I like Aesop. Like, I really like Aesop. I was introduced to 25-year-old Australian skincare company through WANT Agency, one of their Canadian stockists, and persuaded to buy the lot when I visited the brand’s flagship store on Elizabeth Street in Nolita. I’d just moved to New York and my skin had erupted in what I self-diagnosed as pollution pimples. Aesop specializes in prescriptive skin and hair care. Their products are formulated, from plant-based ingredients and non-botanical elements such as antioxidants, in their own lab in Australia, to treat specific concerns, whether it be, say, sensitive, dry, oily, normal, or neglected skin, or skin subject to humidity or urban pollution.
A consultation at Aesop is like the best kind of spa visit. The staff are funny and personable; you feel as if you’re speaking with real people, never salespeople, and they offer one-on-one service. One of their trained staff will guide you through the line’s background, assess your skin and hair concerns, and make suggestions. At the Nolita store, the staff demonstrate the products on you, blending the ointments onto the back of your hand and then guiding your palm as they rinse it away over a large ceramic sink. They want to show you how the products feel on your skin. The B & Tea Balancing Toner, made with provitamin B5 and green tea, leaves the skin feeling bright, cool, and clean, and smells the same. The Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum, my pollution panacea, goes on sticky but dries to a smooth, matte but moisturized finish, perfect for summer.
For the best introduction to the brand, Aesop experts advise you come in store. Aesop currently has signature stores throughout Australia, as well as in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and the shops continue to pop up. Their third New York standalone, this one on Bleeker Street in the West Village, is set to open within the month. Boston will soon be joining the map with a shop on Newbury Street. For those unable to make a visit to a store, you can shop online and enquire with a trained individual who will be happy to give you suggestions. Aesop products are also stocked around the world, from Beirut to Malaysia, Oslo to Auckland, in Los Angeles at Opening Ceremony, in Montreal at the Want Apothecary, and at Barney’s across the USA, among other retailers.
The more I learn about Aesop, the more I want to support them. In a world where beauty conglomerates rule, Aesop is an independent operation. The line launched back in 1987 with a shampoo, and has slowly, over 25 years of research, been adding quality products to its roster. This season, Aesop launches the Petitgrain Hydrating Body Gel. Made with witch hazel for antioxidants, aloe vera juice to hydrate and soothe, and grapefruit and lemon peel for a citrus boost, the gel is non-greasy and refreshing and perfect for summer humidity and after-sun care. Aesop is also releasing a new hair care range, six shampoos and four conditioners, each designed to address the different needs of the hair and scalp.
Just to make the brand that much more appealing, Aesop supports up and coming architects, seeks out innovative artist collaborations, and advocates “a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of good books” (see their Twenty-Five Years of Reading at Aesop recommendations). The brand also has a great sense of humor. Their latest collaboration with the French denim and fashion brand A.P.C. is Post-Poo Drops, a serum of ylang ylang and tangerine and mandarin peels formulated to negate unfortunate bathroom odors. The bottle reads, “In instances where vigorous activity has occurred in the bathroom, dispense several drops of this carefully crafted Aesop product into the toilet bowl after flushing. Additional drops in your hand basin will intensify the aroma, to the benefit of all subsequent visitors.” I’m recommending it for all shared bathrooms.
Every morning and evening, I look forward to my Aesop skincare regimen. I delight at opening the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm; the smell of rosemary, citrus and cedar really does wake you up. I like the people behind the brand. I like the design: simple, purposeful (amber glass to preserve), and sometimes lined with great quotes (“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”– T.S. Eliot). I like the storefronts, the collaborations, the website. Most of all, I like how Aesop makes me feel; like eating a tomato I’ve grown myself or wading in the ocean, like I’m doing something that is, in both intention and sensation, good for me.