SCENTS AND OILS
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