Everything you need to know about the best essential oils to use to support your wellness routine
In the search for natural and holistic ways to address many stress-related wellness issues impacting our lives daily from chronic fatigue to poor sleep, essential oils have become the go-to solutions many people are turning to to enhance their health and wellness routines.
As plant-based healing remedies, essential oils have been used for thousands of years in foods, body and home fragrances, and to support our overall health and well-being.
With a wide variety of essential oils out there, how do you know which one to pick for an energy uplift, to help you relax before bed time, or to soothe an anxious mind?
Below, is everything you need to know about the best essential oils to invest in for your wellness routine, and how to choose them, when, and where to use them.
What Are Essential Oils Good For?
Essential oils are odorous plant-based volatile oils that contain the fragrance characteristics of the plant from which they are derived.
They are used in perfumery, the food, beverages, beauty and pharmaceutical industries, and in aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine, which harnesses the therapeutic effects of essential oils to support people on their health and wellness journeys.
Most essential oils are produced through steam distillation or mechanical extraction, cold pressing, and new extraction processes involving nitrogen and carbon dioxide among others.
In light of their different nature, many essential oils are extracted from the flowers, leaves, and seeds of plants they originate from.
To ensure you invest in the best essential oils for their therapeutic benefits, it is worth knowing the plant species, origin, oil extraction process, chemotype, and expiry date whenever possible. The product manufacturer should be able to provide such information at the point-of-sale and on product packaging.
The best way to actually get to know essential oils is by using them based on their therapeutic properties to find out how they can contribute to your overall health and wellness.
Bear in mind that low quality essential oils and improper use of such natural fragrances may cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and inflammation.
Keep reading to find out the criteria you need to check out when shopping for essential oils to ensure you get the best value for money.
How To Choose Essential oils
Quality over Quantity Matters
When it comes to essential oils, quality rather than quantity matters because a little goes a very long way. Consequently, investing in essential oils that are certified organic and from reputable aromatherapists or credible natural beauty brands is the best way to go.
Ideally, purchase essential oils that have been produced by steam distillation, as it is one of the best oil extraction methods that help preserve the high quality of the plant-based oil.
Pick essential oils that are packaged in amber or dark coloured bottles, as they tend to better preserve the oils, stopping them from going rancid far too quickly before their expiry date.
Check that the essential oils’ bottle labels indicate that the oils inside are 100% pure, and that you can check the oils’ origin and sourcing process at the point-of-sale, whether purchased online or in a health store.
When building up your collection of oils, start with just a few ones to initially explore how they add value to your wellness routine. A calming lavender, a stimulating rosemary or or basil together with a cleansing lemon and a relaxing resin or root such as vetiver or frankincense are good starting points.
Essential Oil Blends May Be Best
If you are seeking to target specific health and wellness issues, it might be worth trying out essential oil blends, since an essential oil blend is formulated to harness the therapeutic benefits of various plant-based oils to support your healing journey.
Below is a selection of the best essential oils for different wellness related needs that you may be dealing with, from stress to fatigue or the mid-week energy slump.
The Best Essential Oils For Your Wellness Issues
For Stress and Anxiety
When stress or anxiety are knocking at your door, reach out for essential oils or oil blends containing clary sage, neroli, petitgrain, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vetiver, bergamot, cypress, or German blue chamomile oil.
Clary sage is used in aromatherapy to strengthen the nervous system, soothe the mind, and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress by lowering cortisol in your body.
Similarly, neroli helps fight off anxiety and depression by helping to relax and calm the body and mind.
Petitgrain essential oil acts as a nerve tonic and releases antidepressant and uplifting effects that help to lessen stress and anxiety.
Ylang-ylang essential oil’s sedative and calming effects are used therapeutically in aromatherapy to treat anxiety, depression, stress and tension accumulated in the body.
Vetiver’s antidepressant and sedative properties release sedating and strengthening benefits to the body and mind which help to bring them back into balance.
Thanks to chamazulene, an active ingredient that is produced during the steam distillation process, German blue chamomile oil is used, amongst other applications, as a remedy for stress and anxiety reduction.
As a hybrid combination of lemons and oranges, bergamot essential oil serves as a nerve tonic that may be helpful in reducing stress by releasing an uplifting effect on your body and mind.
Cypress essential oil helps induce feelings of relaxation and delivers a mild sedative effect to the body and mind.
For Sleep and Relaxation
Beyond a warm cup of herbal tea, essential oils such as lavender, geranium, rose, Roman chamomille, neroli, cypress oil, jasmine, and ylang-ylang oil help the body and mind to slowly relax and gently ease into sleep.
In addition to soothing stressed bodies and minds, lavender essential oil is helpful in combating jet lag and insomnia accumulated over a prolonged period of time. Its relaxing and balancing effects will help you to let go of your daily stressors to enjoy a peaceful rest.
Rose absolute essential oil’s cooling and relaxing therapeutic uses in complementary therapy is the perfect antidepressant you need before heading to bed. Pair it with rose water whose incredible health benefits will help ease your digestion and soothe your upset stomach.
Geranium’s calming and cooling therapeutic uses to support your relaxation and sleep experience will help uplift your body and mind for an enjoyable sleep experience.
For Energy and Mental Focus
For a pick-me-up to better handle the mid-week productivity slump, look for invigorating and cleansing eucalyptus, peppermint, citrus and cardamom essential oils. Their energising and vitality boosting effects are helpful to release tension and pain in the body and mind.
Aside from being used to calm digestive problems including naturally easing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), peppermint oil is helpful in aromatherapy for problems like headaches, stress reduction, and for improving mental focus and resilience.
Eucalyptus oil might be helpful in easing joint and back pain and inflammation, which are common occurrences for people working from home and in office settings. Check with your doctor first before opting to use it for such purposes.
Cardamom essential oil may help strengthen your entire immune system to better fight off fatigue by stimulating the secretion of various hormones and enzymes that are helpful in maintaining the body’s healthy metabolism for optimum work performance.
For a Mood Boost
To help balance your mood during stressful or difficult times, look out for limonene-rich citrus essential oils such as lime, orange, grapefruit, or lemon alongside sandalwood, bergamot, jasmine, and ylang-ylang oil.
Research suggests that the calming and anti-anxiety effects of the limonne compounds found in citrus essential oils may be helpful in maintaining a balanced mood.
In complementary therapy, sandalwood is used amongst other things for balancing mood and relieving anxiety.
A clinical study involving 87 women undergoing a breast biopsy revealed that an essential oil blend of sandalwood, orange, peppermint, and lavender in aromatherapy helped lessen their self-reported level of anxiety.
How To Use Essential Oils
If you intend to simply inhale essential oils from their bottles, it’s alright to do so sparingly in their concentrated form. The best way to infuse your senses and space with relaxing essential homes is by using an oil diffuser filled with water.
For those who want to turn their bath time into a spa experience using essential oils, dilute it first with a plant-based carrier oil that you like before adding them to your bathwater. If you pour essential oils straight from their bottles into your bathwater, they’ll simply stay on the water surface without spreading their beautiful scents around.
When you intend to use essential oils on your skin, they must be diluted before using them topically to avoid skin irritation.
Consequently, before applying any diluted essential oils or oil blends of your choice, it is important to do first do a patch test
To safely carry out a patch on your skin, use the following steps:
- Clean your forearm with gentle unscented soap.
- Pat-dry your skin.
- Apply 1 to 2 drops of diluted essential oil onto a tiny patch of your forearm.
- Wrap a bandage on the part of your forearm where you’ve applied the oil, and wait for 24 hours.
If you experience any itchiness or burning sensation on your skin within the 24 hour-patch test period, unwrap your bandage and wash your hand with soap. Avoid using the essential oil.
On the other hand, if you experience no adverse skin reaction up to 48 hours following the patch test, then it’s alright for you to use the essential oils topically in very small doses.
For most adults, add 15 drops of essential oil to 6 or 7 teaspoons of your chosen carrier oil. For children, 3 to 5 drops to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil is more than enough.
If you have managed to invest in a decent essential oil diffuser, pour 100 millilitres of water into it for 3 to 5 drops of your favourite essential oils. Remember, less is more. Don’t overdo it.
Pay attention to the essential oil’s expiration date before making your purchase.
Wherever possible, store all your essential oils in a dry, cool, and dark place to preserve their therapeutic properties and longevity in line with their expiration dates.
Lv XN, et al. (2013). Aromatherapy and the central nerve system (CNS): therapeutic mechanism and its associated genes. DOI:
Meamarbashi A. (2014). Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance.
Aromatherapy and essential oils (PDQ) – patient version. (2017).
Seol GH, et al. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats. DOI:
Seol GH, et al. (2013). Randomized controlled trial for Salvia sclarea or Lavandula angustifolia: Differential effects on blood pressure in female patients with urinary incontinence undergoing urodynamic examination. DOI:
Wilson, R. (2002). Aromatherapy: Essential oils for vibrant health and beauty. New York: Avery.
Celso A R A Costa et al (2013). Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT1A-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment
Trambert, R., et al. (2017). A randomized controlled trial provides evidence to support aromatherapy to minimize anxiety in women undergoing breast biopsy.