In February 2018, I received my Level One Aromatherapy Certification from the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. My passion for working primarily with essential oils began in 2011 when I started dabbling with using them for anxiety, stress, and depression. Admittedly, I had no idea what I was doing and that there were drastic differences in the quality of essential oils depending on the brand. I got away from them for a little while and my interest was renewed after taking an Aromatherapy and Yoga workshop at a local yoga studio. The instructor introduced the class to the Young Living brand and we made a few items to take home with us. Thus my journey began.
I started researching essential oils and learned how to make basic skin care products. At the time, I was having a hard time with my skin care regimen and my skin looked unhealthy. Much to my surprise, my skin issues resolved within a matter of months. I purchased a selection of essential oils from Young Living and became a member. I didn't really know much about MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) companies at the time. While I eventually got away from the Young Living experience for personal reasons, I learned so much that got my started on this journey.
Due to the lack of scientific information, misinformation, and proper aromatherapy practices, I decided to become a certified aromatherapist. The New York Institute came highly recommended and I enrolled in their dual program in the Foundations of Aromatherapy and French Aromatherapy certification programs. I'm still working on my final paper for the French Aromatherapy certification after changing my focus a couple of times. For both programs, I had to conduct several case studies with friends and clients, which really helped me to hone in on my practice and apply what I had learned through my studies.
I had been working with my business coach Carlee Myers of Work You Love Now and in April I decided to start my own aromatherapy business. We worked through all of the beginning stages of the process, setting up an LLC, getting business accounts, service and product development. We continue to work together to grow my business.
My thirst for knowledge was increasing exponentially and I took on several other programs, classes, and workshops. I completed programs in teacher training, natural skin care formulation, essential oils safety, incense crafting, soapmaking, and an introductory course in perfuming. I am also working on completing my Level Two Aromatherapy Certification program and an Herbalism Immersion Program.
I am a creative person by nature--I hold a BFA in Art History and Studio Arts from Moore College of Art & Design. My background in the arts has been invaluable as it has helped me to create my visual branding and product photography for my business.
I started expanding my product offerings beyond the store on my website to include Etsy and Amazon Handmade and my sales have been increasing exponentially. I have also embarked upon selling my products in person at local craft fairs in the Philadelphia area.
I am excited for what 2019 will mean for my business as it continues to grow. I have a few vending spots at upcoming craft fairs in February under my belt.
At the behest of one of my doula friends, I have embarked upon developing a product line to suit the needs that arise throughout the course of the pregnancy, labor & delivery, postpartum, and baby care. Earlier this year, I took a course through the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies on this very subject in addition to my aromatherapy and essential oil safety training. During my research phase, I was shocked to find that while there are hundreds of websites and blogs with information about essential oil use and pregnancy that there was no definitive resource. I found list after list about what oils are safe to use and which ones are to be avoided, but a lack of purpose and reasoning behind them.
In addition to the task of developing a new product line, I found myself consulting my books, course materials, and online resources to get the low down on all things related to pregnancy and aromatherapy in order to provide an accurate resource for professionals in the field and for informed mothers. I pulled together a comprehensive list of safe essential oils that can be used during pregnancy, noting their benefits, and any special precautions in addition to a list of what to avoid and why. I spent a lot of time cross referencing the list with Tisserand & Young's Essential Oil Safety as it is the go-to resource for safety data on essential oils.
Safe Essential Oils
There are many conflicting resources regarding essential oils that are safe to use during and after pregnancy. I have compiled a list of safe oils to use, but some are only used during particular times during and after the pregnancy depending on whether or not you are breastfeeding. There may be other essential oils that are safe to use during pregnancy, but these are the primary ones that can be used during pregnancy.
See the full list of Pregnancy Safe Essential Oils.
Oils to Avoid
Pregnancy by Trimester
All pregnancies are different for each person and issues may manifest in different ways. Since the sense of smell is heightened and can be triggering during pregnancy, it is important for any blend to have a pleasing aroma, but there will always be the chance that even if it smells good that it may trigger nausea or headaches.
First Trimester: Weeks 1 - 12You may not know that you are pregnant until after week 4, but can start focusing on the changes occurring in your body and what you need during the beginning months of your pregnancy. You might start experiencing morning sickness, moodiness, cravings, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with the early stages of pregnancy. Aromatherapy can help ease some of these symptoms and help you along the way through every stage of your pregnancy.
Second Trimester: Weeks 13 - 28Some of the early symptoms of pregnancy may reside a little, but new concerns may develop during the second trimester. It is common to feel anxiety as the pregnancy will seem a lot more real during the second trimester as you will become more noticeably pregnant over time. It is important to stay active and healthy throughout your pregnancy and you can continue to use or change your aromatherapy solutions to manage sensitivities to smell and any new issues that may arise. You may start experiencing back pain and as the baby grows you will start to gain weight and may be concerned about stretch marks.
Third Trimester: Weeks 29 - 40You might start feeling excited about the arrival of the baby not being so far away, but you will still need to support any new or recurring pregnancy symptoms that you may be having at this time in order to prepare for the process of giving birth.
Labor, Delivery, and PostpartumWhether you have a natural delivery or C- Section, be sure to take care of yourself during these delicate days from the first contraction to taking your infant home for the first time. Your body has undergone something major and you will need time to heal your body, mind, and spirit in addition to caring for your newborn child.
Read more about aromatherapy for each stage of your pregnancy.
A Sneak Peak Look at the Products
Restorative Aromatics is developing a wide array of aromatherapy products safe for use during the time of fertility and conception throughout the pregnancy, after birth, and for babies. As a certified aromatherapist, I have been trained in the safe and proper use of essential oils and aromatherapy products for use throughout every stage of pregnancy, labor and delivery, after birth, and for newborn babies.
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Intro to Perfuming is the first video in the Artisanal Aromatics Series of education videos and discussions on topics pertaining to aromatherapy, herbalism, soapmaking, incense creation, and perfumery. On December 2nd, we talked about types of perfumes, fragrance classifications and notes, supplies, and the differences between fragrance oils, aroma chemicals, and essential oils.
Our Online Live Video is on DIY Shampoo Bars
Time: TBD (Check back for announcement)
Custom Bespoke Fragrances
Restorative Aromatics will create your custom Bespoke fragrance blend tailored to your needs. It can be an original creation or a replication based on samples of other fragrances. Pricing varies depending upon individual in-person consultation fees, materials used, and other costs of supplies needed to create your Bespoke blend.
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Restorative Aromatics: Perfuming 101: Creating fragrance blends for perfumes and skincare products.
Time: Dec 2, 2018 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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I am enrolled in a perfuming course through the Online Perfume School and am loving it as it has expanded how I think about aromas beyond what they smell like. Aroma has the power to evoke emotions and memories, but when you sit with an aroma or a blend, you can start to draw upon other sensory experiences such as the color of the aroma, its temperature, associated imagery, or how it sounds whether it be a particular sound or even music. Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful sensory experiences.
Perfumes are made using different types of ingredients. They can be made using natural essential oils only or they can be made adding fragrance oils and aroma chemicals in addition to essential oils. I recently wrote a blog titled Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils where I explored the differences between natural and synthetic components of perfumes and colognes.
There are three primary ways to create perfumes and colognes.
Some recipes on the internet will recommend using vodka for alcohol-based perfumes, but it is important to use a denatured (non-drinkable) perfumer's alcohol (SDA 40B), especially if you are looking to sell your creations. Perfumer's alcohol is a combination of Ethanol, T-butyl alcohol, and Bitrex (Denatonium Benzoate.) In the United States, you will have to get a special permit in order to not only sell your perfumes, but to also purchase larger quantities of perfumers alcohol. In most cases, the limit is 5 gallons per year without a permit.
There are several different formulations that can be used to create different types of perfume based on the percentage of fragrance and perfumer's alcohol as a base. For one fluid ounces (30 ml) here is a general guide of fragrance to perfumer's alcohol ratio. It will be most helpful to have a set of graduated cylinders to measure by ml. I recommend blending by weight, but you can also make notes on drops used.
When you make a spray perfume mixed with perfumer's alcohol, it is recommended to let it sit for up to a month for the fragrance to really meld into its final form. You can always use it right away, but the fragrance may change over time.
I use a blend of Jojoba oil and beeswax to make solid perfumes. If you are looking for a vegan alternative to beeswax, you can substitute Candelilla Wax, but it has a much harder consistency than beeswax, so you will need to adjust the formulation accordingly.
I use 10 ml roller bottles for perfume oils, in which case I use about 20-25 drops of the fragrance blend, plus 10 ml of a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil.
Perfume blending techniques
It is essential to understand the fragrance note of each component in the blend whether it be an essential oils, fragrance oil, or aroma chemical. Typically, they are arranged in a pyramid of Top notes, Middle or Heart Notes, and Base Notes. Top notes like citruses will evaporate more quickly, but will often be the first aroma that you smell when the perfume is applied. Middle notes are the heart of the fragrance and last quite a bit longer than top notes, and base notes last the longest as deep and heavy aromas. Aromatic blends are comprised of all three types to balance out the fragrance. You shouldn't use all top notes or all base notes on their own. Even if you are creating a light refreshing citrus blend you will want to give it some heart with mid notes and a solid foundation of base notes.
Your fragrance blends can also be used outside of perfume or cologne applications. Those fragrance blends can be used in soaps, skincare products, and bath & shower products as well. It is important, especially when using essential oils to know any safety precautions associated with the oil. I love cinnamon bark, but it is a highly sensitizing essential oil, so I will often use a synthetic fragrance oil in its place for the aroma only.
Happy perfume making and fragrance blending! Stay tuned for my upcoming weekly Zoom call series beginning on November 30, 2018 and the first topic will be more information on perfuming!
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I have been a little quiet lately, but that is because I am up to a lot of exciting new endeavors. First and foremost, I bought a house and am settling and moving on November 5th. I am super excited to have a larger facility to make my products, have small workshops, and facilitate client consultations.
Here are some other exciting things to note for November and December 2018:
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Do you know what the average shelf life of a water-based product with essential oils is before it starts "going bad?" Even if you refrigerate it? THREE DAYS! That is, if you do not use a preservative! I started using Benzylalcohol-DHA which Making Cosmetics describes as "a broad-spectrum preservative blend consisting of benzylalcohol (aromatic alcohol) (87%), dehydroacetic acid (8%) & water (5%) and is an effective alternative to parabens. It is soluble in water, alcohols & glycols." This is the natural preservative that I chose to use in all of my water-based products. That includes things like hydrosols, aloe vera, and other water-based extracts.
I knew you needed to use preservatives in hydrous products, but I didn't know how fast things start to degrade without it and how prone they become to microbial growth. You can also add antioxidants like Vitamin E Oil and Rosemary Antioxidant (which is a plant extract and not an essential oil) to properly ensure your products shelf life, but they do not act as preservatives on their own. I used to make my own foaming hand soap with a simple recipe using distilled water, castile soap, and essential oils -- without any preservatives. Guess what, that all natural soap I made would be floating with microbial growth in a matter of days!
There are preservative calculators that can assist you in figuring out the correct weight to add to your finished products. I like the one from HumbleBee & Me, but you need to keep in mind that it is basing the weight in grams, which is the standard unit of measurement for making topical cosmetic applications. There are also conversion tools available to figure out the total weight in grams if you are using ounces. One ounce roughly equals 28.3495 grams. Most kitchen or lab scales can be adjusted to switch from ounces to grams as well.
There are many FDA regulations in place when it comes to legally selling hydrous products -- those being products that contain any type of water-based ingredient. I started using Sagescript Institute, LLC in Colorado to test my products. Sagescript states, "The FDA does not require any microbiology testing but it is a responsible thing to do to protect your formula and your customer. The FDA does say that a cosmetic should not be adulterated which is interpreted as meaning it should not contain harmful bacteria or fungus." All this means is that if you are making and selling products, you are liable for them. Pro tip: It is also a good idea to get yourself some business and personal liability insurance. The Indie Business Network and The Handcrafter's Soap and Cosmetics Guild offer discounts as a membership benefit.
Each product will cost between $28 and $32 for microbial testing. You package and label your samples and mail them to the lab, they test them, and then send you the report. The whole process can take about 2-3 weeks. It is recommended that even if you are using the same base ingredients, but make a slight variation to the coloring, essential oils, or fragrance oils that you should also have those products tested too -- even though they will most likely yield the same results as the base products that were originally tested.
Preservatives exist for a reason and the natural ones will conform to your personal or philosophical standards that you may adhere to in your product creation process. There are numerous natural preservatives available on the market in the US, UK, and Europe. When in doubt, if it has any water or water-based products in it, use a preservative!
Philadelphia, PA – Jennifer Vatza is a certified aromatherapist and the founder of Restorative Aromatics, where she offers a holistic approach to self-care enhanced by aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is the art of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance to promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Whether you’re experiencing stress and anxiety, sleep issues, acute and chronic pain, aromatherapy can help to ground and center you and allow yourself to heal.
Jennifer also educates clients on supporting and enhancing their health and wellness through aromatherapy through in-person workshops and online social media engagement. She is also working on a webinar series and several eBooks on aromatherapy topics.
Jennifer offers a stress management coaching program known as Aromatic Grounding: Stress Mapping and Redesign, which uses essential oils to help train her clients to rewrite their stress responses and redesign how they respond to stress in the future. Every client has receives a “stress kit” containing aromatic products designed to reduce their stress levels.
There are three different modes of applications: direct inhalation, dermal application, like creams or salves, and internal application.
“I’m really proud of being able to help people through aromatherapy because it’s a daunting field, with so much misinformation,” says Jennifer. “I’m grateful that people are looking at things like aromatherapy.”
For more information on Restorative Aromatics, visit www.restorativearomatics.com
There is a lot of internet chatter about essential oils versus fragrance oils as of late. I'm a certified aromatherapist and I primarily work with essential oils, but on occasion I do use fragrance oils. I use them sparingly and always in combination with essential oils because fragrance oils on their own have no therapeutic benefits. Primarily, I use them in soaps, bubble bath, and perfumes. So, what's the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils?
Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants that have therapeutic properties. They can be found in the plant’s flowers, stems, leaves, roots, grass, bark, resin, or fruit. The chemistry is extremely complex and may consist of hundreds of different and unique chemical compounds that influence the therapeutic benefits of each oil or blend.
Fragrance oils are a combination of natural and synthetic produced in a lab to mimic different aromas as some plants do not produce essential oil extracts even though they may be fragrant by nature. It is important if you do use fragrance oils to consider the purpose and be sure that the fragrance oils that you are using are phthalate free. Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are used as solvents in cosmetics and other products. They can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system in animals as well as humans. Read more about the impact of Phthalates on human health with links to other research on the CDC's website.
Both essential oils and fragrance oils are generally safe for the skin -- though it is always recommended to research possible skin sensitivities such as photosensitivity (risk of adverse reaction of some essential oils combined with sun exposure or UV rays from a tanning bed) with essential oils and always adhere to proper dilution ratios. There are also specific calculators available to measure how much fragrance oil to use by volume.
The ingredients of fragrance oils (aromatic chemicals, essential oils, and essential oil chemical components) are all tested and have usage rates outlined by IFRA (International Fragrance Association). Aromatic chemicals are comprised of synthetic and natural ingredients that are produced through distillation, synthesis, and extraction. They may even have the same chemical compounds found in nature. An essential oil compound may be an isolated aromatic chemical such as limonene.
Each fragrance oil ingredient is tested by the RIFM (Research Institute for Fragrance Materials). They test for irritation, solvency, absorption, flash point, specific gravity, flammability as well for carcinogens and other factors that may deem them unsafe for use. Fragrance oil suppliers should follow IFRA’s guidelines and use only RIFM approved ingredients in their fragrance oils. That said, not all manufacturers and suppliers may adhere to these stringent guidelines in the same manner that some suppliers boast to sell 100% pure essential oils, but sell diluted, adulterated, or synthetic substances and pass them off as 100% pure essential oils.
Properly tested fragrance oils can be perfectly safe for the skin while others may be specifically for use in things like potpourri or candles. Now, the question is, do I use or avoid fragrance oils? That is up to the individual. As I mentioned earlier, I use them sparingly in certain formulations. I particularly like to use them in place of skin sensitizing essential oils such as cinnamon bark and clove. I love their aroma, but they are too caustic for the skin. If you are looking for 100% all natural products then you probably want to avoid using fragrance oils altogether.
How do you know if the company you are purchasing your essential oils from practices ethical and sustainable harvesting of plant material? - especially when it comes from critically endangered or protected plant species such as Rosewood, Spikenard, Sandalwood, Palo Santo, Agarwood, and even one of the most commonly used essential oils, Frankincense. These plant species are critically endangered due to having been drastically over-harvested or harvested illegally for many years.
Let's talk about each of these essential oils and how they should be harvested. Always look for this information provided on the essential oil company that you are purchasing from. If this information is not present, I would either do research on the brand to ensure their practices are ethical or avoid them altogether if you cannot verify such information. This is a known issue in the aromatherapy world so this information should be easy to come by.
Rosewood trees are native to Brazil and are critically endangered due to developmental clear cutting and other unethical harvesting methods. The wood should be harvested sustainably from trees that are intentionally planted in forests. The tree tops should be trimmed similarly to the way in which you would prune an overgrown bush or tree in your garden. This will ensure that the trees are kept alive and healthy.
Palo Santo is protected by the government of Ecuador and a permit is required to harvest the oil from dead trees or fallen branches from dead trees, that have been lying on the ground for at least two years. It is important that when you purchase this precious oil that the company whom you are purchasing from is educated in sustainable and ethical practices and deals with brokers and distributors who harvest the plant material legally and ethically.
Spikenard is hard to cultivate since it grows naturally in rocky soil at very high elevations in Nepal. It has been critically endangered since the mid-1990s. Permits are needed to buy and trade spikenard root for essential oils and is heavily regulated by the Nepalese government.
Agarwood should be sustainably produced from the heartwood of two different species of evergreen trees. The essential oils is usually produced from a wild, private tropical forest plantation in Thailand. They ensure that their agarwood is sustainably and ethically produced and follows local government regulations.
Sandalwood is endangered because of illegal smuggling and over-harvesting of wild-growing trees in India. The depopulation has occurred over many decades causing the industry to collapse in India. It is primarily cultivated in Australia these days.
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii -- as opposed to other types of Frankincense) has been over-harvested in Somalia and other parts of North Africa. Due to the popularity of this essential oil, it will inevitably be moving up the list of endangered species.
When critically endangered plants or ones that are teetering on the edge of being over-harvested without regard for ethics and sustainability, the supplies will either run low or cease to exist. Additionally, governmental regulations may be mandated to protect these plant species from extinctions. This will also drive market prices through the roof. Today, a 5ml bottle of Sandalwood can run upwards of $100 and Agarwood runs closer to $200 for a 5ml bottle. The others remain reasonably priced considering their scarcity.
This is where using your essential oils in a sustainable manner and not overusing them comes in to play. Don't just assume to throw 10-15 drops of 3-5 different essential oils in a roller and call it day. Understand proper dilution ratios, you will only need 1-2 drops of Rose oil as opposed to 20, which would be an expensive waste. If you are using these particular essential oils on a regular basis please do so with intention knowing that every drop is precious and not to be wasted.
Owner, Restorative Aromatics and NAHA Certified Aromatherapist Level One. This blog focuses on aromatherapy education and other essential oil related topics.