Self-care was once a term synonymous with Sunday soaks in the bath or indulgent face masks, but the addition of extra elements that invoke calm and balance are booming in popularity. A recent Mintel study showed that 27% of the UK population are hunting for products that encourage relaxation and 25% are interested in beauty products that reduce anxiety and stress. Enter Aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy has been known as a powerful tool for relaxation in anything from massage practices, to bath oils or even a cosy candle for sitting back on a restful afternoon, but the properties of essential oils can do far more than just help us chill. These oils have potent properties that can impact us both physically and mentally, either via the respiratory system from breathing them in or when applied topically onto the skin, (allowing them to enter our bloodstream). With the ability to do anything from relieving anxiety and improving sleep, to uplifting mood and even easing pain, these scented wonders are not to be sniffed at. We spoke to Aromatherapy expert, Dagmara Witkowska; (manager and therapist at the incredible Ilapothecary Store in London), about the benefits of including these essential extracts in everyday routines.
Different essential oils have distinctive properties, and the results can be entirely holistic, helping you from tip to toe. The use of aromatherapy can bring balance back to busy brains or lethargic limbs, whilst promoting a sense of inner calm. There are many ways to incorporate these super scents into our daily beauty and wellbeing routines and with the year we have just had, every little helps when it comes to self-care. As Dagmara acknowledges, one of the most popular, globally used scents is Lavender. She notes that, “A great example on how an aromatherapy oil can help both mentally and physically, is lavender which is known for its calming properties. Its active compounds are linalool and linalyl acetate; the effects of these compounds are similar to those of the sedative chemical diazepam, calming anxiety and enhancing sleep. Linalyl acetate has also shown to have tranquillising effects”. You can see why it is so popular in products that help you wind down before bed, such as the Ilapothacary Calm Butterfly’s Soothing Balm, the cult classic This Works Pillow Spray or the Botanics Lavender Essential Oil.
As well as this, Dagmara similarly laments that “Lavender also helps to decrease cortisol (stress hormone) and can therefore lower blood pressure and anxiety levels. Moreover, it is also believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, ideal for the skin. Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy to support our health, without the potential side effects that more conventional prescribed medication could have”. We obviously recommend checking in with your GP if you have any serious health concerns, but a product based around aromatherapy such as this, may do absolute wonders for a stressed mind or a fatigued body.
Lavender may be one of the most common essential oils when thinking about relieving stress or anxiety, but there are other powerful tools available in your aromatherapy arsenal such as Petitgrain and Chamomile. Petitgrain is a plant that is believed to help with mental anguish, anger and emotional wounds, ideal if you have a racing mind at the end of the day. Similarly, Chamomile is ideal for pre-bed relaxation fix. Sipping on a warm cup of Chamomile tea can help to relieve built up tension in the body and mind. It even has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe mental and physical stresses. If having a bath is your go-to way of conjuring chill-time before bed, Dagmara recommends the ilapothacary Magnesium and Amethyst Deep Bath Soak, which is a terrific tonic that contains Vetiver and Sandalwood. Both of these essential oils work with the body to wind down, Vetiver because it acts as a natural sedative, enabling the release of anger and anxiety and Sandalwood due to its balancing properties, aligning our mental and physical self for a night of deep, relaxing rest.
It isn’t just peace and relaxation that aromatherapy is utilised for. Just as our thoughts, feelings and moods are on a constantly fluctuating scale, essential oils are as wide and varied to accommodate this. If you’re yearning for a balancing mood boost, using Geranium or Jasmine to stabilise your emotions and settle unruly feelings that may crop up, from frustration to irritability. For focus and clarity, you can try Peppermint, Frankincense or Clary Sage. Sending a superpowered shockwave to your senses, Peppermint wakes up the mind and helps you feel more alert. Who knew that sipping on a mint tea or popping a polo pre meeting could be a perfect mental pick-me-up! Frankincense may be most well-known for its appearance at the Nativity scene, but it should firmly be on the radar of anyone who needs a burst of concentration. Known as the ‘focus oil’ it relaxes the diaphragm, encouraging deep breath and mental clarity.
Clary sage is one of the most powerful essential oils with a dual purpose of strengthening and relaxing. It is said to boost self-esteem, confidence, hope and even emotional strength. It has also been proven to help with enhancing memory and brain function: the perfect combination for dispelling desk side woes. One spritz of the ‘Beat the Blues’ room spray from ilapothecary is enough to lift spirits and get your creative juices flowing – a must have in any stressful situation.
A product that we love that combines lots of these essential oil sensations is the Tisserand ‘Creative Space’ roller ball (part of the Little Box of Happiness collection), which contains Clary Sage, Grapefruit and Frankincense to help increase inspiration, self-expression and sparking some serious joy. It is the perfect handbag essential; one swipe can be totally transformational. We also adore their whole ‘Happy Vibes’ collection which includes a bath & shower wash for a morning or evening jolt of elation and a Moodfix Mist, which is perfect for energising your senses and keeping you on track throughout the day.
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