SCENTS AND OILS

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Cover Story -

ALEXAN­DRA SOVERAL, FACIALIST

Alexan­dra Soveral, wear­ing bright red lip­stick and a white lab coat, is lay­ing out glass jars, pipettes and cylin­der beakers in her makeshift lab at her west Lon­don sa­lon. Huge bot­tles of es­sen­tial and base oils are lined up in a cab­i­net.

Th­ese days, she treats celebrity clients who fly her out to New York and LA to ex­pe­ri­ence her be­spoke fa­cials and oils, as well as the fash­ion set in Lon­don, but hand­made is noth­ing new to Soveral. She be­gan craft­ing po­tions of rose wa­ter as a lit­tle girl, col­lect­ing petals from her gar­den. I tell her that I did the same thing, but hers sounds a much more pro­fes­sional set-up: her mother worked in a ster­il­i­sa­tion lab in her na­tive Por­tu­gal, so Soveral had ac­cess to ethanol – the key to your rose wa­ter not go­ing mouldy within days. “I would save all the jam jars from around the house, and then go around the gar­den col­lect­ing petals and bark,” she says. “I’d put them in jars of ethanol, and store them all in a suit­case un­der my bed.” It would drive her mother mad.

As an adult, she be­came fas­ci­nated by skin­care af­ter strug­gling with se­vere acne. Af­ter four years of re­search (she stud­ied phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence at uni­ver­sity, in­clud­ing sev­eral mod­ules in bio­chem­istry), she launched her com­pany in 2005 with its em­pha­sis on us­ing cut­ting-edge sci­ence with the purest nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents.

As word about her be­spoke but nat­u­ral ap­proach spread, she says she was re­ceiv­ing “about five emails a day from peo­ple who wanted to make their own oils at home”. So ear­lier this year she started stock­ing on her web­site ev­ery­thing peo­ple would need to cre­ate their own be­spoke oil, from base oils to es­sen­tial oils, in­clud­ing recipes to try at home.

My own sci­ence les­son starts with Soveral wav­ing pipettes of es­sen­tial oils un­der my nose to con­coct my be­spoke fra­grance. She says she par­tic­u­larly loves laven­der be­cause it has so many ben­e­fits, from an­tibac­te­rial to an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory and even, as a study re­cently showed, anti-de­pres­sive pow­ers. Next, we choose the blend of base oils (base oils are less po­tent than es­sen­tial oils, and are nor­mally veg­etable oils de­rived from the fatty parts of a plant e.g. al­mond, avo­cado or co­conut oil). To com­bat win­ter skin, she sug­gests pome­gran­ate, which has high vi­ta­min C con­tent. We mix them to­gether and pour into a ster­ilised bot­tle, com­plete with a per­son­alised la­bel, ready to be gifted. “It’s such a thought­ful and per­sonal present,” she says. For more de­tails visit alexan­drasoveral.co.uk

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