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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.

  • 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


Peppermint essential oil

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


Lavender essential oil

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

Tea tree oil

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

Bergamot essential 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

Chamomile essential oil

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

Jasmine essential oil

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.

Shop for Eden Botanicals jasmine extract for aromatherapy online.

Best budget-friendly jasmine alternative

Ylang ylang essential oil

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

Eucalyptus essential oil

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

Rose geranium essential oil

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

Patchouli essential oil

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

Clary sage essential oil

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

Clary sage oil has traditional use as an eye health treatment, but lately, the flowering herb’s spotlight is on its potential for lowering blood pressure.

A small 2013 study performed on women tested the effect of inhaling clary sage essential oil during a stress-inducing medical exam. The study found that inhalation of the oil brought on a sense of relaxation and even aided in lowering blood pressure.

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

Lemongrass essential oil

  • 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

Orange essential oil

  • 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 2019 mice study evaluated orange essential oils’ ability to affect depression when inhaled. The study showed that after inhaling orange essential oil, mice presented fewer behaviors associated with depression.

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

Cedarwood essential oil

  • 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.

In one older study, cedarwood was mixed with lavender and rosemary, a formula that researchers found helped lower hair loss for people with alopecia areata — a common hair loss condition.

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

Sandalwood essential oil

  • 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 clinical studies have suggested this means it may have some dermatological benefits, including improving conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema, to name a few.

Sandalwood also contains antioxidants, which are thought to help improve wrinkles by fending off free radicals.

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 NameProsConsBest For
Eden Botanicals Peppermint Essential Oilenergizing, cooling, freshnot safe for people with G6PD deficiency, people taking certain medications, babies, children, or petsIBS, and other GI conditions, headaches
Eden Botanicals Organic Lavender Essential Oilcalming, can use in massage oilmay cause an allergic reaction for some; unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding peoplestress-relief, help with sleep
Eden Botanicals Tea Tree Oilcan be used to help dandruff, head lice, athlete’s footcan irritate eyes, not pet-safeantibacterial help for minor fungal infections
Eden Botanicals Bergamot Essential Oilcan be used as massage oil or body lotioncan be irritating to skin, can cause skin sensitivity to light stress-relief, pain, and inflammation
Eden Botanicals German Blue Chamomile Oilcan also help with digestive issues (gas, nausea, indigestion) may interact with some prescription medications, unclear if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding peopleanxiety relief
Eden Botanicals Jasmine Sambac Absolute Essential Oilsensual and playful scent, mood-boostinga blend that contains coconut oil (an allergen for some) an aphrodisiac effect
Eden Botanicals Ylang Ylang Essential Oilused 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 Oilcan be used as insect repellent, can help with relaxation can cause allergic reactions for somenasal congestion, cough, reducing mildew odors
Eden Botanicals Rose Geranium Essential Oilcontains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory propertiescan cause allergic reactions for somerose aroma, skin care benefits, insect repellent
Eden Botanicals Patchouli Essential Oilcontains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory propertiesunsafe for those taking blood thinners, those who recently had surgery, or those who have bleeding disorderswoodsy aroma, anti-inflammatory effect
Eden Botanicals Clary Sage Essential Oilconsidered an aphrodisiac in some culturesnot a good choice for those with low blood pressure, not for use with pregnant peoplerelaxation, lowering blood pressure
Eden Botanicals Lemongrass Essential Oilcontains 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 Oilcan be used in a household cleanercan cause an allergic reaction for some, can cause a painful skin reaction when used topically in the sunlifting mood, lowering stress
Eden Botanicals Cedarwood Essential Oilcontains antifungal and antibacterial propertiesmust be avoided by people allergic to cedarhair conditions like dandruff and hair loss, popular cologne fragrance
Eden Botanicals Sandalwood Essential Oilcontains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, contains antioxidants
can cause an allergic reaction for somepossibly 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 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Here you’ll find a list of botanical plants that are used to make essential oils, along with claims, cautions, and side effects.

Essential oils are very strong and should always be diluted before using topically.

Diffuser ratio

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.

Dilution rates

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.

Patch test

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:

  1. Wash your forearm with mild, unscented soap.
  2. Pat-dry your skin.
  3. Apply a few drops of diluted essential oil onto a small patch of your forearm.
  4. 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.

Expiration dates

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.

Storage

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 2013 study, odors can influence psychological and physiological states. Using certain essential oils, especially ones that smell the most pleasing to you, may encourage you to feel or enter a state of relaxation and well-being.

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.