“It’s easy to make a natural product that’s not really natural,” says Matthew Milèo of the sneaky way that “dead” ingredients like solvents, emulsifiers, and fillers are slipped into many seemingly organic recipes. “But every drop needs to feed skin with nutrients,” he shares because “pores aren’t a cemetery for inactive ingredients.” After training for a decade at Chanel, the fragrance and wellness enthusiast was inspired to carry the elements of extreme luxury into the green market space with a four-piece collection of facial elixirs for his eponymous label MILÈO New York.
“Pores aren’t a cemetery for inactive ingredients.”
Debuting in February, the line’s first handmade batches (with only 45 bottles in each run) are a case study in purity. The final products, in all of their vivid blue, green, amber, and golden glory, look almost too good to be true, and I wondered as much after stumbling across the magical rainbow of botanical oils encased in heavy glass flacons a few weeks ago.
Keep scrolling to find out the ultra-potent powers of these facial elixirs.
Purity goes beyond organic
At first sight of the elegant packaging, I assumed that the ingredients inside would be riddled with chemicals and artificial fragrances. “Every ingredient is either organically cultivated, wildcrafted, or ethically farmed,” says Milèo of the 52 specimens he collected from around the world for his recipes. “Using organic doesn’t always mean the best specimen of that particular botanical species, and the GC/MS analysis will actually detect that,” he explains of the groundbreaking Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry analysis method that acts as a “truth machine” for ingredients.
In layman’s terms, this means that GC/MS can detect the purity of components, delivering an exact report of every known (and unknown) molecule present. “Many companies have no idea how many additives, synthetics, pesticides, or petrochemicals end up in their natural skin-care products,” shares Milèo of his mission to create a “100 percent active and undiluted” product, despite the increasingly tricky interpretations of natural ingredients.
“I used the maximum amount of volatiles that can be safe on skin, which is how I was able to cram in 3,000 flowers in every bottle.”
Now, receiving ingredients in glass containers via overnight international shipments so the specimens are fresh, unadulterated, and stable, he then methodically creates concentrated batches within his New York Lab Space. “I used the maximum amount of volatiles that can be safe on skin, which is how I was able to cram in 3,000 flowers in every bottle. The power of flowers is real.” The hardest part of completely nixing chemicals and synthetics? “Getting the colors right, and the fragrance to lock in and not fleet away.”
Aside from a veritable bouquet of benefits, at the heart of every elixir Milèo found a new use for an ancient powerhouse: Oud. Once reserved as a fine fragrance for kings and queens due to its expense and rarity, Oud is a result of a 100-year process of agarwood protecting itself against a parasitical attack, producing its very own survival resin. “It’s basically a warrior in combat that is constantly fighting to protect your skin against damage and toxicity—I designed Elixir Ouds to be inhaled during skin-care application, so you can breathe in the therapeutic biomolecules of Oud into the body as well, for its transformative and meditative effects.”
Which of the four formulas is right for you?
“If someone is experiencing more dryness and their skin craves moisture, then Maroc D’Azur is the Elixir Oud of choice. Nourishing and plumping to fill in dry lines and saturate the skin with extra moisture, it’s soft with a velvet-like texture. Moroccan blue tansy and Chinese osmanthus blossom are the power flowers here, stimulating new collagen so that skin becomes supple and bouncy again. Osmanthus is organically grown in China, but to reap its skin-care benefits, I had to make sure only fresh flowers were picked, and express-jetted to Grasse France, where they could be expertly distilled without hexane to preserve its nutrient integrity. What’s funny is that it’s transported in cold metal suitcases and handed off at a private airport in France like a suitcase full of ultra-rare diamonds—not kidding.”
“If radiance is your game, then Amber Fort is your player, as it immediately brightens the skin naturally. The secret is the fresh frangipani blossoms from Thailand, which are also express jetted to Grasse for artisanal extraction. Pink lotus flowers gently slough away surface cells to renew the skin’s surface with the natural alpha hydroxy acids (not chemical AHA’s). In order to preserve the natural AHA in Pink Lotus, only blossoms picked on the third day of harvest are used in Amber Fort, to give it its exfoliating magic—this is why it delivers a smooth, silky finish.”
“There is double the amount of Oud in Monte D’Oro, which is why it’s the most expensive. This is your overnight repairer that regenerates new skin cell growth and reverses existing cellular damage thanks to immortelle, elemi, and white ginger lily, all working together to lift and strengthen skin’s support structure. Philippine elemi actually contain protein stimulators, that strengthen the collagen in the skin, but the fresh resin needs to be distilled at the moment of extraction (which I call first fraction, as listed on the ingredient label). I also use two different extractions of the Immortelle, but only one species, which is Helichrysum italicum, because that particular species contains the powerful anti-inflammatory molecules. Applying this Elixir Oud at night gives you a fine satiny finish that allows you to wake up to dewy, vibrant skin in the morning.
“My favorite is the one that was the hardest for me to make, I went through the most drafts with this one because the aromatic volatiles were tricky to work with and the green springtime color was extremely challenging to achieve. Labyrinthe Vert refines, soothes, and perfects the skin with the astringent power of Thai magnolia blossom while Bulgarian zdravets flower lightens dark spots and skin discolorations. French violet leaf clears away imperfections, tightens up pores, and smooths while also balancing and clarifying any eruptions or congestion in the skin. It’s the perfect face oil for everyone, as it leaves a fresh, shine-free finish.”