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Published February 20, 2019
Published February 20, 2019
Christin Hume via Unsplash

Aromatherapy has been around for millennia, with roots in ancient China, Egypt, and Greece; the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, is believed to have practiced aromatherapy. However, it is French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefossé who is credited with originating the term “aromatherapy” in 1937 after a burn incident piqued his curiosity about the healing power of essential oils. While aromatherapy had a bit of a resurgence in the ’90s,  aromatherapy has primarily lived in crunchy fringes of the beauty industry and the spa world, with the majority of people questioning the therapeutic benefits of the practice.

“As the Western world wakes up to the balanced powers of ancient practices, the spotlight is starting to shine on the somewhat dusty practice of aromatherapy,” Cult Beauty founder Alexia Inge told the Stylist. “What is an incredibly potent and effective discipline had been allowed to fade into something one associates with second-rate spas and annoyingly weak massages. But as consumers hunt for ways of dealing with a high tide of stress through their lives, they’re searching for ways to bring self-help micro-moments into the day.”

Is 2019 going to be the year aromatherapy makes a comeback?  In 2017, the global aromatherapy market generated $1.2 billion, and in the US alone sales have increased by 200% since 2012. Looking forward, the global aromatherapy market is projected to reach USD 8,213.1 million by 2024 from USD 4,352.1 million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 8.4% in the forecast period 2017 to 2024.


  • Young Living
  • doTerra
  • Mountain Rose Herbs
  • Edens Garden
  • Frontier Natural Products Co-op
  • Rocky Mountain Oils
  • Plant Therapy Essential Oils
  • Starwest Botanicals
  • Hopewell Essential Oils
  • North American Hen and Spice

Founded in 1993, the MLM company Young Living saw sales surpass $1.5 billion in 2017. The company has surpassed $1 billion in sales in each of the last three years and its revenues have grown 800 percent over the last five years.


  • Cult Beauty reports a 240% rise in the number of searches for aromatherapy over the last 18 months.
  • Space NK, which carries aromatherapy brands like This Works and Aromatherapy Associates, saw triple-digit growth in the category.


The resurgence of aromatherapy is in line with the shifting consumer mindset. Aromatherapy checks both the beauty and wellness boxes, which is in line with the continued merging of the categories. However, it doesn’t stop there—The Future Laboratory predicts developments in neuroscience will allow fragrance companies to innovate scents that can be used daily to combat rising anxiety levels. Givaudan is ahead of the curve with scent component neurophroline, an extract of wild indigo that reduces stress levels by breaking down cortisol and stimulating the release of uplifting endorphins.

“In 2016 we saw the beauty industry break free from the confines of cosmetics and skincare to take its place in the modern wellness pantheon,” says Jessica Smith, Creative Researcher specializing in beauty and wellness at The Future Laboratory. “Last year the fragrance industry made the link between scent and neuroscience with brands such as Valeur Absolue and Romilly Wilde launching perfumes that incorporated aromachology, the study of how smell affects behaviour, to create a product that not only smells good but acts as a scientifically established mood-enhancer. It’s perfectly timed as consumers are increasingly investing in optimising personal experience and micro-regulating moods, coveting products or services that allow them to reach their full potential.”


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