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The Profitable Aromatherapy Customizing Bar

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: March 30, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Rebecca Kroll, front desk coordinator of The Still Point Mind and Body, a Wellness Spa in Takoma Park, MD, dispenses essential oil from a burette.

Rebecca Kroll, front desk coordinator of The Still Point Mind and Body, a Wellness Spa in Takoma Park, MD, dispenses essential oil from a burette.

Some of the most popular growing trends in spa and skin care revolve around natural, organic, green, holistic wellness, personalization, and the increasing interest in authentic essential oils. An essential oil aromatherapy bar for personalizing treatments and retail helps a skin care facility respond to these trends and meet the needs of clients requesting them. The bar is a system for customizing skin care treatments using the holistic healing potential of plant-based extracts and sustainable organic ingredients.

The authentic aromatherapy bar

To better understand what a therapeutically focused essential oil aromatherapy bar designed for customizing skin care treatments is, the differentiation between it and the familiar fragrance bar needs to be made. The majority of fragrance bars—that allow clients to choose their own customized perfume blend, or have a duplicate, so-called “natural,” version of their favorite brand made for clients—are not aromatherapy, and do not use authentic essential oils to create the blends and aromas. This is evident by their use of watermelon, strawberry, apple and other scents that cannot be naturally derived or do not exist as essential oils. These, along with musk, amber and others, are mainly synthetic perfume fragrances. The focus of these fragrance bars is fragrance, not the therapeutic and healing use of authentic essential oils.

An aromatherapy bar is focused on therapy, wellness and healing using authentic essential oils. Authentic essential oils, by definition, are the volatile (easily evaporated) fatty acids extracted from plants by steam, water/steam or water distillation, or pressed from the peels of fruits. These oils are extracted from an accurately defined plant source and location; for example, rose geranium extracted from Pelargonium graveolens grown and water/steam distilled in South Africa. Authentic essential oils are not altered or diluted once extracted. The popular marketingterm “therapeutic-grade” does not define the quality or value regarding essential oils. The quality of the extracted oils is of extreme importance, and is a topic that offers much debate and confusion.

To customize treatments and retail products with your aromatherapy bar, essential oils are selected and added to base formulas, such as face creams, body lotions, massage oils, masks and other similar spa and esthetic products that do not already contain a fragrance or essential oils. The selection of essential oils is based on a client consultation and chosen for physical health and skin condition, emotional issues and stress, environmental concerns and other holistically related conditions, and may also include a fragrance preference.

Tools and ingredients

An aromatherapy bar can be anything from a simplecollection of 12 authentic essential oils and two bases,to an elaborate setup featuring a full range of essential oils; an assortment of carriers and bases; and a barlikepresentation, including stools, burettes—glass tubes that deliver drops of oil—and decorative glass containers. It can be designed for treatment customization for both back-bar and retail products. The extent of services the bar will provide determines your product, equipment and training needs.