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.
Peppermint essential oil
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.
The peppermint essential oil is sourced from the peppermint plant, Mentha x piperita, in the Pacific Northwest and acquired via steam distillation.
Lavender essential oil
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.
This essential oil is made from certified organically grown lavender and imported from France. It’s steam distilled.
Tea tree oil
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.
Bergamot essential oil
Bergamot essential oil comes from the rinds of Citrus bergamia fruits, a hybrid combination of oranges and lemons. It’s 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.
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 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.
Chamomile essential oil
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.
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.
Jasmine essential oil
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.
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.
Ylang ylang essential oil
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.
Eucalyptus essential oil
The refreshing and distinctive scent of eucalyptus essential oil can help eliminate mildew odours. Eucalyptus is also beneficial for calming down coughs and relieving nasal congestion.
This version can be used in humidifiers and other aromatherapy devices, such as diffusers.
Rose geranium essential oil
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 carrier oil and use it as a facial treatment for dry skin.
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.
Patchouli essential oil
Some people associate the scent of patchouli with the Woodstock era. Others enjoy its spicy, woodsy notes, or appreciate its antibacterial properties.
The oil has a pleasing musky-sweet scent and is steam distilled.