Essential oils have long been used for medicinal purposes, skin care and aromatherapy. With the benefits they provide it’s no wonder why. But what exactly are essential oils and what do they do?
Despite the moniker, they aren’t actually ‘essential’ per say to our wellbeing. In other words, we don’t need them to function like we do certain minerals or vitamins. They do however, provide serious support to the skin, and during the cold winter months deliver much-needed comfort to dehydrated skin.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are classified as a concentrated liquid comprising aroma compounds from plants. They are natural oils typically extracted through a distillation process. The term ‘essential’ is derived from the fact that they carry the distinctive scent or ‘essence’ of the plant.
Essential oils come from a variety of different plants as well as some berries, seeds, resins, and wood. While eucalyptus, lavender and sandalwood are among the more commonly used, the variety available allows you to create a customized experience for each client.
These oils have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history for various ailments. In more recent times they have gained popularity in aromatherapy and massage for their curative and skin conditioning qualities.
How Do They Work
Essential oils, often called carrier oils, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to the deeper layers of the dermis – the subcutaneous tissue layer. They aid in delivering other important ingredients to the deeper layers, which is why they are so beneficial in formulas containing other skin-building ingredients like omega 6 EFAs, grape seed oil, and tocopherols, to name a few.
Some highly beneficial oils include, orange oil, which is rich in vitamins A and C, flavonoids, and beta-carotene. It delivers antioxidants and antibacterial properties to the skin. Another is hemlock oil (also known as Tsunga Canadensis, Eastern hemlock or Canadian hemlock). It comes from a tree native to North America, and provides antimicrobial, antiseptic and astringent benefits. Clove oil, from an evergreen, provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and stimulating support for wound healing. Finally, cinnamon oil (cinnamomum cassia), an evergreen tree native to southern China, works to awaken the senses and deliver potent antioxidants to the skin.
Another highly beneficial oil, though not classified as an essential oil, is coconut oil. This is used across many applications from cooking to hair care to skin care. In aesthetics it helps speed the healing process, soothe burns and hydrate the skin. In foods, it also fights inflammation, and helps regulate metabolic rate and keep cell membranes flexible.
Advancing Your Practice
How might you use these for your clients in the treatment room? There are several ways:
Add-on treatments – offer add-on treatments to clients during their facials. This might include a neck, shoulder or scalp massage, or hand and foot treatments using aromatic essential oils.
Incorporate aromatherapy into treatments – the aroma of therapeutic essential oils can take treatments to the next level, not just during facials, but also body treatments, and manicures and pedicures.
Massage – if massage is in your purview of skills you might create a massage treatment around essential oils. Tip: Men love the soothing effects of massage, especially when using an aromatic massage oil with fresh scents.
Question: What essential oils are you using?