MY LOVE FOR all things Aesop began with a candle. After a friend gifted me one of the company’s gorgeous Ptolemy Aromatique votives, I quickly became obsessed, flooding my home with a variety of Aesop’s oil blends, candles, and room sprays. I then moved on to their grooming products, making my bathroom feel like some sort of finely turned-out apothecary.
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Founded in Australia in 1987, Aesop has cultivated a devoted global following thanks in large part to its aesthetic — a self-described “sustainable and intelligent design” that skews slightly clinical in appearance — and to largely plant-based formulations that feel scientific in their derivation. The experience of visiting an Aesop boutique is a similarly pharmaceutical experience, characterized by an endless variety of almost identically packaged potions, and a staff of consultants eager to connect you with the products most perfectly suited to your physiology and personality. Adding to the almost medicinal mystique of their products, Aesop stores provide a suitably austere environment for shopping — an architectural swirl of warm woods, dramatic lighting, and artfully arranged rows of Aesop’s impeccably designed bottles. For the unfamiliar, an Aesop store can feel a little intimidating, even somewhat confusing, considering there is little to differentiate the labeling on their various offerings. But for the devoted (and the myriad boutique hotels around the world in which I have used these products), Aesop offers a perfect union of form and function — beautifully conceived products in astutely designed vessels.
At any given time, my home is something akin to an Aesop testing lab, with a variety of new fragrances and personal-care products being given a trial run. Recent additions include a bottle of the brand’s new clove-meets-spearmint mouthwash and matching toothpaste, a vial of Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum, and a new personal favorite, Aesop’s Marrakech Intense Parfum. While all of Aesop’s products deliver on their promise of performance, the brand’s fragrances are the main selling point for me. The products that have taken up permanent residence in my house are generally the ones with scents I can’t get enough of — herbaceous, woody, and nature-adjacent in a kind of complicated, inexplicable way. They smell like a version of the future I want to live in.
I’ve never had the patience for facial masks, but this clay concoction both smells incredible (a mixture of rose geranium, primrose seed, and sage leaf) and actually feels like it’s doing something to me when I use it. Slathering this on my face once or twice a week for 15 minutes provides a reset and gives the tingling sensation of something that is magically leaching all the toxins from my face. It leaves the skin feeling toned, tightened, and remarkably renewed, which is no small feat for my bearded, aging visage. SHOP NOW
Aesop makes a variety of incredible moisturizers (the Geranium Leaf Body Balm is another fave), but this Rind Concentrate Body Balm is the one product I routinely use every day of my life. Made from some magic mixture of citrus rinds (pink grapefruit, orange rind, lemon rind), this lotion absorbs quickly, feels amazing on my skin, and packs a wild olfactory punch. The Aesop consultant who sold me my first bottle of this suggested storing it in the refrigerator for maximum effect, which turned out to be great advice. In the middle of NYC summer or after a hot soak, this balm, when served cold, is the ultimate refresher for the senses. SHOP NOW
Here’s something that no one tells you when you start to lose your hair, a lesson I had to learn myself as a balding man in his forties: You will need to remember to apply sunscreen on top of your head on every sunny day for the rest of your hair-losing life, even if your only daytime plan is taking a walk to the grocery store. I first encountered this Aesop sunscreen while visiting the Capella Hotel in Bangkok (where it is luxuriously provided poolside to all the guests), and was amazed that it was not only an effective, divine-smelling sunscreen (SPF 50), but also light enough to use as a daily moisturizer. And it works beautifully in concert with my existing arsenal of Aesop grooming products. It’s a summer essential that I now obsessively use year-round. SHOP NOW
Another favorite Aesop amenity often found in upscale hotels, this Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser does double duty in my house as the resident body wash in my shower and the perpetually on-offer hand soap in my kitchen. Subtly moisturizing with a long-lasting scent (geranium leaf commingling with mandarin and bergamot rinds), this is the perfect all-purpose soap as well as my favorite go-to gift for friends. Suitable for pretty much any occasion. SHOP NOW
My favorite Aesop product isn’t actually a toiletry, but a room spray that is just as much a part of my personal care routine as a lotion or a soap. A few spritzes of this spray act as a mood setter, atmosphere generator, and all-around agent of calm. Having spent the past three years working almost exclusively from home, I am constantly engaged in a battle of vibe — trying to make my apartment and home office as serene and stress-free as mood lighting, new-age music, and copious amounts of houseplants will allow. This process of invoking serenity also involves swanning through the apartment and misting this Istros Aromatique Room Spray at least two or three times a day. This particular home fragrance (which I was advised not to actually wear as a cologne when I asked at the Aesop store) is described as having notes of “pink pepper, lavender, and tobacco.” For me, the scent conjures something much sweeter — peace of mind. SHOP NOW
In search of more fragrant cult favorites?
T. Cole Rachel Writer
T. Cole Rachel is the deputy editor of Departures. A Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, and the Creative Independent.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.