ENERGY is CONTAGIOUS, a mindful body can be sensed and appreciated by those around us.
Aromatherapy sounds like it’s all about scent. Scent is just the gateway into crafted experiences that enhance psychological and physical well-being. Using natural oils, aromatherapy can do so much more than make you smell amazing, it can help you handle stress, combat fatigue, sooth emotions and so much more. Bringing aromatherapy into your life and practice can only enhance your experience.
We spoke with hair goddess Sabrina Michals about how she uses the magic of plant extracts to master her practice beyond hair.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into holistic healing and aromatherapy?
When I started my career as a hairdresser I took the plunge and decided to purchase a one-way ticket from LA to NY. I soon began working at Bumble and Bumble, but I was broke. I had nowhere to live. It was a highly stressful time, and as a result, I developed Narcolepsy. I literally would fall asleep standing behind the chair, it was not the right foot to start on in a city where things move faster than almost anywhere else in the world. Fortunately for me, Michael Gordon, the founder of Bb, believed strongly in holistic healing. This is where my journey with essential oils began as I rebalanced myself with plant medicines and soon enough I no longer had Narcolepsy. This experience showed me the power of natural healing which I kept in my life from that point forward.
That was the very beginning, but it has actually been the past five years that I have begun to use essential oils daily and it has become an important part of my lifestyle. I also have always been very sensitive to perfumes, so I was also using oils as an alternative for fragrance. What started out as my personal rituals using aromatherapy for meditation and yoga has now gracefully merged with my career as a hairdresser.
How are you incorporating this with your beauty background?
There is a Wellness and Beauty movement happening. Consumers are educating themselves these days. They want to know alternative solutions for their hair and skin care.
Letting the client settle in and arrive, I use essential oils with my client services. My client chooses the oil that’s just right for him or her at that moment. I then apply this to a scalp and neck massage and or to unscented shampoo. I also enjoy using antibacterial / anti-septic oils such as clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon, on my brushes for a 10 min scalp service, or simply to disinfect my brushes between clients. I mix them into a spritzer and spray my brushes. This allows clients to settle in and release the stress of the day. Certain essential oils make for a beautifully refreshing tonic in my water bottle when cutting hair. They relax the atmosphere and add another layer to the experience.
I love sharing with my clients and fellow hairdressers, all the ways these oils can be used emotionally physically and mentally. This is the reason I decided to become a Bio Alchemist.
You’ve said in regards to hairdressing that “the exchange of entering and exiting energy for hours at a time with clients takes a mental and emotional toll… if not balanced”. Did you have a moment when you were not as balanced as today? What were the signals that you needed to do something about it?
Absolutely there are days where I am out of balance. I experience irritability or impatience with self-doubt if I’m running late with clients. When any of us are having a bad day, feeling irritable and grumpy, it has an impact on others around us. These emotional changes are all signs that WE need some adjusting and grounding. When you smell essential oil’s they directly link to your brain and enhance your state of mind and alter your mood. It’s a biological (physical) reaction.
Some wonderful aromatics for grounding and clarity are Lavender, Frankincense, and Vetiver.
Aromatherapy is an ancient tradition. From where does it originate?
Many ancient civilizations used aromatics medicinally. It goes all the way back to biblical times, through Ancient Greece, to hippies, to today. The French coined the term modern “Aromatherapie “ in 1937.
How do you define it?
I’m going to give you the actual definition: “Aromatherapy is the holistic therapeutic application of genuine and authentic plant-derived essential oils for enhancing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the individual”. It says it all!
How do you use them?
It’s a delightful beauty therapy. Essential oils can be diffused, ingested with gel caps, but my favorite way to use them is to apply them to your skin. To do this, warm the oils up in your hands, hold them close to take a few deep breaths, then apply to the bottom of your feet, the back of your neck, or to your stomach clockwise.
It’s radiant health. It helps with stress, anxiety headaches, insomnia, muscle aches, hormones… I have a little bit of arthritis in my knuckles and I use peppermint. For skin problems like acne I use Tea tree oil on my spots. Lavender I use when I get a burn from a curling iron. I always carry Lavender in my kit. Essential oils also help with chronic fatigue and sinus problems the list goes on.
You always want to use 100% essential oil’s. Look for the Latin name on the bottle this is an indicator that it’s 100%. There are no labeling laws in the U.S., so companies can put fillers or synthetic ingredients without having to state it. These ‘fillers’ are what result in people developing skin irritation or rashes. Essential oils are very potent and should be diluted with a carrier oil when putting directly on your skin.
How can you be sure you’re getting good quality oils?
The Latin name on the bottle again is a good indicator that it’s 100% essential oil. You may have to do a little researching. You could put one drop of oil on paper. When it drys it should be clear.
Here are where I get some of my oils in New York:
You are getting certified for Aromatherapy, what does this involve?
I’m so excited to be getting certified. I have been making my own potions, scrubs, skin ritual and hair tonics the last five years. I have to complete a 100 hours for level one. I have to do a few case studies. Does anyone want to volunteer? LOL!
What other practices compliment aromatherapy?
Energy work such as Reki, acupuncture, and meditation are complementary. Breathwork. “Deep breath’s are like little love notes to your body,” I love this quote.
What holistic practices do you incorporate into your life to maintain optimal balance?
Some tools that are useful to me in my practice and hairlife? Grounding and balancing my own energy daily through meditation, yoga and essential oil sets the tone. ENERGY is CONTAGIOUS, a mindful body can be sensed and appreciated by those around us.
What is the most dramatic effect you’ve observed when treating someone with aromatherapy?
I can only speak from my own experience. I use essential oils medicinally in my home. There are so many uses from colds, to rebalancing hormones, to dissipating a wart. They work beautifully.
For example, my daughter Althea had a wart on the bottom of her foot. We had seen the podiatrist a few times it wouldn’t go away we tried everything. I didn’t have time to pick up new medicated cream, as we were leaving on vacation for 2 weeks. I used Oregano the whole time we were on vacation. We returned to doctor even though it looked to be gone. He was delightfully surprised and said that he would start using Oregano as an alternative for his patients.
What is one surprising but incredibly helpful essential oil that every hairdresser should use?
LAVENDER is the one oil every hairdresser should carry in there kit. The word lavender is thought to be derived from the Medieval Latin “Lavo” which means to wash or bath. Lavender is balancing, wound healing, it helps with fatigue and anxiety, insomnia and headaches.
Everyone should carry Lavender.
Some other simple daily tips are:
- Using a few drop of citrus (happy) oils or lavender on wool balls in your dryer with towels and robes.
- In a water bottle use spearmint, tea tree oil, and lemon in equal parts. About 10 drops of each in a 4oz bottle. Spray hair as your cutting this is refreshing especially during the summer months. Clients can’t get enough of it.
- A foot soak for those extra long days on your feet. MSM and Valor from Young Living oil in warm water does the job.
Do you plan to open a beauty practice that more specifically involves holistic healing treatments?
I plan on taking clients once I’m a licensed Bio Alchemist along with hairdressing. I am currently working on a Signature Class that blends Wellness and Beauty with Education. This is how I plan to spread the love.
Essential oils can heal the body as well as the mind. What is your favorite oil for body and mind?
For the body? I love a synergy of Rose, Geranium, Lavender, Clary Sage and Frankincense. I blend these with coconut oil. I apply to my damp skin after a shower.
Favorite oil for the mind? Peppermint for a quick pick me up (back of the neck). Lavender for calming when my mind is racing. Frankincense for clarity when Meditating.
How can we find you?
I’m locally working at a Barbershop mottnyc.com, or you can follow me on Instagram @petitebrioche which is where I can be contacted directly for education inquiries etc.