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Essential Oils


by laura smith and
yael alkalay

    explore the origins of essential oils and the role they play in perfumery, aromatherapy and health. observe the evolution and use of these powerful botanical extracts and profound effects they have on the body and mind.

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what is an essential oil?

essential oil is the life force of living plants. it is what makes each plant unique and contains the most potent healing energy that nature has to offer. uplifting, calming, and regenerating, these active botanicals have a profound effect on the mind and body. by definition, they are liquids derived from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds - each carrying their own distinctive scent and essence. no essential oil is alike, because no plant is alike. each drop contains the entirety of the plant and all the therapeutic and fragrant properties it has to offer. highly concentrated, it takes an immense amount of plants to produce a small amount of essential oil. as a vital part of every plant's survival, it makes sense that essential oils are equally compatible with humans. chemically, the cell structure of essential oils is very similar to human cells. most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and work to support the body's own healing systems. today, research shows that when used aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally, essential oils can calm, energize, balance, purify, and rejuvenate the mind and body. because of their small molecular size, essential oils are easily absorbed through the skin, allowing them to deliver a concentrated dose of rich nutrients and active vitamins for visible results.

synthetic vs natural

"natural materials are incredibly nuanced and have a layered quality that synthetics do not. i compare it to the way cashmere feels in your hand or the complex taste of an heirloom tomato."

-- mandy aftel

essence and alchemy: a natural history of perfume

the essence of any living thing cannot be manufactured in a lab. a synthetic rose oil may be called a rose, but will be devoid of its true aroma and holistic properties. to ensure the integrity and efficacy of an essential oil, there are important factors to consider. quality essential oils are properly distilled or extracted, and originate from a reliable source. synthetic and adulterated oils, can even have adverse effects on the skin. in perfumery, natural perfumes blended with essential oils stay close to the skin and interact with the body's unique chemistry; while a synthetic perfume leaves a trail of scent that can fill a room. red flower uses whole essential oils, seeking to partner with sustainable agriculture farmers for sourcing flowers and essential oil ingredients to positively impact and support local and global communities. wild crafted and organic plants grow within the best possible environment and as a result, they are stronger -- maintaining their own immune system and integrity, and providing a therapeutic grade of essential oil.

the art of distillation

"the act of distillation is the process or art whereby the invisible is made visible"

-- jeanne rose

director of the institute of aromatic studies

from the delicate art of enfleurage to the modern mechanizations of cold-pressing, the extraction of essentials oils has developed over the ages to capture botanical extracts in their purest forms. the method of extraction will determine the quality of the oil, with each plant requiring a different type distillation to coax out the precious oil. the most common form of distillation is through steam. heat sensitive plant extracts are vaporized using pressurized steam to release the aromatic molecules. after returning to a liquid state, the essential oil is then separated from the water. for distilling fruit oils, cold-pressing extracts essential oil from fruit peels while maintaining the oil's purest form without the use of heat. through the force of granite millstones or modern steel presses, this shredded mixture is extracted through pressure, allowing the oil to retain all of its nutrients, aroma, and medicinal value.


smell is the only sense that travels directly to the brain from a sensory organ. scents stimulate a part of the brain that influences blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and emotions. the power of scent goes beyond the proustian sense of memories. smells can trigger the production of neurochemicals that can alter moods. the release of serotonin calms the mind and body, while endorphins can feel uplifting, it is this connection between aromatic essences and the physical and psychological effects that define aromatherapy. the aim of aromatherapy is to enhance the individual's innate healing process by assisting the body's natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and stabilize itself. each oil delivers its own therapeutic effects. research in cancer patients shows aromatherapy helps to relieve anxiety, depression, nausea and high blood pressure. in japan, offices will use aromatherapy to increase productivity -- the implications of different essential oils are endless.

the frequency scale of essential oils

"if you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."

-- nikola tesla

every living thing has a frequency, from plants to the human body. each essential oil has its own distinct vibration that comes from the complexity of its molecular structure. comprised of 130 distinct molecules, the vibrating energy of pure rose oil pulses like a heartbeat. this kinetic energy is what makes each essential oil beneficial for particular ailments and specific body systems. this vibratory essence provides an attainable feeling of well-being and has the power to alter the senses.

featured essential oils

lavender - soothes, calms and harmonizes, relieving nervous tension, irritability and encourages a restful sleep. - ionizing vita toning flower mist

juniper berry fruit uplifting, rejuvenates the mind, alleviates sluggishness, opens the respiratory system and anti-inflammatory. the juniper tree and its fruit have been a great source of omnipotence in folklore and medicine. the navajo believed in its purifying and protective powers they burned juniper to produce "good luck smoke" for hunters and wore the berries as "ghost beads" to prevent nightmares and ward off evil spirits. in medieval times, juniper branches were burned from the scottish highlands to germany and italy, as a purification ritual to dispel the evil spirits in the form of plague and infection. as an anti-inflammatory, the berries were used as a traditional remedy for arthritis, muscle ache and eczema. - essential omega fresh berry-oil serum

pink grapefruit - awakens, uplifts, enhances mental clarity and short-term memory, and relieves mental fatigue. - orange quince skin steam mist

helichrysum a rare and precious oil, it is called "immortelle" for the flowers retaining their golden color even when dried. extracted from delicate paper-like flowers, the oil produced posses an intoxicating honeyed scent. each plant yields little oil but its potency and ability to reduce inflammation exceeds any other essential oil. traditionally used to treat wounds and prevent infection, the essential oil alleviates many skin disorders like dermatitis it fights bacteria, regulates blood flow, and reduces swelling, itching and redness. especially restorative for mature skin, it reduces scars and discoloration. in aromatherapy - it is supportive and comforting, and believed to open the right side of the brain to increase dream activity. - lymphatic phytopower sea cleanser and masque

eucalyptus opens the lungs, increases brain wave activity and counters physical and mental fatigue. - ocean moisturizing body lotion

rose damascena calming, balances moods, alleviates nervous tension, aids insomnia and promotes a general positive feeling. - arctic berry cloud milk cream

black pepper energizes, increases focus and invigorates. - cardamom amber oil

geranium - improves memory, treats emotional and stress-related conditions while relaxing, and relieving anxiety and mood swings. - bioactive berry white peat exfoliant

fir absolute helps to clarify and resolve confusion and indecision, awakens and energizes the system- organic birch mineral hydrotherapy soaking plunge

neroli - enhances sensual and euphoric moods and soothes the nervous system - lemon coffee blossom olive stone scrub