The best essential oils became mainstream several years ago and for good reasons. They have many different uses and provide a variety of benefits.
Essential oil therapy, also known as aromatherapy, has been around for decades. Essential oils are plant-extracted, concentrated liquids that were traditionally used in beauty and cleaning products, but recent studies have shown that they can have medicinal benefits when used properly.
Essential oils boast many health and wellness benefits from reducing anxiety to minimizing pain. While there are a good deal of essential oils out there, it’s important to know what oils will give you the results you’re looking for.
This guide will go over some of the best essential oils and how to use them. Whether you’re looking for a calming scent to fill a room in your house, make a DIY cleaning product with, or one to help erase your headaches, there’s sure to be an oil out there for it!
10 Most Popular Types of Essential Oils
There are many brands of oils out there. You want to make sure to look for 100 percent certified organic and pure essential oils, such as these Plant Therapy essential oils. You don’t want to get stuck with something that’s just oils filled with a synthetic fragrance. So before you choose an essential oil, check the ingredient list on the back of the bottle. The fewer oil ingredients, the better.
When looking for essential oils, you want to make sure you select one labeled 100% natural or pure. Be sure to also check the ingredient list to make sure you’re getting the simplest, most natural product.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils because it is so versatile. It has a floral aroma, thanks to the flower it’s made from. The scent helps people feel calm and relaxed and many claim it helps them sleep well. The oil can be added to skin care products or dispersed throughout a room in your home.
Lemon essential oils smell like the fresh and zesty fruit it comes from. This oil works especially well in home cleaning products but can also be used in body care products. The refreshing scent also helps people feel energized and happy.
Bergamot was once used in flavoring for black tea, which later became known as Earl Grey Tea. Bergamot essential oil has a citrus scent, which comes from the fruit it derives from. It is best known for its warm, calming scent and smells great dispersed throughout a house.
People derive this oil from the rinds of the Citrus bergamia fruits. These fruits are a unique combination of lemons and oranges, and this gives you a very distinctive and enticing scent. It’s popular for use in colognes, massage oils, and body lotions. You can use it to help reduce stress, and it has a host of compounds that can help to alleviate inflammation and pain. This is another essential oil that can be irritating to your skin, so you want to ensure you dilute it before using it.
Better known as Melaleuca oil, it has a host of antifungal and antibacterial properties associated with it. Some people use it in wound care, to help control dandruff, and to help get rid of head lice. It’s also popular for people to dilute it as a cleaning agent with a few drops of oil added to a few cups of water and a cup of vinegar, or to help ward away deer. You can add a few drops to your shampoo too. However, you want to be careful because this is a very potent essential oil, and it can easily cause eye or skin irritation. Always test a small area of your skin first if you want to apply it topically.
Just as you’d expect, peppermint essential oil smells like the menthol, herbal mint leaves that peppermint oil is made from. Peppermint essential oils help to make one feel more awake and alert is it is a stimulant. It possesses an uplifting aroma and many people find that the scent helps relieve them of a headache or nausea. It can also be used to help ease muscle pain.
Peppermint essential oil blend is made from natural mint leaves and provides a menthol, herbal aroma. The scent works well to help one feel more awake and it’s been known to help relieve headaches.
Chamomile has a very comforting scent to it, and it has a history dating back centuries for helping people fall asleep. This soothing oil is also thought to help reduce anxiety. You can get German Chamomile or Roman Chamomile when you pick it out. German Chamomile has a much higher chamazulene content to it, and this is the active ingredient that is thought to give the health benefits to this essential oil.
You’re most likely familiar with chamomile tea. If you don’t like the taste, you can give the essential oil a try and see if it offers the same relaxing effects when you diffuse it out into a room. As with any essential oil, you want to dilute it before you apply it directly on your skin to avoid irritation.
If you’re into myths and legends, you most likely know about jasmine’s reputation as a potent aphrodisiac. It has an extremely powerful and sweet floral scent to it, and it’s used in a host of fragrances and to lace some desserts. This oil is usually slightly more expensive than other essential oils on the list, but you only need to use a drop or two. If you use more, it can quickly get overpowering in a room, and the scent can linger around for days at a time.
This essential oil may have antibacterial properties associated with it, and it can help lift your mood due to the floral scent. It may also have a cicatrizing effect to help promote wound healing by keeping the area clean and free of germs and bacteria. Finally, it can actually have a sedative effect in very small amounts.
Eucalyptus oil has a very refreshing and powerful scent associated with it, so you should only use a small amount and dilute it down with water. It’s wonderful at masking certain odors around your house like mildew, and it can help clean out your sinuses when you breathe it in. It works very well in a diffuser, but it’s relatively easy to add a few drops to your shampoo or body lotion to enjoy the scent.
If you want it to open up your sinuses, adding it to your shampoo or body wash and taking a steamy shower or bath can help diffuse it into the direct air around you. You could also add a few drops directly to your bath water to enjoy the benefits. It mixes well with a host of floral scents too.
Eucalyptus essential oil carries a strong, clean scent. It’s found in many aromatherapy products and leaves a nice aroma lingering in a room of the house.
If you’re in the market for a very light and floral essential oil, try ylang ylang. The light, floral scent that this essential oil produces can help reduce stress and tension when you use it in aromatherapy. It could also be beneficial if you routinely suffer from insomnia, but this will vary from person to person.
Ylang ylang is actually a tropical plant species. You’ll find it growing in the countries that surround the Indian Ocean like the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and certain parts of Australia. If you pour out a lot, you’ll get a very rich and strong scent that has both flowery and fruity notes to it. You can diffuse it, add a few drops to your shampoo or body lotion, or you could create a massage oil or put it in candles to get a light scent when you burn them.
Fair warning, patchouli is one essential oil that you either love the smell of or you can’t tolerate it. Also, it mixes better with some people’s body chemistry than others, so you should use it with caution. It has a very strong, heady, woodsy scent with a certain spice. It was very popular with the Woodstock era, but many people are rediscovering this oil.
Patchouli can act as a deterrent for mosquitoes or deer if you have it outside around your deck or patio, and it has strong antibacterial properties associated with it. You can grow this rare houseplant too if you like the oil. Just be aware that it can be challenging to source in certain areas.
How to Use Essential Oils
It’s important to note that essential oil is NOT a replacement for any kind of medicine and you should always go to your doctor with any questions or concerns. However, many people swear that they’ve seen the benefits of using essential oils.
Essential oils are extremely potent, which is why they’re often sold in small quantities and a couple of drops goes a long way.
Perhaps the quickest way to use essential oils is to inhale them through a diffuser.
A diffuser disperses oils into the air and they later evaporate, after filling the air with their scent and therapeutic benefits. There are many types of diffusers out there including ceramic, electric and reed diffusers. Choose which style you like best and then, as always, follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to use it properly.
A diffuser works well to disperse aroma from essential oils throughout your home. There are many varieties and sizes of diffusers and they can be put in any room of the house.
This electric diffuser can go in any room of the house and you can easily fill it with whatever oil you want. You’ll typically add 3-5 drops in a smaller diffuser and up to 15 in a larger one. Each diffuser should come with specific instructions.
It’s possible to apply essential oils directly onto your skin, but you’ll need to dilute it first with a carrier oil or cream. Carrier oils are also made from plants but are nearly scentless so as not to interfere with the benefits of essential oils. Some common carrier oils include jojoba oil, olive oil and grape seed oil. One of the more popular carrier oils, coconut oil, has many additional uses.
As for dilution ratios, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy suggests that for 5% dilution, you should use 30 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil.
By diluting your essential oil, you’re still getting the benefit of the oil, but you’re protecting your skin in the process. Of course, if you have sensitive skin or are prone to breakouts or rash, try the mixture on a small part of your skin first to check for any negative reactions.
You can apply essential oils to areas where you’re experiencing muscle pain or tension. Essential oils can also be rubbed onto your temples, or on your wrist, where you can easily smell the oil and experience their benefits.
While it’s possible to just sniff an open bottle of essential oil, using a steam method would likely be most beneficial. Simply fill a bowl with hot water and place it on a hard, level surface, such as a table. Add several drops of essential oil to the bowl of water. Then take a large towel and cover up the bowl and yourself. The vapor will then be trapped under the towel. Simply close your eyes and inhale deeply for several minutes. Repeat as needed.
The steam method would work well with peppermint oil as the menthol scent will help open up airways and relieve sinuses if you have a cold or struggle with allergies. While it’s not a replacement for medicine, a natural oil steam could work wonders.
The dry evaporation method for using the best essential oils only requires you to have some kind of material on hand like fabric or a cotton ball. Ideally, you’ll have a holder for it too, but you can get creative and DIY one if you don’t want to purchase it. All you’ll have to do is add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to your chosen dry material and inhale it.
You can easily add the material to your car vents, pillowcase, or a bracelet. Another option is to get a lava bead bracelet that is especially designed for essential oils. All you do then is put a few drops of oil onto the porous beads and carry it with you. There are special vent clips and bracelets or lockets you could invest in too that hold a small piece of cotton material that you add a few drops of your oil to.
Bath or Shower
It’s a good practice to store your essential oils out of the bathroom due to the humidity levels and the heat, but you can find a lot of use for them in these rooms. You can easily slip a few drops of your chosen essential oil into your conditioner, shampoo, or body wash. If you want to take a shower and inhale the scents, you can add a few drops to your shower walls. The steam and water will activate the scents. You can also add a few drops to a damp washcloth and inhale.
If you want to add an essential oil to your bath, you can dilute it with a few drops of carrier oil. You could also try putting it straight in without the carrier oil, but it could break down much faster with the heat. There are also essential oil bath bubbles or bath products that work very well.
Pure Rose Oil – Absolute Perfume Oil by Naomi King / CC BY 2.0 Adding essential oils to your shower or bath allow them to diffuse right around you as you sit and relax and unwind. Depending on the oil, the amount you need can easily vary.
Anyone who has a humidifier and wants to use it with their essential oil should double-check with the manufacturer’s instructions first. Some ultrasonic types don’t recommend using essential oils in them, and you could even void the warranty by doing so. If you’re in the clear, it’s very easy to get your favorite scents circulating around your room.
All you’ll do is fill the water tank on your humidifier and add a few drops of your chosen essential oil. The oil will start to vaporize throughout the room as your humidifier runs, and you’ll be able to breathe it in. You do want to use a cool mist over warm, and you should clean it between each use to ensure the oils aren’t negatively impacting any parts of the machine.
You can find jewelry that comes designed specifically to hold essential oils to allow you to breathe them in without disrupting anyone around you. This is especially useful for anyone who works in an office because the smell shouldn’t be strong enough to carry over to your coworkers.
You should pick out the piece of jewelry that works best for your needs. It could be a necklace, bracelet, ring, or even earrings. Most come with small cotton pads that you add two or three drops of your best essential oil too. Apply it in the morning and enjoy the benefits all day long.
Essential Oil Use Precautions
Just like anything else you use, essential oils come with some potential risks due to their potency levels. You want to use each oil with care, and you should never take essential oils internally unless they’re food-grade and you’ve spoken to a licensed specialist. People who shouldn’t use essential oils include:
- Children under 12 years old
- Older adults
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
You also want to consider any pets you have since some essential oils can be harmful if they get ahold of it and manage to swallow it. You should talk to your primary care doctor before you use essential oils if you’re currently on prescription medications or have health concerns. This includes people with epilepsy, low immunity, or high blood pressure.
If you’re someone who wants more information about using essential oils in your daily life, it’s a good idea to talk to a certified aromatherapist. You can use the online database from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy to find a local one and get in touch with them.
Always Use a Carrier Oil
Almost all essential oils are too strong to apply directly to your skin without worrying about them causing irritation or breakouts. This is why it’s essential that you always dilute them with a therapeutic-grade carrier oil before you apply them topically. If you have nut allergies, avoid any essential oils that come from tree nuts. .
Watch for Skin sensitivities
Essential oils can very quickly irritate your skin. You should never put essential oils near sensitive areas on your body like your ears, eyes, or mouth. Never apply essential oils to areas of irritated, inflamed, or broken skin as it can make these areas worse. Before you use your oils, do a patch test on your skin. All you have to do for a patch test is place a small amount of your chosen diluted essential oil below your ear or on your inner wrist. Wait for 24 hours and see if the area shows any irritation.
Another important point to note is that certain citrus-based essential oils can cause photosensitivity if you expose your skin to sunlight or any light source right after you apply it. You should avoid using these types of essential oils on any skin that will get exposure to the sun for at least 12 hours after the initial application.
Best Essential Oils – Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are carrier oils?
A carrier oil is an essential oil that is made from plants. You use these oils to dilute your main essential oils and carry them onto your skin without irritating it. Most of these oils either have a very light scent or no scent at all to stop them from interfering with your main oil’s scent. You can use a carrier oil by itself to nourish your skin, or you can use it with a scented essential oil. Carrier oils will be labeled carrier oils to prevent confusion.
2. How do you store essential oils?
Depending on the essential oil you get and the brand, it can be an expensive investment for the small bottle you end up with. This is why storing them correctly to ensure they last is so critical. To store your oils correctly, they should be in amber or dark-tinted bottles. This will stop the sunlight from breaking them down. Store them in a cool, dry place with low humidity and heat. You can get speciality boxes to put them in too.
3. Can you use essential oils every day?
You could use your essential oils every day, as long as it’s not directly on your skin and applied topically. You don’t want to overdo it, and even diluted essential oils can cause skin irritation if you apply them day after day. Instead, switch up how you use your oils. Maybe you put them in a diffuser for a day or two before switching to topical use for a few days and then switching to using them in your bath or shower.
4. What are stronger essential oils?
Some essential oils are much stronger than others, and these are the ones that you want to be very careful with when you apply them. For example, eucalyptus, wintergreen, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, fennel, verbena, and patchouli should all be used sparingly. They have very sharp and heavy scents that can easily trigger skin irritation or headaches.
Explore the Best Essential Oils!
It’s safe to say that when it comes to essential oil, the possibilities are endless. Not only are there many different flavors and scents, but they each carry with them a number of uses and benefits. There are also several ways to receive the benefits of essential oils.
If you have any takeaways from this essential oil article, let it be the encouragement to try an essential oil and see the results of their benefits for yourself!
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.