Most of us are aware of the power of scent. The gentle aromas of Ylang Ylang soothing us into our spa treatment; familiar fragrances that transport us back in time to connect us with a particular person or place.
There is a fragrance for every mood, every occasion, and every person. Despite this, the perfume industry has not innovated as much as it could, largely distributing one-size-fits-all type creations and trading quality for profits instead. It has become Johanna Monange’s mission to change this.
After over 20 years in the industry – with a career spanning Paris, Shanghai, and the rest of Asia, developing major fragrances, such as Lancome’s ‘La Vie est Belle’ – Johanna Monange sought something that could combine her passion for perfumes with her values. Returning to what true ‘parfumerie’ is all about, Maison 21G was founded. Stemming from the strong belief that luxury lies in simplicity and that scent is above all, personal, Maison 21G allows customers to choose from, and mix, natural and sustainable essences, empowering them with the tools to not only build the perfect bespoke scent wardrobe, but also to learn about each individual aroma. Whether through attending a perfume-making workshop, taking Johanna’s AI-powered scent personality test, or simply engaging in a short conversation with the team, anyone can learn about the characteristics of essences. Discover how to correctly pair notes and learn what the best scents for the office, an interview, or a date are (hint: vanilla is great for dates, but to be avoided at the office). Customers can even experiment at home, through a Scent Discovery Set or a monthly subscription box.
Today, Maison 21G is thriving in its mission to make everyone a ‘scent designer’ and to ‘capture their soul in a bottle’ by turning luxury fragrances into a truly innovative experience. With two flagship stores in Singapore, in addition to sales agreements with major beauty players, like Sephora, across the region, Asia has become the Maison’s primary market. Then there’s the brand’s thriving e-commerce presence, which has seen an international customer base grow rapidly.
We sat down with Johanna in Singapore to learn from, and better understand, the beauty rituals of this scent guru.
The Scent Deep Dive
What are the benefits of scent (other than to smell good)?
Smell is our most powerful sense – we remember 35% of what we smell but only 5% of what we see. Scents can therefore make a statement to others about who you are. When made with natural ingredients, they also have the power of influencing different areas of our brains – for example, lavender is very soothing, whilst vanilla is appeasing, and a bit of an aphrodisiac. They can also have physical benefits, rose for example is known to fight wrinkles and ginger acts against cellulite.
What are the best scents to…
- To feel confident… Something woody, like a vetiver or sandalwood.
- To feel sexy… amber, definitely!
- To relax and uplift… neroli and orange blossom, or lavender.
- To energize… bergamot, ginger, or tobacco.
Favourite beauty and scent rituals to relax at home?
I love starting with a steamy shower and scrub, followed by a quick session under the sun to dry off, after which I moisturise and turn on a scented candle or spray a relaxing scent. Then I focus on my face, with a simple face scrub followed by a serum and mask. To conclude the ritual, I always put on one of my perfumes – whichever scent best fits my current mood.
The Beauty Haul
What are your must-do beauty rituals or treatments before you travel?
I always make sure that I am dressed nicely (I try to never look scruffy on the plane) and that I am really hydrated, drinking lots of water before and throughout!
I mostly don’t – unless I have nothing more than a carry on, half of my suitcase is usually filled with my big bag of products and perfumes. My beauty regime is like a ritual to me, I hate giving it up! When I really must however, I am occasionally willing to sacrifice my body cream and use the hotel one instead.
Do you prefer to pack travel minis or full-size beauty staples? And why?
Definitely full-size. Continuing my usual beauty rituals makes me feel more at home – especially when I am travelling for business.
Do you have a regular plane beauty routine?
Usually, I am running from meeting to meeting, so the first thing I do when I step on the plane, is change my clothes to something comfortable, take off my make-up and apply lots of hydrating serum and a cream with essential oils, such as rose.
How do you unwind when travelling?
I usually run to the spa when I can and pair that with a relaxing face cleansing ritual, rose-scented cream, and a sheet mask in my room. I also love to go for a run.
How do you overcome jet-lag skin/eyes when you land?
I hate jetlag, so I do everything to overcome it. When I arrive during the day, I always try to go for a run as soon as I get off the plane so that I wake up. I try to adjust to the new time zone from day 1, so staying awake, going to bed at an appropriate time, and waking up early are essential. To fall asleep, natural sleep aids like melatonin, a relaxing massage, or simply getting some work done and tiring myself out usually help a lot.
What’s your favourite country to shop for home-grown beauty products?
Definitely Korea! I loved exploring Seoul’s multitude of independent brands and working with creative beauty teams there – the innovation and diversity is just amazing. Every trip leaves me coming back with too many new products and hundreds of samples.
What’s been your favourite vacation spa so far?
The Six Senses, Oman. The location itself is breath taking, right next to a lake and a beautiful mountain, whilst the spa is home to 100% natural and sustainable products.
In Singapore, the Capella Hotel’s Spa is amazing for a weekend getaway.
What are your top beauty tips when travelling?
Definitely to double up on hydration and make sure you have super clean skin before the flight takes off. Doing a facial as soon as you land, followed by a Hammam session, can also help. I also think it’s really important to not ditch a sports routine or the right nutrition – lots of veggies and making sure your blood is circulating properly can go a long way.
What’s at the top of your beauty wish list right now?
I love trying new products and am still looking for something that can really top my list – at the moment I am on the search of more products with high-quality essential oils! But in general, I am a fan of the different Dior boosters and when I travel, the La Mer Crème Regénératrice Intense is a life saver.
The Packing Edit
THE PACKING LOWDOWN
Travel light or over-packer?
I travel light! Unfortunately, my suitcase has gotten lost too often, so it has forced me to become a real minimalist.
Hand luggage essential?
My beauty kit and a small perfume, a change of clothes and something to read
Spa facial or massage?
Both! Usually I start with a massage then do the facial.
Vacation air-dry or blow-dry?
Faux tan or au naturel?
Desert island product…
SPF 50… and ideally also mosquito repellent, a large hat, and towel plus a snorkelling set.