If you’ve spent any time perusing the treasure troves of knowledge in online beauty communities, like Makeup Alley or Reddit’s r/SkincareAddiction, you’ve likely encountered and perhaps even been mystified by the spate of acronyms: the HGs (holy grails), SFs (sebaceous filaments), and TTOs (tea tree oil) of the vernacular, most often referring to common skincare issues, ingredients and products. Only a handful of specific brands are so commonly referenced and recommended in r/SkincareAddiction, however, that they have the distinction of their own acronym listed in the official glossary. Garden of Wisdom — colloquially, GoW — is one of them.
At first glance, Garden of Wisdom admittedly doesn’t look like much. With an analogue web platform reminiscent of the Geocities era, the brand lacks the slick minimalist design of cult brands like The Ordinary, the cool-girl street cred of Glossier, and certainly the perceived luxury and legitimacy of popular retailers like Sephora. But what Garden of Wisdom lacks in sharp aesthetics or Instagrammable packaging, it makes up for in its absurdly accessible prices. An ounce of their argan oil, for instance, rings up at $9, compared to Josie Maran’s $48 for a 1.7-ounce bottle. Two ounces of pure squalane will run you about $10-$12, while Biossance’s 3.3-ounce bottle retails at Sephora for $58.