THERE is a clear difference between essential as in essence versus indispensable, just like the discounted Armani dress I told my husband I desperately needed.
That said, good quality aromatherapy could be deemed as an essential element that is also crucial to our lives as their properties are far wider-reaching than I had hitherto understood. Someone who has been making a living out of pure essentials in Spain for over a decade is Valérie Aucouturier, CEO of The Little Green Bottle.
My teenage impecunious beauty regime included slapping on Vaseline instead of moisturiser so I do not profess to be a world expert in potions but Valérie’s fun workshop provided several top tips and some surprising insights and parallels with the spirit industry.
If he were still alive, my former Science teacher, Mr Best would vouch that ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ were not really my thing (except when we chemically concocted some lurid lilac eye shadow in his lab) so I asked Valérie to explain how essential oils actually work in layman´s terms. Turns out that plants are incredibly clever.
“An essential oil is a plant concentrate derived from areas such as leaves, flowers, barks, roots and peel. By extracting the plants’ own properties we are effectively transferring the plant´s natural ability to ward off disease into an essential oil for our own health and wellbeing through aromatherapy”.
So basically we are hijacking the plant´s ingenious innate self-defense mechanism for our own narcisstic purposes. Genius but with so many brands to choose from, how can one distinguish the real deal from a fake?
Valérie advises us to always check the label that it is organic and therefore pesticide-free; to make sure they´re 100% pure so that the plant extract is the primary ingredient and not diluted and 100% natural with the plant appearing with its full botanical Latin name as opposed to a perfume made from it.
The mention of Latin transports me back to dark days spent pouring over translations of Hannibal crossing the Alps or some victor or another making off with prized booty. After a few years of studying Virgil´s scholarly poems I began to agree with the scribbled inscription on the inside cover of my antediluvial Latin dictionary: “Latin is a language, as dead as dead can be, it killed the b***dy Romans and now it´s killing me. Still, it does come in handy when you´re deciphering tombstones in European churches of an afternoon.
During our essential oil workshop I learn that our sense of smell provides the fastest way of absorbing the benefits from their properties as it is received by the nervous receptors in our nose which sends out a stimulating or relaxing message to our whole body. My teachers developed olfactory super powers and were able to detect a whiff of Marlboro Lights on my schoolgirl breath from 20 yards away thus thwarting my effusive attempts to become a respectable prefect.
Ironically, after over a decade in the wine and spirits industry I have honed my own nosing skills. While on the one hand my liver function has been steadily compromised, my nose is highly attuned to the various nuances of peat and terroir from Speyside to Somontano. Much to my teenage son´s chagrin when he has surreptitiously assailed the drinks’ cabinet of an evening.
I inquire about aromatherapy at home as it´s well documented that essential oils make really handy home remedies. Apparently, Tree Tea oil is a whizz to treat minor burns or small cuts and there was me dabbing it behind my daughter´s ears to ward off the ubiquitous class nits. Helichrysum is purportedly more effective than Arnica for bruises and bumps; radiata eucalyptus for colds and lemon eucalyptus for mosquito bites. I am sorely tempted to put the latter to the test as those vampiric mosquitos virtually devour me whole in the summer. Valérie is a great fan of grapefruit oil to combat unwanted odours in her teens’ trainers! I´d undoubtedly have to buy an entire Del Monte farm for mine.
All this talk of citrus fruit whets my appetite and I must confess that I sometimes feel tempted, as I do with soap, to nibble a bit of it. Valérie confides she and her kids have a penchant for tangerine essential oil ice cream: “With no sugar, animal gelatine, or colourants it´s a winner and what´s more, tangerine helps us to relax and ease into sleep”. I´m tempted to test it out on my neighbour´s teething toddlers or indeed, on my own mid-life insomnia so I can certainly see myself making a few nocturnal raids to the freezer in mid-summer for some soporific night-time nirvana.
http://www.thelittlegreenbottle.com/ – if you’re looking to inject some Insta Confidence or Ibiza Vibe into your life.