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The Language of Aromatherapy

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: November 29, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Aromatherapy is an artful practice and skillful science. Mastering it takes an intuitive nature and an expert ability to manipulate the chemistry of essential oils for a therapeutic purpose. Aromatherapy’s potential in esthetics, medicine and emotional health is tremendous, and even though aromatherapy has become popularized in spa and consumer products, it remains a somewhat elusive and ill-defined system of health and wellness. Most who work with essential oils know the challenges this presents when introducing aromatherapy services and products to clients.

Misguided and misinformed

Many people are confused by or completely misunderstand what aromatherapy really is. Marketing, media and product advertising has sold everything from synthetic scented candles to laundry detergent as aromatherapy. To top this off, the Internet is loaded with conflicting, amateur and just flat-out wrong information regarding essential oils and aromatherapy.

When you present a relaxing aromatherapy service to your clients, are you aware of their expectations and do you know what you are selling? What is aromatherapy doing to enhance your spa treatments?

The science of therapeutic aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the art, skill and science of using essentials oils from plants, fruits, woods and flowers for the therapeutic benefit of the body, mind and spirit. This is the common, yet simple and incomplete definition. However, essential oils—or, more accurately, their chemical components—are the basis of many pharmaceutical drugs. The oils have been scientifically documented for wound-healing, as antiviral and antibacterial agents, in anti-cancer research and in many other medical applications. It doesn’t matter whether the medicinal properties are known or whether a medical application is suitable for esthetics, the essential oils will provide their therapeutic healing activity when used, depending on application method and dose.

Essential oil therapy can be a unique and useful tool when taking a holistic whole-body approach to skin care. Stress, digestion and liver imbalance, UV radiation, environmental stress, inflammation, compromised immunity and poor circulation all factor in to damaged, aging and irritated skin conditions. Essential oils have shown effectiveness in providing protection from these factors, as well as treating or supporting positive systemic functions, making them useful in application for skin conditions.