Renews: Aromatherapy: The Brain-Body Response
Krista Kiley, Aveda's director of spa education, shares tips about the effects aromatherapy can have on your client's body and mind, and easy ways to improve her—and your—wellbeing.
Though aromatherapy is gaining in popularity, it's been in practice since ancient Egyptian times when the therapeutic use of scents was used to cure ailments and guard against diseases. When used topically, the essential oils used in aromatherapy products can ease sore muscles, soothe irritated skin and even act as an acne treatment. (For a more in-depth look at how aromatherapeutic treatments can better skin, see the July/August issue of renew.) But there is a psychological effect too: Certain aromas can rejuvenate a client, while others relax her. Its effects are so powerful that it can improve bodily mechanisms and overall health and lead to a richer, more fulfilling way of living.
Aveda, which uses a wide range of essential oils in its products, has long touted natural plant and flower essences as key elements in skin health. "So much of what becomes physically evident on the skin—in terms of breakouts, aging and other symptoms—is rooted in stress," explains Kiley. "We've done research and we know any time you have stress in your mind, it triggers a physical response in your body." By the same token, the scent of essential oils affects the brain just where stress does; but instead of triggering the adrenaline response, it works in the opposite way to release serotonin, a feel-good hormone. Not only does the aroma have a natural benefit, but just the act of conscious breathing can be healing, according to Kiley: "It's one of the best tools to create positive physical change in the body."
Kiley calls aromatherapy the "one-minute stress management tool," and advises clients to keep essential oils with them at all times—one at your desk, one in the car, one in your purse. "If you start to get anxious, sometimes just anchoring yourself with a really beautiful aroma for 30 seconds can make a difference over time. It's not something that needs to take forever to work." Aveda has developed Singular Notes, individual oils in a bottle that have been diluted for safe, at-home use—clients can choose their favorite and use it on their wrists or to scent a room. Their popular Blue Oil Balancing Concentrate, available in a roller ball for easy application on temples and pulse points, combines peppermint (to uplift energy) and blue chamomile (to stay calm and centered). Visit www.aveda.com for more information. Remember, to get the most of out aromatherapy, go with essential oils that come from all-natural sources and use proper dilution to ensure safe levels.