Nature’s pure, fresh scent is powerful yet delicate – but why is it so enchanting? What you’re smelling is the essential oils of the plant. These natural oils are aroma-filled experiences that please the nose and calm the body and mind. If you’re interested in essential oils or want to learn more about aromatherapy, continue reading or click a topic below to jump straight to it.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are named as such because they embody the “essence” of the plant’s fragrance. Extracted from natural resources, such as roots, flowers, leaves, seeds, bark and even fruit they are then used in various products, from perfumes to candles. Essential oils are very potent, and should never be applied directly to the skin, scalp or hair in their original state, so it’s important to remember to dilute them with a carrier oil, such as coconut, jojoba or argan oil.
How are essential oils extracted?
When you picture the production of fragrances, you might picture scientists in white coats carefully mixing chemicals in a laboratory; however, this is not the case for essential oils. Natural essential oils are not made. Instead, they are extracted from plants. There are several ways of extracting essential oils; here are some of the most common:
Steam distillation is the most common extraction method used for obtaining essential oils. Steam is passed through the plant materials dissolving away the plant chemicals. This steam is condensed and cooled, creating two distinct products: essential oil and floral water.
Expression (also known as ‘cold press’) does not use heat during the extraction process instead it uses a combination of pressing and scraping to release the essential oils from the natural matter.
In CO2 extraction, pressurised CO2 is used as a solvent to release the essential oils from the plant matter. When bought back down to a normal pressure level, the gas and oil separate, producing a richer essential oil.
Natural vs synthetic essential oils
There are two types of essential oils available, natural and synthetic. Natural, as previously explained, is obtained from completely natural compounds (such as plant matter). In comparison, synthetic essential oils are primarily made from chemicals to try and replicate the smell of a plant.
Which you prefer comes down to personal preference, but to help you make a decision, here are some quick-fire pros and cons for both:
- Contains aromatherapy benefits
- Lasts longer in the air
- Has a natural, pleasant aroma
- Cheaper to make and buy
- Not limited to what nature has to offer
- Has a longer shelf life
- Potentially more expensive
- Relies on natural resources
- Often an unappealing colour
- No proven aromatherapy benefits
- Makers are not legally obliged to label all ingredients on the packaging
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts, or essential oils, to help the health and wellbeing of your mind and body. It is also thought to help improve your sleep quality and reduce the pain of minor ailments, such as headaches. People also turn to aromatherapy in times of stress to help them unwind and relax.
What are the pros and cons of aromatherapy?
- Ease stress
- Boost feelings of relaxation
- Improve your quality of sleep
- Alleviate certain pains
- Fight bacteria when used on the skin
Aromatherapy is generally deemed safe; however, it may cause side effects, including:
- Causing mild allergic reactions
- Irritation to your skin, eyes and nose
5 popular essential oils & their benefits
1. What is tea tree?
Famed for its fresh, earthy and herbaceous aroma, tea tree oil and its plethora of extraordinary benefits has been a health and beauty staple for centuries. Its benefits range from being the ideal hand sanitiser thanks to its antibacterial properties to soothing skin inflammation and reducing the appearance of acne. When used in perfume, such as Daisy Eau So Fresh Skies by Marc Jacobs, it adds a refreshing charm that feels bright and invigorating!
Want to experience it for yourself? We don’t blame you! Try these tea tree products:
2. What is chamomile?
When you think of chamomile, it’s easy to best associate it with the calming tea. However, chamomile (which looks like a daisy) has many other potential health and beauty benefits, including soothing inflamed skin and being the perfect addition to a warm bath. When it comes to perfume, chamomile adds a herbaceous yet slightly spicy nuance and can be found in Clinique’s earthy Aromatics Eau de Parfum.
Treat the senses with these chamomile infused products:
3. What is myrrh?
If you’re looking for a warm and radiant aroma, then myrrh is the one for you. When added to home scents, such as a candle or a diffuser, it brings a cosy warmth to any room. Outside of home use, myrrh is also thought to help promote a youthful-looking complexion (add a couple of drops to your skincare) and adds a comforting yet sensual appeal to fragrances. Looking to add the magnetic charm of myrrh to your perfume collection? We highly recommend the alluring Pure XS by Paco Rabanne.
Here’s our myrrh infused top picks you won’t want to miss:
4. What is frankincense?
Smokey and rich, with a sweet woody twist, frankincense has been a firm favourite in the aromatherapy and perfume world for many years due to its potential to ease ailments such as inflammation and improve mood and concentration. Once exclusively reserved for royalty due to its luxurious nature, it’s now more commonly available in home scents, such as diffusers, and perfumes, including the feel-good fragrance Boss Man by Hugo Boss or the mystical unisex scent Olibanum Gardenia by BohoBoco
To experience the distinctive aroma of frankincense, start here:
5. What is patchouli?
There’s a reason patchouli is one of the most used essential oils – its potential health and beauty benefits are seamlessly never-ending! From helping skin conditions such as acne and reducing dandruff to easing symptoms of the common cold and encouraging the feeling of relaxation. There isn’t much it hasn’t been linked to! When used in fragrance, it has a distinctively sweet, earthy scent that is instantly recognisable in woody or floral scents, just like My Burberry by Burberry.
Pondering about patchouli? You’re going to love these:
Ready to boost your mood with aromatherapy?
Discover the best perfumes with mood enhancing oils in them on our blog.