BPAL Coraline by Neil Gaiman Collection – Review

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“Say nothing for the Bedlam might be listening”

BPAL Coraline 

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is known for making unique and whimsical scents. This time, as they have in the past, they are drawing inspiration from the literary works of Neil Gaiman. I got lucky enough to receive some of their concoctions from the Coraline collection.

Some may remember the name from the 2009 film, but I prefer the graphic novel version myself. An only child, Coraline struggles with living in a new place and escapes into another world where things are quite similar to her own. As she explores she finds more sinister motives to the cast of characters on the other side of the locked door. Coraline is a story about overcoming fears and exploring the imagination.

BPAL Coraline

BPAL’s lovely oils are housed in 5ml small amber bottles. No crazy shaped bottle necessary. They are best kept in cool, dark spots. While unnecessary, keeping mine in the fridge makes for chilly pick-me-up while preparing to go out. This keeps the fragrance stable, prolonging the life of each bottle (they can last for years!)

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab uses all vegan ingredients with the exception of honey-based scents. They are strictly oils, meaning no unnecessary fillers like alcohol or synthetics. And one big positive of BPAL is their oils are never tested on animals.

BPAL Coraline

The BPAL Coraline Collection has another awesome selling point that includes a charity that comic geeks will love. A proceed of all sales of the scents go toward the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. This organization is dedicated to defending First Amendment rights for members of the comic book community.

The scents for this collection are based on some of the characters within the story including Coraline herself. The we heart this team had the chance to sniff, test and wear each scent in this fun collection.

BPAL Coraline

Mr. Bobo – Cooking herbs, pickles, and mouse fur.

The Cat – Sleek, black, dark, and clever: benzoin, honey, cedar, and dark musk.

Coraline Jones – Dry grass, clean skin, and a little bit of mossy berry.

Mouse Circus – A toodle oodle of pink cotton candy noses, vanilla spun sugar fur, scattered kernels of popcorn, and a touch of polished golden wood.

Miss Spink – A grand, over-the-top tuberose gardenia a bit of tea splash and biscuit crumbs.

Miss Forcible – A classic vintage musk – also with a bit of tea splash and biscuit crumbs.

we’re dying over these adorable illustrations by Vera Brosgol!

My favorite by far is The Cat with it’s dark notes of cedar, honey and musk. I have been wearing The Cat during work and cannot stop sniffing my wrists. When I think of a sleek black cat, this scent fits perfectly.

Mr. Bobo is one of the more unique of the collection, there is a definite briny scent of pickles! I’ve never smelled anything quite like it. It is a more masculine scent overall. Coraline Jones is lighter, reminding me of a berry-scented soap. The soap suds note seems to fade on skin, leaving just a clean berry scent left behind.

Because Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab uses blends of oil, the scent does not fade as fast as alcohol based perfumes. My favorite spots to apply the oil are my wrists and collarbone.

Curious about the rest of the Coraline collection? Make sure to check the comments to see what our review team thought of the oils that capture the whimsical characteristics of Neil Gaiman’s book.

we heartsters – What do you think of the BPAL Coraline Collection? Which character scent are you drawn to?

photos: we heart this

Lucy loves Lady Gaga, lattes, trashy television and anything zombies. She’s a geeky girl who likes tech gadgets, reading tons of books, playing with gender roles and is constantly surrounded by a small army of cats.

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • lucylemonade

    Lucy loves Lady Gaga, lattes, trashy television and anything zombies. She’s a geeky girl who likes tech gadgets, reading tons of books, playing with gender roles and is constantly surrounded by a small army of cats. skin tone: NC15 skin type: Dry to Normal favorite beauty product: lip balms of all flavors and colors

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  1. CORALINE! This post makes me want to pull out my copy for a re-read! Gaiman is SO GOOD.

    I’m very interested in hearing how Mouse Circus smells, it seems really complex. But I bet I’d pick The Cat or Miss Spink to wear for myself; deep musk always draws me in, but I also love a good, heady tuberose!

  2. Icequeen81 says:

    wooow not animal tested nice

    Mr bobo, cat and coraline seems like something for me

  3. Oh BPAL, how I love thee. Mouse Circus sounds like the one I want to try for sure and I was really curious to hear how Mr. Bobo smelled because that sure is an odd combination!

  4. Hmmm…interesting. I have never heard of this. They seem like great products to try out. I am curious on the mouse circus. Love vanilla scent.

  5. As the photographer, I am also chief sniffer at we heart this. Meaning, I get to sniff everything. I LOVED this collection. The illustrations are adorable and the scents are very…pretty (for lack of a better word.) I mean, the average person is going to like “tuberose gardenia a bit of tea splash and biscuit crumbs” rather than, say, graveyard dirt or some of the other odd notes that BPAL can sometimes have (that being said, I happen to love their scents with dirt in them!) Mr. Bobo is the oddball and it is oddly appealing. I tried it thinking “who’d want to smell like a pickle?” and then couldn’t stop smelling myself. Maybe I was just hungry. I loved Mouse Circus, it’s really playful and totally delicious. And the 2 Misses are quite beautiful.

    But I think this is a great intro to BPAL. If you’ve never tried one of their oils before, there are some amazing choices here. And for a good cause as well.

    1. @stef, I don’t know quite how to explain this, but a pickle base note would be oddly appealing and sensual. I understand what you mean.

  6. Hmmmm…okay, to all the ladies wondering about Mouse Circus, let me break it down for you:
    Mouse Circus…it smells a bit like sweet non-fruit based breakfast cereal and then a pungent “off” scent…I’m supposing that’s the “polished golden wood”? In any case, to be perfectly honest, when you first apply it, it’s less than awesome. The sweet portion of the scent draws you in (all warm and sugary with a hint of vanilla) and then BAM, the pungent back end of the fragrance repels you with its bitter sourness. This needs to sit and air out on your skin before it smells “right”. Think at least 30 minutes to an hour before you smell good. After that, the “polished golden wood” scent eases up enough to not make you gag.
    This is definitely a cooler months kind of fragrance, I think this would be a little cloying in the heat. Overall, the smell is good, but it takes some time to get there.

    1. Thanks for the breakdown, @krista. It’s hard to wrap my head around these combinations, but I think I would love them.

  7. @lucylemonade, thanks for the really fun read. I’m very open to fragrances and now my interest is truly piqued. Love to get my hands (and nose) on these . . .

  8. The whole collection is so charming: Mouse Circus sounds the most delectable to me. I had the good fortune to try out Miss Forcible, but, sadly, it was not for me. The idea of tea and a biscuit crumbs sounds so delish, but all my nose gets from this one is super-strong musk, with maybe a faint moldy undertone? However, my husband sort of fancied it and it actually smelled better on his skin. I am going to try and layer it with a sweeter scent to subdue the strong musk and see what happens…perfume alchemy experiments are the best.

  9. I love, love, love Coraline-the book, movie, and graphic novel!! I want, want, want all of these!!! Yay for BPAL and Neil Gaiman!!

  10. @lucylemonade- this review ROCKS! When I tested Miss Spink from the BPAL Coraline collection, I absolutely fell in love with the scent. However, I had no idea how to describe what I was smelling. Honestly, to me it smells like mischief. Maybe that’s because my husband can’t keep his hands off of me when I am wearing it! I too, cannot stop taking whiffs of my wrist! This is awful, but I had no idea about Neil Gaiman. My family adored that movie, and we have watched it over and over again. Now, I need to look into his writing, because Coraline was pure, creative genius! The Mr. Bobo pickle scent has me completely intrigued!

  11. While my initial reaction is “Pickles?! Who want’s to smell like pickles?!” I know that if anyone can pull it off with grace it’s BPAL. That said, I think I’d reach for Miss Spink (tea and biscuits, mmmmmm..) and The Cat before the more adventurous scents.
    Great review @lucylemonade , I’m going to have to smell you the next time I see you!

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