Choosing Scented Products
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Choosing Scented Products

From the vast array of scented bath and shower gels, lotions, soaps, and oils on the market, here's how to choose those with true aromatherapeutic value.

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Choose aromatherapy
products based
on more than just scent.

Although any great-smelling bath or body product can be a relaxing treat to use, those with essential oils are a better bet. Arlene Kestner, Ph.D., psychology professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, explains that essential oils are extracted or distilled from botanicals such as herbs and flowers and that their scents trigger the brain's mechanisms for smell, emotion, and memory.

Kestner's advice for how to tell whether or not a product is likely to have essential oils:

  • Read the ingredient list. If the list of ingredients includes "fragrance," Kestner says it could be a non-therapeutic synthetic scent.

  • What's the cost? In the scent world, price can be an indicator of quality. Essential oils are costly to produce; it takes two tons of rose petals to make one pound of rose oil.

Do It Yourself Tips

Kestner suggests the following simple ways to use your own herb garden to add a bit of aromatherapy to your life:

  • Pick a handful of botanicals and put it in your bathwater. Wrap a bunch of clean, fresh herbs -- such as lavender or chamomile -- in a gauze pouch, and drop it in your bath to release the oils in the leaves.
  • For softly scented linens, toss a gauze pouch of clean herbs in the clothes dryer with an unscented fabric softener sheet.