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?
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 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.