The Allure of Aromatherapy
Yes, essential oils seem to be the trend in wellness and beauty over the last few years, but the truth is they’ve really been around forever (Cleopatra was a fan, so we’re talking all the way back to Egyptian times). We define essential oils as “aromatic liquids extracted from flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots, or trees. The oils maintain the odors and tastes, and thus the essence, of the plant they are extracted from.”
Essential oils are present in the spa world not only for their fragrance (ever notice the lovely scent that captivates your nose buds the second you enter a spa?), but because they have positive therapeutic outcomes. Read more to discover why aromatherapy is more than just a pretty smell–and how it can up your spa experience.
Scent with Intent
Spafinder predicted the aromatherapy trend way back in 2014 in our Aromatherapy: Scent with Intent trend report. We noted that aromatherapy is moving in bold directions and playing a greater role in the treatment of pain, as a mood enhancer, in sleep therapy and to improve cognitive function. In addition, essential oils used in aromatherapy are a great fit for the wellness industry: there are no synthetic chemicals involved, as aromatherapy uses absolutely natural oils extracted from many parts of plants, including flowers, bark, stems, leaves, and roots.
Spa Treatments and Essential Oils
There are scores of spa treatments that incorporate essential oils or aromatherapy. And many creative spas give guests the opportunity to blend their own custom “scents” or aromatherapy blends. Miraval has even offered Aroma Flow yoga classes, blending aromatherapy and yoga postures for an enhanced wellness experience. According to American Spa Magazine, “…a restorative yoga class (at Miraval) may use lavender, rose, or clary sage to emphasize a calming and stress-relieving experience…”
Look for aromatherapy in these popular spa services, or ask for an aromatherapy “add on.”
- Massage services
- Hydrotherapy baths
- Body wraps
Benefits of Essential Oils
As noted in Spafinder’s Trend Report (and as Cleopatra figured out), essential oils have a myriad of benefits. “Aromatherapy’s effects, according to the National Institutes of Health, are theorized to be the result of the binding of chemical components in the essential oil to receptors in the olfactory bulb, impacting the brain’s emotional center, the limbic system.” Here are a few examples:
- Stimulates calm
- Decreases stress levels
- Helps treat insomnia
- Improves your mood
- Provides depression and/or anxiety relief
- Enhances focus
Aromatherapy Massage–What to Expect
Massage is one of the most popular spa services that use aromatherapy, which begins either one of two ways: Your therapist encourages you to choose your own scent, catering to what you feel your body needs. Calm? Reinvigoration? Sore muscles? There’s an essential oil that serves that goal. (Common types include lavender, rose, and peppermint.) Or, the spa has its own signature scent it chooses to utilize during the massage.
Once you are led into a treatment room, the therapist will leave to allow you to undress and get situated on the massage bed and under covers/draping (typically facedown). Upon the therapist’s return, the practitioner will hold an essential oil(s) underneath your nose and request that you breathe deeply while he/she explains the significance of each aroma. Throughout the massage, this same inhalation ritual occurs if the therapist adds another aromatic essence into the mix.
The therapist massages both scalp and body with the oil, allowing its absorption into the skin*. Your treatment ends in the same manner as which it begins: Your therapist will invite you to take a few final deep breaths of the oil, signifying conclusion of the service.
*(Note: During an aromatherapy massage, the therapist dilutes the essential oil[s] with a carrier oil.)
Aromatherapy on Demand
If you want to enjoy the healing benefits of aromatherapy at home or work, there are a host of options on the market. We are currently addicted to the essential oils and sprays by Subtle Energies, the Ayurveda aromatherapy company. In fact, we’re wearing the Aura Protection Inhalation Patch, which increases focus, meditation and clearing, and we’ll sleep the night away with the Blissful Sleep Inhalation Patch. Oh, joy.