This is a review a loooong time coming, I have had their sample set for the last two months and finally feel like I can give a quality review. I was contacted and asked to review it and being the type of perfumista I am, was glad to oblige. Contained in their sample set are vials (some with a dipstick and some in an atomizer) and on each card it lists the notes, with a short visual description of the environment or geographical location that inspired the fragrance. Also included was a decent sized sample of their Mystic Pearl body butter, which not only provides moisture, but also has the same scent as their Mystic Pearl scent and is a great carrier for that fragrance when you don’t want to spray it on (as a side note don’t drop the container, mine took a tumble and I cracked the lid quite easily).
Anyhow, let me get into telling you a bit about Raw Spirit Fragrances, in recent history they have become quite a bit more visible in the marketplace and now are carried in Ulta, Amazon, QVC, Dermstore, Anthropologie… you get the idea. And have been recognized in several press releases and articles. The brand itself through focuses on the communities that they get their inspiration and ingredients the most though; Haiti, Australia, and Native American tribes in California and the Florida Everglades. Started as a collaborative art project between Russell James and Dr Richard Walley in their own press Collaboration is the heart of their motivations:
Collaboration is at the heart of our business model. Raw Spirit began as a collaboration with Dr Richard Walley, artist and respected spokesperson of Western Australia’s Nyoogar people and long-time supporter and friend. With Dr Walley’s support and guidance, Raw Spirit brought its first fragrance oil, Fire Tree, to market in 2012, a product inspired by 20,000 years of Indigenous knowledge of the fire tree’s unique qualities.
In 2013, Raw Spirit began working with farming communities in Haiti, sustainably sourcing premium Haitian Vetiver.
More recently, collaborations with the Native American Chumash Indian Museum of California and The Seminole Tribe of Florida have continued the Raw Spirit journey.
In addition to our cultural partners, we collaborate with technical experts, such as fragrance house Firmenich, Atlas Pearls and Perfumes, Essential Oils of Tasmania, as well as mentors such as the Clinton Global Initiative, all of whom contribute their technical and regional expertise while sharing our vision for sustainable sourcing and creating positive long term outcomes for our partner communities.
In my own views though Raw Spirit is about being conscious of your impact on the world and the world’s impact on you. they have a very pro-small community vibe and promote a positive and uplifting message. The line has a total of 7 different scents, four of which have vetiver as a major note; truth be told I’m not typically a fan of vetiver, but these are really well blended and the vetiver for the most part did not pull bitter.
And now for what you’re really waiting for: the reviews; I am going to provide you with the notes, the description from their website and then my own thoughts for each.
Review the first: Desert Blush (dabber), unisex:
The notes (from Fragrantica): Australian Boronia, ylang-ylang, osmanthus, jasmine petals, violet, Australian sandalwood, musk and cedar wood.
From Raw Fragrances:
Inspired by the Western Australian desert at sunset, just before darkness falls. The harsh light of the daylight softens, turning the red soil into a deep pink. The land seems to exhale, filling the air with a sensual, dry, and sweet aroma.
To my nose this starts out as a dry, but heady floral, like a bouquet of dried and fresh flowers, or maybe a bouquet of decorative wood and lush flowers. After this dry lush opening I get a green bitter note with some more warm woody notes, which reads almost like a sweet wood, slightly polished with warmth. There is a nice interplay between the woodiness and the floral notes, and I almost get the feeling of a pink toned sunset. Like a sunset the edges seem also to fade into the skin, I get a good three hours of good projection and then this becomes a skin scent, but I don’t mind that at all because this is gorgeous. I can appreciate the warmth on my skin, the sandalwood really brings it home for me, and though cedar turns dry and slightly medicinal on my skin, the jasmine turns it more into a deeper lusher scent.
Review the second: Bijou Vert (Green Jewel) (dabber), unisex:
The notes (from Fragrantica): Haitian vetiver, grapefruit, mandarin, geranium, lotus flower, black pepper, benzoin, patchouli and cedarwood.
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by Haiti, the Caribbean isle once known as the “Jewel of the Antilles”. This scent evokes the cool of a summer morning, but hints at the heat that is about to come.
This starts out on my skin slightly bitter, woody and lightly citrus- I’m thinking this is the combination of the vetiver and grapefruit as I mentioned before vetiver can pull slightly bitter on my skin, but I think the grapefruit is helping with the bitterness as well. Bijou Vert’s citrus notes aren’t bright or fresh on on my skin, it almost smells watery and dry. I know this sounds like a strange combination, but I think it’s like the smell of herbal- green notes, the combination of the geranium, lotus flower, pepper and patchouli are like a moist (that word) earthy green marsh with morning humidity just starting to rise off of it. The base brings back some of the dryness I got in the beginning, I’m accounting this to the cedar wood and the slightly herbal medicinal note it leaves on my skin. Bijou Vert is a green scent on my skin, but note an emerald or forest green, it’s almost a sage; green with hints of brown, a slight tinge of yellow and a little grayish in the end.
Review the third: Summer Rain (spray), unisex:
The notes (from Fragrantica): Lime, grapefruit, orange blossom, jasmine, vetiver and cedar.
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by summer in the Florida Everglades, when the air is thick with humidity and the afternoon storm clouds build. The summer rain begins, quickly cooling the earth and reviving your spirit.
This starts out as a bright citrus on me, it’s slightly sharp and tangy and moves quickly from being just a citrus fruit scent to a melding of orange flower and fruit. The orange blossom is sweet though, like an orange blossom candy or syrup, but not cloying. Strangely is also smells clean, but not in a laundry or cleaner way, but like a breadth of freshness, like a breeze lifting the curtains with the windows open on a spring day. As that breeze is wafting through the orange blossom brings along some jasmine, but it’s blended so well it doesn’t overwhelm the composition nor does it pull in an animalistic direction. This jasmine is polite and plays well with the orange blossom, it brings a slight greenness to the party, like the rustle of leaves. And ironically enough after a while the branches come inside too, and I think this might be the first time that two notes that typically turn strangely on my skin behave nicely. The vetiver and cedar base notes rather that becoming medicinal or bitter just become a slightly dry warm wood with a hint of earthiness on my skin. (As you can probably tell this is a favorite I warmed up to.)
Review the fourth: Mystic Pearl (spray), unlisted- suspect feminine:
Notes (from Fragrantica): white flowers, jasmine, frangipani, sea notes, coconut, cinnamon and cloves.
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by the mystical island of Bali and the pristine waters of the South Seas, home to the magnificent Queen of Pearls, the Pinctada. We have unlocked a mystery, the secret scent of the pearl.
This right off the bat does not play around, Mystic Pearl is a strong heady floral, with a mind of it’s own. It almost feels like being smothered in slightly greenish, huge softball-sized blooming blossoms with jasmine mixed in, it’s voluptuous and tropical, I’m not complaining- it’s gorgeous and walks the edge of being overwhelming very well. On the edge of those flowers though a sandy beach seems to glide in bringing a bit of dryness and almost a slightly grassy tone. I then started to get the coconut, but it isn’t a sunblock note, it’s almost on the verge of being foody, in a toasted way (this might also be the spices hanging in the background waiting their turn) – reading along with the floral notes still lingering almost smoky and slightly warm. I really think the combination of the cinnamon and cloves along with the dry coconut almost smells like an incense smoke, and reads a bit vanillic, but not sweet- like the dried pods with a toasty spicy feel. At the true base of the fragrance I still get some of the florals, but the coconut and spice just make it out to be a warm and comforting skin scent.
Review the fifth: Citadel (dabber), unisex:
Notes (from Fragrantica): Haitian vetiver, together with marigold (tagetes), pear, bergamot, lemon, spices, amberwood, musk and cedarwood.
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by the Citadelle Laferrière, the awe-inspiring mountaintop fortress in northern Haiti, Citadelle symbolizes strength and celebrates the spirit of the Haitian people.
This was a more difficult fragrance for me, I can’t say that it was my favorite, but now rereading the description that it was meant to emulate it makes a lot more sense to me as to why it smelled the way it did on my skin (though it was such a smooth flow of notes I wish i liked it better). Right at the start Citadel started earthy and very bitter on my skin, to be honest this grated on me and colored the rest of my experience. Thankfully that bitter note seemed to be tempered by the marigold, which brought a slightly herbal floral note to the mix and opened the door to the fruitiness that followed. The fruitiness though was not overly sweet, or cloying, it was more reminiscent of the skin or leaves of a pear tree or the slightly bitter pith or an orange or lemon and really lead into the spiciness that followed. The spiciness in Citadel was not like walking into a kitchen or bakery, it reminded me of the smell of dried spices or tea stored in a canister- similarly to a spice store I used to visit that you could scoop your own bulk spices and also sold teas and bulk grains. The final scent that lingers for a while on my skin was all warmth and dryness, I account this to the combination of the amber and the dryness I get from cedar and musk- remarkably though the citrus rinds of before also made a reappearance and made me like the base a lot more than my bitter first impression.
Review the sixth: Winter Oak (dabber), unisex:
Notes (from Fragrantica): Clary Sage, Italian Bergamot, Pepper, Floridian Lemon Oil and Geranium, Saffron, Mate Absolute, Clove Bud and Olibanum, Leather Suede, an Oakwood Accord, Oakmoss, Florida and Atlas Cedarwood, Haitian Vetiver, Patchouli and Sleek Musks,
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by walking the oak-lined trails of the Chumash Lands of California on cool winter mornings, when crushed oak leaves and twigs release their rich scent.
This is warm and sunny right off the bat, it smells like walking in the tree lined park, and is slightly spicy giving me a Fall vibe. The combination of the herbal (sage, pepper and clove) along with the citrus notes gives this a very bright and slightly airy feel, like being simultaneously warm and cold. I can almost hear the sound of fallen leaves crunching under my feet. It’s very warm and slightly earthy in a dry way – like standing in a forest and looking up at green, yellow, orange and red leaves. Just as I’m getting used to the warmth and coziness of the spices and the subtle hint of tea notes this starts to become very dry and almost crackly like the sounds of dry tree branches snapping. the interplay of the vetiver and the cedar (unlike in a review above) has a very different feel in winter Oak, while is is still bitter and slightly medicinal there’s a slightly earthy herbal note, almost like the smell of vitamins, it’s both green and brown and slightly green smelling. I almost also feel like I can smell some of the dried grasses along the past I’m walking, like a slightly greenish cereal scent, that it pretty fleeting though and I get a very clean scent that also passes by quickly before this turns into a dry, warm and slightly sweet scent. (If you can’t tell, this was another I enjoyed trying out a lot.)
Review the seventh: Wild Fire (spray), unisex:
Notes (from Fragrantica): Australian sandalwood with the creamy amber and floral notes, including ylang-ylang, jasmine petals, cedarwood and musk.
From Raw Spirit Fragrances: Inspired by the intoxicating scent of the Western Australian outback in the intense heat of summer. The dry air tingles as wild fires threaten.
This is another one I really liked, there was something about the warmth, creaminess and the rich smooth florals that just hooked me. The first impression I had on application was a woody warmth, it was dry but warm and slightly incensey and had a slightly sweet ambery note. This stuck around for a while before the creamy florals started to slowly creep in (such a smooth transition); the ylang-ylang and jasmine in this composition were luxurious and so smooth (like buttah). This is gorgeous, the interplay between the slight woodiness of the sandalwood and amber with the smoothness of the ylang-ylang was perfectly balanced. even when the jasmine pushed forward more it didn’t end up being over bearing or animalistic, it stayed a sweet, polite and smelled like I was wearing fresh blossoms in my hair. even the base notes of cedar and musk played out so well in Wild Fire, it didn’t smell medicinal or synthetic it just smelled like dry, crisp branches and almost had a cereal grain feel (which typically I wouldn’t go for in a fragrance, but this works). Gorgeous!
So I guess you’re wondering what my final thoughts are on Raw Spirit Fragrances, eh? I am so glad I had the opportunity to review them, to be honest, though I loved their marketing I was unsure of testing a fragrance line that had a strong focus on vetiver and cedar in their fragrances, since those are notes I don’t typically gravitate to. That being said, if you’re on the fence, give them a try and pick up their sample set, you might be surprised what you end up liking. The four I enjoyed the most were Desert Blush, Summer Rain, Winter Oak and Wild Fire, each has a slight woodiness to them and I appreciate that in fragrances. What I was most surprised about was not liking Citadel that much, especially since there were so many that said it was their favorite from the line.
As a side note, when I was testing these I tested them on skin that was freshly washed and only tested them one at a time, I do wonder though if some of these would be good to layer together, that’s not how they are marketed, but I imagine that the spiciness of Winter Oak would play well with the creaminess of Wild Fire.
Thank you to Raw Spirit for sending these to me to review. I would love to hear your thoughts below. thank you dear reader for making it to the end!