Essential oils are all the rage these days. If you haven’t hopped on the aromatherapy bandwagon yet - or at least dipped your toe in - it’s probably time to give it a try.
Let’s recall that aromatherapy is an ancient medicinal practice that uses the essence of aromatic plants to promote health and well-being. Essential oils are highly concentrated liquid compounds extracted from plants like leaves, flowers, herbs, and barks. Each oil carries a unique characteristic profile (or “essence”) of its origin and offers a unique set of benefits at an affordable price.
Aromatherapy benefits are vast and diverse, ranging from promoting feelings of relaxation, soothing skin irritations, everything in between, and so much more. If you’re new to the realm of aromatherapy and all things essential oils, you’ve come to the right place. What’s the best essential oil? Keep reading and decide for yourself as you prepare for your first purchases.
The Best Essential Oils
There are so many essential oils, all offering a unique set of benefits — it would be impossible to say which one is the best of all. What we can do, however, is talk about some of the most popular oils and what they have to offer. In no particular order - and please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive - here are some of the most beloved essential oils:
Lavender. We can just about guarantee every beginner set of essential oils has lavender oil. Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular oils and is praised for promoting feelings of calmness, reducing anxiety, easing tension, and soothing skin irritations. Lavender’s aroma is powdery, floral, and light and often used at nighttime to induce feelings of relaxation and serenity.
Lemon. Lemon cake, lemon sorbet, lemon essential oil — you can’t deny the bright and happy feelings that come along with lemon. Lemon essential oil immediately adds fresh and vibrant energy to a room and brings uplifting, antioxidant, anti-stress, and immune-enhancing properties. Lemon oil and other citrus oils like grapefruit and sweet orange are also popularly mixed with cleaning products. Lemon oil is antimicrobial, antiviral, and cleans and removes adhesives. We’ll note that when applied topically, lemon oil increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and so should not be used before spending the day under the sun.
Peppermint. Peppermint oil is invigorating and fills a room with minty, fresh, and herbaceous aromas. Peppermint offers us calming and relaxing effects and is often used before bedtime to help us slow down, reduce stress, and ease anxiety.
Bergamot. Bergamot brings a citrusy, spicy, and slightly floral aroma and is popular for its calming and uplifting abilities. Bergamot’s primary benefits include its calming and soothing aroma, skin purifying properties, and ability to dissipate feelings of anxiety. Bergamot is unique because it can produce both uplifting and calming effects, making it an excellent oil for helping with depression and general low mood.
Chamomile. Chamomile is another one of the more versatile oils with some of its benefits including easing an upset stomach, relieving anxiety, soothing skin conditions, and promoting sleep. Chamomile is highly relaxing for both the mind and the body, and it has the sweet and floral scent to accompany this characteristic.
Ylang Ylang. Ylang Ylang is derived from star-shaped flowers, and its aroma of sweet and spicy is just as unique as its origin. Ylang Ylang has nourishing, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties and does an excellent job creating a calm and soothing environment.
Cedarwood. Cedarwood does a great job at deodorizing any over-odorized space and is generally a highly versatile and familiar aroma. The essence of cedarwood is nutty, woody, and sweet and can be blended with a botanical oil to give it a sweeter, earthier profile. Cedarwood has skin-cleansing properties, helps maintain healthy hair and youthful skin, and is a natural insect repellent.
Eucalyptus. Using eucalyptus oil is a great way to feel connected to nature and the environment as its aromatic profile is woody, earthy, and oh so fresh. Inhaling eucalyptus oil can help open up nasal passages and ease congestion and, when applied topically, can relieve muscle aches and pains. We’ll note that this oil has a higher rate of allergic reactions among users and should not be used with children, pregnant women, or pets.
How to Use Essential Oils
There are a few different ways of practicing aromatherapy. The various methods are equally effective for delivering results, with the choice often coming down to convenience or practicality.
Diffuser. Essential oil diffusers are one of the more popular methods for practicing aromatherapy. Diffusers disperse microfine mist of water and fragrance into the air and work wonders for turning any space into an oasis. Ultrasonic essential oil diffusers are perhaps the most preferable because they are whisper-quiet, do not use a heating element for steam distillation, and do double-duty adding humidity into the air.
Topically. Essential oils can be applied topically directly to your skin. Oils can be applied to the crown of your head, behind the ears, on your neck, on your temples, and on other areas of the body as well. Essential oils also make for a great addition to massages as they can be mixed with lotions to create an ultra-relaxing and soothing experience. Just don't forget to use carrier oils if you apply essential oils topically. Mix drops of essential oil with carriers to ensure that these high-quality, therapeutic-grade ingredients don't irritate your skin when applied directly.
Humidifier. Many humidifiers feature an essential oil tray that’s as easy to use as it sounds; simply pull out the small tray from the side of the unit, add a few drops of your oil, close, and that’s it! Your oil will now be combined into the humidifier’s mist to fill the room with hydration and aroma. Again, an ultrasonic humidifier is a desirable choice as they are whisper-quiet, free of a potentially dangerous heating unit, and do the best job of evenly dispersing fine mist throughout large rooms.
Inhalation. The most straightforward and relatively boring way of using essential oils is by simply inhaling them. This can be done by removing the bottle’s lid and inhaling, adding the oil into a spray bottle of water to mist a room, or adding drops into a hot bath.
Get Your Zen On
With so many ways to use them and so many benefits to be had, the only question is which is to try first?
Lemongrass to brighten the mood? Bergamot for a self-care, plant therapy shower session? Tea tree oil to soothe acne-prone skin? From geranium and jasmine to frankincense, rosemary, and thyme, pure essential oils offer a world of possibilities, and you deserve to explore each and every one of them. You can enjoy them as single oils, or create your own essential oil blends to help soothe everything from headaches and insomnia to skin inflammation. We hope our list got you excited about essential oils and gave you some inspiration for how you may want to use them. If you’re yet to try essential oils for the first time, this is your sign. Sit back, relax, and get your Zen on.