If the words "aromatherapy" or "essential oils" evoke images of hippies dipped in fragrant oils surrounded by burning incense in the pursuit of inner peace and zen, then you're not alone.
But to get a more accurate definition of the mystifying practice, we turned to Guy Vincent, an aromatherapy expert and the head perfumer at Aveda. In a nutshell, aromatherapy is "the use of concentrated plant-derived aromatic oils for health and wellbeing," Vincent told The Huffington Post.
By simply smelling various essential oils (or a combination of them), our brains become stimulated and depending on the particular healing powers of the aromatic compound, we can experience a range emotions -- from calm to energized. These natural mood modifiers are what have inspired so many to not only try aromatherapy, but to use it on a regular basis.
Vincent, who says he's "not a great sleeper," has found that a nightly routine of stretching, yoga and using the calming effects of lavender oil help him relax and eventually head to dreamland. He also mixes sprays made with grapefruit and vetiver oil to create a "welcoming and joyous" atmosphere in his home.
But harnessing the power of aromatherapy goes beyond mood or room-modifying oils, sprays and candles -- there are also beautifying benefits. For example, lavender not only helps to relieve stress but its antiseptic and antibacterial properties also fight mild acne. And rosemary oil will give a boost of energy as well as add volume and silky-ness to your hair.
For optimal effectiveness, many essential oils can be applied directly to the skin or dabbed on the wrist, back of the neck and temples. And adding drops of the pure oils to your favorite beauty products is yet another brilliant use.
There are some serious upsides to sprinkling a bit of essential oil here and there, so we asked Vincent to tell us about some of the most popular aromatherapy oils and how they can help us improve our moods, minds and bodies. Check em' out below!
Scent: Herbal and floral
Mood/mind effect: Calming to the mind and restorative in times of stress
Beauty effect: Antiseptic acne treatment, natural hair growth agent
Vetiver (root oil)
Scent: Robust, woody and earthy
Mood/mind effect: Grounding, supporting and centering
Beauty effect: Moisturizing, skin toning, fades and removes scars
Scent: Fresh and leafy
Mood/mind effect: Balances out emotions and moods -- used when extremes need to be brought back to the center
Beauty effect: Wrinkle reducer, improves dental health and acne treatment
Scent: Woody and evergreen
Mood/mind effect: Stimulating and refreshing
Beauty effect: Hair volumizer and shine agent, facial astringent, skin moisturizer
Scent: Strong and minty
Mood/mind effect: Invigorating and empowering
Beauty effect: Anti-fungal nail treatment, blemish spot treatment, moisturizer
Scent: Exotic, romantic and floral
Mood/mind effect: Balancing and seductive
Beauty effect: Skin toner, acne treatment and natural hair growth remedy
Scent: Sensual and sweet
Mood/mind effect: Antidepressant, calming and aphrodisiac
Beauty effect: Antiseptic and helps fades scar marks
Scent: Warm, sweet and delicate
Mood/mind effect: Restorative, boosts confidence and aphrodisiac
Beauty effect: Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and strengthens hair roots
Scent: Spicy, sweet and citrusy
Mood/mind effect: Cleansing and refreshing
Beauty effect: Antiseptic properties, natural deodorant, skin toner
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