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Your sense of smell enables you to experience your surroundings in a powerful way. Essential oils are used to stimulate the sense of smell through aromatherapy. They can also be mixed with carrier oils and used directly on the skin or hair.
Distilled from the leaves, flowers, and seeds of plants, there are so many kinds of essential oils. To help you sift through the essential oil shelf, we rounded up a list of oils, along with specific recommendations.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
- Best for digestive issues: Eden Botanicals Peppermint Essential Oil
- Best for sleep: Eden Botanicals Organic Lavender Essential Oil
- Best for germ-fighting: Eden Botanicals Tea Tree Oil
- Best for massage oil: Eden Botanicals Bergamot Essential Oil
- Best for help with anxiety: Eden Botanicals German Blue Chamomile Oil
- Best for romance: Eden Botanicals Jasmine Sambac Absolute Essential Oil
- Best budget-friendly jasmine alternative: Eden Botanicals Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
- Best for the common cold: Eden Botanicals Blue Gum Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Best for rose fragrance: Eden Botanicals Rose Geranium Essential Oil
- Best for woodsy aroma: Eden Botanicals Patchouli Essential Oil
- Best for high blood pressure: Eden Botanicals Clary Sage Essential Oil
- Best for stress relief: Eden Botanicals Lemongrass Essential Oil
- Best for mood boosting: Eden Botanicals Orange Essential Oil
- Best for dandruff and hair loss: Eden Botanicals Cedarwood Essential Oil
- Best for skin benefits: Eden Botanicals Sandalwood Essential Oil
- There’s research: The essential oils on this list were chosen because they have proven benefits and are popular with many people. It’s important to keep in mind that overall, research on essential oils is limited. More research is needed to understand exactly how essential oils may help with common ailments.
- The manufacturer matters: Each one comes from a trusted manufacturer that’s transparent about oil extraction methods and plant sources.
- It’s clear how it was made: With exception of the jasmine extract, the essential oils on this list are manufactured by cold pressing or steam distillation.
- It’s good for general use: They’re all considered appropriate for fragrance and aromatherapy uses and get excellent customer reviews.
- It’s available in many sizes. Since Eden Botanicals offers their oils in a range of volumes — from sample to 16-ounce bottles and larger — there’s also a wide range of price points, which makes it more flexible for your budget.
Best for digestive issues
Best for: IBS and other GI conditions, headaches
Pros: energizing, cooling, fresh
Cons: not safe for people with G6PD deficiency, people taking certain medications, babies, children, or pets
In addition to having a delightful scent that many people associate with winter holidays, peppermint oil has health benefits for athletic performance and can improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. It’s also a choice for some looking to ease headaches.
The peppermint essential oil is sourced from the peppermint plant, Mentha x piperita, in the Pacific Northwest and acquired via steam distillation.
This oil by Eden Botanicals uses a steam distilling process (like many of the brand’s essential oils) and is sourced from the plant’s leaves. The brand also points out that instead of offering a peppermint-candy-like sweet profile, this oil has a grass-like undertone. The company says the scent is distinct but still fresh and cooling.
Best for sleep
Best for: stress relief, help with sleep
Pros: calming, can use as massage oil (when mixed with a carrier oil)
Cons: may cause an allergic reaction for some; unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people
Lavender essential oil provides a soothing and relaxing scent. It’s often used in aromatherapy to relieve stress. Lavender oil also makes an excellent massage oil when mixed with a carrier oil. Lavender is also a good choice for people looking to improve sleep.
An older systematic review looked at 15 studies to see essential oil’s effect on sleep. The results showed that inhaling essential oils like lavender can be one consideration for people with mild sleep issues.
This essential oil is made from certified organically grown lavender and imported from France. It’s steam distilled.
Best for germ-fighting
Best for: antibacterial and help for minor fungal infections
Pros: can be used to help dandruff, head lice, athlete’s foot
Cons: can irritate eyes, not pet-safe
Tea tree (melaleuca) oil is thought to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s used in wound care, to eliminate head lice, and to control dandruff.
Tea tree oil can be added to shampoos or used in diluted form on the skin for minor fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
It can be irritating to the eyes, so be careful if you use it in shampoo or as a lice treatment.
This tea tree oil is steam distilled from the leaves of Australian Melaleuca alternifolia trees. It’s said to have a warm, woody aroma.
Best for massage oil
Best for: stress relief, pain, inflammation
Pros: can be used as a massage oil or body lotion (when mixed with carrier oil)
Cons: can be irritating to skin, can cause skin sensitivity to light
Bergamot essential oil comes from the rinds of Citrus bergamia fruits, a hybrid combination of oranges and lemons. Its enticing, distinctive scent enhances body lotions, massage oils, and colognes.
Bergamot essential oil may help reduce stress. It contains compounds that may also help to alleviate pain and inflammation. Eden Botanicals uses a cold-pressed extraction process for this oil, sourcing from the plant’s peels. It’s said to have a bright and sweet citrus aroma.
Some people find bergamot oil irritating to the skin, so make sure to always dilute and do a patch test (more on that below)
As a citrus oil, bergamot essential oil can cause the skin to be photosensitive. If applying it to your skin, be sure to cover up before going outside or use it at a time when you can avoid going out in the sunshine.
Best for help with anxiety
Best for: anxiety relief
Pros: can also help with digestive issues (gas, nausea, indigestion)
Cons: may interact with some prescription medications; unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people
The comforting scent of chamomile has coaxed many people into slumber over the centuries. Chamomile essential oil has multiple benefits for health, including anxiety reduction.
One small 2018 study on chamomile therapy found it lowered anxiety symptoms and also helped by increasing morning levels of a hormone known as cortisol — low morning levels of cortisol have been connected to anxiety disorders.
There are two types of chamomile, German and Roman. German chamomile is higher in chamazulene, an active ingredient that’s thought to give chamomile its health benefits.
This brand is USDA-certified organic German chamomile and uses a steam-distilled process, utilizing the plant’s flowers.
Best for romance
Best for: an aphrodisiac effect
Pros: sensual, playful scent, mood-boosting
Cons: contains coconut oil (an allergen for some)
If you enjoy the stuff of legends, you probably know that jasmine is thought to be an aphrodisiac, and no wonder. Its lusciously sweet scent is used to lace popular desserts and fragrances.
This is the one solvent-extracted oil that made it on our list. Read here for more on extraction methods.
Jasmine oil is more expensive than many other oils — a little goes a long way. For this reason, we chose the Jasmine Sambac Absolute oil for its price point and ease of use, since it’s already diluted to 10 percent mixed with fractionated coconut oil. Note that it’s not recommended for aromatherapy use. This oil has a floral scent that’s said to be sweet and fruity.
Jasmine extract for aromatherapy
If you want to stick with an oil you feel confident using for aromatherapy, there’s a Jasmine extract made from a strain of Jasminum grandiflorum, also called Spanish jasmine. It has a tantalizing scent that isn’t as strong as many jasmine essential oils.
Best budget-friendly jasmine alternative
Best for: stress relief, mood-boosting, sleep
Pros: used in popular perfumes, budget-friendly jasmine-like scent
Cons: can cause allergic reactions for some, especially toxic to pets
Ylang ylang has a light, floral scent and is used in aromatherapy to reduce tension and stress. Some users say it’s also beneficial for insomnia.
This ylang ylang oil comes from certified organic flowers and is steam-distilled. The brand describes its aroma as sweet and slightly spicy. The company also compares its fragrance to jasmine — pointing out it’s a cost-effective alternative to jasmine’s fragrance profile.
Like other Eden Botanicals oils, to see a list of individual chemical components, read the certificate of analysis (COA) available in the product description.
Best for the common cold
Best for: nasal congestion, cough, reducing mildew odors
Pros: can be used as an insect repellent, can help with relaxation
Cons: can cause allergic reactions for some
The refreshing and distinctive scent of eucalyptus essential oil can help eliminate mildew odors. Eucalyptus is also beneficial for calming coughs and relieving nasal congestion.
This version can be used in humidifiers and other aromatherapy devices, such as diffusers. This particular oil is steam-distilled and sourced from the plant’s leaves. The brand describes its aroma as sweet and soft.
Best for rose fragrance
Best for: rose-likearoma, skin care benefits, insect repellent
Pros: contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Cons: may cause an allergic reaction for some
Rose geranium essential oil comes from a geranium plant with leaves that have a subtle rose scent. Some users find that it helps repel flying and stinging insects. Others mix it with a carrier oil and use it as a facial treatment for dry skin. It’s commonly used in cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and perfumes.
This essential oil isn’t organic, but gets high marks for purity and steam distillation. It’s grown and cultivated from the leaves of Pelargonium roseum and P. graveolens plants in South Africa.
Best for woodsy aroma
Best for: woodsy aroma, anti-inflammatory effect
Pros: contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
Cons: unsafe for those taking blood thinners, those who recently had surgery, or those who have bleeding disorders
Some people associate the scent of patchouli with the Woodstock era. Others enjoy its spicy, woodsy notes, or appreciate its antibacterial properties.
Studies have shown patchouli has an anti-inflammatory effect as well. For example, one 2017 study in mice showed that one element found in patchouli lowered (chemically activated) swelling in the mice’s ears and paws.
This essential oil is USDA and Ecocert organic certifications and is sourced from Sri Lanka and India. The oil has a pleasing musky-sweet scent and is steam-distilled.
Best for high blood pressure
Best for: relaxation, lowering blood pressure
Pros: considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures
Cons: not a good choice for those with low blood pressure, not for use with pregnant people
This clary sage essential oil from Eden Botanicals hails from France, with a steam-distilled extraction process and sweet but also slightly bitter profile. The brand says it’s made using the plant’s leaves and flowering tops. The company also points out that some cultures think of this herb as an aphrodisiac.
Important: The product page warns that it’s important to avoid this essential oil during pregnancy. Additionally, although clary sage has a history of traditional uses for eye treatment, remember it’s not safe to apply essential oils to your eyes.
Best for stress relief
- Best for: relieving tension, anxiety relief, massages
- Pros: contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties
- Cons: may cause an allergic reaction for some — possible side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, increased appetite, and urination; pregnant and breastfeeding people should avoid it; those with conditions like diabetes, liver disease, asthma, and those undergoing chemotherapy should first talk with their doctor
It’s a popular room freshening scent, and it’s found in slews of personal and household products, but lemongrass essential oil has some other tricks up its sleeve — it may also promote help with stress and anxiety.
One 2015 study looked at lemongrass and sweet almond oil’s use as a massage oil, finding that those who were massaged with the oil once weekly for a 3-week period experienced reduced diastolic blood pressure compared to the study’s control group participants.
Eden Botantical’s lemongrass essential oil, described as fresh and strong in scent, is USDA-certified and uses a steam-distilled extraction process.
Important: Some people may be allergic to this oil, and some may need to chat with their doctor before any type of use. While this essential oil may help with feelings of stress or anxiety, it’s still important to seek treatment for these conditions from your doctor, if one is available to you. There are other useful resources for finding help here.
Best for mood boosting
- Best for: lifting mood, lowering stress
- Pros: can be used as a household cleaner when diluted
- Cons: can cause an allergic reaction for some, can also cause a painful skin reaction when used topically in the sun
This one comes from the sweet orange rind; its proper name is Citrus sinensis.
Orange has its hand in helping out with things like pain relief and stomach issues. Like lemongrass, it’s also thought of as a natural household cleaner and room freshener. We have it on our list for its mood-boosting ability.
Although no essential oil should be thought of as a cure for depression, some studies have looked at orange’s effect on anxiety and depression symptoms. For example, one
This suggests orange essential oil may serve as a quick mood booster (not a miracle product). There’s always help for managing depression, including calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline.
Eden Botanicals’ orange essential oil is cold pressed using sweet oranges.
Best for dandruff and hair loss
- Best for: hair conditions like dandruff and hair loss, popular cologne fragrance
- Pros: contains antifungal and antibacterial properties
- Cons: people allergic to cedar must avoid it
This essential oil, as its name suggests, comes from cedar. More specifically, its sourced from cedar tree bark, leaves, berries, and needles.
Cedarwood essential oil can be found in a number of everyday products — cologne, shampoo, deodorant, and bug repellent, to name a few — and it has some potentially helpful properties for hair conditions like dandruff and hair loss.
Eden Botanicals steam distills this oil from wood and says on its product page that the aroma is woody (of course), rich and sweet.
Best for skin benefits
- Best for: possible help with skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema
- Pros: contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, contains antioxidants
- Cons: may cause an allergic reaction for some
Sandalwood essential oil, derived from the East Indian sandalwood tree called Santalum album, gives off a soft and sweet-woody aroma.
This makes it a popular choice for perfumes, and like many other essential oils, it’s a natural option for freshening rooms. Sandalwood has a short list of traditional uses and one of these areas that have been studied is its uses for skin health. (There’s also a list of essential oils that may have skin benefits).
Sandalwood contains anti-inflammatory properties, and some
Remember, essential oils must never be applied directly to your skin — diluting your oil before applying is essential (pun intended). If you can, it’s best to visit a board certified dermatologist for skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema, etc.
This sandalwood essential oil by Eden Botanicals is steam distilled.
|Oil Name||Pros||Cons||Best For|
|Eden Botanicals Peppermint Essential Oil||energizing, cooling, fresh||not safe for people with G6PD deficiency, people taking certain medications, babies, children, or pets||IBS, and other GI conditions, headaches|
|Eden Botanicals Organic Lavender Essential Oil||calming, can use in massage oil||may cause an allergic reaction for some; unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people||stress-relief, help with sleep|
|Eden Botanicals Tea Tree Oil||can be used to help dandruff, head lice, athlete’s foot||can irritate eyes, not pet-safe||antibacterial help for minor fungal infections|
|Eden Botanicals Bergamot Essential Oil||can be used as massage oil or body lotion||can be irritating to skin, can cause skin sensitivity to light||stress-relief, pain, and inflammation|
|Eden Botanicals German Blue Chamomile Oil||can also help with digestive issues (gas, nausea, indigestion)||may interact with some prescription medications, unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people||anxiety relief|
|Eden Botanicals Jasmine Sambac Absolute Essential Oil||sensual and playful scent, mood-boosting||a blend that contains coconut oil (an allergen for some)||an aphrodisiac effect|
|Eden Botanicals Ylang Ylang Essential Oil||used in popular perfumes, budget-friendly, jasmine-like scent||can cause allergic reactions for some, especially toxic to pets ||stress-relief, mood-boosting, sleep, similar to jasmine|
|Eden Botanicals Blue Gum Eucalyptus Essential Oil||can be used as insect repellent, can help with relaxation||can cause allergic reactions for some||nasal congestion, cough, reducing mildew odors|
|Eden Botanicals Rose Geranium Essential Oil||contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties||can cause allergic reactions for some||rose aroma, skin care benefits, insect repellent|
|Eden Botanicals Patchouli Essential Oil||contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties||unsafe for those taking blood thinners, those who recently had surgery, or those who have bleeding disorders||woodsy aroma, anti-inflammatory effect|
|Eden Botanicals Clary Sage Essential Oil||considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures||not a good choice for those with low blood pressure, not for use with pregnant people||relaxation, lowering blood pressure|
|Eden Botanicals Lemongrass Essential Oil||contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties||may cause an allergic reaction for some, some possible side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, increased appetite and urination, pregnant and breastfeeding people should avoid, those with conditions like diabetes, liver disease, asthma, and those undergoing chemotherapy should first talk to their doctor||relieving tension, help with anxiety, massages|
|Eden Botanicals Orange Essential Oil||can be used in a household cleaner||can cause an allergic reaction for some, can cause a painful skin reaction when used topically in the sun||lifting mood, lowering stress|
|Eden Botanicals Cedarwood Essential Oil||contains antifungal and antibacterial properties||must be avoided by people allergic to cedar||hair conditions like dandruff and hair loss, popular cologne fragrance|
|Eden Botanicals Sandalwood Essential Oil||contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, contains antioxidants ||can cause an allergic reaction for some||possibly helpful for skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema|
No matter what type of essential oil you decide you love best, try to choose one that isn’t manufactured via a chemical process. Chemical distillation can dilute or contaminate the essential oil, reducing its efficacy and scent.
Essential oils that are packaged in amber- or dark-colored glass bottles tend to last longer without becoming rancid. Don’t purchase oils that are housed in plastic, as this may also alter the oil and its scent, or contaminate it.
Check the ingredients on an essential oil bottle to make sure that it’s pure and contains no additives. Only choose oils with labels indicating that the oil inside is 100 percent pure.
Pick a product from a trusted manufacturer that’s transparent about its sourcing and countries of origin.
If an essential oil’s label contains outrageous health claims, steer clear. If in doubt, check with the
Essential oils are very strong and should always be diluted before using topically.
When using essential oils for aromatherapy, follow the instructions provided with your diffuser, since diffuser sizes vary. Typically, the ratio will be 3 to 5 drops of essential oil to 100 milliliters of water.
For adults, 15 drops of essential oil to 6 or 7 teaspoons of carrier oil is a good ratio. For children, use less essential oil, around 3 to 5 drops to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil. You can always start with even fewer drops of essential oil.
Before using an essential oil on your skin, it’s important to do a patch test. This test allows you to see how your skin will react to a particular substance before using it more widely.
To do a patch test, follow these steps:
- Wash your forearm with mild, unscented soap.
- Pat-dry your skin.
- Apply a few drops of diluted essential oil onto a small patch of your forearm.
- Put a bandage on the area, then wait 24 hours.
If you experience any discomfort before the 24 hours are up, immediately wash the area with soap.
After 24 hours, remove the bandage and look for signs of an adverse reaction. If you notice red, itchy, or blistering skin, you should discontinue use of the oil.
Take note of the oil’s expiration date before buying, and keep in mind that larger isn’t always better. Essential oils expire and go rancid. Don’t spend money on a quantity of oil that you can’t use up by the expiration date.
To retain your oil’s freshness for the longest period, store it in a cool, dark place. It isn’t necessary to refrigerate essential oils, although the cold temperature will not hurt them. If you do wish to refrigerate the oil, enclose the bottle in an airtight bag so that the scent of the oil doesn’t affect your food. Keep them out of reach of children and pets!
Dilute, dilute, dilute
Essential oils are safe but potent and can sometimes cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people. Don’t use an essential oil that’s sourced from an ingredient or botanical family that you’re allergic to, and never put it directly on skin or hair, unless it’s diluted with a carrier oil.
Mix with an oil before adding to water
Don’t pour essential oils into bathwater, as they’ll bead up and not blend with the water. Mix your essential oils of choice with a carrier oil first. Then combine it with bathwater.
Don’t consume them
Never ingest an essential oil.
Use with caution around pets
Essential oils could potentially help to calm down pets in certain situations, but this isn’t always the case. In some instances, essential oils may agitate dogs or cats, be harmful, or even fatal. Always check with your pet’s veterinarian before using essential oil in a dwelling with pets.
Essential oils should never be left anywhere a pet might get at them, as they can be poisonous if ingested. Remember that cats and dogs lick substances off their fur.
Know that they’re not always right for children
Some essential oils are safe for babies, but others may not be appropriate for use. Check with your child’s pediatrician before using.
Do I need a diffuser to use essential oils?
Although diffusers are one of the more popular choices, there are other ways to use essential oils. You can inhale your oil of choice directly from the bottle or apply it to some cotton and place it in your car’s fan vent. If you have a humidifier, you can add a few drops of the oil into its tank. If you want to apply essential oil to your skin, remember to dilute the oil with a carrier oil first to avoid irritation or allergic reactions. It’s also important that you never ingest essential oils.
Can I put essential oils directly onto my skin?
Before using essential oils on your skin, you must first dilute it with carrier oil (like almond oil or jojoba) — it’s the safest method to apply essential oils topically. Remember, a patch test before using the oil on a larger area of your skin is always a great idea. This way, you are likely to avoid irritation or allergic reactions.
Why do essential oils help the body and mind?
Your sense of smell is powerful — a certain fragrance can stir up happy feelings and memories and not-so-great feelings. This isn’t just anecdotal — there’s science behind odor and our emotions. According to one
Essential oils can provide a delightful scent or calming ambiance to your home. Some essential oils also have health benefits. Natural or organic oils that come from a trusted manufacturer are best.