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Lab: The Science of Scent

September 28, 2012 | 6:44 AM
If essential oils are essential to your treatments, you're right on the nose in terms of helping clients look—and feel—better about themselves. Science tells us there are real benefits to be had through scent manipulation, and experts say adding essential oils to some body and face treatments provide extra bang for your client's buck. That's because some of the most popular oils not only smell good, but can make the skin look and feel great.

essential sense
"Aromatherapy can help to set the mood in the spa whether it be energizing or relaxing," says Julie Andrews, director of marketing and PR for Kerstin Florian. When inhaled, oils such as lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint and tea tree will stimulate the mood of a client, while bergamot, chamomile, lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood and ylang-ylang will bring about restfulness. Some oils go a step further and can help relieve acne, sore muscles or aging skin. Their therapeutic components make them a perfectly natural source of quality skin care.

essential roots
Though aromatherapy was introduced into the treatment room only recently, plant essences have been used for thousands of years to treat sickness, maintain health and even for cosmetic purposes in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and India. Derived from flowers, roots, leaves, fruit and bark, these oily substances have the power to produce both psychological and physiological effects.
  "Once absorbed by the skin, essential oils can be carried through the body's transport systems to various organs, glands, nerves and soft tissue where they help to stimulate the body's natural defense mechanism," explains Andrews.
  Try adding them to your massage oil, body wraps, hydrotherapy treatments, facials and hand and foot services. Some manufacturers that feature essential oils include Kerstin Florian's Spa Face and Spa Body lines, Skin Blends' Aroma Blends, Glospa's bath and body products, and Lycon Precision Waxing, which integrates soothing oils in its waxes and pre- and post-care products.

essential safety
Though essential oils are derived from nature, precautions should always be taken when using them on your clients. If the oil is too highly concentrated, clients may experience skin irritation or asthma-like symptoms; likewise, an overpowering aroma can cause a headache. Always ask clients about potential allergens during your consultation, and consider doing a patch test beforehand. To really maximize aromatherapy's benefits, check with your manufacturer for training. When you can harness its power, you'll always come up smelling like a rose.

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