You don’t have to be an earth mother to get on board with Subtle Energies, the beauty and wellness brand founded by Farida Irani and based on principles of Ayurvedic aromatherapy. Blending ancient wisdom and modern science, Irani has created a line of products that has proved popular with Hongkongers, from the shoppers at Joyce Beauty to spa guests at The Peninsula, who love the results-driven treatments created exclusively for the hotel. (Globally, the line is also available at hotel/resort spas such as Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay and Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives).
But while Big Beauty Brands sitting under the umbrella of corporate giants like LVMH, L’Oreal or Shiseido love to tout stats and figures, new miracle ingredients or scientific discoveries, Subtle Energies is relying on the world’s oldest philosophies to create measurable improvements to the face and body, whether we’re talking about a massage oil that’s geared towards babies or body mist intended to de-stress corporate bankers.
We spoke to Irani about how exactly Ayurvedic aromatherapy works to improve the body, and got tips on which products best suit a variety of unique concerns.
How exactly can you apply Ayurvedic principles to skincare products?
Our blends and formulas work on the principles of Ayurveda, which is based on different body types and the presenting condition prevailing. For example, for a Pitta-oriented problem (a fire and water element), we would use ingredients that are cooling and nurturing, such as essential oils of mogra, Indian rose, kewda and cooling base oils of brahmi and amla. The base oils are cold-pressed vegetable oils full of nutrients and vital essential fatty acids that penetrate the body as well
Ayurveda and aromatherapy are often perceived as being warm and fuzzy but not terribly results-oriented. What’s the secret in your potions that makes them so effective?
That is a misconceived opinion view of Ayurveda and Aromatherapy. Those who look into it further will realise that they are time tested, in-depth sciences. Ayurveda itself is over 5,000 years old in written texts and involves eight branches of medicine including surgery, psychiatry and toxicology. With aromatherapy there is a perception that these oils are just for relaxing, not realising the potency they can have on a therapeutic level or even specifically for anti-ageing benefits such as cellular regeneration, pigmentation issues and hormonal imbalances. Our products come from a clinical space that has evolved over 20 years, and it’s that clinical research combined with the reputation our active ingredients and oils have, that provide results.
Some of your products are quite unusual. Tell us more about them.
The Bliss Blend has the mogra, which is a euphoric active ingredient known also as the queen of jasmines. It’s a rare type of jasmine that is known for its cell renewal benefits – it promotes collagen synthesis, assists with pigmentation, and is also known as the “oil of joy”, helping one de-stress. Also in this blend is Kashmir lavender and kewda (the fragrant screw pine) which is known as the dream oil, blended in the base of brahmi, which is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, making this blend perfect as a bed time ritual for those struggling to sleep, while also acting as an enriching moisturiser soothing and cooling the skin.
Baby Massage Blend
In India, babies are massaged daily to keep them healthy, happy and strong. It is primarily made up of rare vegetable actives such as wild Himalayan apricot kernel, lotus macerated in sesame, ashwagandha, and amla, a potent but nurturing antioxidant also known as dhatri in Sanskrit, which means wet nurse.
1st Trimester Blend, 2nd & 3rd Trimester Blend, Final 2 Weeks Blend
These [three different products] are carefully crafted for every stage of pregnancy and extensively used within my clinical practice. The trimester blends are great for stretch marks and skin, but are also beneficial in preparing mother and child for the final two weeks, using a very unique ingredient called davana, which is excellent for a variety of conditions but is used specifically for fortifying mother and baby for the upcoming birth.
Aura Protection Body Mist
This special blend of grounding and protective oils contains saffron, which is very grounding. Tulasi, which eliminates negativity, is great for decision-making. Rhu khus nurtures the heart chakra, bringing in prosperity and abundance, Limbu and Indian rosewood refresh and clear the mind of fogginess, also calming nausea. It’s a wonderful tool for meditation and cleansing, but we are finding that the most interesting trend for this product is that a lot of corporate executives are implementing this mist in their office space and board rooms, using it for its productivity and decision making benefits and its ability to ground you in times of high stress.
Rasayana Detox Blend
This formula is a yummy and zesty blend using tulasi, wild turmeric and limbu, the Indian lime. Great for detoxification and blood purification as the name suggests, it’s an excellent morning blend, kick-starting the adrenals and alleviating adrenal stress. It’s great for anyone toning and looking for a tool to assist their fitness or yoga practice.