In the Garden with Aesop
We talk cult formulas, botanicals and the great outdoors with Aesop’s Suzanne SantosRead more
Arguably the most mentioned brand in beauty, Aesop became a household name not long after the first store opened in an underground nook in the Melbourne bayside suburb, St Kilda. Not only has its clean packaging design become a blueprint for the modern beauty product, its plant-based, scientifically charged formulas are the ultimate signifier of impeccable taste. Harking back to the brand’s Australian roots, Chief Customer Officer Suzanne Santos talks the power of plants, the significance of science and what she adores about being in the wild…
What is the philosophy behind the Aesop product?
Our philosophy regarding skin care is straightforward, based on research and experience spanning 33 years, both of which tell us clearly that all skin types require daily cleansing, toning, moisturising and protection – with the proviso that it is essential to choose the formulations best suited to your individual needs.
We speak not to age or gender, but to the more pertinent matter of how your skin feels and behaves in response to environmental conditions, hormonal fluctuations, your diet, how well you sleep, and other influential factors.
When it comes to prescribing regimens, we strongly emphasise the efficacy of twice-daily cleansing, toning and moisturising, along with twice-weekly deep-cleansing and regular facial treatments; we also encourage use of barrier and SPF protection to help shield the skin from the elements. Further, we encourage generous application of our hydrating products, as well as blending or layering to effect tailored hydration.
We employ both botanical and laboratory-made ingredients to perform specific functions; in our view, this is a harmonious marriage that ensures our products are of the utmost quality and efficacy. I would also mention that none of our products contain animal-derived ingredients.
“The ever-growing sophistication in both extraction and analytical technique continues to reveal more components of the botanicals we use, furthering the scope of application for our palette of essential oils.”
What are the other prevalent ingredients in the collection?
We revere citrus oils first and foremost because of the remarkable and wide-ranging efficacies they deliver.
Whether we consider the vivifying combination of Petitgrain, Grapefruit Rind and Lemon Rind – a trio of oils renowned for their purifying properties – in Citrus Melange Body Cleanser or the Mandarin Rind in Amazing Face Cleanser – used for its well-known ability to bring balance to oily skin – it is clear that citrus oils deliver myriad benefits for skin and hair.
Can you tell the story of a cult Aesop product?
Sublime Replenishing Night Masque was conceived as an alternative to disposable sheet masks that offer a vitamin-enriched treatment or masque, as part of our Skin Care+ range. We aimed to formulate a product in which we could combine a full palette of water-soluble and oil-soluble vitamins to offer compound benefits to dry, dehydrated, dull or patchy and fatigued skin. The botanicals it utilises include humectants such as Sodium Carrageenan and Saccharide Isomerate – derived from Red Algae and Maize respectively – for their renowned capacity to boost hydration and promote water retention within the skin. In complement, nourishing emollients including Squalane and Tocopherol (Vitamin E), alongside Safflower-derived Vitamin F (Linolenic and Linoleic Acid) bolster the lipid environment of the stratum corneum (the skin’s outermost layer) to further reduce trans-epidermal water loss.
Aesop fragrances paint beautiful pictures of natural elements and breath-taking landscapes – can you offer an insight into the creative process?
At the heart of each fragrance is a poetic, absorbing dialogue around our inspirations and how they might be embodied in scent. It’s a captivating thing to witness—as in the conversations I recall from the development of Rōzu Eau de Parfum, which encompassed our collective admiration for French architect Charlotte Perriand – its chief inspiration – her vivacious personality and ground-breaking work, the countries and cultures that stirred her heart and mind, the enchantments of the rose in all its manifestations, and a great deal more. Barnabé Fillon speaks as only a nose of great intellect and vision can speak, and we are honoured to work with him to create exquisitely nuanced fragrances that express our ideas with sophistication and subtlety.
“In Australia, eucalypts are the lungs of the country, with a ubiquitous presence throughout diverse landscapes—a presence I would describe as immensely comforting.”
What is your favourite outdoor location to explore?
The beach, always. There is something about the light, the crisp aromas of salt air and coastal vegetation, and the expansive horizon that makes for an exhilarating sense of freedom and possibility. And to lie on the sand, walk the shoreline and swim in the sea—to experience the rhythm of the ocean at length—is to dissipate all cares.
From which plants to you get the most pleasure?
The plant that appeals most to me is the eucalyptus or gum tree, across its hundreds of species—each with its own modest, nuanced beauty. These trees have played a significant role in the lives of thousands of generations of First Nations Australians, the traditional custodians of this land, to whom we owe a great debt and for whom we have the utmost respect. While I see eucalypts in other countries, because of context and history they are never as they are here.
Which product is your personal favourite?
In the midst of the Australian winter, I favour Elemental Facial Barrier Cream for its protective properties and superlative emollience. My day almost always begins with a long, brisk walk, and there is no more effective product for shielding my skin from chill air and blustery winds. In tandem, I am using Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator – a formulation we created specifically to address the visible and non-visible manifestations of sensitive skin, and skin prone to sensitivities.
Which product would you recommend to warm the soul?
For the sense of wellbeing it confers in addition to its hydrating, decongesting and balancing properties, I would unreservedly recommend Fabulous Face Oil. The lightweight texture and smooth, near-matte finish make it a pleasure to experience on the skin; and the aromatic impression of this product is like no other – essential oils of Ylang Ylang and Jasmine, particularly, evoke a sense of warm, languid evenings and gardens in full bloom. Only a few drops are needed to effect an elevated mood while delivering multiple benefits to the skin. It’s a delightful precursor to sound sleep.
… And to wake up in the morning?
In complement to gentle cleansing, I would suggest Lucent Facial Concentrate. It is light, barely there, but holds potent benefits. Almost all skin types will benefit greatly from the vitamins delivered by just one pipette of this exceptional serum; if your skin is normal, dry or dehydrated, it can function as a vitamin-rich preface to your chosen moisturiser, and significantly boost hydration.