Aesop Beauty Quick Facts
Ingredients | No colourants, mineral oils, silicones, parabens or pearlising agents; No Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Parabens; No animal derived ingredients
Eco-Friendly | None specified
Ethical | Cruelty Free
Good Guide | Not Rated
EWG | Not Rated
Aesop is like finding buried treasure
Aesop is a brand that is often introduced through a personal recommendation.
I found out about it through my brother who instantly exclaimed, “I love Aesop!” He in turn found out about it from a friend while countless others discovered it from a mother, brother, sister, acquaintance.
Well, Aesop doesn’t advertise.
Yes, it’s true. A beauty brand actually exists that doesn’t use celebrity endorsers, self-promote in magazines or any of the traditional forms of advertising.
Instead, how people discover Aesop is akin to stumbling upon buried treasure: there it is, perfect and amazing, a discovery all your own.
At least, that’s how I felt when I walked into their Houston branch in the wake of my brother, spellbound and mesmerized and half in love already.
Aesop’s meticulously made products marry the best of science and nature
For you to understand why Aesop inspires such a feeling among their clients, you’ve got to understand the absolute meticulousness of their product development and design.
There’s such precision.
Products are conceived for a need, and not to keep up with a trend, a launch schedule or competitors. There’s a lot of research and testing. There’s a lot of prototyping and reformulating. It sometimes comes to the point where, “…I’m sure we’re charged with the accusation of being obsessive about it,” says employee number one and general manager Suzanne Santos wryly.
Aesop’s carefully formulated products come with a distinct perspective, and it occupies a difficult to explain niche in the industry. It is a brand that believes both in science and nature.
[Aesop] fit[s] into a category that is really comfortable for us and really uncomfortable for other brands. We celebrate science, and understand that you need a blend of well-chosen man-made ingredients with exceptional botanical ingredients to make remarkable products.
Suzanne Santos, Aesop GM
Try having that as a tagline.
Compared to, “Fuller lips in one week!” or “Because you’re worth it,” this is a perspective that requires a few paragraphs to communicate.
And still, despite the difficulties of explanation, Aesop makes it work because wouldn’t you know it – their products are excellent.
I’ve tried their Camellia Nut Facial Cream.
It was amazing.
Light and weightless, it lingered on my skin for a fraction of a second before sinking into my pores like sunlight. My skin was hydrated for hours and oh-my-God, I smelt fabulous.
Is Aesop all-natural or organic?
Let’s get this out the way: Aesop is not all-natural or organic.
Why isn’t Aesop completely organic or all-natural?
They point out that no standards are set for these labels and that these are words that should be used with “great caution”.
They state it well:
We recognize the benefits that organic and biodynamic farming have for the land and for our health, but we are practical about how realistic it would be for us to use only organic ingredients. Sometimes they are not available, sometimes there is not enough of a particular ingredient, sometimes the air miles required to import it would generate an environmental concern of its own.
And yet for a company that doesn’t carry any of the popular labels of the cosmetics world today, they ban a surprising number of ingredients.
They avoid colourants, mineral oils, silicones, parabens, and pearlising agents. They use Sodium Laureth Sulphate instead of the harsher Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and have non-synthetic fragrance compounds in all but three products.
And yes, they avoid animal derived products and are completely cruelty free.
Unusual scents in unique settings
One thing you’ll notice is that Aesop has a variety of unusual scents.
Aesop’s Tacit perfume has a little basil in it and their Herbal Deodorant is woodsy with a hint of coriander. Some people even use it as a fragrance.
Aesop is well known for our use of essential oils whose evocative aromas form the essence of our products. During formulation, essential oils are selected primarily for the benefits they deliver to the skin and hair; their aromas are merely an incidental outcome.
Marsha Meredith, Aesop Head of Creative
And while many of their products do perform absolutely excellently, a lot of what I remember about Aesop are the distinct and rather surprising aromas.
Peppery lotion, and vevetier. Coriander and Hiba. Smoky and musky. About as far away from simple and sweet as it is possible to get, this might not be for everyone.
But for those who seek the unique, it just might fit the bill.
Collaborations with local architects create distinct stores
Aesop’s founder Dennis Paphitis comes across as an obsessive, driven, really focused man.
In a large part, he’s responsible for why the products are so precise, the products so focused and the message so complex. That’s his attention to detail in every bottle, and the stores are no exception.
Pictures explain it better:
They’ve been the topic of many editorials and selfies (yes, I took some of my own) and people often wonder how each store can be so distinct but still so decidedly Aesop.
It’s clear that these stores come from Dennis Paphitis’ desire to unique customer experiences. He says Aesop wants to:
… [avoid] the kind of assault on the streetscape that retailers inflict through the ordinary course of mindless business, the idea that one size would so often be forced to fit all. It wasn’t so hard to respectfully consider each space individually, consider the customer, the context and to bring a little joy into the conversation.
Dennis Paphitis, Aesop founder
Essentially, this is why Aesop is uniquely special among all the brands that I know.
They are about precision, uniqueness and difficult but important perspectives on product and design. There’s rigor and care in their ingredient choices and beautiful and often unique design choices throughout it all.
And yes, their products really are that good.
I come across a lot of brands in my search for the perfect products, but Aesop occupies a particular place in my heart.
They make you feel special and treasured, as though each item is a conversation between you and some treasured confident. They exude luxury and are one of the only brands that I would just totally go broke for.
Best of Aesop
I can’t recommend the whole line, but God I’d want to. Below are some of my absolute favorites.