I’ll be honest with you: I’m a sucker for an Aesop product. I’m not actually sure that they deliver the level of skincare that is promised at their price point: because when I’ve drilled down on their ingredients list there are a few products that make me think ” I’m paying for what?” However – if you like herbaciously scented no nonsense products that are the equivalent of an Aussie bootcamp then who am I to stop you. And hell knows, I keep going back for more. Maybe I wasn’t birched enough as a child. So recently I went on a splurge in Liberty as I wanted to investigate their Fabulous Face Oil, but of course I got completely carried away…
I can’t tell you how much I love this stuff. The first time I used it, about 6 years ago in a restaurant behind Fenwicks, I smuggled a bottle out in my handbag. I know. I haven’t behaved that way before or since, but the combination of rosemary, mandarin and cedar atlas (basically pine) hits up my central nasal system in a way nothing has before or since. A bottle (500ml) lasts about 4 months, so while being prohibitively expensive, I can just about get away with asking for this for birthdays and Christmas, meaning I only have to shell out for one bottle a year.
Yes, it contains SLS, so it REALLY shouldn’t be £27, but the liquid is so silky and aromatic and foams gorgeously. It doesn’t feel drying on my already overworked hands, and did I mention it smells heavenly? Surprisingly it’s the lavender notes that hit me first, then the mandarin and orange, rosemary and finally the pine, holding it all together. It smells Nordic, clean, no-nonsense and luxurious all at the same time.
Next up: Purifying facial exfoliant paste
I’m a big fan of Lactic acid -I first became aware of it when I started to use Sunday Riley’s Good Genes and noticed a dramatic improvement in pigmentation marks and all over skin quality. It’s also present in Pixi Glow tonic which may be another reason why I love that too. And I’m guessing that this is the magic ingredient here too.
The first thing that hits you is the smell -it is fairly earthy and robust. Personally I really like the smell of rosemary but I know it hasn’t received a huge amount of love in some reviews. There is lavender oil in there too but that doesn’t come through for me. The quartz particles are small but gritty. I gave up on mechanical exfoliants a long time ago (looking at you St Ives), and in the last couple of years have been using acids to get rid of flaky skin, but there is something reassuringly old school about massaging this in and feeling the grit get to work. I don’t go in too hard as I’m wary about my sensitivity issues but I do leave the whole lot on for a minute or so after the initial scrub to give the lactic acid time to kick in.
It’s a bugger to rinse off -if anyone knows how to avoid ALWAYS ending up with a mouthful of grit I’d be eternally grateful. But the end result is amazing. Soft, clean skin that simply drinks up serum and moisturiser afterwards. I don’t use this above once a week in case my face falls off through over stimulation, but as a quick blast when skin feels a bit dull, you can’t beat it.
Next: Fabulous Facial Oil
During the winter I am ALL ABOUT THE OILS, people. My poor windswept, cold-ravaged florist’s face needs all the help it can get, and man, do I love me an oil that sinks in, smells fabulous and softens my skin until it’s plump and glowing again. I’ve done my time with Clarins Blue Orchid and Santal, which are fabulous for older skins that like a thicker oil, but recently I’ve come round to thinner, dryer oils which seem to pack the same hydrating and calming punch but without leaving a ‘film’ on my skin.
Like the Clarins oils it uses an eyedropper to deliver the product so you can control the (tiny) amount that you need. I was particularly interested in its claims to ‘smooth patchy skin’
It’s a clear, easily spreading lightweight oil that smells incredibly wonderful. The sweet, custard-y, heady scent of ylang ylang is out first, followed by jasmine. That’s just about all I can smell in this, it’s simply a sweet floral smell but frankly that’s enough for me, as they are two of my all time favourite scents. I use it after moisturiser and five small drops are enough for my whole face and neck. The oil absorbs immediately leaving no tacky residue at all and the scent dissipates after about five minutes leaving a slightly herbaceous but not unpleasant echo.
The next morning, my skin always feels great. Plumped, even textured and coloured, my rosacea prone areas seem calmed and are less likely to flare up during the days when I’ve used this the night before. It does seem to smooth out the random patches of dryness I’m prone to on my cheeks, while leaving my T-zone completely balanced. They’re not wrong in calling it fabulous.
And finally! Elemental facial barrier cream
So, going from the hyperbole of ‘Fabulous’ to the distinctly unsexy word ‘Barrier’. I don’t hold a lot of truck with ridiculously amped up names, but this one really could do with a bit of oomph. HOWEVER. What caught my eye was the word ‘Elemental’. I spend a lot of my time in cold, windy, skin stripping conditions and am constantly looking to put comforting, emollient creams on my face when it feels knackered and sore.
This cream is rich in castor seed oil, shea butter, glycerin and a mix of other moisturising and essential oils. Copper, Zinc and Bisabolol help strengthen skin, fight inflammation and calm redness. All of which I am perennially interested in in my skincare.
As with any moisturiser that comes packaged in a pot I’m always slightly annoyed at the possibility of contamination, even though I use scrupulously clean hands to apply it. I will forgive this one not coming in a pump as the formula is pretty thick.
It has a fairly strong scent; the ginger and cloves come through first, so it’s quite a Christmassy smell, which I don’t mind. It takes a bit of working into the skin -it’s a proper cream rather than a lotion formula and feels slightly waxy, which I guess is the ‘barrier’ element. You don’t need much -a pea sized blob does my face and neck. I found it easy to apply too much and then be left with a slightly tacky feel to my skin which I found unpleasant, but once I cut back and went easy on the application I found that it sunk in beautifully, doesn’t look or feel greasy and gives immediate comfort to tight, uncomfortable skin. Make up goes on smoothly over the top, although I do give this one a bit longer than other moisturisers to sink in before I apply any. I can’t say that I’ve noticed a huge improvement in terms of protection against the environments or calming of redness -I still look like I’ve come back from a day on a trawlerboat most days- and I don’t use it at night because it doesn’t feel like there’s any point. I’ll probably also give this a miss when the weather gets warmer and I switch to lotions for my moisture fix. Maybe I’ve come a little late to this party and would have benefited from starting to use it earlier in the year *gnashes teeth*. However, if your skin is in need of some heavy duty protection, if you work outside a lot or in harsh environments that dry or strip your skin, you could do worse than invest in a jar of this.
Aesop Resurrection Hand Wash £27
Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste £35
Aesop Fabulous Facial Oil £40
Aesop Elemental Facial Barrier Cream £37
All available here
All paid for by me. *looks sadly into empty purse*