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Spa Treatment Guide: Aromatherapies

While the history of aromatherapy dates back to over 3500 years BC, the term ‘aromatherapy’ itself wasn’t coined until 1935. After suffering a nasty burn during an accident in his laboratory, French chemist and perfumer, René-Maurice Gattefossé was said to have treated his wound with lavender essential oil to great effect. He then detailed his experience and resultant research in his notable work, Aromathérapie, les huiles essentielles, hormones végétales – the first time the word ‘aromatherapy’ had ever appeared in print.

Throughout time, aromatherapy has been used for a wide variety of purposes – from ancient religious practices to medicinal research and stress-relieving treatments – but no matter the cause, this holistic treatment has always served to relax, energise and soothe. Nowadays, aromatherapy continues to help people to unwind, recharge and escape from their everyday stresses and is an incredibly popular treatment at spas across the country.

Here, we explore how aromatherapy works, different types of aromatherapy treatments, the benefits of essential oils and what to expect from an indulgent aromatherapy treatment at one of our hand-picked luxury UK spas.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that involves the use of essential oils to promote calmness and relaxation. The essential oils used are distilled from raw plant material – such as flowers, stalks, berries, bark, seeds and leaves – that are renowned for their therapeutic and healing properties.

Quite literally a study in the power of aroma, aromatherapy is a sensory experience that activates the sense of smell, energises the body, alleviates joint pain and improves overall well-being. In practice, essential oils are warmed through, before being inhaled, massaged into the skin, added to bathing water or even brewed in teas for drinking as part of the selected aromatherapy treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils?

The use of essential oils in aromatherapy is an age-old practice that boasts a number of restorative benefits, from better sleep to stress relief, relaxation and elevated mood.

Distilled from plants, fruits, leaves and seeds into liquid form, the wide range of essential oils available each have a distinct and pleasant scent, as well as unique healing benefits. For example, lavender oil is well-known for its ability to promote better sleep, while peppermint oil is celebrated for boosting energy levels and improving skin and hair growth. Below, we have highlighted some of the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy treatments, alongside their specific benefits.

Tee Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is made by extracting the essence from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. Often found in a vast number of beauty products such as shampoo and bubble bath, tea tree essential oil has a fresh, minty scent with benefits that include antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties. As such, tea tree oil is often used in aromatherapy massage or facial treatments to improve skin dryness, treat acne and soothe any skin irritations or swelling.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Extracted from eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus essential oil is favoured for its immune-boosting qualities. Promoted by experts as an aid for respiratory problems, eucalyptus is said to soothe itchy throats, lessen asthmatic symptoms and open sinuses for easier breathing when inhaled as part of an aromatherapy session. As well helping to ease congestion and ward off the common cold, eucalyptus oil is also known to reduce joint pain, combat stress and improve hair health.

Lavender Essential Oil

Undoubtedly one of the most popular essential oils available around the world today, lavender oil is famed for its aromatherapy benefits of relieving stress and anxiety, easing migraines and inducing a restful sleep. Used widely in home products such as bubble bath, soap, candles and pillow sprays, lavender oil also features regularly in aromatherapy spa treatments, from facials to inhalation steam rooms and massages.

It is important to note that improper use of essential oils can cause dangerous adverse reactions. As such, it’s always best to enjoy their benefits via treatments – such as aromatherapy – where they can be diluted and applied properly by a qualified and professional therapist.

Different Types of Aromatherapies

Our curated selection of the best luxury spas in the UK offer a fabulous and soothing range of aromatherapy treatments. And while the most popular aromatherapy spa sessions are typically offered in the form of massage and facial treatments, there are many other different types of aromatherapies waiting to be discovered that are just as indulgent and relaxing. Take a look at a few of our favourites below.

Full Body Massage

Relaxing and revitalising in equal measure, an aromatherapy full body massage uses a luxurious blend of essential oils to soothe areas of body tension, from the back, shoulders and neck to the legs, arms and hands.

Reiki

A Japanese energy healing technique, aromatherapy Reiki treatments combine essential oils and palm healing to rebalance the body’s seven chakras. For example, for those who are struggling with communication, lavender oil can be used to unblock the fifth ‘throat’ chakra.

Reflexology

Reflexology is a healing massage practice that applies varying amounts of pressure to the feet, hands and ears that correspond with different parts of the body. When combined with the therapeutic scents of essential oils, the relaxing qualities of reflexology are taken to new energising heights.

Steam Rooms and the Laconium

Aroma steam rooms and the Laconium are incredibly popular forms of aromatherapy treatment. The intoxicating mix of steam and scent indulge the senses, making it possible to inhale the benefits of the essential oils while soaking up the cleansing and calming qualities of the steam.

What to Expect from an Aromatherapy Treatment

Before the aromatherapy treatment begins, the expert therapist will take the time to understand any important medical history, allergy, diet, general health and sleep pattern information. This will help them to tailor the treatment and choose which essential oils will be best suited to improve health and well-being.

Depending on the aromatherapy treatment of choice, the therapist will then blend the selected oils and proceed with the treatment. All that’s left to do is lie back and relax, enjoying the beautiful aromas as they soak in and begin to work their magic. Leave the spa feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.