a moment of disgust* Maybe to the temple!
Mink: My apologies to fans of Burial, but you know how we used to have a section in the Science textbook about the rotting log community? I love you, but you kinda smell a little like what I’d imagine that to smell like. *deflects a nasty tickle* I’m sorry baby, but you smell like dead leaves, damp earth and rotting logs.
Fox: Yeah, talk dirty to me.
Mink: What I mean is, this is a pretty dark and evocative scent. This is exactly what a burial in the ground would smell like if it took place in a dark, overgrown forest. Extremely woody and brooding with a bitter herbal undertone.
Our Verdict: This isn’t really for us. Nixed!
Test Subject 3: Dana O’ Shee
Offerings of milk, honey and sweet grains were made to placate these creatures (the Dana O’ Shee), and it is that the basis of the scent created in their name.
Fox: I demand to know the name of the next one before you put it on me.
Mink: Alright, alright. This is Dana O’ Shee.
Fox: That sounds like a girly smell. Are you trying to make me smell like this Dana?
Mink: Dana O’ Shee isn’t a girl. It’s a kind of… fairy creature. *totally butchers the namesake*
Fox: So I’m going to smell like a monster. Great. Hey, I know this smell! It smells like soy beancurd pudding! The one that you used to buy for me. Why does it smell like that? Oh!! That’s almond. *extremely pleased expression* This doesn’t smell bad for a tofu monster; she smells kinda yummy.
Mink: The smell isn’t based on the Dana O’ Shee, it’s what the offerings to her smell like.
Fox: First you make me smell like a temple, now I smell like an offering. Hmph! At least this one’s better, I guess? I don’t know.
Mink: This smells all soft and cuddly, like straightforward almond milk. It’s an adorable scent, but I don’t know if you should be running around smelling like that.
Fox: Wait… will I smell like sour beancurd in a couple of hours?
Our Verdict: This wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s the right scent on him. I actually prefer it on myself, although it would be a nice scent for us to cuddle up to on a rainy day.
Test Subject 4: Endymion
Selune, the Moon Goddess, fell in love with a beautiful shepherd named Endymion. She appealed to Zeus, asking him to cast Endymion into everlasting slumber so that she could be with him for all eternity. Her wish was granted, and every night the Goddess visited her love as he slept. A sweet, wistful blend of d’Anjou pear, Lily of the Valley, bois du rose and white musk.
Mink: This has such a beautiful story behind it.
Fox: *suspiciously* What kind of name is that? Oh yucks! What is this? It doesn’t smell like anything good. *starts searching around* I need a piece of tissue paper, I’m going to wipe this off.
Mink: Wait, give it a chance!
– after grudgingly waiting 5 minutes-
Fox: Oh-kaayy. I guess it doesn’t smell too bad now. It smells like pear. At any rate, this isn’t something that I’d want to be wearing if I was going to sleep for that long.
Mink: This is mostly pear on your skin, mixed with a little puff of musk. The florals were a lot more pronounced on me, I think this blend smells better on a girl.
Fox: I knew you were trying to make me smell like a girl!
Our Verdict: This fruity floral blend with a heavy dose of ripe pear is really better suited for me. For some reason, it’s mostly a pear single note on him.
Test Subject 5 – White Rabbit
Strong black tea and milk with white pepper, ginger, honey and vanilla, spilled over the crisp scent of clean linen.
Mink: And now for White Rabbit!
Fox: At least this one has a cute name. Pheh, pheh! *makes a disgusted noise* Why does this smell like baby powder? What is this supposed to smell like?
Mink: Vanilla milk tea with white pepper, ginger and honey. And linen.
Fox: Nope. This is baby powder. *waves dismissively*
Mink: To be fair, this does have a distinct powdery note on you. I didn’t get any tea of this on myself and I don’t smell that or the honey on you either. I think there’s a sharpness under the powder note that could be coming from the linen. Actually, the pepper and ginger do add a certain interesting edge to this.
Fox: So I smell like interesting baby powder. Not exactly what I had in mind for a cologne.
Our Verdict: I personally wanted this to work because it sounds so good on paper. Unfortunately, this was a dud on him. I don’t want my man to smell like an infant.
Test Subject 6 – Dorian
This blend is an artful deception: a sweet gilded blossom lying over a twisted and corrupted core. A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.
Fox: Another tea blend? Nooooo.
Mink: This isn’t like the other one! It’s one of my favorites and I would totally jump you all day if it smelt good on you.
Fox: *holds out both wrists quickly.* Ooh! This actually smells… really good. I’m actually serious. This smells like the good kind of vanilla and something else. But does it smell girly on me?
Mink: No it doesn’t. *dreamily* This is sugared vanilla tea on you and the musk just makes it melt onto your skin. It makes you smell all warm and cozy and really kinda sexy. I love this.
Fox: I actually love this too. Now about that jumping.
Our Verdict: Dorian has always been one of my favorite BPAL Blends, and I’m thrilled that it worked out so beautifully on him. BIG BOTTLE!
Test Subject 7 – Mag Mell
The warmth of amber, the puissance of white ginger and the clarity of verbena, with fresh green grass, lush sage and cleansing droplets of summer rain.
Fox: What is the name of this one? Mag… Mell. It sounds like a witch.
Mink: It’s the Plane of Joy, actually.
Fox: Huh. *somewhat suspiciously* Does it smell like pizza topped with molten mozzarella cheese? Because that’s what my plane of joy would smell like. Hmm. This actually smells good. Not as good as the previous one, but still way better than that incense thing you applied on me earlier. It’s a bit sharp and spicey, but also fresh. Is there something wrong with my nose?
Mink: No, you’re right. I definitely get some fresh green notes mixed with ozone, but there’s also an underlying layer of spice. This is interesting, I like this on you.
Fox: Ozone… underlying layer of… speak English to me, woman.
Our Verdict: This smelt like an interesting twist on cologne on him. Not bad at all!
We decided to stop at 7 blends for now because I don’t want to scare the Fox away with a whole slew of oils at this point. There were some nasty misses for him, but thankfully, Dorian and Jolly Roger were two blends that he really liked. Incidentally, they’re two of the most popular general collection blends at BPAL, and for good reason too.
BPAL’s General Collection can be found here. I’ve linked the bottles to their individual sales page in the review above. Each 5ml bottle costs $17.50. 1ml samples cost $4 each or $22 for a pack of 6. Themed imp packs can be picked up here.
Thanks for bearing with us! I know this isn’t a typical scent review, but I wanted the two of us to have fun with it. Hopefully this comes in helpful, or is at the very least somewhat entertaining. I have a whole collection of perfume coming soon so the Fox will be making a return.