Thinking of cognac likely gives you a mental image of well-dressed men smoking cigars and sipping on glasses of cognac in a swanky lounge in Paris. The aroma of cognac essential oil brings you to the same place—it’s dark, heady, and a bit herbaceous behind a boozy top note.
Cognac essential oil is most well-known for its use in high-end perfumery, where it acts as a base note in many male and female blends. Although it is not yet a popular essential oil in aromatherapy, it can help boost your mood and add volume to your hair. There are also a variety of potential health benefits that we will discuss, although these have not yet been proven.
The History of Cognac
The history of cognac dates back to the 16th century. Dutch settlers originally came to the Cognac region of France to purchase wine, wood, and salt. When they attempted to bring the wine home, they realized they needed a better way of preserving it. This led to them distilling the wine into "eau-de-vie," which translates to "water of life." They soon realized that distilling the wine a second time led to a richer, more sophisticated flavor, which we know as brandy.
The brandy we know can be made all over the world, but only that which is made from the wine of the Cognac region of France can truly be called ‘Cognac’. There are only six areas designated for producing cognac: Petite Champagne, Grand Champagne, Borderies, Bons Bois, Fins Bois, and Bois Ordinaires. Cognac has strict criteria it must adhere to—if it fails to meet any of this criteria, even if it is produced in one of these regions, it is not allowed to be called Cognac. 1
Cognac essential oil is distilled from a by-product of the distillation process. This essential oil is steam distilled from the wine lees - the dead yeast cells and other particles that remain on the bottom of a wine barrel after distillation. The source of this essential oil is scientifically known as Vitis vinifera - the common grape vine. 2
The resulting essential oil has a very strong aroma and is typically used to add fragrance to perfumes, colognes, after-shave, and tobacco.
The use of cognac essential oil in aromatherapy is relatively new, and not many studies have been conducted about the potential health benefits. As of now, the majority of those who purchase cognac essential do so for its popularity in perfumery.
Cognac essential oil has a long list of components, although the ones found in higher concentrations are:
- Isoamyl alcohol
- Ethyl octanoate
- Ethyl decanoate
- Ethyl laurate
- Isopentyl decanoate
- Pentyl decanoate
- Ethyl myristate
- Isoamyl laurate
- Ethyl palmitate
- Ethyl linoleate
- Ethyl oleate 3
Uses for Cognac Essential Oil
There are two different types of cognac essential oil - green cognac and white cognac, although both are steam distilled from the lees. Cognac essential oils were traditionally manufactured in burnished copper stills. Nowadays, most essential oils are manufactured in stainless steel stills.
White cognac essential oil is manufactured in stainless steel stills, giving it a light color. On the other hand, green cognac is still manufactured in the traditional copper still. The oil oxidizes when it comes into contact with the copper, giving it a greener hue. White cognac essential oil has a bit fruitier and less part of a fragrance than its green counterpart, although both are quite similar. 4
Cognac essential oil has an interesting aroma—it’s dry, tart, wine or liquor-like and quite powerful. Although not much to brag about on its own, when it is diluted and mixed with other essential oils in small amounts it can help to add a fresh and fruity aspect to any fragrance.
It is often used as a base note in perfumery and is thought to draw out the unique aroma of the essential oils it is blended with. It also helps to lift and modify certain notes when mixed with lighter fragrances. 6
For feminine fragrances, cognac is often mixed with lighter, floral scents such as jasmine or rose. For a headier, more masculine aroma, try mixing with earthier scents such as pine or vetiver.
Adds Volume to Hair
Although it is most well known as an ingredient in perfumery, cognac essential oil is also known for adding volume to limp hair! It helps to stimulate the hair roots and improve circulation to the scalp, leaving hair more voluminous, soft and shiny. 7
To add a bit of oomph to your hair, add a drop or two of cognac essential oil to your shampoo and wash as usual. You can also add a few drops of this oil into a cup of warm water and pour over your head after shampooing for an extra boost.
The scent of cognac essential oil is thought to trigger chemicals in the brain that can leave you in a state of euphoria. 8
If you’re feeling a bit lethargic or depressed, diffusing cognac essential oil throughout a room can give you the boost you need. For a quick remedy on-the-go, our Love personal diffuser includes cognac essential oil! You can also add it to massage oils, a relaxing bath, or a homemade candle.
Healing Properties of Cognac Essential Oil
The healing properties of cognac essential oil are only beginning to be researched. Although the surface has barely been scratched, there are a lot of potential health benefits that may arise in the coming years. These health benefits are thought to stem from cognac that is distilled with yeast strains from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Cognac essential oil is potentially an antioxidant, aperitif, digestive, nervine, laxative, tonic and stomachic, although more research needs to be conducted to prove these claims. It is also thought to inhibit food-borne pathogens and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 9
This essential oil may have antioxidant properties, which can help fight free radicals and reduce signs of aging. Antioxidants also help to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and vision loss and can help boost the immune system. 10
Aperitifs aid in stimulating the appetite, which is especially helpful for those who are recovering from an eating disorder such as anorexia. Cognac essential oil may be used as an aperitif by adding a drop to a glass of water before drinking.
Cognac essential oil may help stimulate the digestive system, allowing it to function more effectively and digest food easier. Since it is also thought to be stomachic in nature, it may also help to strengthen and tone the stomach. You can add a drop of this essential oil to a glass of drinking water or add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage over your stomach.
Cognac essential oil may be nervine, which help to soothe and calm the nervous system. It helps to reduce nervous tension and can help you regain concentration and reduce stress.
Laxatives promote bowel movements, assisting those who are suffering from constipation. Add a drop or two to a glass of water before drinking to ease your trouble.
Cognac essential oil may be a tonic of the respiratory, immune and cardiovascular systems. This means that it can help to keep these systems running smoothly and effectively, keeping you healthier overall.
Inhibits food-borne pathogens
Cognac essential oil may help inhibit food-borne pathogens such as E.coli , Clostridium, and Salmonella - which can cause food poisoning, problems with the intestinal tract or even botulism.
Safety and Precautions
Cognac essential oil is thought to be safe for topical, aromatic and even internal use when properly diluted. However, since it only recently entered the aromatherapy scene most of these claims are unproven.
If you are using this essential oil topically, you should always conduct a patch test on a small area of skin first. If you have sensitive skin, you should always dilute it in a carrier oil.
If you are attempting to use this oil internally, you should check with your medical provider beforehand. It is not currently known whether cognac essential oil has any negative effects on particular medications.
Regular consumption of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can potentially lead to an imbalance of B-vitamins. Since it is thought to lower blood sugar, diabetics and those prone to anemia should be particularly careful when using this oil. 12
If you are allergic to grapes, wine or cognac, you may have an allergic reaction to cognac essential oil.
Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should stay away from essential oils unless directed by their doctor. If you are attempting to use this oil to treat any chronic condition, check with your doctor first.
Cognac essential oil is a great oil to have on hand if you’re looking to create your own fragrances, boost your mood or add volume to your hair.
It can be mixed into massage oils, lotions or shampoos, diffused throughout your home or used in a personal essential oil diffuser.
As for its other potential health benefits, it is likely that more research and discoveries will come to light in the next few years.