If you are anything like me, the discovery of a complete stranger’s creative endeavor wherein your own various, divergent passions and fascinations intersect, is cause for much excitement and celebration. First, there’s the thrill in learning that yes–these weird enthusiasms somehow mysteriously combined to create a thing that now exists! And two–there is a kindred spirit whose wonderful brain set to work in creating these wonderful things! Such are the thoughts that whirled deliriously through my mind when last year a friend shared with me the existence of the macabre, horror-themed bath and beauty products from Ghoulish Delight Bath Shop.
There’s a bit of shock value, isn’t there, in the juxtaposition of the idea of beauty and horror co-mingling? It’s a weirdly fascinating proposition, and one which I’m pleased that someone else saw the value in, as well. Created in 2016 by a horror-obsessed, pun-loving, licensed Esthetician who saw a gap in the beauty world, Ghoulish Delights focuses on body and facial care with a dark twist. Amanda blends her adoration of horror with her personal enthusiasm for natural products, weird scents, herbs and professional knowledge to make something more than the sum of the gory, mutilated body parts which go into her offerings. (Just kidding! They’re vegan and cruelty-free!)
Created in small batches but regularly re-stocked, in the Ghoulish Delights shop you will find body washes (my favorite is Dread Seance, which smells of a sweet, dusty attic, where ghosts dine on honeycomb and vanilla); decadently moisturizing Corpse Creams (Michael Meyer Lemon Cake is a delicious lemon cruller of a scent), bath soaks, lip balms, as well as, a fantastic selection of skin care options, many of which are geared toward sensitive skin! Which is great for me, because sometimes if I even look at a new product, my face becomes red and inflamed and I start to feel a little bit like a Cronenbergian body horror monster. Amanda recommended for me a combination of the gentle They’re Coming To Wash You Barbara, soothing Misty Days Magic Mud Mask, and the fantastically de-glunkifying Tokyo Pore Police (which is the best product name in the history of the entire world, and if you’ve not yet seen Tokyo Gore Police, well, you’ve got some homework after you read this feature), and, as a careful addition to the products I already have in rotation, my skin feels amazing, like maybe I’ve been bathing in the blood of hundreds of virgins or something.
In addition to the thoughtful, relevant horror movie suggestions accompanying the various products available on the site, the Ghoulish Delights shop also boasts a blog where you can read further about spooky films and scary cinema, and which features guest writings from horror blogger @deadonarrival. Interested in learning even more about this ghoulish skincare enthusiast and her delightfully horrifying creations? Read further for our exclusive interview, and be certain to follow Ghoulish for future updates at @ghoulishdelightsbath, and remember to sign up for the newsletter as well!
Speaking of updates, I have it on good authority that Ghoulish Delights has a forthcoming update this Friday, June 15th, at 9:00pm EST, and Amanda is offering a discount for Haute Readers! Use HMGHOUL for 10% off of your next order of $25 or more in the Ghoulish Delights shop!
Haute Macabre: As a fellow horror nerd, I’d love to delve into where and when your obsession with horror movies began? Do you have any preferred sub-genres? Eras? Tropes? Franchises? Tell me all!
Amanda: My mom worked at a video store when I was a kid so I stared at a lot of VHS covers during her shifts. I remember being most enthralled with Monkey Shines, Waxwork, The Blob, and Dead Alive artwork. My parents were huge film buffs and I didn’t have any boundaries about what I could watch (honestly what kid did in the 80’s?) but they always kept the good stuff on the top shelf, so I’d crawl up the shelving and grab whatever I could while my mom mowed the lawn. I popped in Creepshow and it was love at first sight. My brother introduced me to Child’s Play a few weeks later and I was traumatized. My first crush was Kurt Russell after seeing Big Trouble in Little China and when I saw his face on the back of The Thing I knew I had to watch it. Queue me stealing a tape from my mothers video store!
I love 80’s to early 2000’s horror. I’m not a huge fan of classic slashers or zombies. Which is a hugely unpopular opinion. I’d take Hellraiser over those any day, which is my favorite movie franchise. It’s gorey, delves into sexuality on a non mainstream level, and is just pure magic. Other favorites are Xtro, Night of the Demons, Suspiria, Thirteen Ghosts, House, Evil Dead, The Witch, and a new favorite is The Void.
If I had to break it down into genre’s I’d say I’m a big fan of classic Italian horror, anything that comes out of Korea or Thailand, supernatural, phobia films, psychological, body horror, teen / college horror, found footage ( I can’t help myself, I was a teenager when the Blair Witch came out and it was revolutionary at the time), horror dramas , comedy horror, science fiction horror, gothic horror and Troma films which I think is a category by itself. My list makes me realize I basically like everything!
Your product range offers “body and facial care with a dark twist”; can you tell us how the idea was born to marry your passion for natural products and your professional practice as an Esthetician, with your love of horror?
I’ve been making my own products for over 10 years so I’ve always enjoyed knowing what went into a product to do a specific thing. Becoming an Esthetician was a career change after both my parents had been diagnosed with skin cancer and I just felt I had to learn how to prevent this and educate people. I loved going to school and performing services. My teacher had asked where we wanted to be in 10 years and everyone in my class wanted to work for a plastic surgeon for free Botox. Then there’s tree hugging me telling the class I wanted to start my own line of natural skincare and help people’s skin with my products.
I dance between two worlds since I’ve seen what not-so-natural products can accomplish and also what natural products can do. I don’t outwardly claim my products are all-natural since I think a fusion of science and nature is an amazing combination (plus the term “natural” isn’t regulated!). I do take the time to research every ingredient, since I do have to get crafty. I can’t use a go to natural ingredient like honey since my line is vegan, so I opt for a not so natural version that is equally wonderful. With 95% of my products you can look at the label and understand what it contains. There’s something for everyone and that is what’s great about being present in what you want on your body. You choose. I try to offer something for everyone and I am constantly learning and I think that reflects in the evolution of my products.
When I dreamed up Ghoulish it was back in 2015. I was working two jobs; a waxing specialist and at an eco salon, and spa performing facials. Where I was working as a waxing specialist I was bombarded with marketing, glitter, and so much pink. Which has its place for sure… but it didn’t resonate with me. I adored the eco spa since that was more my speed, and product knowledge there was a priority so I learned so much just by investigating every ingredient in every product we carried. I was stocking shelves and it just kind of hit me that I was miserable and tired. So that night I grabbed all of my old textbooks, went on a Google bender and just researched how to make a few things that I saw were popular in my place of work. Since so much heart was going into this, so much risk, so much passion and energy, it had to be something that I was obsessed with; horror. At the time there was slim pickings for that kind of thing and I knew there had to be other people who were like me and wanted horror and weirdness to saturate every part of their lives. Five months later, after creating until 3 am almost every night, I had made some pretty awesome stuff and I opened my doors March 2016. I started out with four products that were non-facial care so that I could work up to what Ghoulish has become now– and I’m over the moon everyday that this is my job.
What kind of folks do you envision using your products?
It started off as people that were similar to me; kind of into weird stuff, horror obsessed, people that would get my references and needed help with their skin. I’m proud to say that I have 70 year old customers who have no idea what my references are but love the product. Bridging that gap, to me, is incredible.
Honestly, I just wanted to get people to take care of their skin and sometimes people need an obscure reference or an aptly placed pun to make them realize “hey I probably should be moisturizing or washing my face everyday”. I want people to be excited about skincare and improving their skins health and if I can do it with a twisted version I’m a happy camper.
My Ghouls, as I so loving call them, have helped me make Ghoulish what it is. I created a group on Facebook called The Ghoulish Army that I wanted to be a safe space for people of all walks of life, people like myself, who didn’t ever really fit in anywhere. We’re all a bit morbid, we reach out when we’re having a rough day and the support is there, it’s wonderful. We discuss horror or I give them advice on their skincare routine or how to properly use a product they just purchased. I’m constantly asking for feedback, good or bad, and it’s because they’re honest it’s shaped Ghoulish for the better. These are the people I’m creating for, they deserve a great product that resonates with them.
So…do you come up with the product first, and then conjure a gloriously punny name for it? Or do you say, watch a film like Tokyo Gore Police and realize halfway through “man, my life has been for nothing if I can’t come up with a product or formula inspired by this bizarre, perverse gem of gory Japanese cinema?” Which comes first? The product or the name?
It differs every product. By the way, I’m glad you enjoy my terrible puns! My creative process can be watching the same movie everyday while I work for a week straight waiting for something to spark. Or I’ll wake up from a dead sleep because I didn’t write down an ingredient that I want to research that has a random connection to a random part in a movie. Or I’ll be obsessed with something and create around certain points that I want to hit. A Very Buffy Summer(s) Collection was, creatively, super hard for me. I’ve been non stop watching this show for 20+ years and I had to get everything right. For that collection I worked around a character or an episode. For Tokyo Pore Police I was on an asian horror bender and that just happened simultaneously. Everyone I told my idea to thought it was ludicrous but the horror community approved. My mind never stops. I have notebooks filled with things I want to make, ingredients, scent combinations, names of future products, one liners from movies or just terrible, terrible puns.
In your “about” section on your website, you mention a love for “weird scents”; I’d love to know what’s your criteria for weird, what are some of your favorite weird scents, and have you formulated any Ghoulish Delights products to showcase them?
I’ve never been a “normal” scent person, I definitely love gourmand type scents but weird scents are my preference. I personally want to smell like a basement most days if possible. I have found more people that are like minded since I started Ghoulish which is great when I’m looking to smell like a rock. I love the smell of gasoline and snow together, animal fur,soot, dirt, rotting leaves, dust, wet pavement, certain magazine paper is intoxicating. I’m a huge fan of the way paper products smell. I joke because I have polar opposites in scent preferences, I either want to smell like deaths door or pancakes.
Some things I have definitely integrated into Ghoulish. I’ve kind of gently forced people to rethink certain notes or what they think something “good” smells like. An example is Hot Cocoa with Pyramid Head. People wanted a hot cocoa scent for winter but I’m like “if you want hot cocoa, then you’re going to also have some metal and wet soot mixed in” and it was a huge success. Its opened doors for people and they’ve gotten more adventurous with layering their own personal collection or seeking odd combinations from other brands which makes me so happy.
I think some of my favorite scents have been from The Nightmares Of Hallows Past Collection which showcased haunted places in New England. Ghosts of Seguin Island which has salty rain, dirt, rotten wood, patchouli and chai. I envisioned what it would be like to visit that haunted lighthouse in Maine while I was holding a chai tea. My scents are a mix of normal and weird which I think caters to my customers.
What do you get up to when you’re not pouring your dark and twisted heart and soul into your creations, or watching horror movies? I want to imagine you’ve got an alternate persona crashing church picnics and PTA meetings or something, hee hee!
I wish I was crashing church picnics! I spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m cooped up most days working and I need nature to get me back on track. Lots of hiking with my significant other and Tankenstein, our massive mutt. Foraging, gardening, baking and basically anything that makes me seem like I’m a 90 year old woman! I am quite nerdy so I play video games, more specifically World of Warcraft and Sims. I attend a lot of comic conventions, Harry Potter themed markets, ren faires, that sort of thing. I have a lot of random interests, like I just started to learn how to wood burn and widdle. I’m also learning Norwegian! I’m more of a crunchy granola type person. I think when people meet me they think I’m going to be this dark witchy woman and I’m just over here being a hippie haha. My dream is to live on a mountain and homestead.
What’s inspiring you lately? Will we be seeing these influences in any new products or forthcoming updates?
I have a new collection inspired by Buffy The Vampire Slayer coming June 15th! I have a lot in the works for Ghoulish in the skincare department. I can’t wait to release that.
My biggest influence recently has been the outdoors. Being from New England I’m fortunate to experience all seasons. I love them all and they each offer up some sort of inspiration that goes into my creations. I get inspired a lot by my dreams. I have very vivid dream experiences and I conjure up some weird stuff.
Linda Lomelino has been inspiring me recently. She’s a photographer and cookbook author and she just takes the most amazing photos of her creations. Her whole feed is gorgeous. In general fellow female indie business owners inspire me daily. They’re so open to share that they are humans that have trials and tribulations but still manage to create and keep going. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone flourish.
I’m pretty excited to announce my other company Ammil Forest. It’s a perfume company that I’ve been devoting every spare moment to for over a year now. It’s been an amazing journey working with the bare bones of perfumery and building a blend from the ground up. I’m hoping to open by the end of the year but as of right now there’s no definite date. This has been such a labor of love and I’m enjoying the experience of taking my time. It’s an extension of me, or another part, that I don’t get to show with Ghoulish sometimes and it’s been such a freeing experience to challenge myself on learning something completely new and unfamiliar. Scent has always been part of who I am. I have a terrible memory but my scent memory is stellar. It has such a powerful impact on our lives and I want to recreate memories for people.
Is there anything else you want our readers to know about you, or what you do?
At the core of who I am and why I started this business was to help people’s skin and make them feel confident in who they are. I’m grateful for everyday I get to do this. It’s opened up incredible opportunities and I look forward to expanding my business next year. I currently have a work space the size of a closet where I make thousands of products a month so I’m looking forward to growing and providing even more tools to help people with their skincare journey.
(All images in this post courtesy Ghoulish Delights, except for the feature photo, by Maika, and the final photo, by S. Elizabeth)