In the dregs of winter, when the sun barely breaks through the oppressive cloud cover, my grey complexion is what I call Paris Winter Face. In this state, I find myself visiting the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for a presentation by a new skincare brand, Neuraé. Behind the proposition is the family that launched Sisley Paris in the 1970s. Neuraé bets big on the emerging science of “neurocosmetics”, the cosmetic field based on the brain-skin connection and how our emotions affect our skin. 

Neuraé roll-on boosters, £45 each
Neuraé roll-on boosters, £45 each

The Neuraé team, led by siblings Philippe and Christine d’Ornano, call this “emotional ageing”, and their in-house scientists have been researching the field for the past decade. “It’s a whole new way of treating the skin,” says d’Ornano. “We are just at the beginning.” 

Seven products target a loss of firmness and radiance, and increased sensitivity or redness, due to tiredness and stress. The core product is the Harmonie serum (£135), which has a zesty scent and a nice glow-to-dewy ratio. Three face creams (£115 each) are Joie, Énergie, and Sérénité – the latter being more of a nourishing balm that works well as a night cream. Small roll-on “boosters” (from £45) can top up the fragrance. D’Ornano reaches for Sérénité: “I am quite high-speed, I don’t need energy,” she jokes.

The benefits of aromatherapy on health and mood are well-established. But the olfactory element is just one part of Neuraé’s patent-pending NA3 technology. This trifecta includes “neuro-textures” – a cream that feels good and triggers a pleasurable reaction – and neuro-active ingredients. Neuraé uses around 10 ingredients proven to modulate the nervous system connected to the skin and improve its appearance, including red indigo extract, which limits cortisol production and strengthens the skin barrier, and Scutellaria alpina (alpine skullcap plant) extract, which helps to reduce skin stress by stimulating the GABA B receptors, thus reducing inflammation. (CBD is another, perhaps more familiar neuro-ingredient, not used by Neuraé but by the Swiss cosmetics brand ID Swiss Botanicals.)

D’Ornano walking her dog, Lily
D’Ornano walking her dog, Lily © Edouard Jacquinet

“We’ve been tracking neurocosmetics for the past 10 years,” says beauty market analyst Annie Johnstone, who cites Polish brand Arkana as a pioneer. “What started as a concept that sits within the wider ‘mood-boosting’ beauty trend has now evolved into something more advanced.” 

But talk of cortisol reduction and skin-brain connection are ripe for confusion. “[Neurocosmetics] can improve the skin’s appearance by modulating the complex nervous system at the skin level and nowhere else,” says Dr Jennifer Gubitosa, a pharmacist and cosmetologist who has researched the science extensively. “The skin barrier function against external aggressions is improved. It appears more hydrated and nourished, and its firmness and brightness are also improved.”

The patent-pending technology of Neuraé uses around 10 ingredients to modulate the nervous system connected to the skin
The patent-pending technology of Neuraé uses around 10 ingredients to modulate the nervous system connected to the skin

“What I was most impressed with was the diminishment in redness; this is something I fight the most,” says d’Ornano. “When you’re stressed and tired, it shows.”

For a few weeks, I slather on Joie in the morning and Sérénité at night. If I head out for the night, I try a little Énergie. They don’t necessarily advocate for this tailored approach, but I’m all in. After a few weeks, I have some comments on my appearance, including “bonne mine”. In France, this is perhaps the best compliment – it means having a rested face, and it works for any age. I’m happy with that. 

Neuraé will launch on 2 April at

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article