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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Hottest Trend in Fragrances: Aromatherapy & Essential Oils

Mar 31, 2015 11:20AM ● By Nina Livingstone

Akurra Kulak

The use of oils, incense and botanicals in Western and Eastern cultures such as Egypt, India, China, Rome and Greece for the purposes of religious ceremonies, healing remedies and beauty dates back more than 1,500 years. Natural remedies such as aromatherapy are making a thunderous comeback as people turn more and more to the Earth’s natural resources.

There has been a rising shift in the winds of fragrances, attracting a popular increase in the use of aromatherapy and essentials oils—aromas that contain more than just a delectable whiff. “Aromatherapy and essential oils are very popular right now,” explains Zachary Milligan- Pate, assistant manager of Body Care, in Cambridge. “Interest is growing fast for natural oils over synthetic scents,” he adds.

It is not uncommon to walk through Harvard Square and catch the savory whiff of a natural scent in the air, either from pedestrians whisking by, or from random shops selling essential oils. Akurra Kulak, perfumer and aromatherapist for Aroma Sanctum Perfumes, in Salem, agrees. “I have been practicing aromatherapy and designing perfumes for 35 years, and there is a definite interest in aromatherapy.”

Rising grassroots awareness and consciousness about environmental, holistic health, spiritual and community issues have helped to revolutionize health care, Earth preservation, animal well-being and rights, and a more natural way of living. “People are shifting toward more safe, natural products,” explains Kulak.

Essential oils are being used for their healing properties as well. “I began to study aromatherapy and herbal medicine when I was a teenager to cure myself of a serious infection,” Kulak shares. “I also found that I am highly allergic to modern chemical-based perfumes, which led me to make my own.”


Milligan-Pate says, “Self-awareness is a huge factor in the growth of aromatherapy, but I think health awareness is a much larger factor. Right now, there’s an increase in people’s health consciousness—not just about their diet or exercise, but about the products in their houses and what they put on their bodies.”

Kulak maintains that animals can benefit from natural veterinary treatments made from natural oils for sores or healing ear and skin infections, and for flea repellants. Milligan-Pate adds, “There is a fast-growing market for pet care products including healing salves and shampoos.”

When it comes to animal-based ingredients and animals rights, Milligan-Pate says, “Essential oils that are 100 percent undiluted, steam distilled, pressed, or solvent extracted plant oils, should never involve any animal products; they are purely of plant origin.” It is possible, however, for aromatherapy products that are already blended or pre-diluted like salves, rubs and perfume oils, to contain some animal-based ingredients like beeswax, lanolin, or in some higher end perfumes, animal musk.

Milligan-Pate says, “In the United States, there are laws that regulate how different products packaging and labeling must be done, with some products requiring manufacturing in registered and regulated facilities and some products not requiring that.” He recommends that anyone concerned about animal-based ingredients in their products should contact the manufacturer directly and ask about the origin of particular ingredients.

“Larger companies,” says Milligan-Pate, “often buy their ingredients in lots from a larger international market where particular batches from different producers are blended, so often those companies cannot tell you a direct source for any one ingredient or speak to the animal care practices at the end of their supply-chain.” Smaller companies are more likely to source directly from individual ingredient manufactures and are more likely to know about the conditions under which an ingredient is produced.

Nina Livingstone is a screenwriter, novelist and motivational speaker on topics including violence against women, surmounting disabilities and the joy of life, healing and light. Contact her at [email protected].