Discovering Phoenix Botanicals, again.

Saffron Veil Close UpPhoenix Botanicals caught my eye nearly two years ago when I bought their terrific Wild Rose Lip Balm on a whim, but I was unaware that fragrances had become a part of their repertoire as well. Irina Adam, creator of Phoenix Botanicals contacted me recently, and asked if I would like to sample some of her all natural perfume oils. Having been impressed by her lip balm, I decided to take her up on her generous offer, and I am so glad I did.
Saffron VeilTo begin with, the presentation of her perfume oil is simply charming. I adore the silk ribbon around the top of the vial as if it were a bow on the forehead of a pretty flapper from the 1920′s. In fact, Saffron Veil, Irina’s latest fragrance, smells like it could be straight from that era as it sings with a smoky violet voice that’s so deep it’s inky without a trace of sweetness. Freshly puffed smoke hangs in the air, as does tobacco resin from old pipes.

Saffron Veil, as the name suggests, is not all darkness as the opaque opening gives way to a lighter heart of boronia that’s tannic, but also fruity. A gentle wafting of tuberose joins the party at this point, and is also the last one to leave. The tuberose doesn’t make much of a scene though, this is a subtle one that’s happy to linger in the background, only to be noticed if you draw her in closely.

And that’s how it goes with most all natural perfume oils. Phoenix Botanicals’ fragrances are in a base of organic jojoba oil, wear very close to the skin, and on me, last just under a few hours.

Phoenix BotanicalsIrina also sent me samples of Bonfire Rose, Meadow & Fir, and Amber & Blues. While I found Saffron Veil interesting, Bonfire Rose left me the most impressed. Like Saffron Veil, its top notes are shadowy and smoky, and I enjoy those initial moments of secretive intrigue which contrast against the lighter and brighter top notes of many other perfumes. Bonfire Rose takes a minty, resinous turn that’s mildly rosy, but not what I would call overly floral in the slightest. It brushes up against charred sage and lingers around camphorous leaves, evoking memories of woodland strolls and crackling campfires.
Phoenix Alchemy Samples

Amber & Blues and Meadow & Fir both reside squarely in the amber family. The prevailing amber triad of vanilla, labdanum, and benzoin oversees these two fragrances in a lovely manner. Meadow & Fir has fir of course, but it also has a jammy quality that reminds me a touch of Aftelier’s Fig. Amber & Blues is more of a straight-up amber, with a very pillowy,  woody-vanilla drydown, not unlike Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Lyra. I do think Fig and Lyra are more nuanced and more complex fragrances, but Phoenix Botanicals has a price point more people can afford which broadens the natural perfume community and keeps us smelling beautiful.

Leave a comment and I will enter you in a drawing for my Saffron Veil (minus the ribbon and a some dabs by me for the purposes of this review). US addresses only. I apologize to my international readers. The winner has been chosen.

There are other fragrances to explore at the Phoenix Botanicals etsy site. $24 for 1/8oz vial. Other sizes and samples available.

All photographs were taken by me.

Inflorescence by Byredo


Upon first sniffing Byredo’s Inflorescence, I thought silently to myself how perfectly this perfume had been named. I immediately associated that lyrical word with phosphorescence since the fragrance radiates day glow pinks, yellows and every other bright color of spring.Thankfully I remained quiet with my inner dialogue, as I was heading down the wrong path. Inflorescence as I have come to learn, is a group or cluster of flowers on a stem, which as it turns out, truly is the perfect name for this perfume.


I was at Barney’s in Scottsdale when I spotted the bottle lurking behind the counter. It’s not available yet, and no samples were to be had, so I went back the next day to get spritzed again because I fell in love with this unabashedly, hyperfloral, anti-depressant of a perfume. As listed, the notes are rose and freesia at the top, magnolia and muguet in the middle and jasmine at the base. But let’s call Inflorescence what it truly is, a freesia soliflore almost to the extent of Antonia’s Flowers (which has the same notes save for the rose), but dialed down and more contemporary. For those of you who might be gasping because you despise the “bug spray” note in Antonia’s Flowers, rest assured, it’s not in Inflorescence. This freesia is smoothed out by a creamier magnolia (but it’s not a creamy fragrance per se) and the muguet has enough of a presence to lend a squeeze of citrus, some leafy greenness and rich florals.

I don’t get a sense of the rose, or the jasmine from Inflorescence. There’s the subtlest suggestion of musk that emerges in the heart and remains throughout the drydown, which bestows a tenderness upon Inflorescence where Antonia’s Flowers becomes cold and aloof. This veil of musk, which I’m assuming is synthetic, has an air of ambrette seed to it, allowing for an organic quality to the peppery freshness of its freesia, making it more dewy and even greener.


I am so happy to now have inflorescence in my vocabulary. I finally have a word to describe what I have long admired about freesia. Its inflorescence has always mesmerized me with sparse blossoms protruding brightly, yet precariously from a slender stem. I am also immensely happy to have Inflorescence on my perfume wishlist. Most of you know that my perfume preferences are on the natural side of the spectrum, but I’ve been having fun exploring the other side in recent days, and Inflorescence is a wonderful discovery.

Image by Laura Gurton from the Unknown Species Series #49
Stock image from Byredo
Botanical image from

Available at and soon to come at Barney’s. $220 for 100ml, $145 for 50ml.

Hourglass Ambient Powder in Dim Light & Ambient Powder Brush Review

Hourglass Compact and Brush

Along with my perfume and scarf collection, I’ve acquired quite the heap of highlighters in an attempt to achieve that ever elusive “lit from within” look. What I’ve found so far in my valiant effort to find said effect is either a nice glowy enhancement at best, or too much sparkle or even glitter at worst. I’ve settled for the glow and have been pretty happy leaving it at that.

It’s time to make a little more room in my highlighter drawer because Hourglass has muscled its way in with something new. Many of you beauty blog followers are probably already aware of this latest offering, the Ambient Powder line. It consists of six finishing powders that impart a skin-perfecting “light” and I opted for Dim Light, a neutral beige per the website.

Hourglass Ambient Dim Light and Brush

Hourglass Ambient Open Compact

Hourglass Ambient Dim Light Close up

As you can see from the photos, the powder reads slightly pink in the pan, but once applied it truly is neutral, at least on my light to medium olive skin (NC30). Cutting to the chase regarding sparkles, there are none to be seen in natural light, nor under your typical bathroom or other indoor lighting. The only circumstance where I could find the tiniest trace of sparkle was under the direct and intense light of the heat lamp in the bathroom with my hand mirror. Not your normal situation. So hooray, it passed!

More importantly, this powder is the most beautiful highlighter I have ever used. I have used it every day for over a month on my cheekbones and am continually impressed with how much softer it makes my skin appear. For the first week of use, I kept forgetting that I had applied the powder, and when I would look in the mirror I’d think to myself, “Did I get more sleep than usual last night?” And yep, you guessed it, I also thought more than once, “I kinda look lit from within!”

Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush

I’ve only applied Dim Light with the Ambient Powder Brush and I am loving this as well. Its shape is perfect for applying the powder along the cheekbone, but might not be ideal for applying over your entire face if you truly want to use this as a finishing powder. Because of the powder’s pinkish tone, I feel more comfortable using this on my cheekbones and I do adore the effect that the powder and the brush create. I highly recommend them both, with the caveat that while there are no parabens, phthalates or fragrance in Hourglass cosmetics, this is not an all natural product.

Hourglass is available at and Barney’s, $45 for the powder and $35 for the brush.

Check out The Non Blonde for a review of Hourglass Ambient Powder in Radiant Light.
All photographs were taken by me.

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Hourglass PR. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Cocoa Sandalwood by Sonoma Scent Studio

“Current” by Leigh Viner

Cocoa Sandalwood is one of the most dynamic fragrances I have experienced in a long time. It moves through its stages with a quiet force that is palpable, alluring, and in the end, becomes an intimately beautiful sandalwood fragrance.

The opening notes do not hint much to a sandalwood experience though. Like I said, this a dynamic perfume and it has an interesting itinerary. Initially, the first wood encountered is cedar, charged with coffee and cocoa, all very pure. When I say pure, I mean there’s no pencil shavings to the cedar, no roughness, just smooth dense wood. And the coffee is not bitter and the cocoa is not sweet. The three notes are solidly together, opening the fragrance on sure footing, without a lot of embellishment.

Cocoa Sandalwood

But just when you think Cocoa Sandalwood might be a simple (yet lovely) fragrance, the heart notes develop and within fifteen minutes powdery roses, creamy peaches, nutty vetiver and sweet coconut are wafting about. Vetiver? Coconut? I love this! I’m wearing Cocoa Sandalwood today and the vetiver-coconut stage has been particularly pronounced. The perfumer, Laurie Erickson, confirmed that there is vetiver in the formula and that the coconut scent exudes from the peach lactone which has a fatty-coconut scent before it fully settles into its peachy goodness. Today, this perfect medley of spicy woods, fleshy fruit and not-too-sweet florals has lasted longer than any other wearing.

Yet, I do not lament moving forward into this perfume’s journey which shifts into a more unfettered rose-peach phase. This of course allows for a clearer appreciation of the peach note and a smooth passage to the musky sandalwood drydown that awaits.

So let’s talk about this drydown since really, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for. I know it’s what I was waiting for when I first wore Cocoa Sandalwood. This is a sandalwood that is soft but not soapy, woody but not dry or sharp, and I wondered, “Is this finally going to be a sandalwood fragrance I can wear? One that I can truly love and feel like it’s me?” Truthfully, I can answer these questions with a resounding, “Yes!” I don’t know if it’s the creaminess of the New Caledonia Sandalwood Laurie has used, or the perfect balance of musky ambrette seed, or her overwhelming talent as a perfumer (ding ding ding!)  but I have finally found a sandalwood fragrance that is mine.

Fragrance Notes: Cocoa absolute, coffee absolute, ginger CO2, cinnamon bark EO, clove bud absolute, natural peach lactone, rose absolute, Virginia cedar, New Caledonia sandalwood absolute, ambrette seed CO2, vanilla.

Cocoa Sandalwood is available at Sonoma Scent Studio. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find Cocoa Sandalwood which is the only fragrance available in bottles on the website at this time. $25 for 5ml Travel Spray. (Other sizes available).

More reviews of Cocoa Sandalwood:
The Non Blonde
The Black Narcissus

Image: “Current” by Leigh Viner

Bar Soap Bounty from Olive and Oud

Olive and Oud

Olive and Oud‘s dense bars are exquisitely fragrant suds factories that get you clean, leave your skin soft, and fill the air with beautiful aromas. Right now I’ve got Flora in use, and it is one gorgeous smelling soap. It’s woody with cabrueva and peru balsam, and floral with ylang ylang, palma rosa, and mimosa. It’s also lightly piquant from grapefruit and a hint of allspice. Patchouli makes it earthy and binds all of these wonderful scents together which centers the fragrant quality of the soap itself and also has a centering effect on the bather as well.

I’m also exploring the bar soaps Eye Candy, Souk and Ode to Joy. Eye Candy is made with jasmine and tuberose floral waxes in addition to sandalwood, gingerlily and other delicious essences. It’s sitting here on my desk and it certainly is nose candy! Souk is more on the mellow side when compared to Flora and Eye Candy, but it is no less intoxicating. Coriander and bergamot work their charms into this soap which, like all of them, is made with olive oil, organic cocoa butter (or organic palm oil) and shea butter for an exceptionally nourishing lather.

Olive and Oud 2

Lastly, there’s the bright and sunny Ode to Joy that’s bursting with citrus, specifically grapefruit, bergamot, and petitgrain. Lavender, coriander, frankincense and a smidge of jasmine are also playing around in this chunk of fun, but to me it’s all about the sparkling fruit and it will be the ideal soap for those mornings when I’ve hit the snooze button one too many times.

I have terrific news for Scent Hive readers! Laura Natusch, creator of Olive and Oud, would like to do a giveaway for a bar of her newest soap Emerge. It’s based on green and citrus scents (especially cilantro) over earthier, sweeter base notes and as of this posting, it’s not even available on her esty site yet. To enter, simply visit Olive and Oud and then leave a comment over here on Scent Hive letting us all know what soap you would choose. Drawing now closed. 

Good luck!

Olive and Oud soaps are available at etsy for $6.25