Aromatherapy Basics

Introduction

Aromatherapy can be an excellent resource for many successful services within a salon menu list. There are virtually no limits to the increase in revenue that aromatherapy treatments can offer, because it can be added to and thus expand most of the current services being offered. The pleasant fragrances that will fill the air are the perfect advertisement to other clients for this thoroughly personalized service. With a new increased awareness among consumers of the benefits of aromatherapy (see “The Science of…”), it can become an important tool in gaining and maintaining that competitive edge in the beauty industry.

There are two essential elements to any aromatherapy recipe: First, the actual essential oil or oils that have the particular aromatherapy benefits you are seeking. Secondly, the carrier oil which dilutes and carries the essential oil onto the skin; thus allowing it to be absorbed by the skin,. Almost all essential oils are too strong to be used neat (that is straight, undiluted). Also, essential oils are not actually oily, thus another reason for the need for the carrier oil in the blend.

Carrier Oils

Carrier oils, also referred to as base oils or vegetable oils are used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before applying to the skin. They “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. Different carrier oils offer different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought.

Carrier oils are generally cold-pressed vegetable oils derived from the fatty portions of the plant. Unlike essential oils that evaporate and have a concentrated aroma, carrier oils do not evaporate or impart their aroma as strongly as essential oils.

Examples of carrier oils are sweet almond, apricot kernel, grape-seed, avocado, peanut, olive, pecan, macadamia nut, sesame, evening primrose, walnut and wheat germ. Most oils bought in the grocery store are not cold-pressed. Instead, the oils are heated and therefore have less therapeutic benefit. Mineral oil is not used in aromatherapy because mineral oil is not a natural product. It is also said that mineral oil can prevent essential oil absorption into the skin.

Essential oils do not go rancid. Carrier oils, however, can go rancid. Carrier oils that you purchase should be natural and unadulterated. Exceptions include carrier oils that have natural vitamin E added. Vitamin E acts as a natural preservative.

Powerful, yet delicate, essential oils are thought to work in two ways:

  1. By breathing in the aromas (smell) of the substance, thus carrying it to the lungs, which then transports these very small molecules into the bloodstream and finally the brain, where they exert their effects.
  2. Via direct absorption through the skin and into the bloodstream, and finally the brain.

Extracts of plants and roots are what make an essential oil. They are very concentrated yet fragile in their raw form. Because they have a very small molecular size, they can be absorbed by human cells. Essential oils are thought to have a direct healing quality to human hair, skin and nails because of their ability to be directly absorbed by keratin (the protein which makes up each).

List of Essential Oils

Peppermint, Mentha Piperita: Useful in treating headaches, muscle aches, digestive disorders such as slow digestion, indigestion, and flatulence.

Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Globulus or Eucalyptus Radiata: Helpful in treating respiratory problems, such as coughs, colds, and asthma. Also helps to boost the immune system, and relieve muscle tension.

Ylang Ylang, Cananga Odorata: Helps one to relax, and can reduce muscle tension. Good antidepressant.

Geranium, Pelargonium Graveolens: Helps to balance hormones in women, good for balancing the skin. Can be both relaxing and uplifting, as well as antidepressant.

Lavender, Lavandula Angustifolia: Relaxing, and also useful in treating wounds, burns, and skin care.

Lemon, Citrus Limon: Very uplifting, yet relaxing. Helpful in treating wounds, infections, and house cleaning and deodorizing.

Tea Tree, Melaleuca Alternifolia: A natural anti fungal oil, good for treating all sorts of fungal infections including vaginal yeast infections, jock itch, athletes foot, and ringworm. Also helps to boost the immune system.

Roman Chamomile, Anthemus Nobilis: Very relaxing, and can help with sleeplessness and anxiety. Also good for muscle aches and tension. Useful in treating wounds and infection.

Rosemary, Rosmarinus Officinalis: Very stimulating and uplifting, good to help mental stimulation as well as to stimulate the immune system. Very good for muscle aches and tension. Stimulating to the digestive system.

Specific Uses, Contraindications and Recipes

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