Perfumery, aromatherapy, aromachology: what is the difference?

perfumery, aromatherapy and aromachology: the art of handling essential oils

By studying them to better analyze their properties, it is possible to use essential oils to create beautiful scents of course, but also to treat certain ailments or to promote physical and mental well-being. Let’s discover the various ways of working with essences from nature, to understand the difference between perfumery, aromatherapy and aromachology.

Perfumery, aromatherapy and aromachology: how to handle essential oils

In order to understand the difference between perfumery, aromatherapy and aromachology, it is important to look at the foundations of these disciplines: essential oils. These scented substances are used as much for their therapeutic virtues as for their odorant powers, and this since the beginning of time! But what is it really? The essential oil is in fact a powerful aromatic compound obtained by distillation of a plant. This extraction makes it possible to deliver a liquid which concentrates the volatile assets of a raw material of vegetable origin. There are two traditional methods to obtain the quintessence of a vegetal: steam distillation practiced on many plants, and cold expression reserved for citrus. Although these substances are called oils, they do not contain any fatty acids!

From a chemical point of view, essential oils are composed of different molecules more or less volatile. The smaller the molecules are, the faster the essence will evaporate. This is also true with the consistency of the essential oil. The thicker and more viscous the substance (like patchouli or vetiver oil for example), the slower it will evaporate.

Perfumery: embellishing essences

Perfumery is the art of making perfumes. This industry is largely based on the way essential oils are worked. The first forms of perfumery were composed solely by the extraction of aromatic substances from plants. It is therefore the art of handling essential oils that gave birth to the perfumery we know today. Since the advent of organic chemistry, synthetic compounds created in the laboratory have made it possible to embellish and stabilize the essences used by perfumers.

With the advent of traditional medicine, perfumery has developed a purely hedonic vocation. Perfumes are thus designed to dress you with beautiful smells. And even if they allow us to gain confidence, to express our personality or to be an incomparable asset of seduction, fragrances are basically created with an “aesthetic” purpose, contrary to aromatherapy…

Aromatherapy: healing with essential oils

If perfumery seeks to make your daily life more beautiful, aromatherapy has a very different vocation. Indeed, this discipline consists in treating with essential oils. This art goes back to antiquity and comes from phytotherapy: when the Egyptians used aromatic plants for their religious and medicinal practices. Over the course of civilizations, this discipline has been perfected. It is thanks to the Arabs and their discoveries on the extraction of plants that aromatherapy as such was really born.

However, it was not until 1652 that the first “scientific” work on the art of healing with plants was published. And it is only in 1937 that the term of aromatherapy will appear thanks to the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. In his book Aromathérapie: les huiles essentielles, hormones végétales, he explains how essential oils penetrate the epidermis to treat the vital organs. For thousands of years, aromatherapy has been used to treat a wide range of physical problems. For example, we recommend tea tree oil for skin problems or lavender oil to clear a cold nose.

Aromachology: the feel-good perfume

While aromatherapy treats the body, aromachology acts on the psyche and the mood. It is a much more recent discipline. It appeared in 1982 in Japan, following numerous studies on the impact of odors on our brain. This “olfactory science” does not have a medical purpose, unlike aromatherapy. It is rather about exploiting the beneficial virtues of essential oils to positively influence behavior or emotions.

In fact, some essential oils have relaxing or invigorating effects that have been scientifically proven. For example, rose and peony essential oils are said to promote relaxation, while lemon and basil oils enable to boost concentration and creativity. When aromatherapy focuses on the physical use of essential oils (by massage on the skin or by oral ingestion), aromachology is based on the reaction of our nervous system due to the simple inhalation of a smell.

Nevertheless, aromachology is still a young science. But research continues to be deepened thanks to cosmetic brands that invest colossal means. The goal? To create perfumes, or more broadly beauty products, which combine the aestheticism of beautiful compositions with the promising virtues of essential oils. Feeling good while smelling good becomes the promise of this new form of alternative perfumery.

Did you know the difference between perfumery, aromatherapy and aromachology? What do you think of this idea of “perfumery and well-being”?


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