Fragophilia Friday: TokyoMilk Dark Bulletproof
I haven’t done a fragrance review in ages, and since I seem to have run out of other fun stuff to write about, I suppose delicious perfume is a safe and non-inflammatory (albeit, flammable, har har) subject. What’s special about Bulletproof is that it’s the closest I’ve ever come to finding my HG fragrance: it contains a constellation of notes with which I have been obsessed for ages, but unable to find in a single composition without other gross notes attached. And so, Bulletproof is my almost soulmate fragrance.
(Simple packaging and easy price tag = total keeper)
I first heard of Tokyomilk from the fabulous girls over at EyeBlinkFashion, when Lauren lauded the edgy line’s “Everything and Nothing” scent. Captivated by the unique notes and very positive review, I kept an eye out for TokyoMilk every time I visited Sephora. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the Sephora locations in the metro area don’t carry the line, and, given my skepticism about buying before smelling, I waited patiently for the elusive scents to show up on Sephora’s shelves. Black Friday was my lucky day — I scooped up a limited edition trio of TokyoMilk roller balls (Bulletproof, La Vie La Mort, and Tainted Love) for TEN BUCKS. Little did I know that Bulletproof was the perfume I’d been searching for since 2011!
Back story: a year and a half ago my best friend came over to my new place with a little housewarming gift–a pretty diffuser with an elegant ceramic bottle. Given my olfactory obsessions, I was curious and elated. When I unscrewed the oil tube, I smelled the most ethereal, warm, angelic, delicious, and captivating cacophany of notes, to the point where I heavily debated going against health and safety codes and wearing the stuff as perfume because it was, singlehandedly, the greatest thing I ever smelled in my life. (DISCLAIMER: Do NOT, under any circumstances, use home fragrance oil as a personal fragrance! It can be HIGHLY toxic to the skin!) The diffuser and the diffuser reeds were both on the small side, so I used (and continue to use) a tiny bit of oil every time I refilled the bottle, flipping the reeds often to get maximum benefits. It was never enough: I wanted my entire LIFE to smell like this stuff!
It’s hard to describe the notes contained in this wondrous melange, but if I had to guess, there’s a lot of cedar, cashmere woods, and maybe some amber or musk in there. Think D&G’s Light Blue but with depth, breadth and substance, or the square root of YSL’s Opium plus or minus something soft, refined, and girly. In short: this smell is indescribably intoxicating.
Desperate to get my hands on more of this home fragrance, I performed extensive internet searches, looked around fancy home stores, and could not find the diffuser anywhere. I then started to do research about the notes I thought I could smell in this scent, hoping to find an actual wearable perfume that contained something similar. I tried out all sorts of woodsy fragrances (vom), looked around for essential oils (patchouli overkill), visited hippie stores (blech), all to no avail. Finally I cracked and e-mailed my friend asking her to advise as to where she found this heaven in a tube, and, to my surprise, she told me that she snagged it in the gift section of our local pharmacy. Magical olfactory delight was only 5 miles from my house this whole time! This was right around Black Friday. Imagine my uncontrollable delight when I got the TokyoMilk rollerball trio and discovered that one of the scents was strikingly similar to that of my beloved woodsy diffuser! I immediately ordered a big bottle of the stuff (for $36, too — what a deal, right??) and have been a very happy girl since. I’m still looking for other varieties of this cedar spiced firewood chai delight, but in the meantime, I am dousing myself in Bulletproof every time I want a pick-me-up. On to the four-pronged breakdown!
First Impressions and Appearance:
In all honestly, I’m not too crazy about the bottle. It’s a big black box of glass with a steampunk drawing of a pistol on it, so, even though I could be wrong, I kind of feel like the bottle acts as a bit of a hipster homing device. That said, the line has adorable packaging overall, and I appreciate the minimalist simplicity of the design. The bottle is also leak-proof and somewhat shatter-proof, so kudos for durability.
Notes & Composition:
Bulletproof is comprised of jasmine, coconut, tonka, cinnamon, cedar, patchouli and clove, and, depending on one’s body chemistry, one or all of the notes are discernible. Some days I can get a clear whiff of the coconut (not tropical cocktail coconut but soft, creamy coconut milk coconut — there’s a difference!), but I usually get a predominant blend of the cedar, patchouli, and tonka, with little hints of the other spices that linger in and out throughout the day.
I think that my obsession with the smell is rooted in my childhood memories: it evokes a sort of nostalgia, taking me to the lush coniferous forests of northwestern Russia where I used to go hiking with my grandparents. The fresh cedar, the wildflowers, and the sweet woodsy plants that grew all over the place are kind of juxtaposed against a smoky, spicy, almost campfire-like scent which reminds me of our summer house with its huge wood-burning stove and fireplace. Many other people say that this smell reminds them of drinking chai tea in the fall, and I could definitely see that as well.
There’s a mossy, leafy, almost mushroomy undertone that I would normally hate (it appears in the base note of chypres and as anyone who has read my other perfume reviews would know, I absolutely cannot stand chypres). However, the earthy note I get here is mild and neutral, not shrill like oakmoss or some other ultra-apparent, animalistic note. My one complaint about how the notes interact is that they are not cleanly intertwined to form a cohesive chord: just like Jimmy Choo’s lovely eponymous fragrance smells great but has a discernibly odd duality (the “green note” and then the “sweet note”), Bulletproof has a creamy and sensual core that’s kind of encapsulated (orbited?) by other, slightly incongruent notes. That said, the interplay between unusual notes gets bonus points, and even thought the result is a little weird, I still love it.
Application and Longevity:
Longevity is where my other complaint comes in. As with my other beloved fragrances, I douse myself in this stuff, and even though 8 hours later I can still get a slight whiff of it off my wrists, it’s not nearly as potent as I would like. To supplant the lasting power, I’m going to purchase the matching lotion and hope for the best. At the very least, you can’t really overspray this stuff (I mean, you can, but it will evaporate and settle beautifully), and the perfume is noticeable for a solid 4 hours.
It’s no wonder that TokyoMilk is steadily growing its presence, as it makes unique and quality products minus the pretense and for an extremely reasonable price. The whole “dark” and “femme fatale” spiel gives the line a boutique-friendly and niche-y feel: I could see a lot of fragrance fanatics digging the entire line for its approachable yet offbeat style. It’s apothecary-chic for a new generation. Bulletproof, in particular, smells like an edgy, slightly rough-around-the-edges-yet-earnest interpretation of a classic mainstream fragrance, but it has a whole lot of X-factor that makes it stand out. I absolutely recommend trying this scent, and I will be sure to go through the whole line of TokyoMilk perfumes (though there are several sub-lines within the label, and probably 50+ fragrances to try altogether!).