Sunday, September 4, 2011

First Impressions: Haus of Gloi


I've had my Haus of Gloi order for a bit over a week now, and have had a chance to spend some quality time with everything, so I think I'm ready to describe it all as best I can. And at length, but would you expect any less from me?

First off, I've always been really apprehensive about buying bath/body/perfume things online, because scent is so subjective, and you never know how your skin might react to certain ingredients. So that was an indie area that I have not explored at all, though I would read little tidbits here and there.

And then I started reading a lot about Haus of Gloi. Owned by couple Britton and Matt from Portland, Oregon, I instantly liked their aesthetic, sort of medieval-ly, but also fun and whimsical (bubbling sugar scrub anyone?). It's like an
anti-Bath and Body Works, and I found that very appealing and refreshing. I used to shop BBW pretty consistently, but in recent years I've found myself loathing all their new scents (too sickening sweet, citrusy, or plain similar-smelling) while they continued to discontinue the scents I actually liked (my favorite, white tea and ginger! You can still get it at the semi-annual sales though). Generally, I think it was about time for me to try something new in the bath/body/scent arena. 

I perused their website, which I found easy to navigate, charming and professional-looking. The packaging looked creative and well-executed, a strong brand identity-concept, plus I loved that everything is vegan (I'm not, but it's a bonus if I like the products). Also, everything sounded positively scrumptious. As in, transcendent, blissful, otherworldly experiences await you in every little bottle, in every little whiff of perfume and dollop of lotion. These scents had heft, complexity, depth, they told stories! Exactly what I had been wanting. And the descriptions, well, take this one for example:

Steam billows rolling off a vessel of fresh made Turkish coffee, marshmallow goo tainted by graham cracker crumbs, toasted hazelnuts and blanketed in black chocolate.

Or this one:

Pure corruption: clove, nutmeg lurk amongst the sweetest offerings of coconut, on a bed of rich golden amber, laden with dustings of sandalwood and spilled wine.

Or this one:

Freshly turned earth, wet leaves, and a cool herb laden wind carrying spectres and spooks!

Sheer poetry, I tell you! I've found I have a weakness for such olfactory tales woven with ingredients, notes, and scents I might actually recognize and have an emotional affinity for, not just some mass-produced perfume that smells "nice" in an amorphous sort of way, but a scent that actually evokes an image, a moment, a memory, a journey, something tangible and identifiable. I think the Samhain scent is what really grabbed me to begin with and convinced me to try the Haus. I have a deep love for Autumn and a strong visceral reaction to the sensations, smells, colors, and atmosphere of fall, of walking through leaves, rain, the sky....oh my. To be able to wear that smell everyday....

It was here that I stopped myself and told myself to get a grip and come back down to earth. No matter how awesome this company is, I said, the chance that they managed to capture my perception of a fall day, the actual scent of earth and leaves, is absolutely minuscule. I've never even smelled or heard of a scent like that before (given my limited experience with such things). Plus, these perfumes might smell bloody amazing, but to hype them up in one's head in such a way is folly and a quick path to an unwarranted broken heart. What, I asked myself, do you expect? That upon opening the bottle's stopper, you'll be transported to a sylvan meadow awash with royal hyacinth blooms, while shafts of late afternoon sunlight filter through the evergreens, spotlighting you as you recline on a soft bed of pine, in the strong, able arms of a centaur who regales you with tales of past heroics, far-off lands and lost loves, infusing the air with his warm, sweet breath tinged with precious incense?

Exactly.

So I tried to reel in my expectations, and hoped for a nice scent, better than Bath and Body Works, a quality formula, and good customer service. That is plenty sufficient. But still, the hope for a centaur beckoned...

I decided to order an assortment of samples, the Autumn perfume sampler, some Pumpkin Butters, Emulsifying Scrubs and Bubbling Sugar Scrubs. I ordered on 8/18, and my order was shipped on 8/22. Shipping was reasonable, about 6 bucks. If I had bought much more, it would have been bumped up to around 10 dollars. Haus of Gloi does refund any excess shipping charges though. I missed the mail person on 8/25, so I had to go to the post office after work on 8/26 to pick it up. So, just a week for my order, which is awesome, especially considering the Autumn collection had just been released. After I got my box (which was so tiny, I was amazed at how much they packed into it!), I sat in the car with G in the parking lot, tearing into it, oohing and ahhing at the packaging. He was anxious to go to the grocery store and get home and nagged me to hurry up, but I kept telling him, "No, no, I've been looking forward to this, let me experience it!"

And then I proceeded to smell my arms repeatedly as I walked up and down the aisles at the store.

Here is my order:

Samhain Pumpkin Butter and Bubbling Scrub
Pumpkin Queen Pumpkin Butter
Insalata Nocturna Bubbling Scrub
Vice Emulsifying Scrub
Moon Dog Emulsifying Scrub
Honey Tree Perfume Sample
Absinthe Perfume Sample
Autumn Perfume Sampler #1

There was also a hand written thank you note, and the perfume sampler was tucked into a cute little muslin bag.





Plus, I got a free sample vial of Olde Cider Haus, which, if this order proved successful, was going to be next on my list. When I opened my package though, I noticed two full sized perfume vials that I knew I hadn't ordered, Coconut Bon Bon and Caramel Apple Pop. I assumed this had to be a mistake, so I wrote them and thanked them for the order and mentioned the extra oils (not that they'd want them back, but I thought I'd let them know). Matt responded a couple of days later and said those extras were a mistake, but I was welcome to keep them with their compliments. Pretty awesome of them, and lucky for me!

Quick note if you want to preserve the gorgeous labels of your products: they appear water proof to me after shower usage. But when I opened Coconut Bon Bon, I think it must have leaked just a bit, because the label had smeared slightly. And later, messy me dripped oil on some of my sample vials, and those too got smeary. So, they are waterproof, but avoid getting the oils on them.

I'm going to try to elaborate on just a few of the scents and give just an overview of everything else. I can say that I had a strong positive reaction to a few of the scents, but I did not strongly dislike any of them, which is pretty astounding. I am somewhat picky about my scents. They were all very interesting, even if I didn't think they were a soul-scent match, I could appreciate the artistry involved in their creation.



First, Samhain. Amazing. It starts off with a sharp, green, herbal sort of top note. I perceive it at times as slightly like anise for some reason, but other times, just green and bright. It mellows very quickly though, into something warm and earthy and slightly musky, not literally leaves, but a sort of idealized impression of sunshine-warmed leaves. Like picking up an armful of brittle, fire-hued leaves and burying your face in them. That's what I see in my mind when I smell it.

 Actually, I had been wearing this all day at work on Monday, and then G and I had a little picnic with my parents at a local park. There was a swing set, so, being me, I had to go swing. As I was going back and forth, feeling the wind and sun hit my face, I thought instinctively, wow, it's really too early for the leaves to be smelling this good, summer isn't over yet! And then I realized, oh wait, it's me. And that made me very happy. This wears very close to the skin, it's very subtle, but I get little wafts of it when I least expect it. It's very fresh, earthy, and warm all at once. I've never smelled anything quite like it, and I must have more.

Since I bought Samhain in both the Bubbling Scrub and Pumpkin Butter, I'll comment on those. The formulas for these are fantastic. The Pumpkin Butter is super rich and thick, but it soaks in quickly and doesn't feel greasy at all. So often, a lotion is a lotion is a lotion, but this stuff was notably impressive and felt great, and the scent stays true. No weird after-scent. Perfect.

The Bubbling Scrub is blissful. It is suitably sugary-abrasive (I like my scrubs to actually scrub!) and the foaming action is light, soft, and totally clean rinsing. There was no oily residue at all. And it smells incredible in the shower. These products benefit highly from exposure to water, warmth, and skin. They totally morph from cold sniff to application, and it seems like they really bloom and unfold once they start mingling with skin warmth. I smelled the Moon Dog Emulsifying Scrub in the jar and thought it smelled nice, sort of coconut-y, but a very fresh, real sort of coconut. I waited a few days to try it in the shower, where it surprised me by developing a whole other warm wood scent layer, plus that scrub formula is lovely as well, and not at all greasy. It just leaves the faintest hint of moisturizing oils behind, not an oil slick.

The Emulsifying Scrubs seem to contain little bits of this and that, which is a cute touch. Moon Dog had some sort of seed in there, and Vice, maybe cacao nibs or coffee grounds, not sure which. Vice is definitely the best chocolate scented body product I've ever tried, because it also smells like coffee. I haven't tried it in the shower yet, but I suspect it will smell even better once I do.





Next smell anecdote: Honey Tree. Oh, dear, perplexing, disturbing, enticing Honey Tree. I didn't know quite what to expect when I bought this, it was sort of a whim purchase. But when I opened the perfume oil stopper, what I smelled was....wait for it....um, well...pee.

I was confused as I dabbed it on my wrists, sniffing again to see if I was mistaken. No, no, there it was, the top note, the honey note... the pee note. Seeing as I don't generally want to smell like pee, I put Honey Tree down and continued my experimentation with other scents. But after a while my wrist, as if by its own accord, repeatedly made its way to my nose, drawn to the enigma of Honey Tree. It still smelled slightly of pee, but a very mysterious, decadent, exotic sort of pee. This sounds awful, I know, but bear with me. After a bit longer, the pee/honey smell had mellowed way down. In fact I only noticed it momentarily upon inhaling, and then, upon exhaling, what was left was smokey, warm, like incense. It is, indeed, strangely sexy. I don't quite have the courage yet to wear it out anywhere, for fear that I might be labeled as "that girl that smells like pee", but honestly, once that initial top note fades, it smells incredible. I am going to buy it in some other formats to see if that top note starts out a bit less...potent. It's one of their more popular scents I believe, so I'm not crazy for liking it!




I'm glad I waited a while to post this, because at first the perfume sample scents kind of merged together and smelled the same. All good, but my nose got desensitized and I couldn't pick out many distinguishing notes. It's sort of like listening to an album for the first time. At the end you have an impression of the album as a whole, and perhaps remember a catchy chorus or two, but you have to give it multiple listens before the individual songs begin to stick in your memory and form their own unique identities. 
So, a few brief thoughts about the other scents:

Insalata Nocturna: Very fresh and garden-y, citrusy but in a way that doesn't offend me and my citrus-hating ways. In the shower I could have sworn I got a hint of tomato. Nice.

Pumpkin Queen: Quintessential Autumn, rich and pumpkin-spicy. G and I went walking in the woods today and got caught in a rainstorm. Nothing like walking through the deserted woods in the rain, getting soaked, with that pumpkiny smell radiating off wet skin. I now have an awesome memory of that scent!

Olde Cider Haus: Bright, crisp apple scent with a touch of warmth at the end. 

Caramel Apple Pop: Just what the name says. Very sweet, I actually think I would like this better as a home scent. May try it in an oil burner.

Coconut Bon Bon: Coconut and chocolate, not as heavy as it sounds. Summery, in a way.

Red Roan: Not one I'd wear regularly, but interesting. Like fruit, and oatmeal. Yeah, it smells like oatmeal.

Saft Ernte: It's peachy, which is often as repulsive to me as citrus is in body applications. This is surprisingly nice though, it also smells sort of boozy. Definitely like a drink.

Hex: Dark berry-fruity. Something like baby powder underneath? Maybe that's just me. At first this one didn't grab me, but I'm wearing it on one arm right now, and Honey Tree on the other, and I keep alternating arms to sniff. This is growing on me. (Correction: Nope, it's not just me. I was just wearing this and G walked by and said I smelled good, "like a baby." Ha!

Absinthe: Anise and lemon. I think I may be slightly allergic to it though, I put it on the inside of my arm, and I think my arm was bent too long, because it started getting warm and red. It was fine on areas like my neck though, that were open to the air. I know I had a reaction to cinnamon in a body wash once, hopefully I'm not the same with anise, because I like this one a lot.





Ok, so that brings me to the end of my big, fat Haus of Gloi review. Do I foresee more Haus orders in my future....hell yes! Planning another one already! I am actually reassured about the quality and artistry of indie bath and body products and am excited to try some other brands as well. You can tell that they care about their craft and their customers, and I like the idea of using products and scents that not many other people use. I like the idea of not smelling like everyone else. So if you are getting frustrated and/or bored with commercial, widely-available products, I would highly recommend giving Haus of Gloi a try.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, looks like Haus of Gloi has cast its charm on you :) Great reviews! I love these scents too. Vice is really the best chocolate scent! If you order next, please try Troika. It is the softest and the most amazing scent!

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  2. I had heard so many good things about Haus of Gloi, but none good enough to actually make me go check them out. Until now that is. You have such a way with words, id buy Tupperware from you, haha. Will definitely be placing an order as soon as the Troika pumpkin butter is back, so thank you for such a lovely review(:

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  3. @Su: It really has! I skipped over Troika before, didn't think it would be my sort of scent at first glance, but appearances and descriptions can be deceiving, so I will give it a try! I am on a roll now, ordered from Solstice Scents and should be getting that order soon too :)

    @Klaudia.Erszebeth: Thank you SO much, that means a massive lot to me. I like doing my swatches and LOTDs and all, but I really enjoy doing reviews like this where I can flex my writing muscle, so to speak. At first I worried about being too verbose, but I know when I was searching for reviews of the Haus initially, I savored the ones that were extremely in depth and personal, so I just went with what I like reading myself. Thanks for reading it all, and Tupperware, ha, priceless!

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  4. So glad you took the leap and tried indie b/b products! There are so many of these companies out there now that you should probably set a limit now, before you go exploring! lol Two other companies I can suggest which are comparable to HoG are Haunt and Moonalisa, they don't make everything from scratch the way HoG does, but their scents are unusual and their product/packaging/customer service are top notch! Both of them are difficult to get though, you need to be online at their shop the minute they stock.

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  5. Awesome fun reading this. I love Haus of Gloi but I've only had a few small orders so far and I'm not sure why I hold back. I got my most recent today, will be blogging about it shortly.

    Someone mentioned Troika. I love that one! Yes, you should definitely try it.

    ~Deb

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  6. @Jen: I know, right? I just ordered from Solstice Scents and I think I'm going to cut myself off at those two brands for now. Too much variety either completely paralyzes me or turns me into a spending fool, which I can't afford to be, lol. I wish I could say there were more HoG scents that I didn't like (for the sake of my budget) but I didn't loathe a single one, and others are growing on me more and more (cough, Moon Dog, cough). I used my Moon Dog scrub this morning and now all I can think about is wishing I had the perfume!

    @ Deb E.: Thanks for reading, and looking forward to reading your thoughts as well. Man, people are all over Troika, I have to try it now!

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Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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