How to age well, stress less & sleep better, with our in-house expert, Fran Johnson

Neal's Yard Remedies

Neal's Yard Remedies

Writer and expert

Fran Johnson is our Product Development Manager, which means she and her team are the brains behind our award-winning formulations. She’s also a qualified aromatherapist and uses her deep understanding of essential oils to ensure our natural and organic skincare benefits the mind as well as the skin.

Fran spoke to us about how aromatherapy in skincare and body care can alleviate stress and help us sleep better.

"The creation of the Frankincense Intense™ collection came from a desire to show that skincare is more than just skin deep. We wanted to prove that our formulas, which prioritise protecting the planet and its people, are just as efficacious as brands that don’t prioritise sustainability."

Fran Johnson, Product Development Manager

Can you tell us a little bit about your job and how you combine being an Aromatherapist with being a Formulator?

I always feel incredibly fortunate that my job allows me to not only come up with ideas for new products, but to create new fragrances. My experience as an aromatherapist works really well alongside formulating skincare. As a qualified therapist, I can formulate based on application and consumer experience as well as science, and I always apply a holistic approach to formulating, taking body, mind and spirit into consideration.

How do essential oils used in skincare products help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality?

Essential oils are well known for their ability to work on both body and mind. Inhaling certain aromas can help slow breathing and promote a sense of calm. Adding essential oils into a warm bath before bed will help to relax both the muscles and mind.

Which essential oils are known to have calming properties, and how are they incorporated into skincare formulations?

Frankincense, lavender and neroli essential oils all help calm, either alone or as part of a fragrance blend. Frankincense resin is used to make glycerin in skincare products, while flower water can be made from a by-product of the steam distillation process which is used to make neroli and lavender essential oils. Lavender and neroli can both be used in their dried form to create a comforting herbal infusion.

The Frankincense Intense Lift™ collection uses our age-well secret: the world’s first organic frankincense essential oil, sourced from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree which grows wild in Oman. It’s clinically proven to have a relaxing effect when inhaled*, while Frankincense Active Phyto Complex helps protect collagen for an anti-ageing effect.**

* Based on a consumer trial with over 100 women when applying Frankincense Intense Lift™ Serum.

**From clinical trials

What role do organic ingredients play in aromatherapeutic skincare and how do they compare to synthetic fragrances and ingredients?

Using organic ingredients is primarily about treading lightly on the planet, as they are grown without any synthetic chemicals or herbicides, which can be harmful to nature and wildlife. Organic ingredients are also rich in beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can work alongside the body’s natural processes to support overall wellbeing.

While essential oils are known to help slow breathing and relax muscles, synthetic fragrances don’t have a beneficial physiological action on the skin.

How long does it typically take for someone to start experiencing the benefits of aromatherapeutic skincare for sleep and stress? Do you have any tips for maximizing these effects?

Using bath salts, oils and foams infused with essential oils in a warm bath will have an immediate relaxing effect. Combining your skincare and body care ritual with massage, breathing exercises or meditation will help to enhance the benefits.

Try setting your scene using aromatherapy candles in the bedroom or bathroom. Our Calming Candle is infused with a blend of rose and geranium essential oils, to soothe the senses, creating an atmosphere of pure calm.

Before bed, spritz our clinically proven Goodnight Pillow Mist across pillows and let the tranquil aroma of organic lavender lull you into a restful slumber.

Our Frankincense Intense™ collection is clinically proven to help you age well and stress less. Tell us about your journey towards the creation of the collection.

We sourced the world’s first organic and FairWild certified Boswellia sacra (frankincense) essential oil from Oman, which we then clinically tested for its positive impact on wellbeing.

The results from our clinical trials showed that the aroma of frankincense had an instant calming effect, with 84% of those tested saying that inhaling the aroma of our Frankincense Intense™ Lift Serum when applying it made them feel immediately relaxed.*

The creation of the Frankincense Intense™ collection came from a desire to show that skincare is more than just skin deep. We wanted to prove that our formulas, which prioritise protecting the planet and its people, are just as efficacious as brands that don’t prioritise sustainability. We had quite a clear picture in mind of the textures and after-feels we wanted to create for the collection, and the resulting products have proved to be very popular.

Of the aromatherapeutic skincare and body care products you use in your day-to-day life, what are some of your favourites and why?

Here are my current morning and evening rituals to help target signs of ageing and reduce stress throughout the day. 



  • Shower with Bee Lovely Bath & Shower Gel. It naturally uplifts with a blend of nourishing fair trade organic honey from Mexico and sun-ripened Italian and Mexican oranges to energise.


  • Moisturise with Frankincense Intense™ Lift Cream. Made with ultra-nourishing oils that help soften and restore, it’s clinically proven to have a profound antioxidant effect.*



  • Relax by having a warm bath before bed with Aromatic Foaming Bath. With a soothing blend of organic lavender, Spanish marjoram and geranium essential oils, it helps to unwind before sleep.



  • Treat with Beauty Sleep Overnight Serum. It targets fine lines with a smoothing tripeptide, while a soothing blend of essential oils works to calm.


  • Spritz Goodnight Pillow Mist over my bedding. With organic lavender, vetiver and mandarin, it’s clinically proven to improve sleep from the first night.*

I also always have a bottle of Organic Lavender Essential Oil to hand – it’s brilliant for skin irritations.   

*From clinical trials

  Warning: Essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. Add four drops of essential oil to 20ml of base oil, lotion or bath and shower gel for a 1% blend.