To some people, aromatherapy is a rather hippy idea, one that is often dismissed as being less practical than some other parts of health and beauty. In our opinion, that’s a shortsighted view. Aromatherapy and the oils that are used along with it are things that carry a lot of punch, as they can help us to relax and unwind, help to soothe inflamed skin, balance our natural oils, and generally improve our overall well-being.
Soaps are perhaps the most obvious area where aromatherapy and skincare overlap. The essential oils market was worth $6.63 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow massively over the next few years1, with an average growth rate of 9.7 percent per year. A lot of essential oils are used with vaporizers and diffusers, but they are also commonly added to soaps. Tea tree oil is a popular soap additive because it is antimicrobial.2 Indeed soaps and shower gels with tea tree in them are popular with wrestlers and other athletes who are looking for ways to help ward off skin infections. Even non-athletes turn to tea tree as it tends to help with acne and other skin conditions.
Moisturizers and Lip Balm
Lip balms and moisturizers are a great option for aromatherapy as carrier oils (including soya bean oils and castor oils) are good for rehydrating skin. They can be added to other oils such as lavender oil to create a relaxing and soothing treatment that is full of essential fatty acids and micronutrients to support healthy skin.
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If you’re looking for a high-quality natural lip balm, try to find something that is made with natural alternatives to petrolatum. While petrolatum is safe if it is refined properly, it is hard to be sure what ingredients were used in the preparation of cosmetics. In Europe, the refining of petrolatum is strictly controlled, but in the USA it is not. As a cautionary measure, aromatherapy based cosmetics are often a good choice.3
When it comes to moisturizers, many popular brands, including those such as The Body Shop, are made with Aloe Vera. This is because Aloe Vera contains several powerful soothing properties that are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids, sugars, and enzymes that can help to reduce excessive inflammation when applied topically.4 There are many other essential oils that are valuable for skincare. Coconut oil, Avena Sativa extract, shea butter, cocoa butter, and sandalwood essential oil, for example, can all help to soothe, moisturize and nourish the skin.
Creams and Body Washes
If you find that traditional body washes are too harsh and that they dry out or irritate your skin, then you may want to try something that relies more on essential oils instead. Aveeno is one well-known brand that makes creamy and gentle moisturizing body washes that are soap-free. They use colloidal oatmeal to create a nice gentle scrub and use essential oils and herbal extracts to boost the effectiveness of their washes.
When it comes to scents, it is easy to be spoilt for choice. Peppermint, cocoa, and refreshing scents such as apple are all popular, for various reasons. Studies show that there is a strong link between our olfactory senses and our sense of reward.5 Choosing a scent like chocolate makes cosmetics and related products smell pleasing and luxurious. Choosing mint offers nice pleasing tingling sensations that can help us to wake up, and can improve our breathing and exercise performance as well.6 Choosing apple, or something similar, is refreshing and gives us a sense of reward.
Are Aromatherapy Products Safe to Use on Your Skin?
Most essential oils are not safe to apply directly to your skin. They need to be diluted with a carrier oil first. When they are properly diluted, though, they can offer incredible therapeutic effects. The carrier oil stops the potent essential oil from irritating your skin and also stops it from evaporating too quickly. The carrier oil is absorbed by the skin (allowing the body to absorb any nutrients that may be contained in it) as the essential oil is absorbed at the same time.
Commercial moisturizers, lip balms, and soaps that contain zesty, mood-boosting scents such as lemon (that can help to improve your mental performance7or calming scents such as lavender)8 are carefully formulated to ensure that they are well tolerated by most people. They are tested extensively to see exactly how much of each essential oil is needed to provide the benefits, and they make a great addition to your skincare routine.
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