One Hand Washes The Other Review: The Motherlode
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to write this post. Also, I’ve been hacking away at it for like, three months. Procrastination and ill-health are a hell of a team. Here’s the long and short of it: I’ve written up a long-winded One Hand Washes The Other review. It’s about perfume. Enjoy.
One Hand Washes The Other is an independent company that makes perfumes. They are mostly vegan, with the exception of a couple of products like hair oil. I’d been intrigued by the idea of indie perfume ever since I started browsing r/indiemakeupandmore, but getting the stuff shipped to Australia seemed like an expensive hassle for something I wasn’t sure I’d even like.
Enter Femme Fatale, an Australian retailer of a whole bunch of independently owned cosmetics and related miscellanea. I actually stumbled upon them whilst looking for this eyeshadow bundle that in the end I never ordered. When I found out they sold indie perfumes, however, I kind of went hog-wild.
I only ordered a few things at first and tried to stick to samples, only grabbing full-sized products when that scent in particular wasn’t available smaller. When they finally got to me, I was so impressed that I went back for more. And more again. And then, if memory serves, back once more.
With that, I present my One Hand Washes The Other Review: The Motherlode.
The samples come in little thin clamshells with about the circumference of your average loose eyeshadow pot you’d get from any indie brand. They look tiny – tiny enough, in fact, that I was shocked and somewhat disappointed when I ripped open the mailer and laid eyes on them for the first time. But, though it may not look it, you get a tonne of product. Five months on, my first Buttella sample still has a few applications left. I’m not stingy with my application, either!
As for the full-sized perfume sticks, they come in a cylindrical tube maybe 5cm tall and 1cm round (they’re oval, but I’m approximating). Like the samples, I was surprised by how small they appeared, but again, it’s a whole lot of smelly for not a whole lot of money. I doubt I’ll finish any of them before the year is out. Application is simple with these little guys.
Onto the scents themselves. If you want to skip to a certain scent, here’s some anchor links (apologies if they break, they’re moody):
Be True | Buttella | Calaveras | Carnivale | Carnivale 2.0 | Chirp | Fevrier | Heart Flutters | Homecoming | I Smell Like A Witch | Maura Mae | Mori | Rose Lemonade | Seance | Snowdrift | Sugar Rush | This Is Not For You | Toxid Lotus
Notes in Be True: baby roses, white chocolate, raspberries, vanilla and sandalwood.
I hate to start this off negatively when I have such a high impression of these products as a whole, but Be True just doesn’t do it for me. It’s too sweet and cloying. The combination of the white chocolate and raspberries just ends up a little syrupy for my tastes, and I’m a girl who loves her sweet, sugary scents. It hangs around for ages, which is fantastic if you like the smell, but not so much for me.
Brimming with enthusiasm I slathered it all over my wrists and behind my ears as liberally as I would any other scent. Every time I turned my head I caught a sickeningly sweet sniff. It got on the cuffs of my dressing gown and was a pain to get out. This was the first and last time I ever wore Be True. It’s honestly not that bad a smell, but something about it just clashes horribly with my tastes. I dislike it but I know it’s not bad. It’s kind of a tricky distinction to make when you’re talking about something as subjective as perfume, but there it is. That’s how I feel.
It’s probably the only one that smells better in the tube than on the me. Others I’ve found… questionable on first sniff of the tub and fallen in love with once they hit my skin, but Be True smelled so nice in the tube that I was taken aback by how off it seemed on me. Maybe it’s a skin chemistry issue. We just don’t know.
I’ve handed it over to my sister, whose nose did not scrunch up in distaste the way mine and my mother’s did when we smelled it. Again, I want to emphasise that this is not actually a bad smell. It’s just so very, very not for me and I believe it would strike a lot of people the same way. If you’re really into the smell of flavoured syrup, Be True would be amazing for you. If not, it might grate. Be warned!
Notes in Buttella: hazelnut spread, cocoa, vanilla.
Chances are you know what this smells like. I’m mildly obsessed. I actually own two samples of Buttella as I’d heard there were yearly issues with restocking due to some ingredients melting, so I popped a second sample in my second order to be prepared for when I would eventually run out. Though I’m sure I’ll kill my first Buttella sample long before any other scent, I needn’t have done that, because within the week Femme Fatale restocked Buttella’s full size version.
…which I bought…
I find that Buttella hangs around forever. This is really nice because I love chocolatey, desserty gourmands to settle down in of a night time. I can put it on when I first get under the covers and I can wake up a million times in the night because sleeping is just impossible, apparently, but Buttella’s waft of hazelnutty goodness will still be there to make me feel better.
As a Nutella dupe, it’s frighteningly accurate. I may not have had Nutella in this past year and a half, but let me tell you: pre-vegan me was a Nutella fiend. We literally could not have it in the house for more than two days. Between my sister and I it would just… go. We had no self control. Ferrero could suggest whatever serving size they damn well pleased, the realistic serving size was ‘however much whichever sister gets to it first can fit in her gaping maw’. Point is, I know what I’m talking about when I say Buttella smells like Nutella. It’s great.
Notes in Calaveras: Cinnamon, sugar, orange, sweetbreads, roses, sandalwood.
This was the first indie perfume I ever tried on! I was confused, surprised and unsure if my expectations were even fair. In my mind I had visions of fragrant roses wafting and fresh-baked cookies following me around, but then I swiped it on my skin and was punched in the face by an improbably muscular orange. So, after that, would you believe me if I said Calaveras has become a favourite of mine?
The strongest notes on me are the orange, the cinnamon and the sandalwood. Given the wax itself is vividly orange compared to the other more muted-looking scents, that’s hardly shocking. The cinnamon gives it a spicy, almost dirty edge that adds a lot of dimension to the scent. All of the listed notes are clearly there and I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most accurate descriptions I’ve seen in an OHWTO scent. It’s also unique. I’ve never smelled anything like it in my life. That probably means I need to travel, but it doesn’t take away from what a magical smell Calaveras is to me.
Forgive me, because I’m sure I’ll overuse this term, but it smells witchy. I like pairing it with a long black draped crocheted cardigan of mine. Makes me feel like a bit of a badass, which given I’m a tiny nerd with chronic fatigue syndrome is something of an accomplishment.
Notes in Carnivale: Cotton candy, orange soda, lemon snow cones, vanilla ice cream.
My favourite my favourite my favourite. It started off as this beautiful lemon sweet cake and cotton candy combination that would gradually dry down to a heavenly warm vanilla ice cream scent. Every step of its transformation was enjoyable. Fittingly, it was like strapping myself in for a wonderful ride. It took about two try-ons to decide that yep, this was the one, this would become my signature scent, 10/10, would wear this to own funeral.
The combination of the orange soda and lemon snow cones was evocative of those little hard candy fruit drops for me. But, with like, ice cream. It’s so sweet and while some might call it childlike, I call it perfect.
it’s been reformulated so why don’t you just shoot me now tbh
Notes in Carnivale 2.0: Cotton candy, lemongrass, orange, vanilla, lemon.
The good news is the reformulation isn’t horrible. I quite like it, but I don’t love it the way I do the original. To be honest I bought the new version by accident. The tube I have is just listed as ‘Carnivale’ but it absolutely smells different in a way that matches the new set of notes. ~who knows~
I find that Carnivale 2.0 is more stable. It doesn’t take you on a wander through all its notes. It just stays the same. It’s lemonier than its predecessor. I don’t like it as much as I liked Carnivale I at any point in its transformation. It’s still a nice scent! Don’t get me wrong, I do recommend it. It’s pretty and smells like lemon candies with a hint of vanilla. It’s quite strong and sticks around like it’s got something to prove, so if I put it on I’m catching pleasant whiffs of it for hours as I wander around doing my thing. I wear it regularly.
But I’m still sitting here singing the chorus to Big Yellow Taxi (the Counting Crows version because I’m a young whippersnapper who doesn’t know anything ok). miss u, old carnivale :'(
Notes in Chirp: vanilla, musk, osmanthus, peaches, violets, grapefruit, oud.
I don’t know how, looking at all the notes, but Chirp makes me feel like a bird. It’s probably the name. Actually, no, it’s definitely the name. Chirp’s florals play off nicely against the fruity peach and grapefruit. It’s outdoorsy but also pretty and floral.
The vanilla’s prominent but not overpowering – it serves more to gently pull all of the rest together and to give them a base. The musk, on the other hand, doesn’t make an appearance on my skin. I confess that I don’t know what oud smells like exactly, but there’s a pleasant woody note so I assume it’s that.
Every time I put Chirp on, I tell myself I need to wear it more often. I adore scents with prominent vanilla notes and this is a pretty one, especially for not smelling like baked goods or sweets. I think it’s actually the only strongly vanilla scent I own that isn’t all ‘cakes and ice-cream’, so it’s nice to have that flexibility. If you like vanilla but don’t want to smell dessert, Chirp’s a good bet.
Notes in Fevrier: berries, currants, pomegranate, cranberries, black pepper, amber, sandalwood, musk.
Of every scent I’ve tried, Fevrier disappointed me the most. It was in my first order, so it’s true that I didn’t really know what I was expecting. Cough medicine sure wasn’t it, though. I remember thinking it was going to be my favourite, that all those lovely berries couldn’t go wrong.
I don’t get a hint of the sandalwood when I smell Fevrier. The berries and currants come through the strongest. In a perfect world they’d smell like, I don’t know, Ribena, but sadly to my nose they’re overpowering and reminiscent of the deep purple cough syrup I had so much as a sickly little kid. Fevrier is a little more bitter than that medicine though, and I figure that’s owing to the black pepper.
Notes: honeysuckle, sandalwood, violets, white patchouli, vanilla, rose, musk, spring breeze.
Heart Flutters is such a pretty floral! It’s everything I ever hoped it would be. The flowers come across stronger than any of the other scents and they’re a lovely combination. I’m not sure I can smell the spring breeze, whatever that’s supposed to smell like. It’s sweet and flowery with the faintest hints of vanilla and musk that keep it from smelling like a florist.
It’s a light, breezy scent that wouldn’t feel out of place with a flowing maxi dress. It’s an easy to wear scent that I get quite a bit of use out of. It’s more of a standard perfumey scent than a lot of the others I have, so it’d be a good one to ease in with if you want to try out the brand or indie perfumes in general without smelling like a cake.
Notes in Homecoming: Cranberries, figs, spices, firewood, leaves, hot toddies (whiskey, spices, honey).
More than anything else, I’d describe Homecoming as a comforting scent. It smells warm and cuddly and snuggly. It feels like an autumn scent to me.
Homecoming’s already tasty, but the spices add a delicious edge to what smells like the fruit mince pies I used to eat around Christmas time. Which might sound more of a winter/summer thing depending on where you are in the world, but I would eat the heck out of those pies all through autumn if I had the chance.
So, Homecoming was one of those first few scents in my original order and once I’d tried that lot, it was far and away my favourite for a while. Something about it works beautifully with my skin chemistry. It’s yummy and foody but without the super sweetness.
Notes in I Smell Like A Witch: red and white roses, cotton candy, bubblegum, smoke, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla.
First thought upon sniffing in the clamshell: this does not smell like a witch.
First though on my skin: how does this smell so much like a witch.
I Smell Like A Witch is a fun scent! Bubblegum is absolutely the strongest note on me. It’s not sickly sweet though, nor does the bubblegum make it childish. The smoke cuts through quite clearly – not strongly enough to be overpowering, but enough to of a subtle hint to take the edge off of the bubblegum’s sweetness and add a witchier dimension to the scent.
I find that neither the roses nor the cotton candy are particularly strong, though the latter might be getting lost behind the bubblegum. I have trouble picking out the patchouli and sandalwood individually too, but they’re certainly there. The vanilla underscore is subtle too, but helps pull it all together.
This is a weird, unique little favourite of mine and I need to get me a full sized tube.
Notes in Maura Mae: apricot, clover, tea, petrichor, lily of the valley, violet, lavender, berries, vanilla, whiskey.
Maura Mae is complex and quite strong. The apricot comes through the clearest, but I feel the next most noticeable scent after that is the whiskey. Having read the description, which lists a ‘hint’ of whiskey, I didn’t think that’d be the case. Maybe the ‘barest hint’ was written with a wink and a nod that I didn’t quite catch as I threw it in my cart.
Unlike the berries in Fevrier, Maura Mae’s berries smell closer to the real thing. This is perhaps owing to the fact that they’re a smaller part of a more complex mix. They go nicely with the faint vanilla and the violet. I love the petrichor and tea in the background and what I assume must be the clover, too.
Even though Maura Mae is a nice smell, I don’t get much use out of it. It’s just not me. Something about it feels heavy, if you know what I mean. It’s not light and airy. At a guess, I’d say it’s the whiskey. Maybe if there’d been a touch/a lot less of that it’d be more wearable for me personally.
Notes in Mori: rain, musk, whiskey, red wine, cardamom, cognac, damp earth, patchouli, sandalwood.
Mori smells like dirt and rain and grass in a forest. Like a graveyard on a rainy day. For me, the earth, patchouli and sandalwood pull stronger than anything else. It’s primarily a dirty scent. I’d hoped that the whiskey, wine and cognac would be more prominent. It pulls more ‘graveyard’ than ‘funeral’.
The rain certainly comes through strongly enough to make the dirt smell damp. It’s wintery. For me it evokes memories of a dark and grey day and something I can’t quite put my finger on, like visiting a park or garden as a kid just after the drizzle while all the ground is soak and the bark on the trees is cold and damp. Those were the days I’d usually slip and fall on my four-year-old behind.
Something about Mori, despite not exactly having green notes, feels green and magical, like a witch’s hut in a damp, cool forest. It might be the nostalgia of being a kid in a wet park that makes that magic work for me, but whatever the cause, I like it.
Notes in Rose Lemonade: lemons, roses, geraniums, soda water, grapefruit, amber, ginger.
Notes in Seance: coffee, oak, sandalwood, herbs, neroli, vanilla, figs, clary sage.
To be honest I was hoping the coffee note in Seance would be far stronger than it is. But this was another one of those first-round perfumes that I didn’t really know what to expect from.
I like how earthy Seance is. The woody base of the oak combined with the sandalwood and the herbs really do result in something that smells like a ritual. Over those, the neroli and figs cut through in a pleasant way that keeps the scent from getting too heavy. The neroli in particular lightens it up and makes it a little zesty. But quietly so. Quietly zesty. Those sure are a couple of words.
Notes in Snowdrift: white chocolate marshmallows, hot cocoa, peppermint, coconut.
Snowdrift is lovely. It smells exactly like a warm Milo on a cold day. I’d know. I was a damn fiend for Milo. Though I’ve found vegan hot chocolate powder, I’ve yet to find a true replacement for Milo’s maltiness. Nothing’s the same. This gives me the smell I miss, though! True, it’s not purely Milo – they’re not lying about the marshmallow and mint notes. But they’re subtle enough to just give it a little nice sweetness without taking away from the overall smell of a hot cocoa.
I like to wear Snowdrift of a night time when I’m all cosy in my pyjamas and fluffy dressing gown and winding down for the night. It’s a nice one to catch a whiff of as I’m settling down to sleep, too.
Notes in Sugar Rush: chocolate, vanilla, orange, milk, sugar.
Chocolate. Sugar Rush is a really, really strong chocolate. It does a good job of replicating the Terry’s Chocolate Orange scent – that’s a strong one in my memory as my grandmother used to give them to me and my sister quite a bit when we were tiny tackers. They were Very Special Chocolates in my mind.
Don’t expect the chocolate and the orange note to have equal strength in Sugar Rush. They don’t in the original candy. There’s enough orange for that scrumptious, instantly recognisable hint of citrussy goodness, but care has obviously been taken to ensure it doesn’t overpower the chocolate.
Notes in This Is Not For You: vanilla, sandalwood, sugar, cedar, myrrh, amber, amyris.
Sweet vanilla custard. I feel that it’s a hard one to describe as it’s not purely a gourmand. Notes like the amber pull it away from pure foodiness and make it smell a little more ‘perfumey’ for lack of a better word.
It kind of remind me of Homecoming in that it just feels warm and cozy. Though it is sweet (hard not to be when you’re full of sugar and vanilla) it’s not cloying.
I bought it because I wanted a strongly vanilla scent, and that’s still why I really like it, but now that I’ve smelled it in person I appreciate the way the amber blends into the mix.
Notes in Toxid Lotus: musk, red wine, damask rose, frankincense, baby roses, myrrh, white amber.
Similarly to This Is Not For You, I would describe Toxid Lotus as ‘perfumey’. It makes me feel fancy in a way that none of my other OHWTO scents do. In a way it feels more grown-up than a lot of the sugary gourmands, so even though I do get quite a bit more wear out of them, Toxid Lotus has its place in my perfume rotation. If I want to feel fancy and adulty, this is what I wear.
Honestly, I expected Toxid Lotus to smell more strongly of roses. The frankincense and myrrh are the strongest notes according to my nose, followed by the red wine. The roses are more of a hint than a star. It’s good, though. The way the roses sit in the mix is nice.
ok that’s it, if i don’t put this on the internet now it’s never going to get done, my gosh it’s been months
All images within the headers sourced from Pixabay.com where they’re listed as public domain.