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The Allure of Aromatherapy

By: Michele Phelan
Posted: May 30, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Beautiful girl surrounded by rose petals.

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.

As a spa professional working in the skin care industry, it is probable you will have the opportunity to work with aromatherapy oils in your treatment room at some point during your career. If so, it is not enough to simply have a superficial understanding of the oils when you plan to incorporate them into your skin and body care treatments. A profound knowledge of this multifaceted science should first be acquired. In the following, get a closer look at several aspects of this ancient, yet everlasting, phenomenon that appears to become more fascinating with time.

What is an essential oil?

Essential oils contain potent, biological constituents and are found in certain aromatic plants. They have multiple healing capabilities and are extracted from different parts of various plant species. The constituents are an integral part of the plant and are often considered the life force or life blood of that plant. These constituents are what make essential oils so vital, as they have incredible medicinal properties. Each oil has its own unique fragrance, individual to the plant that possesses it. The fragrance is Mother Nature’s way of propagating the species, attracting pollinators and repelling predators.