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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Ophelia's Apothecary

IMPORTANT: She announced she's closing her store again on Facebook and will be offering refunds. If your items are still missing, please take advantage of this.

I finally got my order from Ophelia's Apothecary. Initially, I ordered 1 monthly subscription box, 30 perfume oil samples and 2 lip scrubs.

First unwrapping.

I'm not exactly sure what's part of the box since how I ordered got a bit complicated. I paid for my first order on May 28th to be sent to Indonesia.

On June 22 she had a flash sale I decided to take part in. I haven't gotten my first order yet, but shipping to Indonesia takes a while (12-14 days), so I wasn't too worried. I asked her about it on the 23rd after I paid, and that's when I found out she hasn't even sent it out yet.

After 26 days.

Kinda worrying but ok, some indies do have long TATs. By this time, I had a US mail forwarding address, so I asked her to send it to a US address instead. Since she hasn't sent out my first order, I combined shipping for both orders and ended up with an $18 shipping credit. She offered to send me more stuff instead. Well, international credit card charges usually makes refunds not worth it, I figured I should take the offer.

So now I got one monthly subscription ($14.99) + $18 worth of goods. This is what I got for $32.99:

    It didn't come with any descriptions so I just had to guess what I got. Supposedly it was meant to have a note. Based on my conversation with her and reading up her product list, this is what I got:

    • Sinus Relief Balm
    • Orange Blossom Neroli Household Cleaner Concentrate 
    • Eucalyptus & Spearmint Pumice Foot & Body Scrub
    • Whipped Body Butter (Orange Blossom Neroli?)
    • Green Tea Face Cream
    • Healing Pink Quartz Muscle Relief Spray
    • Green Clover & Aloe 3 in 1 (checked her blog and it's a shampoo, soap & conditioner combo)
    • Rice Flower & Shea...something. Don't know what it is. I've messaged her and turns out it's a body lotion.
    I guess that amount of items seem to be worth $32.99. I definitely don't think they're worth beyond $32.99 though, so I don't think a surprise subscription box is worth it at all. Might as well shop for things you actually like and will use.

    Now unfortunately comes the even worse parts.

    Customer Service

    Deborah was so nice and friendly that I really, really want to like this brand. But the fact that my first order only got shipped out after I asked about it made me a bit nervous. Did she totally forget about my order?

    I paid for my 2nd order on June 23 and she claims shipped it out on June 28 (I didn't get any shipping notification). It only arrived in my Portland forwarding address on July 6. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she actually sent it on the 28th. A 5 day (13 if you include shipping time) TAT isn't too bad, but a 31 days TAT is kinda long. And the fact that I had to be the one to follow up with her worries me.

    Now, this company has had some bad publicity that I didn't know about before I ordered. It involves deleting bad reviews, items not arriving, and relying on new orders to pay for the old orders. I'll just post links tho these reports and let everyone make up their own minds:

    As for me, after my bad experience, I don't think I'll be buying from this brand again even though I really, really love the lip scrubs. I really do wonder if she relies on new orders to ship out old ones, and I'll just be perpetually worried I'm in an indie goodies Ponzi scheme where the last buyer will never see his/her goods. It was also harrowing to be the one who had to constantly chase her to ship my order, even though I've already told her before I agreed to purchase that I needed all my orders to arrive in the forwarding address by a deadline or I get charged expensive warehousing fees.

    I was also unhappy that the subscription boxes are NOT customized, despite what's advertised.

    Even more annoying was the part that she can't be bothered to give me what I asked for for the shipping refund. When she asked me what I wanted instead of getting the shipping refund, I mentioned I love gourmands, especially the baked & buttery kind. I didn't get a single gourmand scent. They're all floral/perfume-y. I was definitely not happy about this since the extras I got instead of a shipping refund was something that's not part of a set subscription box and she could have just given me what I asked for.

    But these aren't the biggest reason I'm not buying again.

    I wasn't happy there's no product descriptions on a lot of products, and not having a product list means I'm stuck with guessing or asking for her help to let me know what I got.

    And I'll just leave these pictures here.

    It was sticky.
    Peeling labels galore.

    They arrived leaking all over the place. And the tubs honestly look really old and roughed up, so I'm very worried about how long they've been around. The labels for a lot of items are peeling and tape is often used to stick them back on. One of the products even comes in a disposable sauce tub.

    The impression I got was that this "subscription box" was half-assed, and may even contain items she's trying to get rid of.

    I've messaged Deborah to ask when's the expiry date to be safe, and this is her reply:

    I was surprised she replied after 10 days of silence

    However, the sloppiness of the entire experience (and the fact that she's not sure what she gave me) makes me worry she may also be sloppy when it comes to manufacturing, so I won't be trying out the face cream just to be safe.

    For this review, I'll just go through the non-perfume items.

    Whipped Body Butter (Orange Blossom Neroli?) 

    This smells like orange, water and cotton. It smells nice enough and kinda reminds me of the scent of the body lotions they offer free in country club bathrooms. The smell's not so strong, so you only smell it if your nose is less than an inch away from your skin. The texture is very, very sticky. It looks light and seems light when you scoop it out, but when you rub in into your skin, it's very sticky and doesn't rub in easily. It takes 20-30 minutes for it to get absorbed into your skin and become less sticky.

    Sinus Relief Balm

    Perfect timing, I was having a blocked sinus when I was reviewing this. The balm glides smoothly, but leaves a very sticky residue. Unfortunately, it didn't really clear up my sinuses. It's the usual icy sort of smell, but it clears up my sinuses as much as a peppermint tea would. There's a weird "off" smell to this, which kinda bothered me. It's a bitter, insect sort of smelliness that reminds me of the smell of cockroaches. I realized later the smell was from the tub. I'm not sure if it's coming from the ink/paper used for the label, the material the tub is made of, or the tub hasn't been stored properly. The lip scrubs also had the same smell. It's definitely worrying, so I'm depotting them.

    Orange Blossom Neroli Household Cleaner Concentrate

    Ok, gotta admit to my 3rd world brattiness. I don't do my own cleaning, so I gave it to my maids. She reported it was ok, nothing particularly good or bad, and nothing that really differentiates it from any other cleaners. I only got a sniff and it smells like alcohol and watery oranges.

    Eucalyptus & Spearmint Pumice Foot & Body Scrub

    As you can see, the ingredients have completely separated. The scrub part is rock hard so I had to chisel it into the solution to mix them up again. Once they're mixed up the scrub was...strange. The pumice is like find sand which you can use for microdermabration, only it's really soft and just mushes away. It's like walking of softened sand that doesn't really do much for scrubbing. When I wash it off, my hand and foot had that extremely dry feeling. That so dry, it's sticky feeling you get from certain bar soaps, only way worse. The scent is just a normal minty scent. 

    Healing Pink Quartz Muscle Relief Spray

    It doesn't feel cooling or anything. I was having sore calves, tried this on and I don't think it works at all. The only thing that freaked me out is that it has a strong smell of alcohol when I sprayed it on. That can't be too good for my skin. It leaves a bit of an oily film on my skin though, so maybe that's meant to counter the alcohol. 

    Green Clover & Aloe 3-in-1 

    I decided not to try this as a shampoo since my hair's fragile and it's too close to my face for my comfort. It works like a normal soap and kinda smells like a vaguely "green" liquid soaps you find in public bathrooms. 

    Rice Flower & Shea Body Lotion

    The formula's very light and runny, so it gets absorbed pretty fast - around 3 minutes. This kinda smells like perfumed melted crayons. And the perfume smell is that artificial, perfume-y "rice" smell that smells nothing like rice and makes me suspect the manufacturer has never had rice before.

    Lip Scrubs

    These are like lipbalms with relatively large brown sugar granules (at least I hope they're brown sugar or I have a problem) embedded in them. They're so awesome. They're moisturizing and taste so good!

    Butter Toffee Crunch tastes like actual butter toffee crunch and I have to stop myself from eating it. Just be careful while opening these, the sugar sprays everywhere and you end up with a huge mess.

    Cupacke tastes like a metallic vanilla and sprinkles flavoured lip balm. You know how some gourmands end up smelling metallic? Well, this one had the metallic taste. It's cute packaging-wise, but the problem is that the sprinkles and blue sugar stains your lips. Considering how badly blue sugar and colourful sprinkles often stains my tongue, it's definitely nothing to be surprised about. I just wish I could've seen pictures of it and avoided buying this. So here are pics of it...they're pretty but definitely staining:
    Even from the pic you can tell it'll stain. 
    Pretty cross-section. I'm depotting these for Minkishly!


    1. So sad this shop has gone so far downhill. I was a sub box subscriber from her for about 9 months. She did customize my boxes for me from the questionnaire she sends when you first subscribe. I told her I had dry skin issues and eczema and loved being outside with my dogs and loved lip balms and floral smells. Almost every product I got was some type of floral or fruity smell which I was okay with. I never got anything in the weird blueish container like you did or in a sauce container. Nothing I got ever smelled like metal either but I also haven't ordered from her in probably 8 months. It sucks you didn't get anything you really loved because this shop was truly awesome before it apparently tanked like it did. I got Ana amazing leave in conditioner, bug spray, some talc powder, and some cuticle cream that I loved. Anything I didn't use ( because it seems to me that when I subscribed I got way more on the box than you did) went to my mom. There also used to be some special thing in very box that wasn't necessarily an apothecary item. Most of the time it was jewelry that she purchased from an etsy shop and I think one of the times she made a pretty bracelet. So sorry you didn't get to experience the awesomess that this shop once was.

      1. I heard it used to be good too! That was why I made a second order before receiving my first. It's definitely sad how far this store has gone down :(