I love independent perfumers. These people are artists of the nose, and when you buy from them, you don't buy from a massive company, you buy from a person, and you get personalized service and a one-of-a-kind creation, usually for a very affordable price. I love the idea of supporting a person's art. So, imagine my profound delight when I found out that one of my favorite fragrance board members at MUA had decided to launch her own perfume business. I am so very excited to begin reviewing creations by CJScents! I've already become a customer, and I'll start with my favorite fragrance of her line thus far: Vanilla Incense.

Perfumistas know that vanilla is a hard note to make new and different. Especially in today's market, where sweet fragrances dominate, vanilla is ubiquitous. Candice has created a rare, grown-up vanilla, however. Vanilla incense is slightly sweet, but also smoky and dark and spicy. She combines a rich dark vanilla with myrrh, and the mixture is intoxicating. On my skin, the myrrh blooms and the touch of sweetness present at the opening gradually fades. The vanilla grows boozy, bringing to mind an expensive, well-aged bourbon. UPDATE: This morning, I sniffed my wrist and the most amazing thing happened! A delicious clean musk is all that remains of Vanilla Incense. i adore it! What a progression.
All of Candice's scents are in oil form, as well, so the lasting power is exceptional.
To order and peruse her selection, visit http://cjscents.blogspot.com. Her prices are beyond reasonable: $18 for 1/4 oz splash bottle, or $35 for 1/2 oz.

Today I am sampling Candice's Boozywood, and I must say, my nose is intrigued. Candice mentioned to me that this is one of her favorite creations, and I can certainly see why. On her blog, she lists the notes as: LE Sandalwood, Bourbon Vanilla, Frankincense, Myrrh. I certainly pick up all of those, and the scent is a wonderful sweet, spicy wood fragrance that feels as cozy as a cashmere sweater. But in addition to those notes, I'm detecting a few others as the scent evolves that are catching my interest. The opening, I could swear, had some almond or cherry, but that quickly faded away. Then it got briefly powdery, as though there were some honey in it as well. As the scent warms on the skin, however, the powder fades and the spicy, vanillic sandalwood emerges quite clearly. Ever so often, though, I detect a whiff of something extra: coconut! I've never sniffed coconut in a spicy wood fragrance before, and I'm loving it. It's ever so subtle, and I don't know if Candice even intended it to be here, but my nose insists that it is. I think that any fans of the woodsy trend in feminine fragrances this fall would be wise to check out Boozywood. Like Vanilla Incense, it's an amazing creation, and so well priced.

I have been in a lazy search for a new musk for a while now, so I was very pleased when Candice sent me a sample of her new oil, Cypress Musk. This is a wonderfully clean smelling musk, with soapy, piney notes that blend very well. I've never been surrounded by cypress trees, in particular, but I have been in plenty of evergreen forests, and this reminds me of that feeling those trees project: clean, healthy, and brisk.

CJScents' vanilla fragrances are so enticing and well blended that it is easy to overlook some of the fresher scents in her line, but I encourage everyone to try them too. They are just as appealing. Today I'm sampling Gardenia Musk and I've promptly gone and ordered a bottle. Disclaimer: gardenia is my favorite white floral. It has a freshness and a sweetness that is innocent and playful, and it never turns loud or whiney on me like orange blossom and tuberose tend to do. Candice pairs it with a musk that plays up the clean aspect of the flower and tones down the sweetness a bit. It reminds me of the wonderful clean floral nature of Il Profumo's masterpiece, Musc Bleu. This fragrance, however, lasts ALL day as opposed to Musc Bleu's several hours. This is again because Candice uses a high concentration of fragrance oils. As the scent dries down, the gardenia slowly dissipates and the clean musk is still going strong even overnight. An excellent choice for work, when one doesn't necessarily want to smell like perfume but is aghast at the thought of going scent-less (the horror!). Gardenia Musk will join my go-to work scents: Gendarme Carriere and Sonoma Scent Studio Opal.

Do you like your cozy winter fragrances softly sweet, woodsy, and spicy? If so, you must try CJScents Wood Spice. It opens with sweet powdery sandalwood. This could easily be cloying but Candice carries it off masterfully. During the drydown, hints of nutmeg and cedar emerge, but to my nose they only accent the sandalwood. They never take it over-sandalwood is the star of this show. The soft, almost floral powdery quality accompanying the sweetness in this fragrance makes me think of heliotrope (and I loooove heliotrope!). It lacks the syrupy character that vanilla often takes on, and it is marvelous. If a fragrance can be like a cashmere sweater, then this one is it for me.

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