Essential oils, the concentrated plant extracts used in aromatherapy, are an increasingly popular form of alternative medicine that are easily accessible, simple to use, and inexpensive. “Essential oils are so versatile, and therefore incredibly simple to integrate into your routines and elevate moments throughout your day,” explains Sara Panton, co-founder of Vitruvi. “Scent is such a powerful yet understated way to influence our mood. Using scent strategically can help us feel more energized, calm or focused, and specific aromas have even been shown to influence different parts of the brain.”
Essential oils can be used a variety of ways, including in a scented diffuser, applied directly to the skin, consumed internally, or added to bath water. However, before you do anything, make sure to do a little research, suggests Michelle Ornstein, certified aromatherapist, natural skin care formulator and president of Enessa Organic Skin Care. For example, some oils may irritate your skin or counteract with other oils or even the sun. If you do apply them to your skin, you may want to think about mixing them with a carrier oil—at least the first few times to make sure you don’t have a sensitivity to it.
QUICK TIP: If you do apply essential oils to your skin, you may want to think about mixing them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, at least the first few times to make sure you don’t have a sensitivity to it.
Panton is a huge fan of using a scent diffuser, which she points out will regularly help you establish rituals and patterns that can signal the brain that it’s time to wake up, sleep, focus, relax, etc. For example, diffusing lavender and frankincense essential oil an hour before going to sleep fills your bedroom with a relaxing, grounding aroma, and the consistency every evening helps cue your brain that it’s time for bed.
When purchasing essential oils, always make sure to buy the purest oils possible. “Stay away from any essential oils that have been pre-mixed with carrier oils,” Cristin Smith, Founder and Director of Saffron & Sage, a holistic health club based in San Diego, suggests. Also, like anything else you put in or on your body, you want 100% pure natural ingredients. “Look for pure or organic certifications,” she adds.
We asked the experts for a comprehensive list of all the essential oils you should keep in your bathroom, and here is what they suggested:
LAVENDER: The little purple flower not only smells amazing, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is very soothing. “It’s great for cuts, bug bites, and skin irritations,” suggests Ornstein, who uses it in many of her skincare products. It can be applied directly or diluted with a carrier oil. Panton also suggests adding lavender oil to your diffuser and inhaling before bed.
BERGAMOT: Bergamot is a comforting essential oil that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day. “It’s great in the bathroom because you can use it as a face serum, add it to a bath or even create a sophisticated towel spay,” offers Panton.
CHAMOMILE: Sipping on a cup of chamomile tea is incredibly relaxing, but did you know that you can reap similar benefits by inhaling it? “Chamomile oil is soothing, and can be used for insomnia, anxiety, PMS symptoms, as well as problem skin such as acne, eczema,” says Ornstein, adding that you should dilute it with a carrier oil.
CLARY SAGE: Smith maintains that clary sage essential oil is a must-have for every woman. “It helps balance hormones and supports us as we transition through our monthly cycle or through menopause,” she says. Apply to your lower abdomen, wrists, or the bones behind ears and ankles. “This oil aids us in times of feminine transition and helps bring balance both emotionally and physically.”
TEA TREE: Ornstein calls tea tree the “swiss army knife” of essential oils as it has many uses. “It can be used against scrapes, minor burns, bites, acne or any skin irritation,” she says.
GERANIUM: This beautifully smelling option is known as a balancing oil, according to Ornstein, due to its ability to promote healthy sebum production. a great anti-aging enhancer. Make sure to dilute with a carrier oil.
FRANKINCENSE: This oil has stress relieving, mood enhancing, hormone balancing, and anti-aging benefits, claims Ornstein. “It can even help relieve pain,” she says. “Add a few drops under your tongue or add a drop or two to your skincare routine to help with scarring or aging,” Smith suggests.
OREGANO: From cooking to cleansing, oregano is a must have essential oil.”It fights fungal infections and reduces inflammation,” explains Smith. “It also helps support your immunity and kills colds quickly.” An easy way to incorporate the oil into your life? Simply add a drop or two into any of your pasta or meals that call for oregano!
EUCALYPTUS: There are so many ways to utilize eucalyptus, oil, which is a must-have during cold and flu season she urges. “Boil water and add a few drop in, put a towel over your head and the bowl and breathe,” she suggests as a method to help with congestion. Panton’s favorite way to use the leafy oil, is in the shower. “Just add three drops of eucalyptus to the palm of your hands,” she says. “When you rub them together, hold your palms up to your face and breathe deeply—the heat from the water/steam will help release the aroma and intensify it. It’s like a mini spa moment you can enjoy every morning, no matter where you are.”
GINGER: Sipping on ginger tea is invigorating, but the spicy root can also help you heel. “Ginger is great for bruises,” offers Ornstein, who reminds you to dilute it with a carrier
GRAPEFRUIT: A popular ingredient in skincare, grapefruit oil is rejuvenating and can brighten your moisturizer or your mood, according to Panton. “Add 2 drops Grapefruit into your moisturizer in the AM for an added glow,” she advises.
CEDARWOOD: his warm, woodsy essential oil can make any room smell like a cedar sauna, but it also has medicinal properties. “Cedarwood can be used as a scalp treatment due to its antifungal and moisturizing properties,” Panton says. “It’s also great for a cedar sauna shower, similar to how you’d use eucalyptus.”
PEPPERMINT: It’s not very surprising that peppermint has a ton of great uses for the bathroom. “With just a couple drops, you can turn it into a natural mouthwash, shampoo stimulator, and a daily shower spray,” explains Panton
LEMONGRASS: This sweet, earthy essential oil has a soothing, spa-like effect. “If you are struggling with hair loss or an itchy and irritated scalp, massage a few drops of lemongrass oil into your scalp for two minutes and then rinse,” Panton encourages. It also creates an amazing foot bath. Just add ten drops Lemongrass to warm water. “This bath should relieve any muscle pain that you are feeling in your feet and it has antibacterial and antifungal effects too,” she promises.
LEMOM: This citrusy, fresh, energizing essential oil creates a care-free, happy vibe. Panton claims you can even create a natural toothpaste by mixing three drops lemon essential oil with one tbsp baking soda and one tbsp coconut oil. “Brush for two minutes and then rinse!” she says.
YLANG YLANG: This exotic, feminine essential oil will create a floral oasis in any space. “Add five drops Ylang Ylang to a warm bath to help you relax and wind down before bed,” Panton says.