Is neuroscience the future of beauty?

With new launches from Sisley and Charlotte Tilbury, we want our beauty to give us the feels, says Ellie Davis

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Ellie Davis15 April 2024

The worlds of beauty and science are inextricably linked — you simply cannot have effective or safe formulations without the involvement of cosmetic chemistry. Yet there’s another principle emerging as an interesting proposition.

Neuro-cosmetics explores the relationship between the products that we apply and their effect on the brain. Our skin is a reflection of our brain — and vice versa. When we’re stressed, breakouts can appear, yet when we’re tired we may present dull complexions.

Neuraé is exploring this as the first neuroscience-based skincare brand. The Sisley-owned label is drawing attention to the science of emotions. Through its five-strong line-up that includes a serum, emulsion and boosters, it is designed to go beyond the skin to the mind, calming stress, energising and enhancing radiance through neuromodulating active ingredients and sensorial experiences.


Jane Ollis, medical biochemist and environmental scientist, says the ritualistic application of skincare can work to reduce stress. ‘By taking control of your stress and feeling like you are doing something, you feel good about it.’ More so than the impact of skincare on mood, she is interested in the role of fragrance. ‘Our nose is a direct route into our brain’s limbic system (which is important for regulating emotions, forming memories etc), unlike sound and sigh, which have to go through pre-processing steps.’

For this reason, aromatherapy is commonly used to treat mental health issues by stimulating serotonin and endorphins. This has been considered by Charlotte Tilbury, whose new sextet of fragrances launching at the end of April, created with neuroscientists, explores six emotions. While Ollis stresses how scent associations are highly personal and explains the challenge in ‘capturing the generic scent of love’, it’s hard to resist the allure of More Sex, the warmth of Joyphoria or the serenity of Calm Bliss.