How do essential oils work is often asked online, so we asked celebrity facialist Ada Ooi to give us a detailed guide to Aromatherapy, its uses, and benefits.

Ada has a celebrity client list that includes Ellie Goulding, Rooney Mara, and Lily Allen, and she is a fully trained TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner using acupuncture and Eastern facial massaging techniques within her skincare practice.

She is the founder of 001 Skincare, a luxury skincare brand that merges advanced skincare formulations with traditional Asian apothecaries, Aromatherapy, and Gua Sha techniques.

Pic: Rooney Mara & Ada Ooi

Ada explains to us in her guide to Aromatherapy how the ages-old therapy actually works when we put essential oils to use.

She says, ‘Aromatherapy literally is healing with aroma – you gain therapeutic effects via the inhalation of essential oils and stimulate smell receptors in the nose which then send signals to the limbic system- the part of the brain that controls emotions (but bypass consciousness). Combined with your memories accumulated since you were born, an emotion or feeling is evoked leading to a relative mental reaction, which can be relaxation, happiness, or feeling blessed.’

‘This can go even further to then affect your physical being: it can relax tense muscles, or encourage your eyeballs to roll backward at a resting position making you feel sleepy’ Ada adds. ‘Or it can cheer you up, get yourself together, and work in a positive and productive way.’

Pic: Shutterstock

How we react to aromas can be complicated though, and we are all different in how we perceive scent.

Ada says, ‘Aromas can be emotional as well as scientific, we may associate a certain scent with a long-forgotten memory, be it good or bad, therefore everyone reacts to scents differently. How we respond to smell depends on what we associate with that smell. However, the smell is also a sense that’s hard to articulate.’

But Ada adds that ‘Aromatherapy only refers to the exercise of volatile substances in essential oils being inhaled but let’s not forget that we work with essential oils.’

Pic: Shutterstock

As to which oils to use Ada says that each person is different, that the components of an oil can be used to boost a person’s mood and overall wellbeing, something she does with clients at her clinic in London, but there are plenty of qualified TCM practitioners in Ireland.

For an example of how an essential oil might be used Ada gives us this breakdown with regard to using oil to aid better sleep.

She says, ‘Lavender has been recommended to help aid sleep as it contains linalool which is well documented to possess a sedative effect- Lavender EO usually contains 25-45% linalool. However, it seems like that’s the only option on the market to aid sleep (and I’m sure if you’ve trouble sleeping you’ve already tried it).’

Pic: Shutterstock

And if lavender isn’t your thing, or you’ve tried it to no avail there are other options.

Ada suggests the following saying, ‘If you’ve used lavender and it didn’t help you sleep, you can also explore: Rosewood essential oil is very high in natural linalool at 82%-90%, Thyme essential oil contains 73%-79% linalool, an excellent choice if your sleep issue is combined with being overworked and have low immunity, Ho wood, Ho leaf, Coriander seed, Neroli, Basil also contain a high amount of linalool.’

There is so much to understand about essential oils that interest in finding the correct oils to use and when, a guide to Aromatherapy could fill a book, so finding a qualified TCM therapist is a good idea. With regard to picking up a simple oil blend at your local health store to use in a diffuser or for adding to a bath, always ask for advice in-store on its correct usage.

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