Rhiannon Yee writes about the effects of essential oils on our skin and on our minds
I’ve long been fascinated with the way in which smells have the eerie power to instantly transport you back to a time, place, or even specific person -such as how a sniff of nutmeg makes me ache for my mum’s pumpkin bread, how the scent of a certain laundry detergent prompts me to think of my ex-boyfriend (and immediately makes me whip around to check he’s not in my immediate vicinity) or how Burberry Brit reminds me that I need to call my best friend.
Numerous behavioural studies have shown that smells can evoke emotions or memories, due to the fact that smells are processed by the olfactory bulb which connects to other parts of the brain that are associated with emotion and memory. And some of the most potent smells we come into contact with come from essential oils.
Aromatherapy has come back into the beauty and wellness sphere in a big way, due to its powerful combination of scent and active integration with the skin to treat a variety of issues whether emotional or physical.
Skincare brand D’ALCHEMY uses aromatherapy to draw from when creating their products, as they believe that due to the ‘wide variety of essential oils, aromatherapy is effective not only in treating health conditions and problems, but for skin care, as essential oils work actively on the skin, while synergistically enhancing the action of other active ingredients in products’.
Let’s take a look at some of the most powerfully scented oil surrounding us in our daily lives and their effects on mind and skin…
Extracted from the Damask rose, rose oil is considered one of the most precious (& most pricey) as it takes around 10,000 rose petals to distil one pound of oil. Rose oil is typically used to restore balance, peace and well being to the body while relieving anxiety and stress. In skin care its often used for its calming and moisturising properties.
Lemon Oil is known for its cleansing and uplifting properties, which is most likely why it is a scent commonly found in cleaning properties. Lemon oil is also associated with increased energy, improved mood and refreshment, while as a skincare ingredient it’s normally used to fight blemishes and clean skin as it’s a mild astringent.
One of the most well known essential oils, lavender is typically used as a natural sleep aid, as it provides calm and relief from stress. As a strong antibacterial agent, it also has the power to help heal cuts, wounds, eczema and acne.
Known for improving blood circulation and brain function, this uniquely scented oil also relieves muscle and joint pain and has antibacterial properties to fight skin and fungal infections.
Derived from the Sandalwood Tree native to Australia and Southeast Asia, sandalwood is one of the most frequently used ingredients in perfume due to its spicy, sensual scent and is used in aromatherapy as a relaxant and even aphrodisiac. While it’s not as popular with skincare, sandalwood oil is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, soothing, and hydrating for the skin, and especially recommended for acne-prone skin as it reduces sebum secretion.
While the scent of peppermint might make you think of winter, the holidays or simply brushing your teeth, mint’s refreshing clean scent is often utilized as a stimulant and relaxant in aromatherapy. It also refreshes irritated or blemished skin.
Less used in aromatherapy as it is in modern medicine, tea tree oil, which is native to Australia, has a multitude of uses, from acne control to soothing toothaches and sore throats, to helping heal viral infections and wounds.