Having spent six years in the professional Spa Industry at various Resorts and Convention Hotels, as well as another seven years as an independent contractor, I often am asked how I incorporate aromatherapy into treatments beyond a standard aromatherapy massage. It is often taken forgranted that a massage therapist will use small bottles of essential oil across the board but it’s not typical in a Spa environment. Pure essential oils are commonly added to many different types of Spa treatments like mud wraps or clay masques but many spas use pre blended aromatherapy massage oils for the standard aromtherapy massage. In a Spa environment, aromatherapy is something you bill people for – so adding it to a standard massage treatment is frowned on unless you’re upselling the service to a client. But there are other ways you can incorporate aromatherapy that work just as well without tacking on a higher fee to the clients bill. I list a few below and most of these you can use at home as well!
The benefits of aromatherapy are many. Aromatherapy has been used to treat nausea in cancer patients, reduce the tensions of fibromyalgia, improve skin tone, alleviate menstrual cramps, decrease congestion in the skin and sinuses, and most commonly to induce sleep and a state of relaxation. The best ways to use aromatherapy in either your massage and spa treatments or at home are almost beyond counting! You can:
- Use an aromatherapy burner or diffuser in your treatment room or your home
- Use an aromatherapy pillow mist for your linens and in and around your home
- Use or create your own aromatherapy body oil for treatments or personal use
- Create your own bath salts fragranced with aromatherapy
I use bath and body works home fragrance oils rather than aromatherapy to scent my home, unless there is something I am trying to affect like my mood or trying to alleviate, like cold symptoms.
Our sense of smell is highly underrated. The body’s Limbic system which is responsible for smell can distinguish over 10,000 different scents. As scents are inhaled, the smell travels across the olfactory nerves located inside the nose and then up into the part of the brain that controls our moods, our memories and our ability to learn. When the Limbic system is stimulated it releases endorphins, neurotransmitters and other ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
When purchasing essential oil keep in mind:
* Essential oils from a bath or general store may be of questionable quality; shop for oils in a specialty store, staffed by salespeople with aromatherapy training.
* Quality oils, which are light and heat sensitive, will be in a blue or brown protective glass bottle that will prevent too much light and heat from destroying the oils potency.
* Labeling on the bottle should provide should provide both the common and botanical name for the oil.
* Steer clear of concentrated oils with rubber eyedroppers since the oils react with the rubber causing it to break down and contaminate the oil.
Another way to incorporate essential oils into your Massage or Spa treatments without raising the price for the guest is to use a warm towel on the face and apply some essential oil to the towel close to the chin and nose so that the guest receives the benefit of olfactory stimulation while not exposing their skin to the oil. The face towel will look like this and is common in esthetics treatments so just ask an esthetician if you want to know how to apply one. You can also cover the wet towel with a dry one to keep in the heat but remember that it will get cold after about ten minutes.
To make your own bath salts for use at home you can use or will need
- 3 cups salt. Recommended salt types: Dead Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Epsom salt, or a combination these salts. Salts typically come in several grain sizes. Combining multiple grain sizes can make your salts more visually appealing. Although chunkier salts often look prettier, larger salts do take longer to dissolve in the tub and can be a little painful or awkward if you step or sit on a few chunks that haven’t fully dissolved.
- 15-30 drops of your selected essential oil or essential oil blend. Be sure and take heed in the safety data for the oil(s) you choose to use.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 12 drops food coloring if you are brave and want to try coloring your salts
- 3 to 4 healthy tablespoons of a natural herb if you’re so inclined. Most Spa salts don’t include natural herbs but they can be nice if you enjoy that kind of closeness with nature.
To prepare the mixture
1. Take out a large metal or glass bowl (plastic and wood are too porous, and would absorb the scent of the essential oil), and a metal spoon (again, no wood or plastic). Pour in the salts and mix well.
2. Spread the drops of essential oil across the salts. Mix thoroughly. This can take a lot of stirring, since the essential oils tend to want to clump together. Be persistent, and try to break up any clumps that you see. Once there are no longer any clumps you can generally count on the essential oils being well-mixed too.
3. Now add the cup of baking soda and mix well. The baking soda needs to be added last, because it works better if the essential oils and food colorings are spread thin first (they would clump much worse if added to a mix with baking soda in it).
4. Finally, mix in any natural herbs you choose. These are added last so that all of the mixing doesn’t beat them up too much.
5. Put the bath salt mixture in an air-tight glass or metal container.
If you’re looking for a pre mixed aromatherapy oil I do recommend Bath and Body works massage aromatherapy massage oils which come with a pillow mist. But if you want all organic aromatherapy products and a Professional Spa product as well, I recommend Essensa.
To make your own essential oil blend for personal body use, I recommend grapeseed oil as a carrier, and about 15 drops of your essential oil of choice, depending on how big a bottle you plan to make. Massage Warehouse sells individual bottles of carrier oils like grapeseed and one bottle will last quite awhile. But keep in mind, most of the bottles of carrier oil will be plastic, which can absorb the essential oil and dilute the fragrance. Also, they are ususally clear and if using any kind of clear bottle, even if it’s glass, it will need to be stored in a cool, dark place to avoid light exposure, which can have a negative impact on the essential oil’s potency over time. Many natural health food stores sell colored glass bottles in blue and brown so that you can make up your own blends without worrying about sacrificing the oils purity. Amazon.com also sells these in a variety of sizes and you can also find atomizers to make your own linen sprays. To make your own linen sprays, you will need only distilled water and about 15 drops of your chosen essential oil.
- Definition: Essential Oils (bellasugar.com)