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The Allure of Aromatherapy

Michele Phelan June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Beautiful girl surrounded by rose petals.

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By now most everyone has had the pleasure of encountering aromatherapy, which is sometimes known as essential oils, in some way. Many of your clients have likely experienced the relaxing effects of a lavender-infused bath after a stressful day of work or perhaps treated themselves to the soothing relief of an aromatherapy massage.

Likewise, many skin care manufacturers have found it advantageous to incorporate these oils into their products, using them as active ingredients and fragrances. It is obvious that essential oils are added to just about everything today, from skin care and hair products to room diffusers and fragrant candles, as they complement any environment and inspire feelings of well-being.

Aromatherapy has been touted and promoted by so many different industries as of late it seems that the term is exercised more frequently than the true practice itself. So it is not surprising that aromatherapy is often perceived by misinformed consumers as nothing more than a feel-good therapy. The truth is, there is much more to these extracts than meets the eye—or rather, the nose. Aromatherapists, herbalists and naturopaths have been successfully treating their clients with aromatherapy for years.

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Aromatherapeutic Oil Groups

Functional Group

Essential Oil

Phenol: Powerfully antibacterial, stimulates blood and warms the skin; can be sensitizing and irritating, especially to sensitive skin

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Alcohol: Excellent skin toner, antimicrobial and healing

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin)

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)

Carrot seed (Daucus carota)

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Acid: Moisturizing, antiseptic, antiviral and helps to soothe inflamed skin

Frankincense (Boswellia ssp.)

Aldehyde: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-edema; may be irritating to some skin types

May chang (Litsea cubeba)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum blume)

Lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)

Melissa (Melissa officinalis)

Ester oxide: Mentally stimulating and antiviral; helps to break up lung congestion and has a camphorous scent

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globolus)

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis var. decumbens)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Keytone: Antimucous, healing, analgesic and antiviral

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis var. decumbens)

Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Coumarin: Anticoagulant, sedative and uplifting; may cause photosensitivity

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Most citrus essential oils

Ester: Relaxing, antifungal and soothes muscles

Lavendar (Lavandula augustifolia)

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia subsp. bergamia)

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)

Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum)

Monoterpene and sesquiterpene:

Antibacterial, healing and mentally stimulating

German chamomile (Matracaria recutita)

Carrot seed (Daucus carota)

Orange (Citrus sinensis)

Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Lemon (Citrus limonum)

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Scented Suggestions

Scented Suggestions

The following are some ideas on how to integrate essential oils into your spa treatments.

  • Add 15 drops to a 2 oz. amber glass spritzer bottle filled with distilled water and use as a toner
    or a room deodorizer.
  • Blend several drops into a tablespoon of unsaturated fatty oil and use as a massage oil.
  • Infuse several drops into a warm damp towel, or compress and use it to remove a mask.
  • Add a drop to a creamy facial mask, cleanser or moisturizer.
  • Diffuse into the air through a diffuser made for essential oils.
  • Add several drops to an aromatherapy steamer.

Author’s note: Essential oils normally should not be applied directly to the skin. Instead they
should be added to a carrier substance, such as distilled water or a vegetable oil, and be sure to keep
them away from the eyes.

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