Known for its healing properties, geranium was once associated with Venus, the ancient Roman goddess of love. One sniff of its feminine scent, and you’ll understand why geranium has a reputation for being at once soothing and completely invigorating. In fact, Roman soldiers used its essential oil to instill courage and self-confidence before battle, and during medieval times, people planted geranium around their cottages as a means of protection from evil spirits.
Today, geranium oil, which is extracted from the flower’s stem and leaves via distillation—is still sought after for medicinal purposes. Because of its antibacterial qualities, it’s often applied to wounds in order to ward off infection.
Geraldine Howard, founder of Aromatherapy Associates says “It is wonderfully uplifting to the spirits and has a harmonizing and balancing effect.” As a result, its essential oil is utilized in aromatherapy to help calm mood swings and ease irritability—symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Championed for its power to tone skin, geranium is also a natural stress buster and is therefore, regularly employed in massage and bodywork. At The Pearl Modern Spa and Boutique (Fulton, MD), Red Flower’s Berry White Peat Bioactive Exfoliant is used in the Arctic Solstice ($180, 75 minutes) treatment for a polish that enhances skin elasticity and draws out toxins with a surge of vitamin C and omega fatty acids.
The product’s main ingredient is white peat, a nutrient-packed moss found in Finland that produces warming enzymes to break down dead skin cells. After a scrub of super fine organic sea salt, geranium essential oil is applied as the final step to soothe dry skin and equalize oily complex- ions. It’s a treatment that produces results but is still relaxing, according to spa manager Lindsay Houghton. “The ingredients protect skin from harsh environmental factors while also relieving muscular tension and pain,” she says. “Clients leave feeling completely rejuvenated.”
Geranium also facilitates blood circulation just below the skin’s surface and helps clear up acne as well as fade scars and discoloration. The cleansing botanical is used widely in skincare, because it promotes healthy cells and kickstarts the regeneration process. Not only is geranium good for sluggish and congested skin but it also speeds up the healing of wounds, cuts, and even surgical incisions.
“Geranium provides an antibacterial cleanse, but it doesn’t strip or dry facial tissue,” says Amanda Sousa, marketing specialist for Farm- aesthetics. “Our Fine Herbal Cleanser combines it with lavender, and we’ve found that the two oils together are very purifying.” Farmaesthetics’s cleanser takes center stage in the Lavender Harvest Facial ($145, 60 minutes; $200, 90 minutes) at OH! Spa at Ocean House (Watch Hill, RI).
Because geranium may have an effect on hormonal secretions, it’s not recommended for use on pregnant women. But Kyra Johnson, spa director at Aviara Spa at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (Carlsbad, CA), does suggest geranium treatments to female clients who are in need of a mood boost. “It is especially good for hormonal changes attributed to PMS or menopause,” she says. “We use it to treat postnatal depression and even seasonal affective disorder.”
If you find yourself in need of a boost, consider geranium’s flower-power.