Monday, July 7, 2014

First sniff impressions: Bubble and Geek

Recently, I've been interested in dipping a toe into the strange and wonderful world of indie perfumes. Which is odd for me since basically my "signature smell" is the tea tree oil I use for every skin problem and whatever my partner's shampoo smells like. My favourite perfumes are celebrity-endorsed and I use them twice a year. So when I say I know nothing about perfume, I definitely mean it. (I like to cook, though, so I guess my nose is okay.)

I decided to make an order with Bubble and Geek because I enjoy a well-done fandom-inspired item and their shipping costs to Canada were very reasonable. They're most known for their scented candles, which are sadly prohibitively expensive to buy internationally, but I figured some of their scents-as-perfumes sounded intriguing.

Obligatory bit about customer service: I placed my order with B&G on June 26th and it shipped on the 30th, arriving here on July 7th. Their turn-around time is listed as 1-3 business days, which was accurate and that's really fast for an indie. Shipping to Canada was quick, especially given the holiday weekend here during that week. The order was also well-packaged. Observe:



The order arrived in an eco-friendly bubble mailer. Inside the mailer, the items were wrapped in another bubble-wrap bag (the black one pictured). Inside the bubble-wrap bag, the perfume samples and two lip balms were wrapped in blue tissue paper (the cute sticker sealed the perfume samples; the lip balms were wrapped individually like Christmas crackers). In the tissue paper, each vial is inside its own plastic baggie. Granted, I've never ordered perfumes before, so I am unsure what's standard--but I feel that this packaging indicates some real determination to ensure that everything arrives safe and unspilled!

The order does not contain other samples, but it does contain a code for 10% off a next order over $20.

Now to scent impressions! I'll likely provide a more in-depth review of each scent after I wear it a while, but I wanted to at least check these out. I won't be inserting the product's description until afterwards so I can be as uninfluenced as possible.

King in the North
Very masculine with a sweet afternote. Lavender buried under woodsy musk, maybe? Maybe a bitter mint? I really like the scent of this, though it's a little bit overwhelming at first. It's definitely got a sweet-herbs-poking-out-of-the-forest-floor thing going on that suits my idea of Robb Stark. I don't know if I can pull it off as it pulls even muskier on my skin (I might try anyway), but I'm going to see if my partner likes it. I will find a way to have this in my life.

Bubble and Geek's description:
This fragrance features scents from a weirwood forest mixed with a blend that, on its own, I call "Prince Charming," which includes soft lavender, crushed cardamom, and sensual oakmoss. It is topped off with a hint of frosty mint and vanilla.

Kicking myself for missing the cardamom here because it's definitely there and I love cardamom, but I don't really notice much vanilla. In any case, I love this scent.

Sweetsleep
Smells like cloves and cardamom to me. A bit of sweetness, maybe orange peel? This is a little sharp and peppery at first but mellows into smelling like it might waft out of an oven.

Bubble and Geek's description:
In a certain epic fantasy realm, Sweetsleep is a drug that (in small doses) can be used to calm frayed nerves. This particular fragrance channels the soothing effects of Sweetsleep and is a relaxing, clean citrus blend with bergamot & orange, combined with a faint scent of lily, supported by a rich base of piney woods.

The pine is definitely there and I am clearly not the best at this, but this feels a little more chai than Earl Grey to me, if you know what I mean. I don't find it soothing--it's a little attention-snagging for that--but it's nice. The initial sharpness might put me off wearing this as it went straight to my head (I get dizzy easily), but I bet it's great as a candle.

Sunnydale Library
I'm getting musty books, leather, light vanilla-ish sweetness, and something vaguely green in that order. Maybe also tea leaves. I have no idea if this is wearable--it seems unisex but I don't know if this is necessarily the most enticing way to smell?--but it sure does evoke a night of research in early Buffy: I can imagine her flipping through a book in Angel's jacket eating donuts with Xander while Willow and Giles poke through stores of magical herbs. So major geek points there.

Bubble and Geek's description:
Take a trip back in time to the Sunnydale library, where one might find leather-bound books on how to slay vampires hidden amongst the calculus textbooks. Other notes include rosewood (Mr. Pointy!), hot brewed tea, and a house plant. May or may not open a portal to the hellmouth.

I am clearly wrong about the donuts, but the rosewood is maybe a sweet note here for me? There's definitely sweetness. I'll try wearing this, but I feel it's possible that the nerd novelty may outweigh the "I smell awesome!" value.

De-Gnoming the Garden
Lilacs, something else vaguely floral, and fresh-cut grass, in that order. Smells simple to me on first encounter but I love lilacs and fresh-cut grass and this evokes both in a not-artificial-seeming way, so it'll probably be a nice spring/summer fragrance for me.

Bubble and Geek's description (sorry, only the short one is up for this fragrance):
Weeds, grass that needs cutting, gnarled, leafy trees, and blooms (lily, lilac, rose, and hyacinth) spilling over from every flower bed

This smells much simpler than the description, but might have more complexity on the skin. I am surprised I don't get more rose out of it, since that's usually an insistent note from what I've read of other perfume reviews.

Stormborn Queen
This smells like sugared orange peels, ripe wet strawberries, and some kind of spice to me. Kind of a juicy, late summer scent that reminds me of August sun. I like it, but I don't know that it epitomizes Daenerys to me. I could see her having these overtones, but I also associate her with warm sand, salt, and smoke.

Bubble and Geek's description:
This popular fragrance is a luxurious blend of sugared orange, mulberry, and a hint of spice, and is how I imagine the Stormborn Queen might smell when she is NOT traveling across the desert. 

Well, to be fair, this explicitly states that she's not travelling the desert, ha, which makes my other associations a bit moot (I'm still holding out on the dragonfire smoke). I was pretty close on this one actually (maybe I remembered this description deep down? ha) but I have no idea what a mulberry smells like, so. I think this could be a great summer scent so I'm eager to try it on.

Overall
Sweetsleep is probably a miss for me--it's a lovely scent, especially once it mellows, but I think I'd prefer it in a room. It's in their close-out section, though, so maybe I should've anticipated that! I like King in the North the most, which is a shame since I'm not sure I can pull it off--but I'll probably get my partner to wear it. I will likely enjoy De-Gnoming the Garden and Stormborn Queen and I'll see where Sunnydale Library goes on skin.

I don't know how these scents from Bubble and Geek will wear yet, but if you're curious about them based on my impressions, sets of five samples go for $9 USD in their Etsy store. They also sell candles, wax tarts, lip balms, and soap.

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