BPAL Halloween 2013 – A review of 24 Halloweenies

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BPAL Halloween 2013

press sample

In case regular readers haven’t guessed it from our yearly Scary Movie Series, our geeking out at the Rick Baker party, or our love of dressing up – we love Halloween. Like, ADORE IT. Know who else does? BPAL. The often gothic, always fabulous, scent company Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab releases multiple categories of Halloween items every year. From sticky sweet scents you’d find in trick or treat bags, to those that lean to the darker side (think haunted houses and cemeteries) BPAL has a scent for everyone.

Best news of all, if you’re like us and everyday is Halloween – the Halloween scents will be available through December!

We got a sniff of 24 items from the line. Follow us on this Halloween scent journey, won’t you? (insert evil laugh)

BPAL Dia De Los Muertos

Please note: beyond the fabulous scents themselves, BPAL’s descriptions are a literary thing of beauty. For length, I have not listed them in their entirety here. Rather, just the notes. Except for the ones so beautiful to me that I couldn’t NOT share them. But I strongly encourage you to visit BPAL and read them.

(My brief thoughts are in italics beneath each scent. Our testers will elaborate in the comments.)

BPAL Samhain

General Halloween Perfume Oils: ($23)

Dark Pumpkin Mead – Thick, heady pumpkin mead sweetened with clover honey and a hint of maple.

Spicy pumpkin. Don’t think sweet pie, think warm jack-o-lantern stuffed with cloves.

Samhain 2013 – Truly the scent of autumn itself; damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

Oh, this is amazing. Like a cool, crisp stroll through the woods while eating an apple! I can see why this one is brought back every year.

September Midnight – A myrrh-darkened amber chypre sweetened by newly-ripened black pomegranate.
Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.
(That’s just an excerpt of the beautiful poem by Sara Teasdale. Way to create a vision, huh?)

Chypre is one complex note; citrus, moss, musk. The addition of pomegranate only makes it more complex. This reads as unisex to me. And I don’t think I could control myself if I smelled this on a man!

Bpal Haunted Houses

Dia De Los Muertos 2013 – Dry, crackling leaves, the incense smoke of altars honoring Death and the Dead, funeral bouquets, the candies, chocolates, foods and tobacco of the ofrenda, amaranth, sweet cactus blossom and desert cereus.

Hmm, I’m not getting any food or smoke with this. Just sweet white florals.

Haunted Houses – Quiet, ineffective ghosts haunting the realm of mystery and night, stretching dusty hands back to homes and lifetimes unforgotten: pale gossamer musks swirling in thick, dense otherworldly vapours through cracks in dry wood and old, old stones.

What they pulled off here is incredible. The description is dead on; like cold, old stone with light musk and slight florals in the background. I’d add to the description that it is the smell of fear swirling in the air and making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Wow.

Day of the Skulls – White sandalwood, beeswax, and frankincense crowned by hydrangea, rose, and kantuta blossoms, dressed with tobacco, cocoa leaves and flowers from the sacred Cactus of the Four Winds.

In Bolivia, many people hold to the tradition of keeping the skulls of their ancestors with them in their homes, caring for their remains. It is believed that each person has seven souls, and one of those souls stays with the skull after death, enabling a spirit to grant protection and prophetic dreams to their descendants, and to bless their families with good health and prosperity.

The rose is the prominent note on me, but mixed with other soft blooms and a warm, earthiness. Such a pretty floral.

All Souls 2013 – On November 2nd, prayers are sung and offerings are made to aid lost souls in transcending purgatory. An incense blend that invokes the higher qualities of mercy and compassion, mingled with the soft, sugared currant scent of offertory soul cakes.

Oh. My. Yum. Buttery, sweet and warm from incense all at the same time. I kinda want to eat myself.

BPAL Pumpkin Patch 2013

The Pumpkin Patch: ($23)

Tradition calls for BPAL to create a batch of scents heavy with pumpkin, the unofficial scent of Halloween. This year, favorite offerings form the lab were spilled upon the pumpkin patch…

Alice in the Pumpkin Patch – Alice is Milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot.

Dorian in the Pumpkin Patch – Dorian is Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.

Moroccan in the Pumpkin Patch – Morocco is the intoxicating perfume of exotic incenses wafting on warm desert breezes. Arabian spices wind through a blend of warm musk, carnation, red sandalwood and cassia.

Samhain in the Pumpkin Patch – damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

Sin in the Pumpkin Patch – amber, sandalwood, black patchouli and cinnamon.

Snakes in the Pumpkin Patch – Snake Oil is BPAL’s most popular scent; a blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.

I have to be honest, for the most part the pumpkin just devours the original scents on my skin. I get a hint of them and within minutes, they’re all but gone. The only exception is Dorian, Dorian and Pumpkin played very nicely together.

BPAL Pumpkin Patch 2013 oils

Black Phoenix Trading Post

The Trading Post is filled with Halloween deliciousness right now! Really, it’s hard not to read the offerings and feel peckish. In addition to the items listed below, you’ll find pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin s’mores scents, as well as a delightful sounding bath oil called Boo which seems to perfectly capture a child’s ghost costume: eerie billows of spun sugar, fluttering white cotton, and sheets of cream. And a whole bunch more; t-shirts, massage oil, candles. Things you’ll want. Trust me on this.

Black Phoenix Trading post linen spray

Caramel Apples and Ancient Oaks Bath Oil Blend ($23) – Sticky-sweet caramel apples and a gentle rain of apple blossoms clutched by gnarled oak boughs.

This was the first item I tried when I opened the box of samples, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. It’s like bobbing for apples on a cold fall night; sweet, yet woodsy.

Dia De Los Muertos Atmosphere and Linen Spray ($23) – Dry, crackling leaves, the incense smoke of altars honoring Death and the Dead, funeral bouquets, the candies, chocolates, foods and tobacco of the ofrenda, amaranth, sweet cactus blossom and desert cereus.

As with the oil, this is primarily white floral to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with white floral, it’s quite beautiful!

BPAL Tricksy

Tricksy Perfume Oil ($23) – Patchouli, aquilaria aguillocha, and Manuka honey.

What’s aquilaria aguillocha, you ask? (I did too!) Turns out it’s Oud, the note many fancy-pats perfumeries use. Described as “a rich, musty woody-nutty scent.” It’s very resin-y and is a complex scent that smells much more expensive than it is. At first, I dismissed this with a “bleuch”, but as the scent deepened on my skin I fell in LOVE.

BPAL Hallowwenches


This is a sassy little grouping of products with comic book style illustrations by Aidan Casserly.

Bpal Sylvia She Wolf

Perfume Oils ($23):

Sylvia, the She-Wolf – Snuggly brown musk, spicy carnation, leather balsam, bourbon vanilla, terebinth pine, yew berry, and a touch of clove.

This smells like your Dad’s old leather chair; warm, loved and cozy.

Callidora, The Vamp – Blood musk, Egyptian myrrh, Mayan cacao, 7-year aged red patchouli, Siamese benzoin, and tobacco absolute.

Whoa, not for me. Very sharp and kind of animal scented. Just seeing the word “blood” turns me off, though.


Hair Gloss ($28 for 4 oz.): Please note: these do contain cyclomethicone, for those sensitive to ‘cones…

Shiny Furball – Himalayan cedar, vanilla musk, lavender, black clove, honeyed coconut, fir balsam, and juniper berry.

Very woodsy, with the cedar being the strongest. Reminds me of when I used to play in my Grandparents attic, going through boxes of old photos and mementos.

Lightening Storm – Vivid flashes of dazzling electricity: white mint, white tea, white ginger, a jolt of yuzu, and electric green lime.

So green! The yuzu jumps right out. It’s absolutely delicious and Tyna and may have to hold a dance off to see who gets to keep this…

Silkybat – Sensual sugared patchouli.

Sexy, sugary patchouli. Not a dirty hippie in sight.


Bath Oil: ($25 for 4 oz.)

Sudsy She-Wolf – The warmest, snuggiest way to tame a savage beast: hazelnut coffee with dark chocolate, sweet fig milk, warm brown amber, and terebinth pine.

Warm and snuggy indeed, and oh-so edible smelling.

Recharging Station – An invigorating shock of eucalyptus petals, white mint, pink lime, and rosemary.

Invigorating is the perfect word. Eucalyptus is like a smack in the face, in a good way!

Bloodbath – This vamp’s secret to eternal youth: red musk, black patchouli, rose milk, and sugar blossom.

Oh, the Post is killing it with the patchouli. Again, forget every dirty patchouli scent you’ve ever smelled. This is sexy, rose-kissed patchouli. Amazing!

Worth noting, no BPAL and Trading Post products are tested on animals; rather family, friends and fans alike.

There you have it – a whole lot of BPAL Halloween love. Make sure to check the comments for our review team’s thought on the scents. But I’ll leave you this – this is without a doubt my favorite BPAL launch all year.

we heartsters – what scent sounds like your must-have?

Stef is many things. Amongst them: co-editor of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie.
skin tone: NC 25/30
skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea
favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products


  • Stef Andrews

    Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world... skin tone: NC 25/30 skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products


  1. Spooky! Love BPAL and their new collections. The Hair Oil bottles would look so cool on a bathroom counter. The labels are outstanding!

  2. So excited to see this: I’ve had my finger on the trigger of the Dia De Los Muertos scent. BUT no chocolate/smoke notes, just floral? Man, might have to go for the All Souls or Haunted Houses instead. Lastly, the photo of the bath oils with the finger is so creepy-pretty!

    1. Just floral on ME @Amity – that’s the thing about BPAL. It really depends on the person, I think more so than any other perfume I’ve ever tried. I saw this first hand recently. A good friend of mine at work was saying she had a hard time picking out a perfume because she didn’t know what kind of scent she actually liked. So I brought in my BPALS, and we sniffed 5 a day ruling out scents she didn’t like and noting ones she loved. Another friend was totes jealous and invited herself on the scent journey. And EVERY scent smelled different on them. It blew us all away, really.

      So for you, you might get a ton of chocolate and smoke!

      Oh, and said friend? She loved Tweedledee (Kumquat) and The Antikyhera Mechanism (Teakwood, oak, black vanilla, and tobacco – which may be my favorite BPAL of all time. It drives my husband nuts. If you like deep, earthy scents, it’s the end all, be all.)

    2. Oh yeah, and Haunted Houses is the scent I think I have been more impressed than any BPAL scent EVER. And that’s saying a lot. It’s so transporting.

    3. I love the visual of you and your co-workers spending your breaks sniffing BPAL bottles! What fun. They must love you – and I bet you made some new BPAL fans as well!

  3. Icequeen81 says:

    September Midnight sounds like something for me

  4. As readers know, we really heart BPAL – and like many, I always look forward to their Halloween collections. It’s a nice little prequel to all of the upcoming holiday beauty collections – just better smelling and a little spookier!

    I got to smell many of these new scents and oh. my. yum. – everything is so fabulous. If you are a pumpkin fan you should be in heaven! Out of all the lovely bottles I was most drawn to the semi sweet and very spicy Dark Pumpkin Mead – and of course fell for the black cat label as well.

    And I can not wait to give one of the bath oils a try! Recharging Station smells divine and so refreshing. I totally want to use it after a shower to soften my skin and smell like eucalyptus petals and white mint all day!

  5. Dark Pumpkin Mead & Day of Skulls sound like my type of scents. This collection is huge but sounds amazing!

  6. Dark Pumpkin Mead sounds lovely, and Haunted Houses, and– oh hell, all of them! I wish I worked with you, too, @stef , so I could smell them all in person, but reading the descriptions was the next best thing.

  7. Fascinating! I would just love to sniff the majority of these. What a novel idea!

  8. BPAL!!! My problem with BPAL is that I only want to wear a select few, but I want to sniff ALL of them. If they had a brick and mortar store, I’d never leave…

    Samhain 2013 and All Souls 2013 sound divine! That’s a shame about the Pumpkin Scents; Dorian, Snake Oil and Alice are three of my all-time faves so I thought those would be super interesting! Maybe the vanilla in Dorian is what lends itself so well to the pumpkin? Alice is VERY delicate, and heavier on the rose, so I could see it not working but that it overpowers Snake Oil surprises me! Snake Oil is SO yummy but fairly potent in its own right, I’m surprised that it would not work as well with pumpkin…

    I’ve never used any of their Trading Post products, but all three of those bath oils sound amazing! And cartoon labels are perfect, I love it!

    BPAL definitely still has my heart.

  9. Dark Pumpkin Mead intrigues me…as does the Caramel Apples and Ancient Oaks Bath Oil Blend. My guilty pleasure is taking a scalding, hot bath in my huge ass (the technical term) corner bathtub while opening the windows above to let the cold air in. On a cool, fall night it smells like apple orchards and wood fires, I bet that bath oil would be DIVINE!

  10. September Midnight and Dark Pumpkin Meade sound awesome!!! I totally treasure my BPAL collection and would quite possibly include them in my items to take in case of a fire. LOL! I totally agree with @stef when she mentioned that the scents “transport” you. I have always felt that more so than any other company BPAL has the ability to creates scents that take me away to a different time or place-whether I have ever been there or not. That is powerful stuff people!!

  11. If BPAL didn’t sell these, I’d be just as enchanted reading about them. They are always the most intellectually inspiring mad dog scents around.

  12. I got to test Shiny Furball, the Hair Gloss from the Hallowenches collection. Lucky me! The scent is a strange, thrilling combination of woodsy and vanilla. It’s as if I’ve been hiking through the woods for weeks eating nothing but sugar cookies. The spray bottle squirts out in a stream instead of a mist, so I spray it onto my hands and rub it through my hair. Just a little bit gives silky shine and that amazing, long-lasting scent. “Now with natural flea repellants” says BPAL. Oh how I love them!

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