Good Cryptkeeping: Trick or Treat Yo’Self!

If your life is anything like mine, it consists of an almost never-ending stream of stress, pressure, and so much stimuli from every possible direction that sometimes you just want to lock yourself in a sensory deprivation chamber and not come out for a year or two. In our culture, this is known as ‘self care’, and it’s a very important part of mental health and wellbeing that everyone needs to take part in. Whether it’s treating yourself to a massage or just watching an episode of a guilty-pleasure TV show, it’s vital that you take time to be kind to yourself and hit the ‘reset’ button.

I’m very fortunate in that I’m friends with some very powerful, talented people who share my hectic lifestyle, and for this installment of “Good Cryptkeeping” I got some of my favorite witchy bitches together for a Tupper-scare party to test out some amazing new products. Our spooky gang’s ‘ghoul’s night in’ consisted of our hostess with the mostest Violet O’Hara, a renowned burlesque emcee and stand-up comedienne, Scully Sins, an aerial and burlesque performer as well as tour manager and artist and Emma, a fabulously blue-haired model and freelance yoga instructor. Drinks, snacks, and sampling products resulted in one hell of a good time, so here are the highlights we found that you should check out for your next ghouls’ night in!

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Beautiful Carcass isn’t a name you’re likely to forget, and the same can be said for the owner, Diane. Diane is a mother first and foremost who got tired of spending big bucks on skin products billed as organic and all-natural to treat her daughters’ skin issues, so she did some research and began to make her own. “The Wake” is a cleanser which uses lemon essential oil and organic baking soda as both a makeup remover and an acne-fighting face wash. Emma was obsessed with the “Cemetery Dirt” face scrub, which uses dark-ground coffee and unrefined cold-press coconut oil to create an invigorating and caffeinated scrub to exfoliate dead skin while bringing you back from the dead. We all agreed that “REDRUM” was a phenomenal lip balm that used mica powder to give it a brick-red hue while being super moisturizing and hydrating. The shop has a bit of a ‘hippie mother’ vibe despite their obvious love of horror; they sell everything from ‘new mom’ baskets with nipple balm, baby lotion and face masks to sea salt bath soaks, and they offer samples as cheap as a quarter if there’s a product you’re dying to try but aren’t sure you want to commit yet. Beautiful Carcass thrilled all of us, including my notoriously cranky and sensitive skin, and I’m currently slathering my toddler in their “Go Away Monsters” baby lotion, which is specifically formulated for kids with skin issues like eczema. She’s definitely a lot softer and more slippery when she tries to run away at bedtime these days, that’s for damn sure!

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Handmade Horror Shop  is an awesome little store run by shopowner Grue Grimman. With the motto “Ghoul Power!” and a lot of in-joke references to Trioxin in their product line, we knew that we’d be in love at first bite when it came to this line of products. Scully recently acquired her first full-color tattoo, a sleeve by artist Tiffer Wright of Folklore Trading Co, and she instantly fell in love with the Putrescence line of tattoo balm. The best thing about it is that it comes in a small tube that can easily be thrown in a purse or pocket and it isn’t sticky or messy like lotions and ointments can be. It’s a triple-antibiotic that’s 100% vegan, cruelty-free and never tested on animals, and the instant Scully ran it across her tattoo the colors took on a whole new vibrancy and shine. The company also makes a fantastic line of hair pomades which have the scent of every club you ever frequented as a clove-smoking, misunderstood youth. Violet was obsessed with their body spray, which had a lovely lingering ‘smoky’ scent that reminded her of a long-lost goth boyfriend she once had. “It smells like a Bauhaus mixtape,” I joked as she pressed it to her nose and inhaled joyfully, undoubtedly remembering nights twirling in fishnet to Sisters of Mercy remixes.

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If fake nails are your thing, Nails, Guts and Glam has you covered. These sets of acrylic nails are hand-painted by the creator Amber and no two sets are exactly the same; she also loves taking commissions and custom orders. A lifelong horror fan, Amber has combined her love of all things gory with her career as a nail tech to create awesome press-on sets perfect for daily wear or a special spooky occasion. The kits come complete with adhesive, instructions, and a nail care stick in a cute tulle bag perfect for gifting. My personal favorite are her ‘It’ sets, which include the mini-series as well as the 2017 version of the seminal clown, and many of the nails glow in the dark or have awesome little easter egg accents for true fans.

While on the subject of nails, we had a blast with the brand Dollish Polish, an indie brand of nail polishes created with pop culture and horror in mind. The owner even has a monthly Halloween-inspired nail polish subscription, where lacquers like “Wolfman’s Got Nards!”, “I Know I’m Human”, and “The Pain!” reign supreme. If horror polishes don’t do it for you (psst, you’re probably in the wrong article), they also have a wide selection of other fandoms, including Deadpool, Game of Thrones, and Rick & Morty. Dollish also creates organic cuticle oil, glitter top coats and sets of custom acrylic nails. Whatever it is, Dollish is there to keep your paws and claws on fleek. As we all sat around painting our nails and fighting over which polish color we each got to wear (I wound up rocking “I Know I’m Human”, a deep green-gold infused with glitter and inspired by Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ of course), Emma proclaimed “I’m not even a nail polish person, but these colors are so much fun I literally just want to do every finger a different color.” Scully was impressed with the understated but professional packaging; I was surprised when, after an intense three days of handling money and merchandise at a very busy booth at the huge horror convention I worked, my nails had only a few small chips in them. The durability combined with the exciting color range, fun names and themes, and the fact that the polishes are all vegan, cruelty-free and 5-free, had us sold and ready to come back for more claw-paint ASAP!

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Twisted Allure is a shop that prides itself on a unique mix of adorable packaging, unique scents, and fun horror marketing. Wildly popular on Instagram and other social influencer sites, Twisted Allure is a sleeper smash hit when it comes to skin care and bath products, with many products going out of stock within hours of the highly-anticipated launches. Currently the spring line is inspired by ‘demented Disney’, with scents taking their cue from the House of Mouse with a sinister twist. From sugar scrubs to whipped soaps and bath bombs, Twisted Allure offers something for everyone when it comes to an at-home spa treatment. I personally have been a fan for years, with their lip scrubs being my favorite product. The flavors rotate by season, but the scrubs are absolutely delicious and smell exactly like their namesakes, and they buff all the dead skin and old remainder lipstick (even the most stubborn lip stains) off your pout for a juicy, moisturized kisser. Violet had fun using their whipped sugar scrub to scrub her hands, followed by a lathering of the “Devious Grin” body butter: “Holy shit, my hands look five years younger and I smell like a fruit salad!” she exclaimed in delight, showing off the glowing, smooth radiance of her polished paws. There is an impressive men’s line as well for those who like their scents on the heavier or less-fruity side, but right now their “Monster’s Breakfast” scrub lives in my shower (a mix of maple syrup, apple-pumpkin spice pancakes, and it has an awesome plastic eyeball staring out of the jar at me while I buff my skin to silky perfection). Follow them on Instagram to keep up with news about restocks and future launches, because their products fly off the digital shelves when they go live and they are well worth the hunt!

DandyLions Creations is a shop brimming with awesome items, but my personal obsession begins, as mentioned before, with a lip scrub. I’m sorry, but if you tell me that a scrub called “Haunted Theater” is a completely edible sugar scrub that will not only make my mouth soft and luscious but will taste and smell like hot buttered popcorn in the process… I am sold before I even get the jar open. Luckily, this product line delivers everything it promises. From the Baba Yaga bath soak, which is some of the best-smelling shit I’ve ever dumped in my tub, to a set of room sprays inspired by Slenderman, Wendigos, Bloody Mary and other mythical horror creatures, DandyLions has a wide variety of items for your spooky home atmosphere. We were completely in love with the Spirit Board salt scrub, which made our hands as soft as butter after a quick scour, and I’m ordering a backup of that popcorn lip scrub because it reminds me of Joe Bob Briggs, Elvira, and all the other midnight hosts who helped shape my childhood.

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For the people who want to smell like absolute bliss, whether it’s after a night of pampering or in preparation for a fun night out, Siren Song Elixirs is your wingman. As a longtime fan of essential oils like Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Nocturne Alchemy, imagine how excited I was to find a vegan, cruelty-free company which starts with a proprietary allergen-free base and then builds incredible scents from essential fragrance oils. When the bottles came out, we damn near had a catfight at the table, with each of us sniffing them in delight and dabbing our wrists with excitement. These handcrafted scents are batched in Dallas, Texas and include fandoms such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Overwatch and The Witcher but also a large haute macabre line of spooky poets, Halloween-inspired imagery, and fictional characters in the realm of creepy. We sampled a large variety, which is always lovely; these scents can be purchased in full-sized drams or smaller sampler vials for amazingly reasonable prices. While Violet bathed herself in “Queen of the Damned”, professing it ‘an incredibly sensual scent’, Scully loved ‘Lips Like Morphine’ and Emma was a ‘Countess Bathory’ fan. The scents are formulated with sensitive skin in mind to prevent reactions, and they wear for hours and if you put them on pulse points they tend to ‘renew’ if your body temperature rises or your heartbeat quickens. We were incredibly impressed by not only the decadence of the scents but the way they wore differently as they mingled with each of us’s body chemistry versus just sniffing them in the bottle. We are very eager to try other scents from this company (Emma placed an order as soon as she got home from the party!), but until then I’ll just keep slathering ‘Black Widow’s Kiss’ on my wrists.

While mostly the evening was an excuse to get a few of my favorite macabre maidens into one place for chit-chat and socialization (hey, even the most doom-and-gloom of us have to come out of our tomb to say hello sometimes!), there’s no denying that we all walked away from the Tupper-scare party with glowing skin, sparkly fingernails and smelling positively spellbinding. The next time you’re in the mood for a little bit of spoiling (and I don’t mean the type you get with the body parts when the freezer goes out!), check out one of these fantastic independent horror-loving companies and give one of their products a try. Remember, horror fandom is a family, and supporting the other creeps in it is the best way to infuse fresh blood back into the community!