Essential Aromatherapy Basics
Essential oils and the corresponding aromatherapy products can make up approximately one-third of the gross revenue at your store. If you choose to feature this very hot and trending product line, be sure to dedicate time and attention to educating your customers and provide testers for your aromatic products. After all, customers want to experience the aroma before they buy it. They also want to know how to use it as well as the properties for body, mind, and spirit. The scents of aromatherapy, medical grade oils, that naturally exude into your retail space provide good feelings and comfort for your customers. Customers will exclaim, “It smells so good in here!” The wonderful scents can encourage longer shopping visits, which equate to increased overall sales.
True medical-grade oils provide real therapeutic results
Aromatherapy products have entered the commercial marketplace by force. There are many commercial-grade products marketed as “aromatherapy,” but they are either not made with quality essential oils or contain synthetic fragrances. If you plan to sell therapeutic-quality essential oils, it is important to know and understand the differences between the various grades of essential oils.
True medical-grade oils provide real therapeutic results. They bring about a physiological, mental, emotional, or spiritual response immediately. The following is an overview of the various grades of oils you will encounter on the market:
- Pure Medical Grade essential oils are 100% pure and completely natural. This means they do not contain any synthetic or unnatural adulterations. They are determined to be pure through quality control from the point of growth, processing, and laboratory analysis.
- Pure Grade Organic essential oils are from organic flowers, plants, and trees that are certified by U.S. standards and inspections. They are considered pure medical grade oils.
- Aromatherapy Grade essential oils are adulterated with natural and unnatural components and additives.
- Commercial Grade essential oils have been distilled again, creating a lower grade oil or have components added or removed to improve odor or safety.
Recommendation for Beginner’s Use
Inhalation and diffusion are the preferred method of use until you get to know your essential oils. Essential oils have true chemical constituents with real effects on your body. Medical grade essential oils are much more potent than a roll-on fragranced oil. Use the real essential oils sparingly. A drop or two goes a long way.
Application of essential oils are best used in carrier oil or lotion, preferably applied to the soles of your feet. It’s very easy. Place a dollop of unscented lotion in the palm of your hand and a few drops of your chosen essential oil, rub your hands together to emulsify it, then massage it into the soles of your feet. Refrain from applying the oils directly on your body and do not take them internally. Enjoy the exploration of the many uses of nature’s aromatic gifts and turn to the myriad of vibrational support available to you as you begin creating aroma-energetic blends with far-reaching beneficial effects.
Medical grade oils are recommended for therapeutic reasons for inhalation, for replacement products for home and beauty, and for application. The skin is the largest organ of the body and is the key location for the absorption of the essential oils directly into the bloodstream. To use therapeutically, add the chosen oil or synergy to carrier oil, as described earlier, and apply it to the soles of your feet to maximize the integration of the oil’s physiological benefits. Application to the feet also avoids sensitivity challenges in those with sensitive skin; irritation is less likely to affect the soles of the feet, which are generally thicker-skinned than the rest of the body.
Common Carrier Oils for Topical Use
Many of your customers will plan on using an essential oil topically. It is highly recommended that you maintain a stock of carrier oils. Just as the name implies, carrier oil carries, or dilutes, the highly concentrated essential oil for the purposes of application on the body. Carrier oils are oils extracted from nuts, seeds, or vegetables. When you add an essential oil to a carrier oil, the shelf life is significantly and immediately altered, as the oils extracted from nuts, seeds, and vegetables have a shorter shelf life than essential oils do. Incidentally, citrus oils maintain their shelf life best when refrigerated, and all other essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place. There are many factors that affect the shelf life of oils.
When choosing a carrier oil for your topical application of an essential oil or essential oil blend, choose from among the following:
Sweet almond oil – is derived from the almond nut, which is rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin E. Sweet almond oil is most popular for use as a carrier for essential oils. It is well received by most skin types. It improves the complexion, soothes irritations, and moisturizes and nourishes the skin, leaving it smooth and soft. Sweet almond oil has a clear pale yellow color and a slightly sweet, nutty scent.
Coconut oil – extracted from the meat of the coconut, is an excellent moisturizer. Coconut oil easily penetrates the skin and is a favorite among massage therapists and medical professionals as a carrier of essential oils. Fractionated coconut oil is claimed not to go rancid. Other advantages of fractionated coconut oil include that it is odorless, colorless, and washes out of fabrics and so does not leave a stain. Fractionated coconut oil remains liquid and clear, while the non-fractionated type solidifies at room temperature.
Grapefruit seed carrier oil – is pressed from the seeds of the grapefruit. This is not the same as grapefruit essential oil or grapefruit seed extract. The consistency of grapefruit seed carrier oil is similar to canola oil. It has no scent. With its high vitamin C content, this carrier oil aids in healing acne and tones the skin. Due to its astringent nature, it helps clear congestion in the skin. Grapefruit seed carrier oil is virtually colorless and has little or no scent.
Jojoba carrier oil – is extracted from the seed of the jojoba bush. This oil is rich in vitamin E and encourages a glowing complexion. It quickly penetrates the skin. Its skin-smoothing and softening effect makes it a great makeup base. It has even been shown to reduce the appearance of pore size with use over time. Jojoba carrier oil has a slight odor and is pale golden yellow to orange in color.
Olive oil – has been used for centuries as a skin moisturizer. This benefit results from its high content of linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) as well as its high mineral and vitamin count. The oil is soothing and healing for the skin. Olive oil ranges from yellow to brown to green in color. It does have a distinct odor. Any type of olive oil will serve the intended purpose.
Unscented organic lotion – which is usually made with organic oil and a natural thickening agent, in a pump dispenser bottle is my personal favorite for applying essential oils topically. A good-quality organic lotion will contain at least 80% organic ingredients and is ready-to-use for all skin types. It may contain a variety of oils like coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter, and apricot kernel oil.
To use a carrier oil or unscented lotion, the essential oil can be added to the bottle itself or a separate glass container for blending, or a portion of the oil can be poured into the palm of your hand along with a few drops of the desired essential oil(s).
Each of the carrier oils listed above are great for use by massage therapists, but for home personal use, I prefer to use unscented lotion. Simply pump a few dollops of lotion into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of the essential oil(s), then emulsify the mixture in the palms of your hands, and apply.
Essential oil in a carrier, whether oil or lotion, can also be applied to an affected area. However, be sure you are aware of any contraindications. For instance, citrus oils are phototoxic, so when using this particular oil on an exposed part of your body, be mindful to stay out of direct sunlight for a number of hours after application.
Cautions: Specific Safety Rules for Common Uses
I do not recommend or endorse the internal use of essential oils. The uses described within these pages include inhalation and topical use only. Most oils should not be used during pregnancy or nursing, and all are generally contraindicated for the first trimester or nursing and many should not be used on children under the age of 6. For ages 6 and under, the safest dilution ration is 0.25% dilution, and for over age 6, the typical dilution is 1%. For example, if you were to use 6 drops of essential oil in 20 ml of a carrier oil for an adult, then for a child over age 6, you would use 1 drop to 100 ml of carrier oil.
Always practice essential oil safety and remember to use the essential oil in a carrier when applying it to your skin. Any oils that have gone rancid should be discarded. Check on the contraindications in the “For your safety” section under each essential oil to ensure you have a pleasant experience. For instance, some oils lower your blood pressure, like clary sage, sweet marjoram, and ylang ylang, which may be beneficial for those with high blood pressure but may be harmful for those with low blood pressure.
Top 10 Best Selling Oils and their qualities
- Lavender is a good tool for meditation as it calms the mind and brings about mental clarity. This comforting oil soothes hysteria and worry. Its benefits would fill this magazine so if you could have only one essential oil, this is the one. It is the number one best seller of all the single note oils. Lavender’s physical benefits include relief of aching muscles, improvement of acne, clearing infections, repelling insects, treating bacterial infections, healing burns and other minor wounds, soothing earaches, treating eczema, relieving fatigue, reducing fevers, relieving headaches, alleviating insomnia, easing menstrual cramps, balancing hormones in menopause, treating shingles, and relieving sinusitis. It sells all year long!
- Eucalyptus allows for clear respiratory passages as well as a clear mind. Eucalyptus increases alertness. Use it to reduce or relieve the symptoms of cold, flu, and allergies. It opens up all breathing passages to relieve congestion of nose, sinus, and bronchial airways. Eucalyptus is beneficial to relieve painful aching muscles. Did you know that eucalyptus is one of the best natural insect repellents? Eucalyptus oil sells very well during the cold and flu season and year-round in tropical climates. It’s a favorite of body workers and massage therapists as a tool to help their clients breathe easily when lying face down on a massage table. Add a drop to the face cradle cover to open up the breathing passageways.
- Tea Tree has strong antiseptic qualities and is recognized for its anti-infectious and antifungal qualities. Tea tree is a favorite to relieve or rid nails of fungus. It is especially beneficial for the relief of a sore throat, toothache, earache, and sinus conditions. Tea tree can be used to reduce the effects of the sting of an insect bite.
- Patchouli reduces and inhibits the growth of multiple strains of bacteria and fungi. Did you know that patchouli with cinnamon is also known to attract prosperity and abundance? Drop one drop of cinnamon and patchouli onto a cotton ball and place it in your cash drawer or near your register. Form the intention that every time you smell the prosperity combo you will focus on more sales and, therefore, attract more sales. Patchouli attracts both love and money! Patchouli is useful for repelling fleas, lice, and mosquitoes, especially in combination with eucalyptus radiata.
- Peppermint helps to wake you up. It’s a great oil to have handy for long drives to maintain alertness or when you need to maintain mental clarity and focus. Peppermint relieves headaches and congestion. I’ve had more than one customer tell me that they put a drop of peppermint oil on the back of their neck when they feel a migraine coming on and doing so keeps the migraine away. Peppermint is often found in foot lotion because it refreshes and relieves aching feet. Have a tummy ache? Put a drop of peppermint into a little bit of lotion as a carrier and massage it onto your belly. Just one drop though and be sure to wash your hands well after you are in contact with peppermint oil because it will sting your eyes or any mucus membrane. Peppermint is especially helpful for digestion to relieve stomachaches and to activate digestive enzymes to detox the body.
- Frankincense is the ultimate oil for meditation practice. Frankincense brings a sense of calm and inner peace, thereby quieting ruffled emotions and out-of-balance feelings. Did you know that frankincense is a very powerful oil used to relieve the symptoms associated with any respiratory challenge? Use frankincense for all respiratory concerns. It’s perfect for the healing process during recovery of pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, sinus congestion, and similar ailments. This oil sells especially well during the winter holidays as well as cold and flu season.
- Lemongrass is helpful to boost your self-confidence through inhalation of this essential oil while matching it with an affirmation. Use lemongrass to relieve achy joints, lower high blood pressure, and to kill germs. In a carrier oil, lemongrass massaged into the muscles improves their suppleness, increases circulation, and reduces muscle pain. It makes a good insect repellent, reduces pet odors, and generally deodorizes the air. It can be used for headache relief and even reduces the symptoms of jet lag.
- Rosemary brings mental clarity and sharpness. Use it during times of study for retention of information. Smell rosemary oil to help you recall information during tests. Rosemary kills germs and is a good disinfectant that protects against contagious diseases. Use this oil to open your airways and improve the depth of your breathing. Rosemary is well known for its skin and healthcare benefits. It stimulates the scalp and can be used as an aid to prevent baldness. Here is an interesting tidbit: Rosemary has become a symbol of loyalty and fidelity and is used historically to lace wedding bouquets.
- Sage is a stimulant, increases cerebral blood flow, and potentially raises low blood pressure. Do you have customers who are looking for a smoke-free way to smudge their space? Smudging is the traditional spiritual practice of clearing away negative thoughtforms (the manifestation of mental energy) and other negative vibrations with the smoke of burning herbs, typically dried sage. Sage and cedarwood essential oils together are a great duo to diffuse in a space that needs clearing. Sage oil can be used to reduce excessive perspiration. Sage also reduces anxiety and helps to relieve symptoms of depression. Sage is the ultimate go-to oil for clearing out negative energy from your space and your personal energy field.
- Lemon helps raise your spirits. It assists you in garnering self-confidence when you are on a quest to improve your self-esteem. Lemon essential oil is excellent for increasing mental clarity. It’s a great oil to inhale when working with numbers or any project that requires attention to details. The purifying nature of lemon cleanses and detoxifies. This oil is a great aid for weight loss and improved digestive function. Use lemon to restore vitality after a prolonged illness
There are more all-time favorites like bergamot, grapefruit, orange, lilac, hyacinth, and palo santo oil. Aromatherapy sprays are very popular and sell well. To keep your stock clean and unopened, place the testers where the customer can smell them or spray them and maintain your unopened stock on shelves behind the counter where they can be accessed by your team when an oil or spray is sold.
Cross-selling aromatherapy sidelines
There is a considerable amount of scientific research supporting the ability of essential oils to deter a wide range of bacterial, fungal, viral, and/or other disease-causing microorganisms through the diffusion of oils into the atmosphere and onto the skin with the use of a carrier oil. When diffused, the scent particles of the oils also help to remove odor from the air as well as purify the surrounding atmosphere in the case of environmental contaminants. The top selling diffusion products are:
- Tea light diffusers
- Oil Rings
- Aromatherapy pendants
- Electric Diffusers
- Spray bottles
Testers and Informational Aromatherapy Sheets sell essential oils
Customers want to smell the essential oil before they buy. There is a difference in quality and scent from one aromatherapy vendor to the next. Be sure to purchase essential oils from a company that provides testers. Some aromatherapy vendors will provide a free tester with a minimum order per scent.
It’s good to have an easy reference aromatherapy sheet with the qualities of every essential oil that you carry in your store. It serves as an educational tool for your customers and your staff and doubles as a shopping list. I provide this sheet to my wholesale customers/retail partners who purchase my line – The Crystal Garden Brand – and I am happy to share it with you for use in your store as well.