What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted volatile oils (essential oils) from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body and spirit by the treatment or prevention of disease.
Essential oils have been used by many cultures around the world for centuries. Evidence has shown that the Egyptians, Chinese, Indians and Greeks used aromatic oils as early as 4500 B.C.!
What are essential oils?
Essential oil is a 100% natural volatile aromatic material derived from a flower, leaf, roots, resin or fruit of a plant. It is contained within special oil glands and must be extracted through water distillation, mechanical processing (expression or cold pressing) or solvent extraction process (absolutes).
The amount of extraction and aroma differ depending on weather, environment and the feature of each plant.
Essential oils are ideal multi-active ingredients for cosmetic use (skincare): they are tiny molecules that travel through the skin whenever they are applied topically which is why they are so efficient for repair, calming or regenerating effects. Other benefits of essential oils: anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, sedating, uplifting, and much much more.
Examples of essential oils: rose, jasmine, chamomile, lavender, lemon, grapefruit.
Why using only organic certified essential oils?
The energy, vitality and aroma of essential oils depend very much on how the plant is grown. Adulterated essential oils increase the likelihood of an adverse response and hence the need for pure, authentic, chemical free essential oils is of the utmost importance.
Organic Harmony therefore offers only the best organic essential oils available, certified by independent certifying bodies.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols, also known as hydrolates or floral waters, are the aqueous product of distillation and carry the hydrophilic properties (water-soluble components) of the plant in solution as well as microscopic droplets of essential oils in suspension. They are mainly used as facial toners but can also be used alone as room sprays.
Examples of hydrosols: rose, chamomile, lavender, neroli.
What is a carrier oil?
When we speak in aromatherapy and skincare of an “oil” we mean a “lipid” or “fat”.
Also known commonly as Vegetable, Nut or Seed Oil, or carrier oil or base oil – these oils are by nature “oily” or “fatty” and they form a slippery layer on the skin for massage as well as providing nutrition and moisture to the skin in skincare. They are perfect for blending essential oils so that they may be used on the skin and they are part of the emulsification process in skincare that leads to the formation of a cream.
The main difference between oils and essential oils are that oils are lipids “fats” and essential oils are not. Essential oils are hydrophobic and lipophilic which means they are water-hating and fat-loving molecules. Essential oils will never dissolve in water alone so they must be blended with oils or fats of any kind to be solubilised.
Example of vegetable oils: jojoba, avocado, sesame, sweet almond, sunflower.
How to use essential oils?
- Vaporize: add 1-3 drops of essential oil on to a tissue or cotton ball, place it around the desk or pillow and allow to evaporate into the air. If you want an intense dose, sniff the cotton ball.
- Diffuser: add several drops of essential oil to an aroma pot or diffuser (with or without water depending on the diffuser type). To enjoy the fresh aroma, a diffuser, which does not heat the essential oil, is recommended.
- Steam inhalation: place a towel over your head and over a bowl of boiling water with essential oil drop(s) and breathe deeply. This method is very direct and potent, the use of more than 1-2 drops may be overwhelming. It is important keep the eyes closed when using this method.
- Compress: the essential oil is diluted in a liquid carrier (water or oil), then a cloth can be soaked in the solution and applied (“compressed”) to the affected area.
- Gargle: drops of essential oil are added to water. You mix, then gargle the solution and spit it out. Do NOT swallow it. For example, one drop of tea tree oil in a glass of water can be gargled for sore throat discomfort.
- Massage: use an essential oil with a carrier oil (vegetable oil) as a massage oil. You can blend 30ml of a carrier oil (e.g. sweet almond oil) and 12-15 drops of essential oil (2-3%) then apply gently to the skin.
- Bath: add 5-10 drops of essential oil to natural sea salt (approx. 30-50g) or into a teaspoon of honey, whole milk, vegetable oil then place in bath water and mix well.
- Hand and foot bath: add 3 drops of essential oil to a basin of warm water and soak the hands or feet.
- Air Spray: add 25-50 drops of essential oil(s) to purified water. Shake well before using and spray into the air in order to deodorize a room or set a mood.
- Cosmetics: add a few drops of essential oils to your natural face cream, lotion, serum or shampoo to boost its performance.
Top or Head notes
The scents that are perceived immediately on application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person's initial impression of a perfume and thus are very important in the selling of a perfume. Lasts about 15 minutes after application (citrus, aromatics).
Middle or Heart notes
The scent of a perfume that emerges just prior to when the top note dissipates. The middle note compounds form the "heart" or main body of a perfume and act to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time. This note is very often the selection criterion of a perfume. Lasts about 15-30 minutes (floral, green, fruity, spicy).
The scent of a perfume that apppears approximately 30 minutes after departure of the middle note. Base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume.Lasts up to 24 hours (wood, balsamic).
General safety precautions
The body knows how to “use” essential oils. Therefore, applied correctly they are not toxic. As with any food or plant substance there are cases when an essential oil from a plant should not be used at all or cases when a certain person may present with an allergy and this should not be taken lightly. However on the whole essential oils can be used widely and safely by everyone.
Avoid the use of undiluted essential oils on the skin, unless otherwise indicated. Keep essential oils away from the eyes.
Rinse off thoroughly if the essential oil is applied pure to the skin or eyes.
In case of skin rash, redness, irritation or pain discontinue use immediately and consult with your doctor.
Close the cap tightly after use and store below 30℃ away from sunlight. It is recommended to use as soon as possible after opening.
Keep all essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
Do not use or recommend the use of photosensitizing essential oils prior to going into a sun tanning booth or the sun. We recommend to stay out of the sun or sun tanning booth for at least twenty-four hours after treatment if photosensitizing essential oils were applied to the skin.
If you suspect you may be sensitive to specific essential oils or if you know allergies or sensitivities, it may be wise to perform a skin patch test.
Check the safety data on each essential oil and place into context of use and knowledge.
Use caution during pregnancy or with babies or children.
Essential oils are highly flammable substances and should be kept away from direct contact with flames, such as candles, fire, matches, cigarettes, etc
Do not use essential oils internally unless properly trained in the safety issues of doing so.