(originally published in the July, 2009 edition of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques & Spa)
When I first became involved with the study of aromatherapy and the science of essential oils in the mid-1990’s, I read in a number of sources being published at the time that the effects of smell are real. In addition to their functional effects on a person, as determined by a University of Miami, Touch Research Institute study, they can either positively affect the mood of a person or they can give them nightmares, as reported in msnbc.com. Furthermore, exposure to a particular fragrance can reawaken memories of an experience from the distant past.
I hope to convey one important message to any therapist or business owner, whether the business is a full-fledged, multi-floored spa, salon or small treatment room. If you are going to use scents in your space, you must make sure they are acceptable to any one who may enter that area. Ideally, the selection should be a signature scent, so that it will be something that your clients have not experienced before. Therefore it can only generate a favorable response to being in your place of business, with the understanding that your exclusive services demand a positive response.
In addition to selecting a pleasing signature scent or fragrance, you should attempt to harmonize it with other smells that exist in your facility. You do not want sensory overload to ruin your client’s experience or expectation of their time at your business. Sensory overload can occur when going from one space and smell to another space with a completely different fragrance. It can also occur when, in an attempt to be accommodating to your customer or client, he or she is bombarded with a number of different and contrasting fragrances that wreak havoc with their olfactory system, resulting in headaches or nausea.
Just as aromas can affect your clients, they can also impact your staff. Should the staff be exposed to a plethora of different and nonharmonizing fragrances, they may experience headaches and nausea, which is not beneficial for anybody.
Essential oils are generally characterized by “notes,” i.e., a top, middle or base note, similar to the keys of a piano. A base note, such as frankincense (Boswellia cateri), is a deep and heavy fragrance. A middle one, such as lavender (Lavandula officinalis), is somewhere in between a base note and a top note. A top note, such as bergamot (Citrus bergamia), is light and airy.
Generally, a lighter note is used to psychologically elevate a person’s spirits and, when used therapeutically, deal with emotions. A heavier or base note is typically used on an anatomical basis to address deep tissue issues.
When creating an aromatherapy regimen for an individual, I try to ascertain the needs of the person or their clientele and the environment that they are trying to generate. Then I suggest that they limit the choices presented to them to a very small number of preselected essential oil synergies. While each essential oil has discernible properties, when two or more essential oils are blended together, they generally form a “synergy”, making their effects more striking.
If your client says that he or she likes the first choice presented to them, you do not need to offer any others, as that is the body’s way of telling the person that it needs whatever is being offered by that particular synergy.
Les Nouvelles Esthétiques