Scent has a strong tie to memory, those that comes back to you when the weather hits a certain temperature; you pass by a familiar restaurant or when you lean in to hug someone you haven’t seen in months. One whiff in and you are unexpectedly transported back to a different time.
This spring, you can cocktail a special aromatherapy blend tailored to your scent palette. Aromatherapy saw a huge uptick on Pinterest in 2019. Searches for “homemade reed diffuser” went up 117 percent this year, “deep sleep diffuser blends” went up 33 percent, and “cough and cold diffuser blend” went up 40 percent. People are interested in diffusers, which is why we spoke to Sara Panton, the CEO of Vitruvi — the popular essential oils brand — about the trend.
Q: What scents remind you of special occasions?
Sara Panton: [In the winter], I love using bergamot essential oil and Grove essential oil blend, which was inspired by Cathedral Grove. I used to go camping there with my grandparents and we would hike in the forest. I spent a lot of my time looking up at those trees, and they are some of the oldest and largest cedarwood trees in Canada, and the combination of cedar and spruce tree with fir tree was an aroma from my childhood I wanted to exist and bring that sense of nature to others.
Q: Why did you start Vitruvi?
SP: Vitruvi started as a passion project. We were not trying to disrupt a big market or industry. It was really me being curious about different cultures around the world. I have a degree in global health and worked abroad for a charity that took me to Kenya and then I traveled to Morocco. From there, I went on to study preventative medicine in medical school and started a blog. I would interview people about their daily wellness practices and wanted to create a space that showcased botanicals and natural wellness practices from different cultures. It started from my bathtub, writing a blog and just kind of grew from there. From there, my brother (and co-founder) Sean built our website and we started designing products together.
Q: If someone has never dabbled in aromatherapy before, what is a good place to start?
SP: The brain loves pattern and consistency, so waking up with the same scent makes it really happy. I start my morning with a few drops of eucalyptus [and] rubbing it in my hands in the shower turns my morning shower into a spa-like steam room. I also love to add a few drops of geranium to a warm cloth and steam my face with it in the morning. I like to use [essential oils] as mini hidden spa moments. It makes us pause to take a deep breath, which is just something we need to do. At Vitruvi, we like to think about the use of scent association and the brain. How to use aroma intentionally at different points of the day.
Q: What are some of your rituals?
SP: One thing I am really good at is taking care of myself. I book everything at least a month in advance. If you are in tune enough, you know when you will be traveling a lot or having a ton going on with your kids or when work will be crazy. Pre-book that massage therapy or acupuncture appointment. Take a half-day off on Friday for some “you” time or book off a weekend where you just do not have to do anything with others. I think forward and then build those things into my schedule that are little treats as life gets busy.
Q: What does “wellness” mean to you?
SP: I think the word has gotten very overused. I am so passionate about not slapping wellness on things and saying the word repeatedly for the sake of it. It is not juice cleanses, yoga retreats and spending a lot of money. It really is about “what would you do if your energy was limitless and you felt awesome?” What would you be working on? How would your life be different if you had an extra 20 percent? I think a lot about energy and perspective. I am very in tune with why I invest in my wellbeing and the output I want from that. Personally, it looks like the energy to show up for my team every day, thinking clearly, being present and engaged, thinking critically, and being kind. That is really why I take care of myself the way I do. I travel a ton and it is my job to do that and not get tired. To still be on the phone late at night and get stuff done.
Q: What scents are good to improve mood?
SP: I think it all starts with intention. Off the get-go, I would say use citrus scents like our Boost essential oil blend or Clean Sweep blend because it naturally feels warm and uplifting.
Q: What intentions do you set?
SP: It really depends on the time of day. I enjoy using our blend Ceremony, which was created to cleanse the energy in a space. I am around people all day, and as a leader, I absorb the energy of different people in a room. When I get home, it is important for me to create a fresh state for my family and leave any stressful energy at the door. I diffuse Frankincense when I get home and take a few deep breaths to remind myself to reset.
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