The New Secret Beauty Formula: Intention
At first it sounds beyond out-there: beauty company employees earnestly chanting to, praying over, even playing music to… jars of face cream. Or bottles of oil, tubes of cleanser.
But then consider the fact that people bless food all the time. Studies show hospital patients who are prayed for—even by strangers they never meet—do better than those who aren’t. Then there’s the work of Masaru Emoto, whose experiments on and photography of the effects of music, words, and intention on water became the bestselling The Hidden Messages in Water.
“People think it’s hippie hoo-ha,” says Annee de Mamiel, whose eponymous line of organic oils and skincare are treated to extensive prayer, meditation, and music before ever appearing on shelves (and also happen to be some of the most exquisite in the industry). “I don’t usually talk about it. But people try the product, and they feel something, and they’re curious why they feel it.”
“What we put on our skin can nourish and nurture our emotional happiness as well as nourishing the physical skin.”
At Sodashi skincare in Australia, employees meditate with the company’s meticulously crafted skincare as a group together every afternoon. “We want to ensure that the energy going into making the product is the best it can be,” says founder Megan Larsen. They also play an Ayurvedic rain melody in the laboratory to cleanse the space where the luxe, highly active skin treatments are made.
“The skin is an organ that is deeply emotional and subtly connected to our heart energy—and it holds a particular vitality for women,” says Denise Leicester, founder and chairman at Ila, where the healing chants used to bless the company’s wildly original and beautiful salts, oils, and scrubs also accompany the line’s spa treatments across the globe (and are actually for sale on CDs, too). “What we put on our skin can nourish and nurture our emotional happiness as well as nourishing the physical skin.” Leicester aims to reach her customer through a range of sensory experiences: on the skin, through aroma, touch, sight and hearing. “Each sense has such a subtle connection to our inner world and inner beauty,” she says.
All three companies are dedicated to the highest-quality, 100% clean and often organic ingredients. But they say that the results their customers see depend to a significant degree on the intentions behind the products, and the energy infused into them by practices like chanting and blessing. “I think of those water studies, the effects of positive words and positive intentions you can see in the water molecule,” says De Mamiel. “This is what energizes us, and it makes a difference in your skin on a cellular level.”
“I think of those water studies, the effects of positive words and positive intentions you can see in the water molecule—this is what energizes us, and it makes a difference in your skin on a cellular level.”
Any sort of energetic work involves some sort of a leap of faith, to be sure. And each of these formulators came to her process in an utterly unique way. For Leicester, it was the years she spent studying in India: “An area that really touched me was the way some Ayurvedic medicine (not all) was made, with consciousness and purity of intent,” she says. “The environments as well were spotlessly clean, energetically potent, and peaceful. Vedic chanting embraced and held an environment of healing. The medicine from these places had a potency and vibrancy beyond anything I had ever experienced.” When she came to develop her own line, she incorporated many of the things she had learned, from the sacred geometry of Vaastu design to chanting as part of the production process.
DeMamiel’s journey was different: “I had an illness, and spent a lot of time in a clinic in Mexico, where I was exposed to many different concepts about energy and how it affects us,” she says. Her process is based on many of those ideas (including Emoto’s theories about water) but has evolved on its own. “It’s about doing anything to increase the energy of the products,” she says. “We put crystals around the oils. As we macerate the herbs, we play music. As we add the base oils, we use more music, crystals, and meditation. Then when we add the flower essences, they sit out with music, too.” She estimates the whole process takes about six to eight weeks. She blends the oils the way a perfumer blends notes: “In the blending room we say blessings of love and grace and gratitude; I add the oils in a certain order, and I chant as I blend them. I like to burn frankincense as I do it, to clear the room—it’s sacred, energizing, and such a pure smell.” Each product has its own chant. Once the blend is ready I meditate. Usually three words of intention come up for me in that meditation, and I like to put those on the label. Then it macerates for two months.
That a customer trying one of her famous seasonal face oils for the first time may have no idea that any of this care and intention has gone into it is of no consequence for DeMamiel. “I don’t like to wave a flag about it,” she says. “We are emotional, physical, and chemical beings—it’s about having the oils be the most vital they can be. People sense and appreciate it, whether they know why or not.”
“We are emotional, physical, and chemical beings—it’s about having the oils be the most vital they can be. People sense and appreciate it, whether they know why or not.”
Customers’ understanding of the Ila process isn’t critical for Leicester, either. “Products blended in an environment that is imbued with beauty and harmony, and created with loving hands brings so many benefits,” she says. “I often think our ‘cooking’ at ila is love made visible—it expresses itself in our customers’ looking more radiant and glowing, and experiencing nurturing and nourishment at many levels.”
Larsen, too, talks about love: “A key ingredient in Sodashi skincare is the consciousness that goes into the product,” she says. “It’s made with love and it delivers joy—as well as amazing skincare benefits to our customers.”
The benefits, in the end, are what it’s all about: Take a bath with Ila’s oils or salts, smooth on De Mamiel’s face or body oil, cleanse with Sodashi’s bamboo-and-lavender-infused wash or exfoliating cleansing grains, and you do feel something different, something exceptional. It’s not that a product instantly spiritual-izes you (as if that were possible), it’s more that your skin—and spirit—picks up on the care invested in it and, ever so subtly, responds.