Aesop: Aesthetic Science

The Fabled Australian Beauty Brand Opens the Doors of its Research Studios

In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, Melbourne-based science-beauty brand Aesop invited photographer Rene Vaile to document the laboratories where its team of specialists analyse each extract, vitamin and nutrient that goes into the holistic range. Founded by Dennis Paphitis in 1987 as an alternative to the chemical-filled cosmetic goods of the time, the brand focuses solely on using ingredients that benefit the body, including green tea, geranium leaf and mandarin. "A good product needs to begin from a sincere and authentic perspective," explains Paphitis of the company’s ethos. "It must be designed with integrity and a sense of timelessness." Taking sustainable living as a basic mantra, Aesop is also known for its sensitively placed and design-strong outlets across the world, such as the Grand Central Terminal booth opened last year and built out of 1,000 copies of The New York Times. Here Senior Chemist Rebecca Watkinson talks to us about the processes involved in developing Aesop’s celebrated products and the best way to take care of your skin.

How do you come across new ingredients to experiment with?
We are continually researching and exploring new ingredients, and often look to other industries for inspiration, particularly the food industry. The most recent example of this would be blackcurrant seed oil, which we use in our Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment. Blackcurrants have long been known as a “super-food” for their anti-oxidant properties and essential fatty acid content. We saw that this could be an interesting topical ingredient.

How long does it take to perfect a new product?
It typically takes 18 months to two years to fully realize a product, with much collaborative effort and many iterations between concept, development, testing, manufacture and launch. Sage and Zinc Facial Hydrating Cream was ten years in the making, and not without its challenges, but was certainly worth the wait. 

Everyone’s skin is different. How do you define and test health and beauty?
We endeavour to make our products as applicable and relevant to as many skin types as possible. Our philosophy of skin care is based on scientific evidence that what most skin types require is to be cleansed, moisturized and protected. We counsel our clients to take care of their skin by using the highest quality skin care products and sun cream, drinking pure water, eating fresh food and getting as much sleep as possible.


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