Base Formula & British School of Aromatherapy
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The information provided on the Base Formula blog is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment for any condition. We recommend that you consult your GP or nurse if you have any health concerns whatsoever. Our advice has been provided on the basis that there are no known contra-indications to treatment. If you have any health problems or are taking any medication you should seek advice from your healthcare provider prior to using aromatherapy. We would also advise that you make an appointment with a local aromatherapist who will be able to take a full case history and offer you tailored treatment advice. Please note that Base Formula accepts no liability for misuse of essential oils or other products or for any reliance on the information provided within.

Please visit our website for more details on using essential oils safely and effectively.

facial steamingInhalations are typically recommended as an excellent way to relieve congestion and stimulate the immune system. This most effective way of getting essential oils into the bloodstream can however be used much more extensively. Whilst essential oils are highly valued for their extraordinary medicinal and antiseptic properties when it comes to congested infections, they are also extremely effective as mood enhancers, antidepressants, and relaxants. It is my suggestion therefore that inhalations should be used much more consistently to elevate the mood and to help you wind down at the end of a stressful or challenging day.

Obviously you can add essential oils to your bath, footbath, moisturising cream or you can vaporise them in your bedroom – all of which are useful methods when it comes to lifting your emotions. Inhalations however offer an extraordinarily efficient and quick way of absorbing the essential oils into your bloodstream, at the same time as stimulating the olfactory system – which is why they are so useful as an emotional tonic.

By breathing in the therapeutic steam during an inhalation, the essential oil is absorbed directly into the blood stream via the blood rich lining of the lungs. The warming nature of the steam is often extremely comforting when emotions are low, and the fact that you are breathing in steam can also encourage breathing rate to lengthen – some people breathe too quickly when stressed which then creates a CO2 and O2 imbalance which adds further to the problem.

Another useful aspect of inhalations is, of course, for facial steaming. The action of the heat and the oils themselves can help stimulate the pores to release blockages (spots/blackheads) and reduce excess oil. Steam facials can also give normal skin a really great complexion boost, particularly before a big night out, and especially if cold water is splashed on the face afterwards. The warm encourages the blood flow to the surface – the cold water after the heat then further stimulates the circulation – to give a wonderful healthy glow. The only main contra-indication here is for those suffering from broken veins.

To help you get the most out of steam inhalations I’ve put together a range of useful blends for you to try:

Steam Inhalation for Colds & Coughs:
Take a bowl of hot water, add 4 drops Tea Tree, 1 Eucalyptus and 2 Thyme. Lean over bowl, place a towel over the head and inhale, breathing normally through the nose and mouth. Remember to have a box of tissues handy. 5 – 10 minutes duration is perfect.

Steam Inhalation for Excess Catarrhal Congestion:
As above – but use 4 drops Tea Tree, 2 Lemon and 4 Frankincense.

Steam Facial For Oily Skin (Blackheads):
As above, but use 4 drops Lavender, 3 Cypress and 3 Juniper. Splash skin with cold water when finished. For very oily/congested skin conditions gently exfoliate before the steam facial – this will remove the top layer of congestion and aid deep pore cleansing.

Steam Facial For Combination Skin (Spots):
As above, but using 4 drops Geranium, 3 Tea Tree and 2 Cypress. Pop a drop of Tea Tree onto a cotton bud and dab on to the tip of spots before you start – this will help to draw out the infection. Avoid if your skin is sensitive.

Steam Inhalation for Anxiety:
Follow the method above but remember to select your favourite mood enhancing essential oils – try 5 drops Bergamot, 2 Neroli and 2 Benzoin.

Steam Inhalations for Stress/Depression:
As above, but try 3 Ylang Ylang, 4 Geranium and 2 Rose.

Whatever you are using them for – remember that splashing the face with cold water afterwards helps to close up the pores that have been encouraged to open up by the steam. Always use your hot water with care – inhalations should never be used around small children, for instance. Remember the water in your bowl should be scalding hot in order for the steam to rise – so place your bowl on a mat or newspaper to avoid marking your table.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

summers endSo, it’s official – the summer holiday season is coming to an end. Some of us will be dreading the prospect of returning to work after a summer break, and many parents will, no doubt, be flat out with last minute preparations for the start of school or university. As ever, we’ve put together some top tips to help you and your family get through this potentially challenging time!

Post Holiday Blues:

So many of us spend so long looking forwards to getting away – it can seem there’s little to look forward to when returning home. Instead of feeling that surge of energy and vitality upon our return, we can end up feeling rather sad and deflated. Firstly, to help put a more positive spin on these feelings, try and remember that many people haven’t been able to get away for a holiday since the recession struck! I firmly believe that it is possible to train your mind into creating a positive thought for every negative. So, for instance if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of washing you have to do when you get back from your hols just think “thank goodness I have a washing machine and don’t have to do it by hand!”.

Having proper rest on your holiday is so good for boosting your immunity, giving your mind a chance to “reboot”, and for enjoying quality family time that builds those childhood memories. We often have such a wonderful time we can feel incredibly sad that we’re back to reality – perhaps for another year until the next holiday comes around. If this is the case I often teach my clients a useful NLP technique:-

Relax, go back in time – and focus on the favourite part of your holiday. Remember who was there, what you/they were wearing, how the sun felt on your face – building up all the submodalities (details) of what you remember until it feels as though you are there all over again. Then pull those powerfully positive feelings back into the present – enabling yourself to feel that joy all over again in the present. Developing this technique can leave little space internally for sadness or regret – and can turbo charge your day into positivity once again!

Of course there are also lots of other fabulous tips to get you back “on track”:

  • When you’ve had a “hot holiday” – one of the reasons you feel great in the sun is that your body is able to create high levels of Vitamin D – as long as you havn’t over done the sun block. Coming back to late Summer may mean your mood lowers due to a huge drop in Vitamin D. Try BioCare Vitamin D Bio Emulsion Drops – 1-5 drops daily. This will also help boost your immunity too.
  • Vaporise those uplifting essential oils to maintain your sunshine mood – I love to diffuse 6 drops Bergamot, 2 Neroli and 4 Geranium if I need a lift.
  • Aromatherapy baths to the rescue! Reward the post holiday work load by luxuriating in this lovely blend: 15ml Bath Milk, 4 drops Ylang Ylang, 4 Bergamot and 4 Geranium. you can also add 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt if your body is feeling a bit tired and achey.
  • Always remember those Bach Flower Remedies. If you’re really down there’s always Rescue Remedy, and Walnut is excellent for adjustment to any sort of change.

Back To School Top Tips: 

It’s natural for children to feel apprehensive when they start or change schools, but nervous or under-confident children can suffer more trepidation than others at this time. Remember children take so much from you – they absorb your feelings and the atmosphere at home like a sponge. The more relaxed and positively you frame all they have to look forwards to – the easier the transition will be. For very nervous children it can be helpful to find a few other children who might be about to start at the new school too – especially if you are new to the area or the child isn’t starting with old classmates or siblings. Other pointers that could be useful:

  • Rescue Remedy now comes in sweets – a perfect little treat for them that is great for reducing anxiety.
  • If your young child has a favourite little toy or “Lucky Mascot” – dab a few drops of Neroli, Lavender or Roman Chamomile essential oil (if they like the scent) to help calm nerves and remind them of home.
  • Tell them all the positive stories you can remember about great things you enjoyed when you went “up” into your new school when you were their age.
  • Remember most children are highly adaptable – and they will probably come home after their first day with all sorts of smiles and excitement to relay back to you!
  • Look out for books about “starting a new school” to help your child know a little of what to expect – ideal preparation which can really help to reduce concerns.
  • Remember children like to “blend in” when they move “up” into a larger school. Make sure they have all the uniform they need so they don’t feel the odd one out. This doesn’t have to “break the bank” as most schools have a second hand department that can be a huge help!
  • Give your child something to look forwards to that you could do after their first day or at the weekend – to help over-lay the anxiety they feel and help enable them to “future project”, a useful technique to begin to develop.
  • Help your child relax the night before with a soothing aromatherapy bath – try 15ml Bath Milk with 4 Lavender, 2 Roman Chamomile and 1 Neroli.
  • Night-time treat – give them a massage before bed to help them (and you) feel lovely and peaceful. Try a little foot rub and a clockwise tummy massage to help relax that emotional centre – the solar plexus. Use 10ml Grapeseed Oil with 4 drops Lavender, 1 Roman Chamomile and 1 Neroli.

The “All Natural” Uni Survival Kit:

Late nights, student parties and a typical unhealthy diet can all take their toll on your child’s health and wellbeing! To help, send them away prepared with a fabulous all natural ‘Student Survival Kit’ to help them if they need it (even though they’ll probably strenuously deny the very possibility that they need anything you might have to offer at this point in time!)

  • BioCares Travel Guard – a probiotic formulation that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge – to help boost immunity and ease tummy troubles if they occur.
  • BioCares “Refresh” – a powder blend in sachets – to help recover from those heavy nights out (hangovers) and also a tonic following a bout of ill health. Contains B Vitamins, Minerals and Vitamin C!
  • An Aromatherapy Kit. Equip them with a basic supply of 9 of the most versatile essential oils in a little Pine Storage Box – easy to pack and store and looks attractive on a shelf. I suggest Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Sweet Orange, Lemon, Lime, Bergamot, 5% Neroli and Frankincense/Sandalwood. Something for every eventuality. If they’ve not used the oils regularly include a little recipe list on a card in the top of the box. A small bottle of Carrier Oil and fragrance free Bath & Shower Gel would also be a useful addition and maybe even an Aroma Stone Diffuser if budget allows!
  • Rescue Remedy drops for any disasters or down days.
  • Arnica Cream and Arnica pills, for shock, bruises and bangs!
  • A range of comforting night-time herb teas, a coffee substitute such as “No Caff” and a good organic hot chocolate. To help them wind down when they finally want to, after those first few weeks. Celestial Seasons Sleepy Time is universally liked, or Chamomile/Valerian tea.
  • Finally if you can – fold up an envelope somewhere safe with an emergency £20 note – it maybe a shock how much everything costs when they’re out there “fully independent” for the first time!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

JojobaAccurately speaking, Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis) is a wax not an oil – even though it acts like any other base oil. On a molecular level, it is a chain of mono – unsaturated liquid wax esters. It is a golden colour when in its pure unprocessed form, and totally clear and colourless when processed. It is extracted from the seeds of the plant, which is indigenous to the USA and Mexico, however most commercial farms are now in Israel and Argentina.

Jojoba’s properties were discovered in the 1970s, when the use of squalene “harvested” from Sperm Whales, was banned. It has almost identical properties to squalene and therefore became an important replacement ingredient in cosmetic formulations.

Benefits of Jojoba

  • Unlike most vegetable base oils, it does not contain triglycerides, so it does not go off (oxidize) easily.
  • Jojoba oil is extremely similar – both chemically and molecularly – to the sebum oil that is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.
  • It is great for sensitive skins, being hypo-allergenic and non irritant , so it can even be safely used around the eyes and mucus membranes.
  • It is light, highly penetrative and does not clog the pores of the skin.
  • It is a valuable addition to massage blends – typically at 10% – as it creates excellent “slippage”.
  • It is highly nourishing to the skin, full of nutrients such as protein, minerals, and Vitamin E.
  • Jojoba oil contains antioxidants that help protect your skin from free radical damage.
  • Surprisingly, this oil also contains antibacterial agents which have an antibacterial and fungicidal action – killing Candida albicans (which can cause thrush).
  • The nutrients and various constituents also create an anti-inflammatory action – so this oil is a fabulous addition to massage blends for eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, dry skin and skin that is sun damaged.

Blends using Jojoba

Dandruff Scalp Mask:

Combine 2 tbsp of Jojoba Oil, 2 tbsp Argan Oil, 6 drops Carrot Seed essential oil, 6 Lavender, 4 Tea Tree and 2 Rosemary. Massage into the scalp and leave for an hour with hair wrapped up in shower cap. Shampoo and condition as normal.

Eczema Treatment Oil:

Mix 20ml Grapeseed Oil, 10ml Jojoba, 3 drops German Chamomile, 3 Yarrow and 6 Lavender. Massage into the skin morning and evening, especially after a bath or shower to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Make-up Remover:

Pour a little Jojoba Oil into the palm of your hand and massage it into your face and around the eyes, being careful not to get it into your eyes. Remove with facial tissues and then splash off residue with cold water. Even takes off stubborn mascara, and is great for the skin – without all of the harsh detergent chemicals often present in make-up removers.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

rosemary essential oilAlongside Lavender and Tea Tree, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is probably one of the most widely used and well recognised essential oils in the aromatherapy repertoire. Its fresh, clean, medicinal, herbal aroma is unmistakable, and just inhaling the oil is enough to clear the head and refresh the senses.

It has been used for many thousands of years, growing freely throughout Europe, especially happy in coastal areas and originating off the Mediterranean coast. It was one of the first plants to be used medicinally, in cooking, and in religious practises, so much so it was often referred to as the “incense bush” in ancient times. The Greeks burnt it in their shrines, the Romans revered it too, and the Ancient Egyptians used it in ceremonial practises, medicine and embalming.

Rosemary essential oil is fundamentally a stimulant and its uses centre around 4 main areas:

  1. The Nervous system: Inhaling Rosemary oil direct from the bottle helps restore mental clarity and concentration – and is excellent for tiredness and poor memory linked to fatigue. It has such a stimulant action on mental activity that it is best avoided for those with epilepsy – and also during pregnancy. Deigo conducted a study in 1998 on both Rosemary and Lavender, which concluded that Rosemary promoted alertness and increased mental accuracy and speed during maths tests.
  2. Respiratory congestion: Using Rosemary for catarrhal congestion that occurs during coughs and colds and flu is particularly effective – and it also helps boost the immune response to the bacterium or virus that is presenting.
  3. Fatigue: For exhaustion and debility following ill health this oil has a fabulous tonic effect – helping ease tension and stress that can so often create tiredness, by stimulating mood and focusing the mind. Bringing the blood up to the surface and increasing the blood and lymph helps ease apathy and restore vitality. Rosemary has a particularly positive effect on the liver, heart and gall bladder and is reputedly helpful to lower cholesterol alongside appropriate dietary changes.
  4. Pain Relief: For pain associated with muscular stiffness following exercise and exertion Rosemary is highly prized, especially when combined with Lavender and Marjoram in baths, massage oils and compresses. It can also be a useful addition (at 1% dilution) to German Chamomile and Clary Sage for arthritis and rheumatism, to help stimulate the body’s ability to remove inflammation and congestion in the joints.

Aromatherapy blends using Rosemary Essential Oil

Vaporising blend for energy and concentration for the office or during study: 2 drops Peppermint, 4 Lime and 3 Rosemary. Use in an Aromatherapy Diffuser and refresh the oils regularly!

Inhalation for coughs and colds: 3 drops Rosemary, 3 Tea Tree and 3 Bergamot. Add the oils to a bowl/sink of steaming water, lean over the bowl, place a towel over your head and breathe through the nose and mouth to inhale the therapeutic vapours.

Post-exercise massage blend: 30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Rosemary, 6 Lavender, 4 Marjoram and 1 German Chamomile.

Massage blend for convalescent fatigue: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 4 drops Rosemary, 6 Bergamot, 3 Geranium and 2 Neroli.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Black PepperWell, the Tour de France and Commonwealth Games are finished, and how exciting were they? I don’t know about you, but seeing the home nation teams competing successfully at international level certainly spurs me on to be more active. I consequently suffer for my enthusiasm with resultant aches and pains, forgetting that I’m not as young as I once was…or as agile! At such times, I always turn to my essential oils and inevitably choose Black Pepper to help ease the pain caused by overworked muscles. Black Pepper, in my opinion, is an often ignored, but valuable addition to anyone’s essential oil First Aid kit.
Black Pepper is part of the Piperaceae family, and is commonly known as Pepper oil. It’s native to South West India, and is obtained by steam distillation of the still green unripe berries. Black Pepper is composed mainly of monoterpenes (64%) and sesquiterpenes (22%) as well as a small percentage of alcohols, ketones and oxides. Monoterpenes are said to have slightly analgesic properties whilst sesquiterpenes are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. The aroma of Black Pepper is described as crisp and fresh and, I believe, is more suited for working on a physical rather than emotional level. The oil ranges from being clear, colourless to an olive green liquid, yellowing with age.

Battaglia (2003) suggests that Black Pepper is well known in the West as a rubifacient oil making it useful for muscular aches and pains, arthritic stiffness and tired aching limbs, whilst Davis (2000), considers it useful for poor circulation. Massaging the affected area with a blend containing Black Pepper can improve circulation, and so bring oxygen and nutrients to the area whilst removing waste products such as lactic acid. This, of course, helps muscles to recover more quickly and effectively.

The analgesic effect of Black Pepper has been demonstrated widely. A three week small scale case study in America relating to the use of Black Pepper on patients with arthritic hands demonstrated a 23% decrease in pain. The study also demonstrated a 21% decrease in stiffness, 18% improvement in dexterity and a 13% increase in strength (Buckle 2007).

Although some experts believe that Black Pepper may overstimulate the kidneys, others suggest that there are no known contra-indications associated with it. Price (2006) reports no irritation or sensitisation at 4% dilution when tested on humans.

So, how can we use Black Pepper for optimum results. Essential oils can be used in compresses, massage, bathing and for general topical application. Upon returning from exercise, I would recommend having a refreshing shower, and applying a blend of Black Pepper in a base cream to the affected areas. Generally, we would add up to 5 drops to 10ml of base product. If the area is particularly painful, you may wish to apply a compress. To make a compress add six drops of Black Pepper into 100ml of hot or cold water. Immerse a piece of muslin in the water, remove, wring out the excess water and apply to the affected area. Repeat this process several times. This method of use is particularly good for muscular aches and pains. If the accident has happened within 24 hours use an ice cold compress, if after 24 hours use a hot compress or combine hot and cold. Post exercise massage is, of course, very effective and is best experienced with a qualified Aromatherapist. If massaging your own muscles though, blend up to five drops of essential oil into 10ml of carrier oil and apply as needed using a combination of effleurage and petrissage movements. If, like me, you enjoy a long soak in a nice warm bath after exercise, simply blend up to five drops of Black Pepper into 10ml of  carrier oil, apply to your skin before entering the bath and then lay back and enjoy your soak! Using the oils in this way also helps to reduce the risk of slips or trips whilst getting in or out of a potentially slippy bath. Alternatively mix the essential oil with our Luxury Bath Oil or Moisturising Bath Milk which will help disperse the oil safely into the water.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for reducing the discomfort caused by over-zealous (or not as the case may be) exercising. Next month I’m going to talk about Ravensara – a fantastic oil for helping cope with the stresses and strains caused by returning to work after the summer holidays.

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

Reading List:
Battaglia S. (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy 2nd Edition. Australia: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.
Buckle, J. 2007 Myth or Magic? In Essence 5 (4) pp10-13
Davis, P. (2000) Aromatherapy an A-Z. 6th Ed. Essex: C.W. Daniel Company Ltd
Price S and Price L. (2006) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 3rd Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone

Blog Disclaimer

Q: Can you offer any advice or recommend any essential oils for treating Cystitis?

A: Cystitis occurs when the bladder is inflammed – usually due to infection. Symptoms include the urgent and frequent need to wee, stinging or pain when you do go to the toilet, and pain in the bladder.

Taking antibiotics can predispose you to this condition so if you have just finished a course I always recommend taking BioCare’s Bio-acidophilus Forte – a strong pro-biotic (much more powerful than most available) to help re-populate and boost your intestinal flora and immune system.

Steer clear of a diet high in sugar and yeast (mushrooms, bread, marmite, beer and wine) which will cause the fungus Candida Albicans to proliferate.

Drink plenty of water plus fresh lemon juice to help boost immunity and reduce acidity that will increase the likelihood of another infection.

Regular bathing can be effective in helping to prevent and treat occurrences of cystitis. Bathing after sexual intercourse is particularly recommended as increased inflammation can increase the likelihood of an attack, and if fungus/bacteria has been introduced this can also help flush it out. Try bathing with 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt dissloved in warm bath water to which you add 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 4 drops Bergamot, 4 Tea Tree, 4 Lavender and 2 Myrrh. This will help to sooth the symptoms and act on the fungus/bacteria that causes the infection.

Mild cystitis usually clears up within a few days. See your GP if symptoms persist or if you have more than 3 attacks per year.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

family holsWhilst many of us parents are on some level delighted that our children are on their summer break, the reality is that for those of us that have to work part time or full time it can be an incredible juggle. When the weather is nice it can be hard enough to sit in the office but it can feel doubly restrictive when the children are away from school! Many who are parents feel constantly guilty at balancing the requirement of their career and need to generate an income with the responsibility of parenthood.

Those of us who are now in our 40s may remember a time when in our childhood our mother was always at home and when we spent our summer holidays having fun in our home environment. The reality for many of us now is that our children are often off to holiday clubs, friends or relations and our quality time with our children then becomes even more important. A good thing to remember here is that your children have not experienced the childhood that you had, (if you were lucky), so try not to feel guilty at what you perceive you’re not giving them. Focus your mind on what you are able to provide and remember that you are the one comparing against your own up-bringing, not them!

The most important thing is to try and focus on the positives that this summer holiday offers you and your children. Remember that with the variety of different childcare cover, they may be experiencing a great deal more fun than you did, which can be exceptionally enriching . Obviously for many, the reality of the summer holidays and the extra childcare provision can have a huge cost impact, so we need to work on keeping those stress levels down and the positive focus really entrenched, otherwise, when you do spend time with your family, increased stress levels may sour the time that you do get to be together.

If this sounds all too familiar read our “Summer Holiday Action Plan” below which will hopefully help you get the most out of the next few weeks.

Stress Free Summer Holiday Action Plan

  • Create a plan with dates and times of what is happening throughout the next few weeks so that your children can see where they’re going and when. This can prevent last minute issues and the older children might even be more prepared and get themselves ready to go! This will also help you, if the younger children just want to stay at home, as you can point out that in x number of days, you’re going to have some special time together.
  • Remember that many children , especially if they’re away from home in holiday clubs and at friends or relations houses, may just enjoy having a short ‘staycation’ and having quality time with you at home may be a really important and enjoyable way of spending time together. Many parents who feel guilty that they’re not spending the whole summer holidays with their children, will then book up lots of trips or days out when they do have time off, which can mean the children never get any ‘down time’. Just being at home, playing with their own toys, and spending time with you enjoying simple pleasures like reading together, painting or time playing in the garden can be really important and a restful time for you all. Try not to feel that the only way of having good quality time with your children is being ‘out and about’, because for some children it’s the very opposite of what they may need and want. Life during term time is so busy and frenetic for most of us with regimented time frames, so being relaxed and not having deadlines, order or structure can be immensely therapeutic.
  • If you feel stress levels are beginning to build up, take proactive action. Draw on your ‘natural first aid kit’ and get those essential oils and Bach Flower Flower remedies out! A great way to relax at the end of a long day is to luxuriate in a wonderful aromatic bath with some soothing and mood-enhancing essential oils. Try 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk, 2 drops of Neroli, 6 of Lavender and 4 Sweet Orange. Add to the bath once you have run the water.
  • If you recognise that your children are tired after the long summer term, why not teach them some basic massage techniques and get them to massage each other! Make up a nice gentle blend e.g. 30ml Grapeseed oil, 6 drops Lavender, 2 drops Roman Chamomile and 4 drops Mandarin (this blend is ideal from age 6 upwards). Give your child a gentle shoulder massage by using your palms and (warming up the oil first) gently moving them up either side of the spine and gently kneading the trapezius muscles at the top of the shoulders, even just gently massaging the oil into the hands and feet can create a lovely relaxing sensation. Then allow your child to copy your techniques on you or their siblings and you might just be surprised how nice it can feel. More than anything else its special time you can enjoy together, and it can be particularly enjoyable after a bath at the end of the day before bed, helping you both to wind down and relax.
  • Why not do a little gardening during your summer holidays. Even if you have a tiny garden or just pots and window boxes you can spend timing buying up cheaper plants that are in the sale at this time of year. Create a little herb garden from which you can show the children how to harvest the herbs and use them in cooking. You can also put together easily and cheaply, a bee and butterfly friendly area where you can plant flowers such as lavenders, buddlia, cornflowers, foxglove, marjoram and poppies. Remember if you have lawned areas in your garden this is a very important time for bees and other wild pollinators to gather pollen and nectar before the colder months and hibernation. The queens need to be well fattened to survive the winter months. So consider leaving the whole lawn un-mown for a while and just mowing a path through which is also lovely for the children. Perhaps next spring you might even like to plant wild-flower seeds, you can look up the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for suggestions on planting the right types of plants and flowers to ensure food provision from spring through to summer and autumn.
  • Growing food in the garden also gives you a wonderful opportunity to use the produce you have harvested to do some cooking with your children in the evenings or at weekends. If you don’t have a garden in which you can grow food (although even in the smallest garden you can grow a surprising amount – look up websites that deal with vertical gardening) even if you just grow herbs, tomatoes and onions you can then teach your children how to make home made pizzas! Try to cook savoury as well as sweet things with your children, as many children grow up only having learnt how to cook biscuits and cakes, and we all know that our diet tends to need the inclusion of more fresh fruit and vegetables!
  • When stress levels are high, try and have a period every evening where you have an hour to wind down without the stimulation of TV, mobiles and computers. We know that this type of technology bombards our senses and stimulates the brain in a way that can make it difficult to wind down and relax. Having a quiet time in your household on a regular basis can help you create quality family time once again, from which all of you can derive huge benefit.
  • Whatever is going on and however many different directions all of your family is going in each day, try and get together around the dinner table every evening, if at all possible. Switch off the TV and the mobiles, and compare notes, share your day! Although achieving this can be quite a challenge these days it can create really special time for a family to share and be together. Perhaps you can also go back to creating that traditional Sunday lunch time when a special meal is created for all to share (a family BBQ if the weather allows is ideal!). Ring fencing family time, without technology that can be both useful and rather destructive, has become, I believe even more important than it ever was.
  • Do you spend much of your time feeling guilty? If you spend your Summer holidays feeling ‘stretched’ and finding it difficult to do everything, be gentle with yourself. Try and develop the capacity to overlay any tendency towards having negative internal dialogue and remember to focus on what you are achieving and managing to cover. It is very easy in this modern age for us to feel like we are constantly ‘running’ and never quite able to keep up with everything. If you are constantly giving yourself a hard time it will be both draining and leave you less able to enjoy the good quality time that is available with your children. The average woman in particular is covering the running of the home, the majority of cooking and cleaning and organising of childcare, as well as engaging in a full time or part time job. It is a real achievement to juggle this number of responsibilities let alone cover the relationships in your family as well! So give yourself a regular pat on the back and remind yourself how well you are doing! It is likely that you are managing far more than you are aware of, or acknowledge to yourself.
  • Is there anyway during the summer holidays that you can take some of the pressure off yourself? If you are able perhaps you could organise for this particularly demanding period, a little extra help. Even if you don’t normally have a cleaner, or help in the garden, or buy ready made meals, perhaps during the summer holidays you could set up a little more assistance so that you don’t have to do so much. Often it is possible to swap skills, or help each other out in a way that can help balance things a little more easily without necessarily engaging in extra financial pressure. For instance, perhaps you could offer to have a friends children for an evening if she could pick up your shopping when she gets hers or walk your dogs when she walks hers etc.
  • If you don’t normally have your groceries delivered from the supermarket perhaps this would be a good time to get it done, evening if it’s just while the summer holidays are with us. Remember the first order you make often gets the special offer of £15-20 off your first shop (look out for leaflets in the press, with your Amazon orders or when you’re next in store).
  • A great way to make your weekly shop both enjoyable, better value and educational all in one can be to visit your local farm shop. At this time of year there is often a glut of certain types of fresh produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes and soft fruits. So these types of fresh produce can even be more reasonable than they are in the supermarket and will definitely be fresher and therefore more nutritious. You will also be keeping the money you spend within your immediate locality, helping fund the rural economy and keeping your shop relatively carbon neutral. Many farm shops have livestock for the children to visit and cafes for that wholesome treat too, so it can be a really enjoyable trip out.
  • Try and include in some of the things that you do with your children the things that you enjoy as well! If your children can see you enjoying yourself they are often likely to enjoy themselves too. A trip to the beauty salon might not count though!!
  • Remember if finances are under pressure during the summer holidays, making up a picnic and going for trips locally can really help keeping the costs of day trips down. There are often many areas where you can spend the day free of charge, even in this day and age. Local parks, ruins, beaches and some National Trust facilities and nature reserves can still represent a free or low cost day out if you pick and chose and do a little research. If you join organisations such as the National Trust or the RSPB, many of these trips will be free all year round and will make the membership fee really good value.
  • Remember to create the ambience that you wish to establish in your home by vaporising essential oils when you get back from work. This will help create a positive and relaxing environment for all of you and help lift your mood if you’ve had a long day but still have lots to do! Try 6 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Rose and 4 drops Rosemary to de-stress and energise. Remember to vaporise essential oils when you hoover and do the housework as it makes it feel less stressful, and naturally creates a wonderful scent throughout your home without the toxic chemicals that synthetic air fresheners give off.
  • If you are getting very hot and bothered during this wonderful seasonal weather, try making up these aromatherapy spritzers, one for the face and one for the feet! Take 150ml Orange Flower Hydrolat. For your face, add 2 drops Rose, 2 drops Neroli, 6 drops Geranium and 1 drop Peppermint, shake well before use and close eyes when spraying. For the feet, and add 10 drops Tea Tree, 2 drops Peppermint, 6 drops Spearmint and 10 drops Lavender. Take your shoes off when at work and spray on your feet under your desk and this will also spread a wonderful scent throughout your office!
  • If you are making up packed lunches for your children before they go off to their holiday clubs or friends, you can help make the summer holidays more special by adding in little surprises. This will show them that you are thinking of them and help you feel more positive about the situation. You can add little messages, the occasional little surprise present, or the odd snacky treat that they’re not expecting or that you wouldn’t normally include. This will give them a smile in the middle of their day and it will give you a good feeling too.
  • If you and your children are all rather tired and hot and bothered at the end of a busy day try a lovely aromatherapy foot bath before you go to bed which can be especially useful in this hot weather. Take a couple of buckets or washing up bowls, add cold water, 1 cup Dead Sea Salt and get the children to stir it all up with wooden spoons. Then add 2 drops Roman Chamomile, 6 drops Spearmint and 6 drops Lavender. Sit in front of the TV or out in the garden, pop your feet in and enjoy how the cool comfortable feeling spreads up your body. You can also add ice cubes if you are really overheated and don’t mind the cold!
  • If you have been out in the heat and some of you have heat rash or a little sunburn, try this lovely cooling aftersun gel. Suitable for everyone over the age of 2. Take 100ml of Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel and add 2 drops German Chamomile, 4 drops Spearmint, 2 drops Carrot Seed Oil and 15 drops Lavender. In addition, to make the mix richer and more nourishing, you can also add 5ml Argan Oil. Mix well and apply. Remember to do a skin patch test for anyone with sensitive skin or with young children. This mixture also feels really lovely when massaged into hot feet! If you don’t want to make your own you could try our new Cooling Gel with icy-cold Cornmint and soothing Lavender!
  • A final small suggestion for frazzled parents! If it is possible, keep one or two days holiday allowance just for you. Many of us are completely exhausted following the summer holiday juggle. Book yourself up a day or two for recuperation of lost energies, for when the children go back to school, to give you something to look forward to. This is about honouring your own needs. It can help give you a little extra energy and boost your mood if the going gets a little tough when demands on you are higher than normal.

Well I hope that helps a little, and that you and your family do manage to enjoy an absolutely fantastic summer!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Neroli2Neroli (Citrus aurantium) essential oil. Ok, I admit it. The gloriously and highly fragrant, intense, “bitter sweet” citrus scent of the bitter orange flower is my absolute favourite.  It wins hands down in both its scent and its actions for me. It is also universally popular also an addition to traditional eau de cologne and other perfumes.

This lovely oil is steam distilled from the fragrant white flowers of the bitter orange tree (also known as the Sour or Seville orange). The same tree also produces Petitgrain oil from the twigs and leaves and Bitter Orange oil from the fruit.

Neroli oil has a powerfully rejuvenating, soothing effect on various types of sensitive, fragile skin types, and anti-depressant, deeply calming actions on the emotions.

Price and Price describe it as a “lightly tranquilising and neurotonic essential oil useful for fatigue, to aid sleep and to redress sympathetic nervous system imbalance”.

The oil has three main uses:

  • To help ease muscular spasm, tension and discomfort.
  • To help lift states of anxiety, nervous depression and sleeping problems.
  • Useful for fragile, sensitive skin types with broken veins, varicose veins and acne.

Recipes using Neroli essential oil:

For sensitive skin with broken veins:

Take 100ml Moisturising Lotion, add 20 drops Lavender, 10 Geranium, 10 Cypress and 4 Neroli. Regularly massage in after a bath or shower to help ease inflammation and to tighten the veins. (Do not have your water temperature too hot and alternate between warm and cool to help strengthen the circulation).

For insomnia and anxiety:

Mix 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 4 drops Lavender, 4 Marjoram and 2 Neroli. Add the mixture to the bath once the water has run and mix around with the hands to disperse into the water.

For palpitations and stress:

Have a regular full body massage with 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 5 drops Lavender, 4 Ylang Ylang and 2 Neroli.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Flaxseed2Linseed, also known as Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum – Linacaea) is a viscous, yellow green oil – with a slightly green, medicinal metallic scent. The oil is harvested from the seeds which contain linolene and palmotine and its main commercial use is in paints and furniture polish, varnish and in conditioning willow cricket bats!

Apart from its ‘industrial’ uses Linseed is without doubt one of the most extraordinary oils available. A “super food” when taken internally – it has many therapeutically dynamic qualities. When taken orally as a general tonic, it is highly recommended for improving general well being and whole body nutrition. It is considered to be nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids – which make up around 50% of its constituents – and it contains double the amount found in fish oils. It is particularly recommended as an excellent source of EFAs and nutrients for vegetarians and vegans.

Some indications that you may be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids include:

  • Dry skin
  • “Chicken skin” – tiny, rough bumps that are usually found on the backs of the arms
  • Dry or unruly hair
  • Dandruff
  • Soft, fraying, or brittle nails
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual breast tenderness

The next extraordinary feature of Linseed / Flaxseed Oil is its additional levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that is beneficial for a variety of health conditions. It is highly recommended to help combat constipation, and help improve the absorption of Calcium, leading to stronger nails, bones and teeth. Rich in fibre, it also contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, protein, and zinc!

And it doesn’t end there – the oil also contains a group of chemicals called ‘lignans’ that play a role in the prevention of many forms of cancer. Lignans are substances known to stimulate immune activity. They can also help restore the body’s natural balance of good and bad prostaglandins. In addition, Lignans help combat inflammation, allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer, and can help prevent certain diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. What a body tonic! It is recommended that the oil is taken at around 1000 mg 3 times daily, but it is reputedly best taken in the form of ground seeds which can be added to cereal, smoothies and yogurts (try Linwoods Milled Organic Flaxseed from your local supermarket or health shop).

When applied topically to the skin, Linseed Oil’s high levels of EFAs make it excellent for helping to maintain healthy skin, hair and eyes.

It is a supremely moisturising and nourishing oil and makes an excellent anti-wrinkle agent. It lubricates and softens the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If used regularly at 20% in a facial oil the results will be better than anything else you’ve tried!

Flaxseed oil also soothes inflammation, helping provide relief to skin that is dry, in addition to other conditions, such as rosacea, eczema and acne. It is also a valuable aid in healing scars and burns, including sunburn.

Note: This oil should be kept refrigerated as it will oxidise quite quickly.

Recipes using Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil:

For Cracked Heels:

Blend in 20ml Flaxseed Oil to 80ml Moisturising Cream, add 4 drops Neroli, 6 Benzoin, 10 Tea Tree and 20 Lavender. File excess dry skin before a bath or shower and massage cream into feet regularly.

For Arthritic Joints:

Have a regular full body massage with 5ml Flaxseed Oil, 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 2 drops German Chamomile, 4 Juniperberry, 2 Eucalyptus and 7 Lavender. You can also take Flaxseed Oil as an oral supplement too – visit your health food shop for options. Please note that Base Formula’s Flaxseed Oil is not suitable for internal consumption.

For Dry Mature Skin:

Use this rich, nourishing facial oil 3 times a week: 5ml Flaxseed Oil, 15ml Apricot Kernal Oil, 2 drops Neroli, Rose, Roman Chamomile, Benzoin and Geranium.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Chondrus crispus

Chondrus crispus (seaweed)

Have you had the opportunity to try the marvellous Aloe Vera, Elderflower & Seaweed Eye Gel from the clever folk at Base Formula? If not, I would certainly recommend a cheeky purchase or two! As one would expect the product is both reasonably priced, of excellent quality and lovely to use.

Reviewing some of the active ingredients within the gel, I note that Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) is an excellent anti-ageing component found in many beauty ranges and one of the main ingredients within this product. As we age, we may become concerned about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity around our eyes. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. Elderflower (Sambucus nigra), another active ingredient within the eye gel, is particularly suitable for dry and sensitive skin types and has been used for centuries in skincare. Traditionally, Elderflower has been used for softening and lightening the skin. Seaweed (Chondrus Crispus) plays an important role in hydrating and firming and is reputed to help reduce puffiness around the eye. There are other beautiful extracts within the gel including common Sea Lavender (Limonium vulgare), useful for hydrating the skin, and Thyme (Thymus serpyllum), noted for its’ excellent anti-oxidant properties. This product is extremely versatile, as it may be used as a weekly masque or as a daily treatment under moisturiser or foundation or simply used alone. For those of you who are concerned about the ageing process, especially around the eyes, this Aloe Vera, Elderflower & Seaweed Hydrating Gel Eye Gel is definitely for you, although as a note of caution always spot test first if you have sensitive skin.

For those of you who are plagued by the unsightly appearance of cellulite, Base Formula’s Aloe Vera & Seaweed Hydrating Gel may be just what you are looking for! Seaweed (Chondrus Crispus) is commonly used in anti-cellulite skincare products and is reputed to aid circulation and possess detoxifying properties. This gel may be your preferred choice in reducing cellulite especially when used in combination with daily body brushing, exercise and, of course, good nutrition. What makes this popular gel so special is its versatility, as not only can it be used in body treatments, but it is also a useful addition to your facial regime too. Used in masques and cleansers, this gel is suitable for all skin types but especially dry and mature skin. Again, Seaweed is an important active ingredient because of its hydrating and firming properties, particularly beneficial to those of us of a certain age! It also contains an array of vitamins (A, B1, B12, C, D, E & K), amino acids and skin nurturing mineral salts which are all readily absorbed in to the skin to work their magic. The Aloe Vera plays an important role too due to its anti-ageing properties. This gel, although, useful as a gentle cleanser and face mask, can also be used for ultra-hydrating after sun care, so a good one to pop into your suitcase as the holiday season approaches. Aloe Vera and Seaweed are both important therapeutic botanically active ingredients in their own right, but when blended together create a strong synergistic product that is solution focused, simple to use and extremely affordable.

Read our other blog for an anti-cellulite recipe using our Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel.

Well, that’s all from me folks! I look forward to blogging with you next month!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist