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In addition to the incenses Katlyn was kind enough to send me, she enclosed a number of sample vials of body incense, perfume oils that can be used for anointing or otherwise perfuming the skin.  Two of these, Kyphi and Elf Oil, are still available on her site.

Their textures are, well, oily, as opposed to watery.  As such, they stay on the skin and are slowly absorbed.

Kyphi is based on ancient Egyptian formulas for temple incense.  Its blend is composed of Oman and Somalia Frankincense, Somalia Myrrh, Cassia, Labdanum, Port Orford Cedar, and LiquidAmbar.

Kyphi is composed largely of dark base notes that stick with you for a long time, slowly fading away.  The amber is pervasive from the beginning, lying beneath the other notes in a blanket of sweet smoothness.  Katlyn’s amber reminds me very much of Eden Botanicals’ lovely amber oils.  The prominent notes at the beginning are frankincense and myrrh.  The cedar lends a pleasantly piercing, piney note to the blend, reminiscent of menthol.  This balsamic accent cuts any cloying sweetness that the blend could have.  The result is a resiny amber that is velvety without being cuddly.

Elf Oil is a “’Fayrie’ formula that comes from the Bodleian Library 17th-century magickal manuscript” used for the anointing of the eyes to see the Faery realm.  Katlyn gives no list of ingredients (all 100% essential oils and absolutes), but here are my impressions of the scent:

It’s a lovely, light sweet floral that would suit springtime pursuits.  Initially, notes of petitgrain lend a green, citrusy, floral wood scent.  That part is fleeting, and is quickly followed by a dominant white floral like neroli or orange blossom.  As the neroli starts to fade, rose joins the blend and acts as a floral base note.  Interestingly, on my skin, the woody aspects of the rose showed up first until the neroli had faded enough to let the rose peek through.  The blend didn’t last long on me—maybe an hour at best—but the sweetest scents are often the most fleeting, are they not?

These and another new blend, Blue Lotus, can be found on the Mermade Magickal Arts web site.  Blue Lotus sounds yummy; it’s a blend of sandalwood oil and coconut oil.

Katlyn’s blends are often limited releases, so get yours soon before they’re gone!



Attar Bazaar, purveyor of personal fragrance/perfume oils, is having a sale this week.

From their email flyer:

Spring is here! Please celebrate with us by taking 20% off your next order—this week only!

Use coupon code: AFSP20

Sale starts now and ends on Sunday, March 28th, 2010.

Shop now at:

Or call (800) 344-7172 x206 and order by phone.

Also, check out our new roll-on applicator bottle:

Today marks the Autumnal Equinox, when the days begin their slow descent into winter darkness.  It also marks one of the first cool days we’ve had since July in my part of the world (US Midwest).  The sky outside is an even, pale gray.  Rain has been predicted, but none has fallen.  My tomato plants haven’t wilted yet, but the first average frost date is rapidly approaching.  The corn field I can see from my deck has gone past the gold of harvest into the brown of decay.  The leaves have not started to turn yet, but I anticipate they will soon enough.  It’s a perfect time to start talking about scents that help one start cocooning against the elements.


I think spicy scents form a good bridge between the lighter woods of summer and the richer scents of winter. Shoyeido’s Kyoto Autumn Leaves is an obvious choice, featuring a spicy, rich blend of sandalwood, cinnamon, patchouli, and benzoin.  Shoyeido’s Golden Pavilion is similarly spicy, but adds the pervasive note of cloves to Kyoto Autumn Leaves’ blend.  Baieido’s Sawayaka Kobunboku / Imagine series Koh serves cinnamon lovers well with its toasty blend of aloeswood, cinnamon, and Chinese herbs.  Shoyeido’s Incense Road series may also appeal to spice-lovers, especially its Spicy Chai scent.

I don’t usually pay any attention to Martha Stewart, but she seems to love Halloween just as much as I do.  She’s got an interesting project for a “pumpkin incense burner” that allows one to fill one’s living space with the scent of spiced, baking pumpkin–specifically, pumpkin pie, for those readers who are familiar with this autumn treat.  I’m curious about how the project would turn out, but the amount of time needed to complete it gives me pause.

Autumn is also time to be outside amongst the falling leaves and chill breeze.  Scents that evoke earthy loam and bonfires are perfect for autumn.  Mermade Magickal’s Pan’s Earth is awesomely earthy and slightly musky, bringing together aloeswood, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, labdanum, Hougary frankincense, and Himalayan juniper wood.  Mermade Magickal’s Sacred Grove and Earth Church both evoke the scent of the wild woods and nighttime bonfires.  Both feature a good proportion of fragrant woods and evergreen wood and resins.  They bring the scent of the ideal bonfire to your house.

(Sacred Grove’s ingredients: Hougary and Oman Frankincense, Turkish Storax, Labdanum, Fir Balsam Essential Oil, Western Red Cedar Wood, Powdered Grand Fir Tips, Himalayan Juniper Wood, Pinon Pine Resin, Copal Elemi Resin)

(Earth Church’s ingredients:  Poplar Buds, Fir Needles, Port Orford Cedar, Juniper, Oman Frankincense, Pine Resin, Salupati, Rose Petals, Bay Laurel, Cedar, Labdanum , Ylang Ylang)

Essence of the Ages has announced three new “perfume-inspired” incenses from Shorindo scented with interpretations of two Etro fragrances and one Chanel fragrance.

Shorindo Koibana series

The fragrances featured include Etro Magot, Etro Anice, and Chanel Chance.  I find their choices interesting, given that Etro is a relatively smaller and more niche fragrance house than Chanel.  Both have excellent fragrance offerings.

I suspect that the incense will be different from the originals, if they’re true to the fragrances, specifically because incense tends to deliver its blend of notes all at once.  Alcoholic fragrances, on the other hand, take advantage of the volatility of their chemical components to stage a progression of notes as time passes.  (Now, non-progression in incense is arguable, since with incense we get the entire experience, from smelling the stick, to smelling during burning, to experiencing different concentrations of scent in different parts of the room, to smelling the after-scent in the air and on clothes.)

I just love fragrance ad copy for its unreflexive awe and breathlessness about the fragrances, so here you go!

Etro Magot (from Aedes de Venustas): “A spicy fragrance with warm, sensual tones. Mysterious. Magot is the name of a statue that represents the the Chinese God of happiness and abundance. Aura: it carries you into the mysterious universe in which any seduction is possible. Its pungent and intense aromas evoke the lust of concubine’s rooms. Its languor should be felt on the skin. The citrus chases off depression; the lavender is seductive; patchouli is an aphrodisiac.”

Etro Anice (from Aedes de Venustas): “Anice, which comes from the Latin word anisum and the Greek word anayo (meaning, I burn, I excite), is an incredibly alluring fragrance, seemingly born out of the cold light of the night star with an everchanging face. If you wear it, you change with it: you’re visible and invisible. Anice expresses ethereal, tender fiminity. It reflects the Yin present in each man who is able to love and desire. It is a unisex fragrance that moves sensually and gently like waves upon the body of a woman and man, capturing their magic: an ethereal moment of infinite sensuality. Anice captures that instant pulsing with life. Starting out with the distinctive, spicy aroma of Anise, the luminous scent of bergamot and rosewood it is followed by the heady scent of jasmine, vivacious hints of fennel and caraway and theintense notes of iris. The warm bottom notes of vanilla, musk and amber linger on the skin.”

Chanel Chance (from Chanel): “A decidedly young scent . . . for those who dare to dream. Waves of freshness collide with floral notes and merge with sensual, sweet and spicy elements. It’s your chance . . . TAKE IT!”   (Notes [from]: Pink pepper, Lemon,  Hyacinth, Jasmine, Iris, Amber, Patchouli, Vetiver, White Musk)

For access to a smell of the perfumes, Chance can be found in just about any department store in the United States and elsewhere where Chanel fragrances are found.  Being recent and “popular,” they don’t hide it behind the counter.  Magot and Anice, on the other hand, should be available at  Aedes de Venustas in New York City,  The Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver, or Senteurs d’Ailleurs in Brussels.  Note that the Perfume Shoppe and Aedes de Venustas both boast excellent sample programs for those who can’t visit the shop.  The other, I’m not sure.  Wouldn’t hurt to ask!  The Perfumed Court also ships samples in the US and internationally.

After a short break from perfumes, I’m back to my original olfactory obsession.   After the Japan trip, I started dipping into my shoeboxes of samples again.  This time, I’m on a quest for something that reminds me of Japanese incense, so my Top 4 reflects that.  No particular order.

  1. Comme des Garçons   Series 3: Incense Kyoto – The Comme des Garçons Incense series is supposed to reflect the incense traditions of five major “religious capitals” around the world.   That said, as in most perfumes, there’s quite a bit of poetic license at play.  Kyoto does not, as you might expect in a traditional Japanese incense, display the usual blend of sandalwood/aloeswood, cassia, camphor, etc.  Instead, the notes are incense (probably meaning frankincense), cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower, Virginian cedar.  The overall effect is one of slightly smoky hinoki and earthy cedar incense at first, drying down to a somewhat musky smoked cedar smell that reminds me of a dry sauna.  (Note: It does not smell like Baieido’s Imagine Hinoki, Nippon Kodo’s Ka-Fuh Hinoki, or Mermade Magickal Arts Sacred Grove).  Note: This is the fragrance series that I mentioned in an earlier postMore reviews of Kyoto.
  2. Comme des Garçons Series 3: Incense Avignon – From the same series.  My appreciation for this went up 100% after having smelled Mermade Magickal Arts’ Golden Bough.  (Side note: I highly recommend smelling good examples of individual raw materials in order to pick out notes in perfumes–whether they be burnable or sprayable perfumes.)  I swear that the top notes smell just like Golden Bough.  Avignon then dries down to a very similar base to the Kyoto, somewhat muted earth and smoke but close to the skin. (Not surprising, since both are creations by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.)  Notes: Roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds.  More reviews of Avignon.
  3. Shiseido/Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois – Blends cedar with plum and violet notes to create a more wood-dominant that goes beyond the usual masculine accords involving wood, without falling back on the usual “add a bunch of vanilla or candy” that’s used nowadays to make woods “more feminine.”  I don’t detect any vanilla at all, just a silky, slightly powdery, slightly fruity cedar.  The fruitiness recedes on me as time passes, but the cedar stays prominent throughout its progression.
    I mainly mention the masculine/feminine dichotomy because it’s in the name–I’m all for finding perfumes based on how they suit me, rather than on who the target audience is supposed to be.  Notes: Ginger, cinnamon, clove, plum, peach, orange blossom, violet, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, benzoin.   More reviews of Féminité du Bois.
  4. Diptyque Tam Dao – A sandalwood-dominant fragrance.  I wasn’t terribly impressed by this, and only wore it once.  At the outset, it smells like decent Australian sandalwood oil.  As it progresses, however, I find the drydown rather on the cloying side, or perhaps a little too close to the Sandalwood body spray I’m able to buy for a song locally.  Notes: Goa sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, ambergris.   More reviews of Tam Dao.

Overview:  I think you can detect my fandom for Japanese perfume houses coming out in this list.

I’ve got more samples coming in the mail, so next month should be interesting.

All lists of notes are taken from LuckyScent.


Here’s a recent article from Perfume Shrine about a new trilogy of fragrances inspired by a fictional kodo ceremony:

Parfum 137 Nara 1869

(Where do all these niche perfume brands spring from?)

Of the three, the Olibanum edition sounds the most interesting in terms of incensey perfumes.

While you’re at Perfume Shrine, please check out her Incense Week series.  Since it came out, it’s been one of my go-to guides when I’m craving new incensey perfume samples.  It’s good reading, besides.

Continuing where I left off in my discussion of summer scents:

“Hippie scents” are generally earthy, woody scents that I buy at the local whole foods grocery or the local bath and body store, or make at home with essential oils.  Or commercial fragrances that smell like these, although I haven’t found any cheap enough for my budget.  My favorite summer 2008 scent was Aura Cacia patchouli and orange oils diluted in  jojoba oil.  I remember wearing a similar diluted patchouli oil concoction to the local Fourth of July fireworks display, and not getting bitten by any bugs.  (you decide if it was the patchouli or the cloud of Off! wafting from others)  I’ve asked other people, and the sillage (the cloud of fragrance extending from myself) from such homemade perfumes is minimal.

I’ve also been enjoying a nag champa body spray I had custom-scented at the Soap Opera (the aforementioned local bath and body store).  It’s fairly dead-on (DH asks, “Are you burning incense?”) but occasionally smells like cola drinks.

I’m not sure where the appeal of earthy scents in the summertime comes from.  Perhaps it’s a path of least resistance rather than an attempt to mask body odor?  It certainly does invoke outdoor playtime, digging around in the mud or dirt while gardening, etc.  I’m curious to try body incenses, and perhaps I’ll get a chance sometime.

In a twist of marketing that really amuses me, Comme des Garçons is now offering the fragrances in its Incense series in incense form.  You can find them at LuckyScent.  They appear to be dipped charcoal sticks, $55 for 40 sticks.

Argh, every time I visit The Perfumed Court for decants, my browsing spins into a chain of free association that ends who knows where.   I always seem to end up running across something tempting.

The object of allure at the moment is Guerlain’s Bois d’Armenie.  Inspired by France’s Papier d’Armenie, little booklets of burning papers permeated with benzoin, the notes consist of pink pepper, iris, rose, coriander, benzoin, Indonesian patchouli, incense, precious woods, musk and balsams.  You can locate reviews of the fragrance here.

But! I won’t be purchasing it anytime soon, given my budget.  At least I can burn Shoyeido’s Kyoto Moon Abundance for a heady benzoin fix.

Sounds like the Papiers aren’t as lovely as they could be, either.  Kevin at Now Smell This compared raw benzoin with Papier d’Armenie and provides a review.

The Perfumed Court is having a sale on 5 mL decants of a selection of Montale fragrances, mainly the non-aoud, less popular ones:

Amandes Orientales
Chypre Fruite
Dew Musk
Fougeres Marine
Fruits of the Musk
Musk to Musk
Oriental Freshness
Roses Musk
Soleil de Capri
Sunset Flowers

Montale is known for its Arabian-inspired fragrances, especially its line of fragrances featuring aoud as a dominant note.

While you’re at the Perfumed Court, I’d recommend Montale’s Black Aoud and Aoud Roses Petals–whether you’re a man or woman.

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