So I finally made it to Australia after a harrowing 20-hour flight ("harrowing" because it was two days after I had returned from Chile and the idea of getting back on a plane really didn't sit well with me). I guess, in hindsight, I didn't have it that bad. I had learned someone on my plane was not having a birthday in 2009 (we departed Sunday night and arrived Tuesday morning; his birthday was Monday).. how sad!

For the next few weeks, I'll be writing about grooming lines based here in Australia and New Zealand, and I can't be more excited. They have strict policies and thrive on "all natural" and "homemade." How patriotic! With that said, I thought it would be quite appropriate to write about Aesop, one of the very few brands that have made it to the states (with strong popularity). It's easily one of the most recognized, though no one actually identifies it with Australia (it actually birthed here in Melbourne, my first stop here on my trip).
One interesting note about Aesop is that it's not all natural. Not that they try to give the impression but I was always thought they were they were considering they come from the land down under where organic is a trend... even lifestyle.

I found this out with my visit to the Aesop store on Flinder's Lane. The employee was excited to talk about the brand and assured that their synthetic preservatives or man-made ingredients (which they aim to keep to a bare minimum) are complemented or replaced with botanical alternatives. The iconic packaging (if you're familiar with the brand) is in simple, dark containers that protect the contents form UV light and spoilage. The brand has been carefully thought out (from products to packaging to philosophy and even the store, which was entirely (and strikingly) made of cardboard to reflect an "organic, recycle-ready, environmentally aware" concept.

He gave me a handful of samples (thank goodness as I wanted to buy everything) and one that I was really intrigued with was the Oil Free Facial Hydrating Serum. It's geared toward oily skin as the consistency is more fluid, less cream. The Aesop expert said it was a top-selling product for men, who are sensitive to using creams, which have more of an appeal to women. Ok, fine, weird statement but I get it. It's best for those who prefer lighter moisturizers (in this case, men, who have thicker skin).

The active ingredient is pure aloe vera juice (aloe barbadensis leaf juice), the basis of this serum. Quite honestly, it took a few applications for me to get used to it. Instead of working harmoniously with your skin, it kind of just... stuck on. Kind of icky. and uncomfortable (though the hydration was definitely there). Pretty amazing for something so thin-based. But that's kind of it. The PEG 60 ingredient is considered hazardous (and, come on... castor oil??) and almond glycerides (also in the product) are mostly found in shampoos, bubble baths (basically anything ... bubbly). I'm not sure this is something I would use for myself (I do love the aloe vera though). Aesop actually started off as a hair care line... maybe they should stick with that.  (the Amazing Face Cleaner, on the other hand, was really nice (with mandarin rind, ylang ylang and lavendar stem)).