In its telling, and retelling (and retelling), the origin story of the first Aesop hand cream has slipped from being an anecdote of happy happenstances into a looming legend, shrouded in a mystique as intriguing, compelling and occasionally smile-inducing as an oft-orated fable of yore.
It should come as no surprise that a company named in honour of the great Greek fabulist has a few good yarns up its sleeves. And no fable in the Aesop canon is worth recounting more than that of our very first product for the skin, Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm.
For some, the initial encounter with Resurrection happens just outside an Aesop store where a bottle—strategically placed at the front door—often beckons to passers-by. Others may be introduced to this woody citrus concoction when it is bestowed upon them as a gift, encountered in a reputable restaurant’s loo, or spotted among the intriguing items on a friend’s bathroom countertop.
No matter the mode of discovery, Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm makes a singular first impression...
It begins on a wintry day in Melbourne, with a chance encounter between long-lost friends—a hairstylist and a manicurist. The hairstylist, who would later turn his business into Aesop, asks the manicurist if she would conduct her services for customers awaiting ever-so-slightly-late hair appointments. The manicurist agrees to this proposal, and her presence in the salon becomes a hit with clients, who find they barely notice their appointments running ‘a little’ behind schedule when complimentary nail treatments and hand massages are part of the bargain. There is just one small spanner in the otherwise well-oiled machinery of this scenario—a complaint from the manicurist: if the other staff members can work with superb hair products created in-house that fill customers with delight, why should she have to make do with uninspiring formulations by the usual hand-care suspects?
The manicurist’s lament is heard, and the hairstylist sets to work addressing it. He mixes a concoction of his own devising that might satisfy the brief: an ad-hoc but alluring melange of Almond, Orange, Mandarin, Lavender, and Rosemary extracts. The result is a fragrant batter that does precisely what its creator hopes it will do—hydrate the hands of salon clients while providing an entrancing olfactory uplift. Yet one concern remains: the mixture is rather oily, and leaves the hands greasy.
Back to the drawing board, the hairstylist refines his creation pour les mains, adding ingredients to turn the oil into a cream, as well as extracts of Carrot, Wheatgerm, and Vitamin E to make it more hydrating for the skin.
And that is how the first Aesop hand product came into being: Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm—the initially improvised formulation that launched a thousand formulations, so to speak.
The great fabulist concluded each of his fables with a summary of its moral. The moral of the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm story: follow your nose—and your manicurist.
‘If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.’Anatole France