The Historical Use of Aromatherapy in Skincare

Posted on: August 26th, 2009 by

More and more people are becoming allergic or extremely sensitive to the chemicals found in brand name perfumes and skin care products. Before discovering aromatherapy and beginning to work with essential oils, I commonly used synthetic perfumes and brand name skin care products because I didn’t understand what the actual ingredients of these perfumes were.Now, I can’t be in the vicinity of a synthetic perfume without having an adverse reaction to it! And I have slowly changed my skin care routine to include only products I have made with pure essential oils.

Although essential oils, as we know them today, weren’t around hundreds of years ago, a form of ‘aromatherapy’ was; people used natural plants and oils from plants for cosmetic purposes.

Since historic times, many ancient civilizations have used natural plants and oils in their skin care routines. The Romans were famous for adding lavender to the Roman baths; the Romans also thought highly of rose too. On a trip to the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy last summer, I was fascinated to discover that excavations of Pompeii have unearthed proof that many Pompeiians both grew and used many flowers and herbs for culinary and cosmetic purposes; these plants are ones which we are familiar with today and include rose, lily, laurel, fennel, myrtle and myrrh.

Another important figure from history – this time French history – is Marie Antoinette of France (1755 – 1793) who used many natural perfumes and oils in her skin care routine; Marie Antoinette had her own personal perfumer to make her natural scents and lotions on a whim. In fact, it is said that Marie Antoinette’s obsession with her perfumes and lotions may have cost her her life; the delay in preparations for fleeing France was due to Marie Antoinette’s toilette preparations, which made those no longer loyal to the Queen suspicious of her intentions. Marie Antoinette was eventually captured and sent to the guillotine.

For more information, read my articles The Perfumes of Marie Antoinette and The Ancient Perfumes of Pompeii.

If you are really interested in Marie Antoinette of France and, in particular her use of perfumes, I highly recommend reading A Scented Palace by Elisabeth de Feydeau 2007 I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd (UK and USA).

For more on the ancient perfumes of Pompeii I highly recommend Perfumes, Unguents and Hairstyles in Pompeii (Profumi, ungenti e acconciature in pompei antica) by Carlo Giordano, Angelandrea Casale 2nd edition Bardi Editore Roma, Italia.

If you have any thoughts or comments on the historical use of aromatherapy in skin care please post a comment!

Next time, I’ll discuss essential oils suitable for skincare…

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Essential Oils Not Recommended for Aromatherapy Use

Posted on: August 22nd, 2009 by
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This subject area is quite complex, so much so, that it became too long for a blog post and I wrote a complete article on it!
Essential oils which are ‘safe’ and essential oils which are not ‘safe’ is always an area of discussion in aromatherapy; but if you look at the chemical content of some essential oils you will realize, from their chemistry, that they really are not suitable for therapeutic practice in aromatherapy.
To learn more read Essential Oils Not Suitable for Aromatherapy Use
You may also wish to read the related articles of Essential Oils for Baby and Phototoxic Essential Oils
If you have any comments on any of these essential oils or have more to add to the list please leave a comment or contact me!

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The Importance of Latin Names in Identifying an Essential Oil

Posted on: August 20th, 2009 by
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Cranesbill is not where geranium essential oil comes from
There are many species of lavender

There is often confusion between the the identification of some essential oils and their uses for therapeutic purposes in aromatherapy. The misunderstanding often arises because people often use the common english name of a plant and not the botanical latin name. The following plants are often confused:
Reading these individual articles will give you some idea of the confusion between these various plants. These common misunderstandings should remind us that when identifying an essential oil for a particular purpose, we should learn the latin name (ie the botanical name) of the plant. Not only do plants/essential oils get mistaken for other species/varieties by using english names but there are many different varieties of a plant species.
Lavender is probably one of the most well known and popular essential oils – but there are many species of lavender. Not only that, but depending on the growing season and region, the same lavender species may produce a slightly different chemical composition than the previous year. Lavender essential oils include the following varieties:
Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis - common/true lavender
Lavendula x intermedia - lavandin
Lavendula latifolia - spike lavender
Lavandula stoechas -different to the above 3 lavender varieties in that it is high in ketones and not in common usage in aromatherapy.
With the exception of Lavendula stoechas , all of these lavender plants look similar but their chemical composition varies slightly – they have common aromatherapy uses but this may not be the case with every species of plant. In addition, you often see lavender essential oils marketed as Bulgarian or French or English lavender; this gives you a clue as to which country the distilled lavender essential oil came from but you still need to check the chemical composition to make sure it is typical of -
a) other lavender essential oils
b) will work therapeutically for what you intend to use it for.
This is just an example of the complexities surrounding english and latin botanical names for plants and essential oils; there are also some essential oils which should never be used for aromatherapy purposes. That’s coming up next….


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Myrtle Essential Oil

Posted on: August 14th, 2009 by
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Myrtle Essential Oil


Myrtle Essential Oil

Myrtle Essential Oil

Myrtle was used by the ancient Greek Dioscorides and has a lot of associations with love! Most notably it was associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and legend tells that Aphrodite hid her nakedness behind a myrtle bush! Greek brides today often carry myrtle in their bridal bouquets and even Queen Victoria of England mixed myrtle in her 1840 bridal bouquet, together with snowdrops. However, for its therapeutic properties, myrtle essential oil is most used for its antiseptic power – to learn more read my latest essential oil profile – myrtle essential oil

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How to Create an Aromatherapy Spa

Posted on: August 14th, 2009 by
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Going to the spa in these economic times might be something which you give a miss – but that doesn’t mean you have to give your spa treatments a miss too! Its relatively easy to create your own aromatherapy spa, with pure essential oil blends, at home!
To learn more read How to Enjoy Spa Treatments at Home

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Do You Have Suggestions for Aromatherapy Notes?

Posted on: August 13th, 2009 by
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Is there something you are curious about? Do you want to know more about a particular essential oil? Or carrier oil? Do you want to learn more about aromatherapy in the UK? Or in the USA? Is there a new aromatherapy practice or treatment you’ve heard about and want to share?

I would love to hear anyone’s suggestions or comments on any of aromatherapy notes blog posts or what you would like to see more (or less!) of! In addition to writing aromatherapy notes, I also maintain the Sedona Aromatherapie website library, Sedona Aromatherapie’s facebook fan page and am in the process of (in the next year) adding more sister aromatherapy websites (products and articles) to the Sedona Aromatherapie family! I regularly contribute to the aromatherapy section at suite101, an online media magazine and I also tweet about Sedona Aromatherapie and other aromatherapy articles on twitter too!

Look forward to your thoughts and comments!

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