Features

The Harry Potter potions we want in real life

Good luck? Best friends? Eternal life? You can’t get those down the Muggle chemist.

The potion class storeroom from the Chamber of Secrets
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

In the grand, neverending game of ‘imagining that magic is real’, potions tend to get sidelined next to the quicker, flashier potential of the wand. But that’s unfair. For a wand may be able to curse a bully, or Transfigure a teacher, but potions are a subtle art – one that translates into strong, effective magic, the kind that would come mighty useful in everyday life. Potions such as…

Felix Felicis

You’ll know Felix Felicis as ‘liquid luck’, the potion capable of making any drinker lucky for a period of time, during which they will succeed at almost anything they put their mind to. Harry used it in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to make sure that he succeeded in grilling Horace Slughorn, and later to protect him and his friends in duels against Death Eaters. Boring!

Think of all the other uses. You could take a few drops before a multiple-choice exam, ensuring that you ace every answer. Or maybe a job interview, which you’d leave as Employee of the Year. Nervous about a date? Well, prepare to be the most charming person who ever lived. But why stop there? Think bigger! Shoot an arrow blindfolded! Run for President! Play the lottery!

But beware: if taken in excess, Felix Felicis can prove highly toxic, and could make you very ill; which, ironically, would be rather unlucky.

A bottle of Felix Felicis
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Beautification Potion

Beauty, of course, is a strange, subjective thing. Is it inside of all of us? Is it in the eye of the beholder? Or is it, in fact, bottled and sold by Madam Primpernelle down in Diagon Alley?

Yes, for all those feeling crushed by this harsh, superficial world, for everyone who feels like they’re not living up to society’s unrealistic standards of beauty, there’s the Beautification Potion, the concoction that turns you into a storybook prince/princess. It erases your blemishes, it whitens your teeth, it transforms your body into that of a Greek statue, along with alluring voice and seductive scent. It’s the apex of conventional beauty, and doesn’t stop with your physical appearance, either. For the Beautification Potion is also said to overhaul your personality, making you more charismatic, confident and charming. Where was this stuff when we were growing up?

The seven potions testing logic that protect the Philosopher's Stone.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Gregory’s Unctuous Unction

Look, we all get lonely from time to time; we all occasionally spend our Friday nights holding a bit of wood, shouting ‘Expelliarmus!’ at our pillows. It’s okay. It’s natural. Sometimes all you want is a friend.

Let’s introduce Gregory’s Unctuous Unction, the potion that causes the drinker to believe that they are your best friend. Finally! Someone to watch Harry Potter films with! Someone to read Harry Potter books with! Someone to dress up and re-enact – okay, okay. Maybe we’re getting carried away.

But still, friendship! Yeah, sure, it might not be real friendship, but what’s a little deception between friends?

Draught of Peace

The world can be a scary, overwhelming place, and that can often lead to us feeling anxious or panicked. The magical solution to this, of course, is a potion: the Draught of Peace, a concoction that’s designed to ease the agitation of whoever drinks it. For example, Madam Pomfrey was known to prescribe the potion to students who are suffering from exam stress. We could think of a few other scenarios in which it could come in useful, but for now we’ll just have to settle for a cuppa.

Madam Pomfrey tends to petrified students in the hospital wing
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Elixir of Life

This is the big one: the Elixir of Life, the potion of immortality. You’ll no doubt recognise it as the subject of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, where it’s positioned as one of the most sought-after potions of the wizarding world – especially by Lord Voldemort.

But you’re not Lord Voldemort. You’re just an easygoing Muggle who doesn’t want to die. Who can’t relate to that? To never live your life in fear of death; to never worry about the future; to witness the passing of the ages, to see empires rise and empires fall; to see the full breadth of human potential; to ride hoverboards; to witness the end of the universe itself…

But, of course, you can stop taking it at any time.

Philosopher's Stone prop, from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
One of the Philosopher's Stone props created for the first Harry Potter film. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.