One hot Summers day (this is how all good stories start) I walked into an Aesop store and did that thing we all do when we walk into a cool store. I said to the staff, "It's so much nicer in here than it is out there. It's so hot outside!" If they didn't already know that it was hot (because perhaps I am the first person they've talked to all day) they would have been able to tell by my plum red face and not so subtle sweat patches (Aesop staff don't sweat btw, they just feel mildly flushed & mist themselves in scented Antipodes water).
Also, I've since discovered that Aesop's customer service manual forbids staff from talking about the weather, so my comment surely threw a spanner in the works.
I started sniffing around at the testers and moseying my way through the store when all of a sudden a small, mousey woman popped up beside me and stood silently, holding a shallow dish of liquid with a flower floating in it - at leasts that's how I remember it.
We both stood staring at the dish for what felt like an entire minute.
Finally I asked: "What's that?"
"Blood orange water," she replied.
I didn't really know if it was a question or a statement. So I awkwardly raised my hands and started soaking my fingernails in the shallow dish of water, as if I was at a cheap nail salon where they made you stand up.
Confusion registered on both of our faces.
"What does this do?" I asked the woman.
She looked at me with slight concern in her eyes. "It's water. It's for you to drink."
That whole store is a maze of confusion, especially for your average joe, like me! So I decided to compile a How To Survive Aesop Without Looking Like A Dick guide for me to throw into a time travelling vortex and save myself the embarrassment of having to slowly remove my hands out of the dish of water* and find a way to leave the store without making it look like I was leaving because I put my dirty, sweaty fingers into a glass of water.
1. Navigating the staff
If you don't like being touched by strangers then you should probably buy your skincare range from a different store because Aesopians are VERY touchy-feely. I personally like it, sometimes I'll go in solely for the purpose of getting a free hand massage. I love how they softly rub your hand, massaging the product in and patting you down with your own little towelette. It's really hard to know what to do with your other hand and where to look when a stranger is seductively rubbing your hand. Sometimes I make accidental eye contact and wonder if we might be in love.
Also, be prepared to be spoken to at an extremely soft and slow pace. You might be worried that they are having a stroke, they aren't, it's just the Aesopian way. Try not to stare into their eyes for too long or you'll end up accidentally buying a whole case of After Poo Drops.
2. Get Free shit
Aesopians are also known for giving you a whole bunch of free stuff, it's bloody great. All you have to do is feign interest in a particular product that they're sprucing, then feign disinterest and then all of a sudden you'll have a fuckload of it in tiny sachets at your disposal.
Also, they usually have a free squirty thing out the front of the store, so if you've got some place nice to be and have a zero level shame gauge, then scoot on past and squirt yourself in free cream (that sounded dirrrrrty.)
(I don't mean to take the piss Aesop god, you're actually super generous with your sample policy, please don't black list me).
3. Know what you want before you go in
It can be easy to get bamboozled in that place. Everything smells great, the staff keep smiling at you and life just seems like a sweet smelling dandelion. That's all well and good, but while Aesop products are pretty damn amazing, they ain't cheap, so you really want to know what you're looking for before venturing in.
Have a look online to see what they offer. Don't bother with the expensive soap, that's for grown ups and honestly, soap is soap. I do have a few personal favourites that I can share with you:
Cleanser, Toner and Moisturiser
From L to R: Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser (Camomile & Lavender Clay), Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Toner, Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Hydrator.
Like I said above, it ain't going to be cheap, but these are the three products that I use on a daily basis and my skin has never felt better. Whilst you'll fork out a bit at the start, used sparingly they will last you for a quite a few months. Smells great. Feels great. Is great.
Gosh, this stuff just smells fkn delicious. If I had to describe it, it'd say it's like something that you'd ice a carrot cake with, it has the same consistency as cake icing too. Highly nourishing and hydrating. 10/10 would recommend.
Sometimes, if I'm having sex with someone, I'll pop a bit of this in some secret places (behind the knees, elbows, back of the neck) so I'll smell naturally lovely.
'Secret places' does not mean your genitals. Do not put this on your genitals.
Post- Poo Drops
These ones are absolutely essential, especially if you're living in a share house. Think of them like miracle drops, your saving grace. All you need is one, two or three (if it's a biggie) drops and your bathroom will be smelling of beautiful citrus, which is much, much better than the alternative...much better.
Makes for a wonderful housewarming gift...or just for someone who you know has issues with their bowels.
4. Beat em' to the door
Now this might not be an issue for all of you socially functioning humans, but for me, my social anxiety flares up massively when something unusual happens in a familiar situation. I hate it when people clap at the end of a movie, I hate it when people don't clap at the end of a live singing performance and I really hate it when people yell at the bus driver. At Aesop they don't just let you pay for your stuff and walk away. No, they spend ages packaging it up neatly, like that scene in Love Actually, and then they walk all the way around the 10 metre long counter and walk you to the door to bid you farewell. That just freaks the hell out of me. So yeah, be wary of that.
* Honestly, I don't think I'm 100% to blame for that mishap. It most certainly wasn't a cup of water, it was an extremely shallow dish and who just stands there holding a shallow dish of water without saying anything other than Blood Orange Water? How about saying: "You look parched, can I offer you something to drink?" or "Here's a glass of water, it's for you to put in your mouth." Ffs.
Kate Neilson loves a nice up of tea in bed and feel awkward writing about herself in the third person. She is the founding editor of Twenty Something Humans and can be lurked at @katiepotatierose.
Read all of Kate's articles here.