What are essential oils really?
That divine, lavender smell. That memory bringing scent of pine. Whether we realize it or not the olfactory system is a large aspect of the spa industry because we as humans have a profound emotional and intuitive relationship to scent. Re-experiencing a scent can be one of the best ways to relive a memory, and one of the most effective tools to relax and revitalize a client. So how can someone in the spa industry use this to their advantage and what should we know about aromatherapy in conjunction to the effects the oils we choose may have on our clients? I believe the journey to this answer starts with, what exactly are essential oils and how do we know we are choosing the best ones? Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. These oils can be gathered through many different protocols, which protocol to use is determined based on the plant, they may be extracted, refined, distilled, or cold pressed in order to capture the plant's scent and ‘flavor’. In general we are taking the plants "essence" in order to create an oil byproduct of that plant. Unique scientific properties and aromatic compounds give each essential oil its characteristic essence and this essence determines the best use of the oil. For example tea tree oil has an astringent essence which makes it great for treating wounds and acne as well as a general disinfectant. Once the plants essence has been isolated, it is combined with a carrier oil in order to create a product that's ready for use. Due to the fact there are so many variations needed to extract the essence of different plants this process becomes a vital importance in measuring the quality of an oil.
Nowadays essential oil companies have become beneficial business that many people want to be apart of but, because of this, some essential oil companies don’t have the resources, time or general care and passion to be sure their products are the most pure. Instead many companies try to extract a plants essence through chemical processes; however, essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils and are almost always not as potent, pure or loyal to the plants biochemical makeup. This creates a struggle for the average essential oil user to determine if the product they are using really is a true essential oil or a knock off chemical extract that may not resonate to achieve the result they are looking for. The purity of essential oils are vital due to the fact that essential oils give off very specific frequencies.
The oils are so small on the molecular scale and give off a Megahertz frequency. The frequency of the human body can be measured in a number of ways, but usually a specialized tool called a biofeedback machine is used. These devices usually operate by detecting skin temperature, muscle tension, and/or brain wave activity. If we scientifically understand that everything has a vibrational frequency, then it’s not too much of a leap to understand that the things we come in contact with can directly impact our body frequency, such as essential oils. In general a health human body has a frequency around 62 - 72 MHz. When we feel sick our frequencies may lower to around 40MHz or lower. It is believed that when the body is only giving off around 25MHz is when death is near. So ideally our goal is to keep our frequencies on the higher side to keep us healthy and vibrant. As it turns out, essential oils tend to have very high frequencies, generally ranging from 52 MHz to 320 MHz! Many researchers claim that essential oils have the highest frequency of any organic substance available. Rose oil (often one of estheticians favorite anti-aging products), is typically cited as the highest frequency essential oil, resonating at 320 MHz. Although based on some recently tested samples many biofeedback machines indicated Idaho Blue Spruce may be able to reach up to 580 MHz! The frequencies of some common essential oils are: Frankincense: 147 MHz, Lavender: 118 MHz, Sandalwood: 98 MHz, Peppermint: 78 MHz, and Basil: 52 MHz. Therefore using any of these oils in your treatments whether just in a diffuser or directly with a carrier oil is not only a joy to the senses but can actually improve your clients frequency output into the world!
Knowing what essential oils are and the general process of making them causes us then to ask the question, why should we use them? What is the true benefit and do we have any evidence to back up our reasoning? We absolutely do, but to start we need to understand the basics of the olfactory system. Scent has been imperative to human evolution and survival. With today's modern busy world full of candles, restaurants and car emissions it is hard to remember a time we relied on scent for survival, but our ancestors had to use scent as a vital tool. Although some people may seem more adept at this skill than others, still scientifically humans are able to detect when an animal is nearby through smell, changes in weather and the change in seasons. Nowadays it may seem like our most vital scent detection is whether or not the milk in the fridge has expired or for us estheticians if our face mask has started to degrade. However we don’t give our sense of smell enough credit for what it truly does for our health. To Quote,M. Bazhenov, M. Stopfer, inEncyclopedia of Neuroscience, 2009:“The olfactory system maps complex and high-dimensional olfactory stimuli (odors) into unique and reproducible dynamic ensembles of neuronal activity.” To put into simpler terms, all scents and odors cause a chemical reaction in our brain that sparks different reactions in our body and can be linked to memory. Perhaps the best example of this in the spa world is the essential oil Lavender. Lavender, as well as many other essential oils, create signals to the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin which link our nervous and other body systems to provide a feeling of relief. This can assist all who smell the scent to relax, breath deeper and release tension, even if it's just on a neurological scale. This knowledge of the olfactory system is part of what created one of the primary uses of essential oils, Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell and skin absorption using products such as: diffusers, aromatic spritzers, inhalers, bathing salts, body oils, creams, or lotions for massage or topical application, facial steamers, hot and cold compresses or enhanced clay masks. These different modalities can be used alone or in any combination. Many of us might know aromatherapy as an add on to a massage treatment or perhaps a special add on to our facials but, the history of aromatherapy is much more vast than we may realize. Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years, predominantly its use as a medicinal treatment is traced back to Ancient China, India, and Egypt. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It has been shown to enhance both physical and emotional health, most recently the study into aromatherapy has taken a very scientific approach and based on field testing researchers have found reason to believe that aromatherapy can help with: (managing pain, improving sleep quality, reducing stress, agitation, and anxiety, soothing sore joints, treating headaches and migraines, alleviating side effects of chemotherapy, easing discomforts of labor, fighting bacteria, virus, or fungus, improving digestion, improving hospice and palliative care, and of coarse boosting immunity).
As an Esthetician what should you know about Essential oils? We should know that essential oils are a major benefit to our industry and can be the perfect addition to aiding relaxation as well as powerful additions to our facial treatments. Essential oils encourage the body to regenerate damaged cells, build a higher immune defense and sustain the bodies energy vitality. Who doesn’t want to use every tool available to them to give their clients the best possible service available? To really dive into the wonderful world of essential oil consider making one of your continuing education adventures an opportunity to become a Certified Aromatherapist and really expand the services your spa or salon is able to offer.
As a beauty professional, it is vital to know that all essential oils used directly on the skin must be accompanied with some type of carrier oil. Essential oils are powerful and when used in their most pure form they can cause major photosensitivity. No one wants that one client who always leaves and washes off their sunscreen to suddenly call and say that their face has been burned due to an aromatherapy add on. For a carrier oil I highly suggest jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and even in certain cases extra virgin olive oil. All these oils have been tested and are non comedogenic while their lipid contents correlate well with the skin's natural sebum.
In addition to using oil directly on the skin don’t be a stranger to diffusers! Diffusers are the easiest and perhaps one of the most pleasant ways to add aromatherapy to your treatment room. Clients love to be engulfed in a wonderful relaxing scent as they enter into a room, it's a passive way to say ‘this is your time to relax and be pampered’. If you have an interest in introducing a brand new diffuser into your treatment room your friends at EstySpot have you covered. Check out their Modern & Silent Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser. w/ LED changing lights:https://estyspot.com/collections/spa-room-decor/products/modern-silent-ultrasonic-aromatherapy-diffuser-w-led-changing-lights . The career of an Esthetician can be so exciting and in certain elements so vast. The seemingly smallest of things can really be the driving force behind your treatment rooms success and vitality. Something so seemingly simple like essential oils is such a large aspect of the spa industry because we as humans have a profound emotional and intuitive relationship to scent. Our treatments really are for health, beauty and the understanding of the human condition. Remember always in order to enhance your treatments and your profitability you must enhance your education in your craft!