By harnessing the functional benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy, the fragrance has transcended its traditional roots of classic perfume and is beginning to invade the world of well-being and self-care
As such, self-care products and fragrance as a function are two prominent emerging trends impacting the way we use essential oils and aromatherapy. The fast-growing spa industry and clean beauty skincare industry therefore offer significant opportunities for incorporating essential oils and aromatherapy into their practices and formulations.
One essential oil at the forefront of the aromatherapy industry is Indian sandalwood oil, which is steam distilled from the aromatic heartwood of Santalum album. As an active ingredient, Indian sandalwood oil may provide multiple skincare benefits in addition to its therapeutic benefits. The oil is also known for its distinctive olfactory properties, with a soft, warm and woody scent that makes it a popular scent in both perfumery and aromatherapy. Capturing the essence of the tree itself, the essential oil is hearty, grounding and complex. Due to its olfactory properties, Indian sandalwood oil has found its way into many uses – a key use being aromatherapy.
Self-care is quickly becoming synonymous with wellness, as other health and wellness trends continue to spread, the topic of self-care is ubiquitous.
A survey 1 by IRi found that nearly nine in ten Americans (88%) are actively practicing self-care. Essential oils are already being incorporated into self-care products and practices for their dual ability to heal the body and mind.
The aromatic components of sandalwood are alpha-santalol and beta-santalol. Alpha-Santalol is the most dominant of the 125 constituents and contains most of the therapeutic benefits of sandalwood. Studies 2 show that the alpha-santalol in sandalwood oil calms the nervous system when inhaled or applied topically. Common markers of a stimulated nervous system are eye blink, pulse rate, and systolic blood pressure, all of which are significantly reduced when sandalwood is inhaled or absorbed through skin application.
Fragrance as a function 3
As beauty and skincare products begin to incorporate the concepts of wellness and deeper meaning into their formulations by telling the stories of the ingredients and where they come from, the products’ fragrance is no longer seen as just an aesthetic adornment. Instead, the scent also has a meaning.
Aromatherapy is now becoming an integral part of both the fragrance and beauty markets. Not only do consumers want their products to smell transporting and perform well, they want the flavor to have a function as well.
We see scents triggering the experience of being in nature, as research has shown that being in the forest can reduce our stress levels. Specific scent notes that are trending are those that evoke the forest to recreate the experience of “forest bathing” – a Japanese meditation practice called shinrin yoku that encourages slow, mindful walks in the forest and inhaling the natural aromas of the trees Reset the parasympathetic nervous system and improve well-being.
Flavors derived from the wood and bark of trees such as sandalwood are now finding increasing use in beauty and skin care products. Due to its popularity, Indian sandalwood has faced constant threats to its survival from overharvesting and illegal poaching, which put it on the International Union for Conversation of Nature’s Endangered Species List in 1998. It’s only with the establishment of sustainable Indian sandalwood plantations by companies like Quintis Sandalwood that the ingredient has had a resurgence in the fragrance industry.
The spa industry
Spas will continue to grow exponentially as more and more people seek ways to relax and relieve stress.
In the spa industry right now, aromatherapy and essential oils have a much more dynamic presence – and play a richer, more integral role – than ever before. In particular, the holistic benefits of Indian sandalwood make it a perfect ingredient for spa and wellness treatments and products.
Although aroma has always played a key role in the aesthetics and mood of a spa, we are now seeing the use of aroma evolving into a more sophisticated expression of not only the spa’s branding and identity, with the development of signature scents, but also to a greater emphasis on customer relaxation and comfort. Fragrances are now valued more consciously and intensely for their therapeutic effects to reset and recalibrate our nervous system.
We can find evidence of this reformulated approach to using essential oils and aromatherapy within the spa experience through offerings such as aromatherapy classes, essential oil blending bars and guest speakers on the subject.
This will continue to grow and expand as aromatherapy is seen as a key essential element in supporting customers’ relaxation and well-being.
Clean beauty: skin care
The continued exponential growth of herbal and minimally processed ingredients for use in the clean beauty skincare industry is also supporting the growth of the aromatherapy and essential oils market.
Fragrance in our skincare products is no longer seen as just an aesthetic adornment, brand owners and product developers want their products’ fragrances to have benefits as well. We see face and body care brands talking about their aromas in terms of benefits, highlighting the aromatherapeutic properties of the essential oils they contain.
The Clean Beauty movement introduced the concept of wholeness to our beauty routines and shopping, merging the personal story of the brand owners with the story of where and how the ingredients are sourced, with their unique benefits for our skin and general well-being. This reinterpretation of beauty as an expression of wellness is the ideal environment for incorporating aromatherapy concepts into skin and body care products, so we are seeing more and more essential oils in formulas across all categories.
view in the future
Essential oils and aromatherapy will infiltrate the wellness and beauty markets as increasing consumer interest in wholeness and wellness continues to drive self-care and functional fragrance trends.
Aside from its ability to make you smell good, the plethora of benefits fragrances offer to our well-being and overall health presents an increasing opportunity for integration into the aromatherapy, spa and skincare industries.
2 Evaluation of the Effects of East Indian Sandalwood Oil and α-Santalol on Humans After Transdermal Absorption; 2004; Heuberger, E., Hongratanaworakit, T.