Monday, February 18, 2013

Dorian + Dahl Signature Scents Review

I love Dorian & Dahl Apothecary’s perfume and lipstick and am excited to share with you my reviews of their newly reformulated Signature Scents, Dorian and Dahl.

If you missed my previous review of Dorian + Dahl’s perfume oils, you may find it here. I also recently posted a review of one of Dorian + Dahl’s Twisted Lipsticks.

Two important notes:
If you purchased either the Dorian Signature Scent perfume oil or the Dahl Signature Scent perfume oil in 2012, the two Dorian + Dahl Signature Scent perfume oils I’m reviewing today, Dorian and Dahl, are reformulated as of January 2013 and are entirely new scents. Dorian + Dahl has created the new formulations with essential fragrance oils and are both are nitro musk-free and phthalate-free.  

Another important note is that perfume oils do not contain any alcohol. Perfumer’s alcohol is used in perfumes (e.g., commercial fragrances a/k/a “department store fragrances”) not only to “fix” a scent to the skin, but to ensure a high level of scent- consistency among those wearing it. Perfume oils, having no such fixative, are more dynamic in nature, working with each individual’s distinct skin chemistry to create uniquely personal sensual experiences. While a particular note or bouquet of notes may have distinct aromatic characteristics on my skin, those same notes may smell entirely different on your skin. Please keep this in mind as you read my reviews—my experience with Dorian and Dahl will not necessarily be your experience. 

Dorian was the first of the two reformulated Signature Scent perfume oils I wore. Here is Dorian’s description:

“Dorian is too cool for school in her leather and studs... but damned if you aren't still interested. She's mysteriously seductive with a whole lot of attitude.

Sweet honey floats a top exotic cinnamon leaf and irresistible ylang ylang while powdery sweet bois de rose oil emerges from soft peach and fresh cut lilacs, ending with a seductive ripe cherries and warm indian sandalwood base.

Spicy and sweet scent that is bold and alluring.”

Tl;dr summary of my review of the new Dorian: Dorian is an exquisite example of aromatic synergy from exotic beginning to end.

When I first apply Dorian, it has a warm, sweet fragrance as the cherry note blossoms on my skin over a layer of mesmerizingly exotic sandalwood drizzled with newly-harvested honey. Initially, I was a bit wary of the cherry note, as that particular note tends to turn artificial with my skin chemistry, like the scent of cherry cough syrup. However, Dorian’s cherry note does not morph into a medicinal scent at all on me; neither does it smell like a fresh, ripe cherry. Rather, it reminds me of the scent of a freshly-opened can of cherry pie filling–naturally sweet and juicy, but neither sugary nor jam-like. It blends beautifully with the distinctly woody sandalwood, but far from masculine. Rather, it’s warm, and the honey note provides an almost-vanillic effect.  Since I love a good sandalwood, it has an almost opiate-like effect on me; each time I catch a waft of it, I can’t help but close my eyes, breathe deeply, and feel myself sinking a little deeper into calm and relaxation.

During the dry-down phase, the juiciness of the cherry steps into the background, allowing the spiciness of the cinnamon leaf to peek through, bringing a rich spiciness to the scent. This is not a red hots candy type of cinnamon scent. It’s earthy and subdued, blending impeccably with the sandalwood and the trace of cherry that is left on my skin. The scent of the sandalwood, fruit, and spice whisk me back in time to a day many years ago when I wandered through a Middle Eastern bazaar and was overwhelmed—in the best way!—by the exciting cacophony of new textures, color patterns, sounds, and aromas.

The other notes in this blend—the ylang ylang, rosewood, peach, and lilac—never take center stage; yet throughout the wear time, I will occasionally recognize one or another here and there, as it rises and then falls, almost as if the aroma is breathing in synch with me. While not the foci of the scent, these supporting notes clearly reinforce the overall experience of the fragrance, the way a perfect harmonization enhances a melody.   

The scent lasts for several hours on me, and I find the sillage to be moderate; it neither precedes me before I enter a room, nor does it leave a lingering trail behind me. Dorian sticks rather close to my skin, but I do catch the occasional veil of fragrance lightly wafting about me when I least expect it. 

Dahl was the second of the two reformulated Signature Scent perfume oils I wore. Here is Dahl’s description:

“Dahl is lovely and demure in her pink and peach chiffon... but don't let that fool you. Her bright embrace comes with a daring edge.

Tart blood orange and uplifting pink grapefruit sparkle over radiant neroli blossom, delicate muguet de bois, alluring magnolia and vivacious roses while soft frankincense reveals a creamy amber resin base with a hint of white musk.

Powdery, feminine scent that's delicately seductive.”

Tl;dr summary of my review of the new Dahl: Dahl is a delicate floriental fragrance that is pleasant and alluring even for those who have reason to be wary of floral scents.

My initial reaction to the scent description for Dahl was, “Oooh! Blood orange, grapefruit, roses, frankincense, and amber? OH, YES! PLEASE!!! ….but, uh-oh, neroli, lily, and magnolia? YIKES!!! TAKE COVER!!! RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!”

I have found over the years that while I love certain floral and floriental fragrances, there are some floral notes that I simply can’t abide, and three of the floral notes that I find the most offense are in Dahl: neroli (which, to put it plainly, just plain stinks), muguet de bois (also known as lily-of-the-valley, and which, while one of the daintiest and beautiful flowers, I find to be nausea-inducingly cloying), and magnolia (while one of the things I miss the most about living in the Deep South is the beautiful magnolia trees, the perfume note is so rich and heady that I can’t bear to wear it on my skin). However, in the name of responsible beauty-blogging and the ever-optimistic hope that “maybe this one will be different,” I forged ahead with Dahl and dabbed a tiny bit of it on my forearm, in a place where I knew I could easily scrub off the scent if I found the scent dreadful enough to want to run away from myself.

Dahl opens with the bright and sweet scent of orange, slightly tart grapefruit, and dry and husky frankincense. Within a couple of minutes, the frankincense softens and recedes into the background as the scent of neroli begins to blossom. I’m hesitant about the scent, because it’s so distinct and familiar…yet oddly, it does not morph into the stink-bomb that I’ve become so accustomed to from neroli. As I’m contemplating this new encounter with a neroli I may actually like (!!!), the rose begins to peek through and soon becomes the dominant scent in the blend. As the rose blooms on my skin, I notice the brightness of the citrus notes has faded, but their sweetness remains.  It’s also at about this point in the wear-time that I can detect the resinous warmth of golden amber beautifully supporting the bouquet of roses. The scent remains in this stage for several hours – I actually can’t identify the scent of either the muguet de bois or the magnolia, and certainly don’t feel the need to run for the hills!

After about three or four hours, I notice that the neroli has completely faded away, and the muguet de bois and magnolia have finally decided to step forward for a little attention. Once again, I find myself in a state of wonder over these notes, which have historically ranked quite high on my “least favorite notes” list, yet in this particular fragrance, they are not offense, cloying, or heady. The lily and the magnolia are astonishingly soft, delicate, and pretty. I can almost feel the world stop turning for a moment as I realize that I actually find them ironically appealing. What magical potion is this that contains the essences of three of my greatest olfactory nemeses—neroli, lily-of-the-valley, and magnolia—and bundles them in a way that I can not only bear one or tolerate two, but actually enjoy all three?

At this point, the scent does not change again. The florals remain as feminine and delicate as hand-sewn French lace, and the resins continue to provide an unobtrusive base for the florals. (As a brief aside, I never do smell the white musk. I’ve never been able to smell white musk. I’ve applied white musk single notes to my skin and to my peculiar nose, white musk smells exactly like…well…nothing.) The scent wafts gently about me, and there is absolutely nothing untoward about this floriental fragrance. Dahl is as graceful and demure as a southern belle at her debutante ball.

While the scent fades with time, I can still clearly identify the fragrance on my skin 12 hours after first application, although there is only minimal sillage at this point.  I have very dry skin and live in an arid climate, so I find that most fragrances dissipate within two to four hours, and it’s uncommon for me to wear a scent that lasts as many as six hours. The distinct scent of Dahl on my skin 12 hours after application indicates its exceptionally rare staying power.

Overall impression of Dorian and Dahl: Simply put, they are stunners. Dorian is impeccably blended and the rich, spicy woodiness is exotic and mesmerizing. Dahl pulled the carpet out from under my feet and completely subverted all of my notions toward certain florals that I’ve come to despise. I am still a bit bewildered that Dahl smells so lovely on me! Erin of Dorian + Dahl has a knack for knowing which notes will work well together and complement each other throughout the scent’s various phases.  I rate them a 5 out of 5 stars. 

Where Do I Buy Dorian and Dahl?
Dorian and Dahl signature fragrances are available at their Etsy shop and Storenvy shop. 

How Are Dorian and Dahl Packaged and What Do They Cost?
Each Dorian + Dahl Signature Blend perfume oil is sold in a 5ml roll on bottle and costs $8.00 (U.S.)

You may also purchase a set of two 1ml sample vials of Dorian and Dahl at Dorian + Dahl’s Storenvy shop. The price is $3.50.

What Is In Dorian and Dahl?
All of the ingredients are listed on each product listing.

Why Don’t I See Any of Dorian + Dahl’s Other Scents for Sale?
If you have a favorite Dorian + Dahl scent or have a wish list and are wondering why none of their other perfume oils are listed in their shops, please reference Dorian +Dahl’s blog post from this past December.  

What Else Should I Know About Dorian + Dahl Apothecary?
Dorian + Dahl Apothecary does not repackage or rename perfume oil blends; each blend is original and handcrafted. Erin, the owner of Dorian + Dahl, handcrafted each scent formula to create a unique scent experience. Follow the shop’s blog for updates on Dorian + Dahl.

* Product sent for consideration. All opinions are my own.


  1. My brother has fragrance sensitivity so I'm banned from nail polish and perfume while I stay with them. I sooo miss my perfumes too. Not to mention the polish! Can't wait to find my own place and stink up the a good way!!!

    1. Once you get your own place, I will TOTALLY come over and bring my perfumes and help you stink it up!

  2. Oh my! The packaging is so cute. I really love your blog.

  3. I think Dorian sounds the most attractive to me. I read on the D+D blog that they had to close shop early due to Erin's pregnancy and other busy-ness in life, so I'm really glad I had the chance to buy the two perfumes I did. Girls is one of my favorite scents I've worn in a long time. I have my fingers crossed that she'll possibly open again in the future.