Being a relaxed, centered and positive person takes work. Aromatherapy is one tool you can add into your self-care routine that harnesses the power of plants to help alter our moods, emotions and potentially improve our health. While formal research is limited in this area, the Mayo Clinic found aromatherapy health benefits include relief from anxiety and depression, improved quality of life, as well as improved sleep.
As someone who’s used essential oils for years, scent is a highly personal experience. I used to (pre-pandemic) pass around several essential oils to my students at the beginning of a yoga class, to let each person decide what scent appealed to them. Lavender, orange and tea tree oil are some of my favorites, but according to Healthline, “There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefit.”
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils, which are natural plant extracts, for a therapeutic benefit, such as pain relief or relaxation. Plants, flowers, roots and bark are distilled or pressed and their scents extracted into natural oil, referred to as an essential oil. Some of these oils are pure plant extract, others are pure extract mixed with a carrier oil.
How To Safely Use Aromatherapy
Pure essential oils are potent, and if you’re applying it directly to your skin, you’ll need to either use a product that includes carrier oil, or add your own carrier oil. Carrier oils commonly used include coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil and grapeseed oil. They’re mild and dilute the power of the essential oil, allowing you to receive the benefit without irritation.
John Hopkins Medicine advises using caution with aromatherapy diffusers, as scent can affect individuals in a household differently. Hopkins Medicine cites an example of how peppermint might help one person get over a headache, but could also agitate a small child.
What To Look for in Essential Oils
According to John Hopkins Medicine, you want to take time to read the labels when you’re shopping for essential oils. There’s no regulation on these products, so it’s best to buy from reputable brands and thoroughly read the labels. Also, choose dark-colored glass containers because they help to better preserve the oil.
Best Aromatherapy Options
Used in a variety of ways, essential oils and their increasing popularity means you can find a lot of products on the market. Popular aromatherapy options include aromatherapy diffusers, candles, lotions, bath salts, shower aromatherapy, air freshener, diffuser sticks and aromatherapy humidifiers.
We’re breaking down some great aromatherapy products and essential oils for you to try:
Best Essential Oils for Relaxation
Aura Cacia Relaxation Kit
What it Does: As a trusted brand, they promise their oils are pure, without synthetics and authentic. This relaxation set includes four 0.25-fluid-ounce bottles, including pure lavender oil, patchouli oil, sweet orange oil and a blended mix called “Chill Pill.”
Promising Review: (4.7 stars) “I have severe allergies and the Lavender was not overpowering. The odor was so clean and fresh. The price was very reasonable and I LOVE the Chill Pill oil the best so far.” – Janel Sarlls
Price: $15.99 at Amazon.
Best Aromatherapy Diffusers
MUJI Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser
What It Does: This plug-in mister delivers fragrance (just add a few drops of essential oil) with ultrasonic waves. It also includes a warm LED white light used for ambiance or as a night light. The diffuser works for three hours. I’ve had this one for a few years and I like how easy it is to clean and fill.
Promising Review: (4.5 stars) “I love the large capacity and that it can run for hours. I bought a smaller one, and it does not diffuse anywhere close to what this one does.” – Amazon customer
Price: $115.09 at Amazon.
InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser
What It Does: This small essential oil diffuser/humidifier comes in five different colorways. With over 100,000 ratings, its best-seller status means if you’re looking for a small, affordable diffuser, this is a good choice to consider. It also comes with a light that offers eight colors and an automatic shutoff when it runs out of water.
Promising Review: (4.5 stars) “I’m actually really impressed by this little diffuser. My son has now claimed it as his and he uses it for his nightlight.” – StrictlyCDN
Price: $19.99 at Amazon.
Best Aromatherapy Shower System
Moen Aromatherapy Hand Shower with INLY Shower Capsules
What It Does: This showerhead comes with an INLY aromatherapy capsule system. You can use the showerhead normally or you can slide in an INLY shower capsule into the infusion dial. You can even customize the dilution setting for three to 10 minutes. There’s a magnetic dock so you can easily return the handheld shower to its place.
Promising Review: (4.6 stars) “I had my first great shower in my apt (of 2 yrs). The magnetic hold on the hand device is excellent and all 6 shower sprays worked great.” – Eric
Price: $79.43 (reg. $90.99) at Amazon.
Moen INLY Aromatherapy Capsule
What It Does: These capsules coordinate specifically with compatible Moen Aromatherapy showering devices. You’ll need to insert and lock the capsule into the showerhead and choose a dilution setting. Made in France, the fragrance capsules have essential oils curated by master perfumer, Jean-Charles Sommerard. “Energetic Morning” is a mix of essential oils of lemon, Scots Pine and Cistus.
Promising Review: (4.5 stars) “It’s such a great way to wake up your morning, it’s so simple.” – Claudia Townsend
Price: $12.99 (reg. $25.95) at Amazon.
Best Aromatherapy Candle
Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Candle
What It Does and Benefits: This highly rated 14.5-ounce three-wick candle has eucalyptus and spearmint essential oils and is a soy wax blend. Burning the candle releases aromatherapy oils and fragrance, which brings a feeling of calm into your space.
Promising Review: (4.9 stars) “Clean. Fresh. Calming. Worth it for a gift for anyone; go ahead spoil yourself.” – Mama3Bear040198
Price: $24.50 at Bath & Body Works.
Best Topical Aromatherapy
NOW Essential Oils Roll On
What It Does: Apply this roll-on essential oil blend directly onto the skin, including the soles of your feet, back of your neck or pulse points. There are no synthetic fragrances or chemicals.
Promising Review: (4.5 stars) “You can tell by the aroma and feel of the oil that it has been made with fresh quality ingredients.” – Amazon customer
Price: $6 at Amazon.
Best Aromatherapy Lotion
Avalon Organics Natural Hand & Body Lotion
What It Does: This organic plant-based formula uses aloe and lavender essential oils to moisturize and stimulate your sense of smell while promoting an overall feeling of relaxation.
Promising Review: (4.7 stars) “I use Avalon Organics lotion on my face, hands and body when my skin is dry. It soaks in and doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy, then washes clean with soap and water when I’m cooking or working with food unlike some lotions I’ve tried.” – J.N.
Price: $16 (reg. $22.90) for two at Amazon.
Best Car Aromatherapy Diffuser
Third Time Charm Aromatherapy Clip
What It Does: Apply essential oils directly onto the pad of this small, affordable clip. Then put it on the air vents of your car to disperse the scent. It’s a simple and easy-to-use design with a tree of life print. Note: It doesn’t come with essential oil.
Promising Review: (4.7 stars) “The colored disc allows me to use the color that reminds me of the scent I am using such as purple for lavender. The scents last a long time with high quality essential oils.” – Karmon
Price: $8.99 on Amazon.
Best Aromatherapy Bath Salts
Dr Teal’s Epsom Salt
What It Does: This set will get you two bags of Epsom salt: a “Soothe & Sleep with Lavender” 3-pound bag to promote a better night’s sleep and a “Wellness Therapy” 3-pound bag combining Pure Epsom Salt with Rosemary, Spearmint and Peppermint essence to promote relief. Add it to a bath or use it on a washcloth to apply directly to a sprain or ache.
Promising Review: (4.8 stars) “This smells so good and my skin feels very smooth.” – Dalila Jones
Price: $18.95 (reg. $26.95) at Amazon.