You have probably been noticing an increasing presence of essential oils in supermarkets and hypermarkets (i.e. Target, Wal-Mart, Meijer's, etc.).
An essential oil is a natural volatile material typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance or flavor of the plant or other source from which it is extracted. 'Volatile' means the oil evaporates rapidly at room temperature while a fixed oil does not.
Be aware that many products labeled "essential oils," particularly in skincare products, might simply be synthetic perfumes providing a pleasant aroma but no wellness benefits.
The name "essential oil" was coined in the sixteenth century by Paracelsus (Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, 1494-1541). He believed these substances contained the absolute quintessence ('quinta essentia') of the plants from which they were extracted, the most active parts of the natural organism. To Paracelsus, the oils represented the most concentrated form of the individual characteristics of the plant—its very essence.
Now, five centuries later, essential oils are gaining not only in understanding but in acceptance and utilization in beauty, skin and personal care and household products. They are even showing up in medicinal and medical products.
In our growing understanding of the true nature of essential oils, it is important to "handle with care" because just one drop of a high grade essential oil derived from many pounds of plant material may look tiny but is actually a powerhouse of benefit to your physical vitality. This is important to understand especially since hypermarkets have now actually become the main channels of essential oil distribution in the U.S. (with a share of 34.12% in 2016) and yet they are providing only sparse education about the potentials of these substances!
To further emphasize this growing trend, the organic essential oils market in the U. S. is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 28.16%.
This is attributable to the growing awareness of the health benefits associated with the use of essential oils as active ingredients in [beauty and personal care products]. –Arushi Thakur, Technavio industry expert
Thakur goes on to say,
The rising demand for premium and better-for-you health and wellness products due to growing health consciousness and increase in average per capita household disposable income will further fuel market growth over the next five years.
Studies suggest that the value of the global essential oil market is set to reach a staggering 11.67 billion U.S. dollars by 2022, compared with a current estimated value of roughly 5.5 billion. This computes to an average impressive 10% year-on-year growth.
Ultra International B. V., an essential oil specialist based out of Spijkenisse, Holland, backs this up by saying:
This growth is primarily based on a growing consumer awareness regarding the health benefits associated with natural and organic ingredients in personal care, beverages and household products.
Now that essential oils have gone mainstream in our hypermarketplace, we might develop a tendency to trivialize them or take their use for granted in our holistic lifestyles.
The use of essential oils should not be taken lightly nor should we tacitly believe that essential oils for purchase in the mainstream marketplace are of superior quality.
In contrast, the recent European regulations have tightened the restrictions of types and concentrations of natural essential oils allowed in any topical products.
Since 1979, PHYTO5 chemists have practiced the art of blending natural essential oils to make them both more potent and able to balance our vital energy as a by-product of beauty regimen and spa treatments. Is has been proven (and is proven in PHYTO5 skincare) that a perfect essential oil blend can have some synergistic effects that exceed the sum of the benefits of its constituent parts.