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THE SECRET OF AROMATHERAPY

Essential oils have been used throughout history, by people all over the world, to enhance their health and beauty. They were treasured in ancient civilizations including Indian, Chinese and Egyptian. The Greeks and Romans were known to have used them lavishly on their skin and hair. Essential oils are extracted from plant material: the petals, roots, leaves, barks, stalks or seeds. They are extracted in several ways but the most common is by steam distillation. This technique involves placing the fresh plant material in a vessel and steaming it. The steam and essential oils rise from the vessel and are trapped in a condenser. The condensation produces two liquids - - the essential oil which is removed from the top and a hydrosol which is a water-soluble plant extract. Essential oils from citrus are usually cold pressed from the peels and a solvent usually extracts the delicate petals of flowers. Due to the popularity of essential oils, new methods are being developed that will be more efficient and hopefully, more economical.

The term 'aromatherapy' was first used in the 1920's by a French chemist, R.M. Gattefosse. It literally means 'fragrant remedy'. Today, aromatherapy is defined as a treatment using the essential oils from aromatic plants for the purpose of restoring or enhancing health and beauty and its influence is being felt in the fields of medicine, psychology and cosmetology. Cosmetically, essential oils are a delight to use because of their enticing fragrances and their profound effect in skin care. Virtually all types of skin can benefit.

The effectiveness of essential oils is due to their ability to penetrate the skin. They have a small and simple molecular structure and when applied to the skin, they pass into the fluid surrounding the cells beneath the skin's surface.

Between the upper and lower layers of the skin is a membrane called the Reinse barrier, named after the man who discovered it. Reinse wondered why it was possible for materials to be excreted from the skin, yet it was very difficult for foreign materials to enter into the skin. The answer was this membrane, serving as a protector for the body. Later, however, researchers discovered that if the molecular structure was small enough, a substance could pass through the Reinse barrier and reach the most important part of the skin, the dermal layers.

Essential oils are able to pass through this barrier and affect the skin at its generation level. Depending on the characteristics of the oil, the skin can be stimulated, calmed, purified or balanced. In addition, the essential oils will act as a 'transporter' when combined with other beneficial ingredients such as vitamins or herbal extracts. As the oil is absorbed into the skin, it will take small amounts of these other ingredients with it. This is why it is important for the other ingredients to be safe and pure.

These are several of the aromatherapy essential oils used in skin care.

ROSEMARY has a woodsy warm quality. It is uplifting and relieves mental fatigue. Its astringent and antiseptic nature stimulates metabolic processes in the skin's dermal layer. ROSE has a soothing, harmonizing effect on the skin. Considered the 'queen' of all essential oils, its gentle yet powerful nature has the ability to help repair broken capillaries. Rose is good for all types of skin, especially dry, sensitive and maturing. JASMINE is extracted from delicate flowers, has a warm sensual fragrance that soothes and calms. ORANGE BLOSSOM (also called neroli) has a hauntingly beautiful scent. It rejuvenates, smoothes and treats the skin by stimulating growth of healthy new cells. Excellent for all skin types, PEPPERMINT has a cooling effect. It works to cleanse and decongest the skin, is mildly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory aiding in the control of bacteria that can aggravate acne. LAVENDER, with excellent healing properties, is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and is an all-purpose choice to treat all types of skin because it helps regulate sebum production. CHAMOMILE has a spicy relaxing scent and a healing antiseptic beneficial for skin and hair. GERANIUM has a rosy mint scent and is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, cleansing and toning for all skin types. FRANKINCENSE warm, woodsy, astringent, rejuvenating and healing for mature and irritated skin. YLANG YLANG has a heavy sensual fragrance, balances sebum production and is good for dry and oily skin. PETITGRAIN has a light and refreshing aroma for hair and skin preparations. MARJORAM: antiseptic and anti-inflammatory for healing. BITTER ALMOND is used cosmetically and for massage. LEMON has a fresh scent, reduces sebum production, tightens the skin and is beneficial for oily skin. SAGE has a spicy scent, effective antiseptic for skin disruptions, treats hair imbalances.

Natural cosmetologists have worked with essential oils for many years, and with top European Aromatherapists; and have come to understand aromatherapy to be a precise instrument and a strong tool in achieving the desired effects for skin care. Essential oils' greatest contribution to the cosmetic industry is their ability to reach the dermal layer with their beneficial qualities and to act as 'transporters'. They are one of the reasons that natural skin care products work so well, and are truly effective.

Written by: Internatural


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