You’re already splurging for a massage, when the therapist asks if you’d like to throw aromatherapy into the mix. Should you spring for it?
Science says it’s worth it—aromatherapy isn’t just New Age hype. These potent oils derived from plants and herbs can move your mood, or even quell pain in a matter of minutes.
For example, lavender and orange oils contain linalool, a compound that may lower stress by altering gene expression and blood chemistry. If your priority is reducing pain, thyme oil’s been shown to hinder an inflammatory enzyme in the body by up to 65 percent.
The limbic system is a brain structure deep-seated in emotion and memory. “Because of the proximity of the nose to the limbic system, you can immediately shift your mood,” says Adora Winquist, aromatherapist and Opus Gaia formulator.
And here’s the great news: you can summon aromatherapy at anytime, thanks to creative new products that suit your every need.
When aromatherapy helps get you in the right mindset, your body will follow. Here, we review five aromatherapy products suited for everything from relieving stress to curbing your appetite.
Aveda Stress-Fix Body Lotion and Stress-Fix Concentrate
I'm a sucker for all things Aveda (I die over the signature herbal scents), and new Stress-Fix definitely does not disappoint. The proven stress-reliever lavender oil is lovely, but it's the semi-spicy clary sage that's the real star of this blend. I find myself rolling the concentrate on my wrists throughout the day whenever I need to take a brain-break. I close my eyes, put my nose to my wrists and take a few deep breaths, and I can (almost) pretend I'm at a zen spa instead of my cubicle.
The body lotion is great, too, but the scent is a little strong for allover use, at least for me. But hey, if your stress levels are through the roof, head-to-toe Stress-Fix just might be what the doctor ordered.
Bottom line: This has a quick calming effect when deadlines are looming. --Courtney Dunlop, YouBeauty Senior Editor
Ascents by Aeroscena no. 23 curb
Boasting “a blend of grapefruit and peppermint to help reduce your appetite,” Aeroscena’s shown that there’s a science behind how scent impacts human behavior. These pint-sized packets are perfect for toting around when a Swedish Fish craving goes into overdrive—simply lift the striped tab on the inner packet, gently squeeze to release a burst of aromatherapy, and sniff your way to thinness. (Okay, I could be exaggerating.)
While I can’t claim the product was the key to squeezing in my skinny jeans, I did strategically place a packet on my office chocolate supply. Instead of reaching for my afternoon sweet treat, I chose to indulge in the uplifting scents of grapefruit and peppermint.
Bottom line: The burst of citrus can “curb” your craving and buy you enough time to consider grabbing fruit over sweets. --Anne Roderique Jones, YouBeauty Social Media Manager
Chakra Balancing Blends by Rhiamon: Second Chakra
Swiping the roll-on across my wrists, the bold mix of blood orange, jasmine and neroli (orange blossoms) jolted me out of my writing rut and into the moment. This particular roll-on is labeled “I FEEL,” and for good reason—it targets the second chakra (energy center) for creativity and sensuality (!).
“When you’re using them with a positive affirmation [‘I feel’], you’re crystallizing that positive statement into the limbic system. When you smell it again you have direct access to that positive experience,” says aromatherapist Adora Winquist.
Did it work? Well, it gave me a break to get outside my head, letting ideas come upon me (creativity?). And that alluring scent carried me into the night, emitting a hint of intrigue (dare I say, sensuality?).
Bottom line: Try it for an uplifting pick me up! --Angelica Catalano, YouBeauty Assistant Editor
Kneipp Valerian & Hops Sleep Well Herbal Bath
This bath oil blend of two herbs, valerian and hops, claims it will promote relaxation and a sound night’s sleep. I have to say, after soaking in the tub for 15 minutes, it truly delivered. The scent of the oil made for one the most relaxing and aromatic baths, after which I had a very restful and deep sleep. (Just 20 minutes later!)
Why does it work like a charm? Valerian and hopa are sedative herbs used through the ages as a sleep aid.
Bottom line: This can help you have a sleep-inducing soak. --Letitia Wells, BeautySage Director of Buying
This product is available at our sister site, BeautySage, where we only sell products proven to work!
21 Drops Headache Relief Roll-on
I get frequent headaches and occasional migraines that can only be tackled by taking medication. So I was a bit skeptical about how well an aromatherapy product could tame the pain. 21 Drops Headache formulation contains a blend of essential oils: rosewood oil, lavender flower oil, and peppermint leaf oils. The claim: Inhaling the oils are said to stimulate blood flow to the brain to relieve the vasoconstriction behind a throbbing headache.
Once I felt the inkling of a headache coming on, I would apply the roll-on below my jawline, as instructed, or just take off the cap and inhale the mild scent. It has a calming effect and surprisingly, prevented any early headache-like warning signs from developing into full-blown headaches, saving me from taking medication.
Bottom line: 21 Drops Headache aromatherapy seemed to consistently help stop headaches before they started, as long as you start whiffing those essential oils early on. --Rachel Grumman Bender, YouBeauty Health Editor
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