From skincare to haircare to aromatherapy, essential oils are widely used and have numerous benefits. Here’s a complete guide to the best essential oils!
I love using natural ingredients for my skin, hair and even in food. I’m a hoarder of essential oils. And I love that essential oils are getting the right attention these days. Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from flowers, seeds, stems, bark, roots and more such parts of trees and plants. Now that makes essential oils even more interesting, right?! When Shilpa decided to write a series of natural oils, I couldn’t be happier. So, here’s everything (every tiny bit) about the best essential oils. Let’s check out!
What Essential Oils Are Good For
Essential oils can be used for various purposes from therapeutic to skincare to hair growth, the list is endless. They basically have many health benefits. They are also used in aromatherapy and even in food. Yes, food! But not like vegetable or regular sunflower oil. They can be used in minimal quantities. Let’s take a look at the different uses of essential oils:
1. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils/ Aromatherapy Oils
Essential oils can be used for various purposes. The essential oils are used therapeutically for healing and even in aromatherapy (inhaling the fragrance of the essential oils). This helps in physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. The Chinese may have been the first cultures to use this technique. It’s used widely for emotional well-being, skincare, beauty, hair, household cleaning and many more.
2. Food Grade Essential Oils
Some essential oils are edible. Hardly surprising! Although not all of them but a few essential oils are safe to consume. Mostly the pure, organic and steam distilled essential oils can be consumed. While using the best essential oils you need to keep a few things in mind:
- Less is More: While using essential oils to cook, always put small quantity. A drop is enough for a dish. There is no thumb rule on how much to use but a drop is generally good enough.
- Dilute: It’s important to dilute essential oil with a carrier oil to disperse into the entire dish.
Carrier Oil is the oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts. They evaporate or impart their aroma as strongly as essential oils. A few examples of carrier oils are almond, avocado, coconut, olive and grapeseed oil.
- Delay: Always add the essential oil at the end while cooking a dish as they’re fragile and will dissipate quickly in high heat. For example, you always add oregano at the end, not in the beginning.
Lavender, peppermint, citrus oils, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger essential oils can be used in cooking.
Best Essential Oils to Have
While there are many different uses of each of the best essential oils, there are some that have loads of benefits generally. If you wanna know what to start with, or what are the oils you should have handy, here are some of the top ideas you’ll never regret having at home.
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is one of the most famous essential oils. It’s extracted from the lavender flowers of the lavender plant. It is one of the best essential oils for aromatherapy. It’s also used to induce sleep, relieve stress, anxiety, treating acne, haircare, improves digestion and much more.
2. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary is a fragrant culinary herb. its oil is used for medicinal purposes. It’s also used for hair care, relieving stress, skin care, oral care, to prevent STDs and treating respiratory problems.
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is well-known for its anti-inflammatory property. It heals wounds faster, treats respiratory problems, fights depression, relieves muscle pain, eliminates lice, and controls diabetes. It’s also great for skincare.
4. Chamomile Oil
Chamomile oil is extracted from the flowers of the plant. There are two types of chamomile oil, Roman and German chamomile oil. Their composition is different but they possess almost the same medicinal properties. This oil is good for overall health. And it is used to prevent infections, relieve depression, better digestion and skincare. It also boosts nervous system.
5. Ginger Oil
Ginger aids in better digestion and is widely used in Asian cuisine. From treating food poisoning to preventing cancer to regulating sugar levels, the health benefits are enormous. It also provides relief from menstrual cramps. And ginger oil also one of the best essential oils for nausea.
6. Peppermint Oil
Personally, I’m not a fan of peppermint oil as it’s too strong for me. But it has various health benefits like dental care, nail care, improved digestion, relieves headache, reduces stress, relieves muscle spasms, boosts immunity and improves blood circulation. It’s an excellent source for respiratory problems.
7. Thyme Oil
Thyme is a popular herb, generally used in Mediterranean cuisines. It has many benefits like it increases blood circulation, boosts the immune system, skincare and antibacterial properties.
8. Frankincense Oil
It is commonly used as a fragrance in cosmetics. But it has various health benefits and helps to prevent gas build up, reduces scars, improves digestion, delays aging (grab it soon) and reduces respiratory issues.
9. Melaleuca Oil/ Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is not extracted from the beverage or tea leaves. But it is extracted through steam distillation of twigs and leaves of a tree called tea tree. Its antibacterial properties help to cure both external and internal bacterial infections. It speeds up the healing process. It’s also used for skin and hair care.
This oil worked well for me in hair growth. However, I have heard people with sensitive skin find it allergic. So always do a patch test and then choose what suits you when trying the best essential oils.
10. Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It lowers cholesterol, heals scars and spots, boosts the immune system, improves memory and concentration and also lowers blood pressure.
Best Essential Oils for Different Purposes
The uses of essential oils are endless. So if you’re looking for one specific to your needs, read on!
1. Best Essential Oils for Sleep
Insomnia is a common problem nowadays. There might be various reasons like increased irritability, caffeine addiction, stressful life and many more. These harmful habits may not be a problem with insomniacs but for people with moderate sleep disturbance, too. Essential oils are transdermal as they penetrate into the skin. They work on the body’s physiology and affect the sleeping pattern when applied topically or inhaled internally. These are a few best essential oils for sleep:
- Lavender Oil: One of the most popular essential oils is well-known for its soothing effects on the body. It’s safe for both babies and adults. You can even diffuse 2-3 drops by your bedside. It’s one of the most calming essential oils.
- Frankincense Oil: It promotes feelings of peace and relaxation. A great oil to balance your mind.
- Cedarwood Oil: The woody scent that’s both warm and calming promotes a great night sleep.
- Chamomile Oil: The sweet floral aroma is calming and soothing to the mind and body.
- Sandalwood Oil: It’s rich, sweet and woody aroma promotes relaxation. It decreases the tension and, increases emotional well-being.
2. Essential Oils for Anxiety & Stress
Anxiety is a tough battle on an everyday basis. Aromatherapy is the best way to deal with stress. Essential oils help to reduce anxiety and depression.
- Chamomile Oil: It decreases irritability, overthinking, anxiety and benefits inner harmony.
- Frankincense Oil: It provides a calming and tranquil energy as well as a meditative mind. It’s one of the best essential oils for stress.
- Rose Oil: It reduces anxiety in women who are pregnant for the first time.
- Lavender Oil: Its sweet scent soothes the mind by reducing stress. It’s also one of the best essential oils for panic attacks.
3. Essential Oils for Hair Growth
Rosemary oil stimulates cellular metabolism that enhances the hair growth. Cedarwood oil increases the circulation to the scalp and revitalizes hair follicles. It is also one of the best essential oils for itchy scalp. Also, pumpkin seed oil is beneficial to grow hair. I have tried it and it has worked for me. Mix 2 tsp of pumpkin seed oil and one drop of peppermint oil and massage the scalp for 5 minutes and leave it for 30 minutes or overnight. And wash it with a mild shampoo. Do this for 12 days and you can see a great change.
4. Essential Oils for Energy
Essential oils help to refresh and feel alive! They can boost your energy and motivation levels. Best essential oils like orange, eucalyptus, lemon, cedarwood, grapefruit, peppermint, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, ginger and thyme can increase your energy levels.
Inhalation is the best way to use the essential oils for energy. You can even add a few drops of the oil or the blend on a tissue and sniff whenever needed. You can even spray a mixture of water and the essential oils in your room or office to spread the scent.
5. Essential Oils for Frizzy Hair
Frizzy hair is often dealt with heat treatment, which damage hair in the long run and even leads to hairfall. But essential oils come handy during those times. Almond oil moisturizes the scalp leading to soft shiny hair. Lavender oil adds shine and moisture. Sandalwood oil adds shine and fragrance. Cedarwood oil releases toxins and promotes circulation.
6. Essential Oils for Skin Infection
Cinnamon oil reduces the bacteria growth and is effective for skin infections. Tea tree oil, too gives instant results. However, always do a patch test before applying it, especially if the skin is sensitive.
7. Best Essential Oils for Skin & Deep Wrinkles
- Sweet Almond Oil: It helps for better blood circulation and is a natural protector against UV rays. It’s odorless and gets absorbed into the skin quickly.
- Argan Oil: It contains fatty acids that improve the elasticity of the skin and fades fine lines and wrinkles. They make an excellent carrier oil to fight aging making argan oil one of the best essential oils.
- Lemon Oil: It helps to lighten dark spots and it is one of the best essential oils for deep wrinkles.
- Sandalwood Oil: It soothes damaged skin and smoothes the skin surface.
- Rosemary Oil: It helps to tighten the skin, having an anti-aging effect.
8. Best Essential Oil for Sore Muscles
Camphor and Cardamom essential oils are beneficial for sore muscles. Camphor has a cooling sensation when applied to the skin and reduces bruising and swelling. Cardamom essential oil increases the blood flow and reduces inflammation. Also, ginger oil is perfect for tired and sore muscles making it one of the best essential oils for muscle pain.
9. Best Essential Oils for ADHD
ADHD is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People with ADHD may have difficulty to concentrate on a subject, stay focused and pay attention. They have differences in the parts of their brains that control attention and activity. This condition may occur to kids, teens and can carry over to adulthood, too!
According to the website marcola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola stated, “When the essential oil is inhaled, the microdroplets are carried to the limbic system of the brain. The essential microdroplets are also carried to the lungs where they enter the circulatory system.” When a person with ADHD inhales the best essential oils three times a day, it will improve the brain’s activity.
So, let’s check out the best essential oils to treat ADHD for better brain activities:
- Lavender Oil: It is one of the best essential oils and is known for its tranquilizing and sedating effects. It also reduces anxiety issues and limits ADHD.
- Frankincense Oil: This oil stabilizes emotions and helps people with ADHD to focus on tasks. It helps the lungs to relax and provides excellent respiratory relief. It helps one’s breathing activities that improve attention and mental clarity.
- Peppermint Oil: It is one of the best essential oils for anxiety in children. It also helps the child to concentrate better and increases the alertness.
10. Antibacterial Essential Oils
Antibiotic properties are almost fading in the human body due to unhealthy habits. This has lead to the increase of antibiotic intake. Essential oils are great in treating bacteria and are any day better than antibiotics that may cause side effects. Here are a few oils that have antibacterial properties:
- Eucalyptus Oil: It acts as an antiseptic and is suitable for wounds, burns, cuts, ulcers and soars. When the skin is treated with the oil, it starts the healing process while protecting it from exposure to air. This oil is infact used in soaps, detergents, and household cleaners.
- Peppermint Oil: This cooling oil is one of the best essential oils as it consists of antibacterial and antiviral properties. It serves as an antiseptic that helps teeth and gums to fight off harmful bacteria. It also helps to boost your immune system.
- Lavender Oil: Apart from the rich fragrance, lavender essential oil has antibacterial properties that boost immunity. It also helps to treat various skin conditions like acne, scars, psoriasis and also provides resistance to a number of diseases and viruses.
- Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil has antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties that can be applied directly to the skin. This oil is used for many medicinal purposes making it one of the best essential oils. It is used to treat skin infections like acne, eczema, warts and psoriasis. It’s also one of the best essential oils for a sore foot.
- Lemongrass Oil: A gentler, sweeter and less sour version of lemon oil is lemongrass oil. But it has a strong antibacterial property that inhibits the growth of bacteria internally and externally of the body. It’s used to treat fungal infections on skin and bacterial infections like malaria, typhoid, food poisoning and many more.
Some more antibacterial essential oils
- Oregano Oil: The very famous Italian herb is used to add flavor. And its oil is a powerful germ killer and helps build a wonderful immune system. It damages the harmful bacterial growth and also minimises the bacteria’s ability to create toxins. It is used in food to provide a shield from bacteria. Now I love my pasta even more! Slurp! It also protects the immune system by the production of white blood cells.
- Thyme Oil: Thyme oil is one of the best essential oils that has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thyme oil maybe irritative to skin and hence it should be diluted with a carrier oil.
- Clove Oil: Clove consists oil of Eugenol that kills scabies mites. It also possesses antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Rosemary Oil: This oil has strong antibacterial properties. When combined with basil oil, it fights bacteria strongly.
- Cinnamon Oil: It has the strongest antibacterial properties amongst all the best essential oils. It contains cinnamaldehyde which is a unique property of the oil that helps the bacteria from spreading.
11. Best Essential Oil for Toenail Fungus
Peppermint oil is great for people suffering from toenail fungus as it reduces the fungal growth.
12. Best Essential Oil for Scars
Germanium oil reduces aging and evens out the skin tone. How cool is that?! It improves blood circulation and fades scars, wrinkles and increases cell regeneration.
13. Best Essential Oils for Dry Skin & Eczema
Carrot oil is filled with antioxidants that protect the skin from sun’s harsh UV rays. It rejuvenates skin cells and helps with chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. It’s also one of the best essential oils for eczema. Both carrot seed and frankincense oils are great for dry skin.
14. Best Essential Oil for Acne Scars
Frankincense oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the acne-prone skin. It also acts as a natural toner reducing the scars and evens the skintone.
15. Best Essential Oil for Cold Sores
Cold sores are blisters that are itchy and extremely painful that are caused by a simplex virus. A few oils may cause allergies to the skin, hence it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut, olive and sweet almond oil. Essential oils that can treat cold sores are:
- Lavender Oil: Whether it’s skin irritation or bruises, lavender oil helps reduce pain. Although it’s not helpful to fight the virus, it’s beneficial in soothing the sores. One can mix it with a carrier oil to dilute it or apply directly.
- Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil gives instant relief to the sore.
- Eucalyptus Oil: Its anti-inflammatory property helps soothe the bruise and speeds up the healing process of the cold sore. Eucalyptus is also known as an allergen, so do not use it if there’s a reaction.
- Clove Oil: It has antiviral and antimicrobial properties and helps the cold sore to heal soon. However, it may cause irritation if applied directly to the skin, hence dilute it with a lighter oil.
- Chamomile Oil: This oil stops the virus from spreading and gives instant relief due to its antiviral property. Even chamomile oil should be diluted with a lighter oil before applying.
- Tea Tree Oil: This is a very strong essential oil that actually kills the virus and helps to heal the sores.
- Thyme Essential Oil: It’s one of the best essential oils that fight the virus as it has antiviral compounds.
16. Best Smelling Essential Oils
Essential oils have such good fragrances. This is what makes us love them more. They are unadulterated perfumes. How cool is that?! These fragrances have many uses and health benefits. And this is the reason it’s used in aromatherapy. While choosing an essential oil only for aroma, be particular and check what you’re choosing. Never fall for unnatural fragrant oils as they may be lab made. These fragrant oils are used to scent cosmetics, candles and other cleaning products.
So, let’s check out best smelling essential oils:
- Lavender Oil: It has fresh, herbal scent that soothes and relaxes the mind. It even treats insomnia. It is a good fragrance enhancer that you can mix it with other oils, too for rich aroma.
- Chamomile Oil: This oil gives a sweet warm fragrance. Roman chamomile oil is sweeter than the German version. However, the latter is a better anti-inflammatory. It blends well with other best essential oils like jasmine, tea tree, rose and other citruses. It’s also a good antidepressant and pain reliever, too!
- Rosemary Oil: It has a pungent smell that’s almost similar to pine. It blends well with other best essential oils like lavender, peppermint and lemongrass. It stimulates the brain to function to maximum capacity.
- Lemon Oil: This oil has refreshing, lemony scent. It blends well with lavender and rose essential oils. It treats various skin problems and boosts the immune system.
- Peppermint Oil: A very minty, refreshing cool fragrant oil that helps in digestion and relieves stress and pain. It’s also used in toothpaste for a cool scent. It blends well with eucalyptus, tea tree, rosemary and lemon essential oils.
Essential Oil Comparison Chart
Essential Oil Blends
These oils can be blended with the carrier oil or with another EO depending on the reason it’s being used for. Blending can be used to make homemade scents, candles or therapeutic activities You can buy them or prepare by yourself. Personally, I prefer the latter. I don’t want to spend a bomb just for blending the pure essential oils. Also, I have listed a few essential oil combinations:
- Perfume: Orange+Frankincence+Clove+Cinammon
The citrusy aroma mixed with spicy fragrance creates a good perfume. You can rub two drops on your wrist or behind the ear.
- Muscle Pain: Basil+Lavender+Peppermint
When you massage with this blend, it soothes the muscles due to the anti-inflammatory properties of peppermint oil. Basil oil relieves the pain and lavender oil soothes the mind.
- Oil Diffuser: Rosemary+Peppermint+Lavender+Chamomile
For, aromatherapy, lavender and rosemary oil are the best. Peppermint oil helps to combat stress and chamomile oil fights anxiety and depression.
How to Use Essential Oils
It’s almost clear that essential oils are used for various purposes by now. From therapeutic essential oils to best essential oils for pain, there are many ways to use the essential oils. Let’s check ’em out!
- Skin: Essential oils have many benefits for the skin. From anti-aging to reducing acne to treating allergies, the benefits are endless. The oil penetrates through the skin giving maximum benefits. But always do a patch test before applying it. It’s always better to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- Hair: Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil and damp your hair with a sprayer. Massage it thoroughly on the scalp and wrap it with a hot towel. This helps the oil to absorb deep into the hair follicles. And wash it with a mild shampoo and condition it if necessary.
- Aromatherapy: This method can be used just for aromatic, soothing experience or for respiratory problems or as bug repellents. You can use essential oil diffuser or add a few drops to a candle. However, I recommend electronic diffuser over candle burning as essential oils are volatile and they evaporate at normal temperature and break down. Hence the health benefits are lost. And essential oils are flammable, so it’s better to use an electronic diffuser. They fill the air in the room with the fragrance giving a soothing effect.
Essential oils are also used for
- Allergies: One can use it while bathing. Mix two to three drops of essential oil with water for a relaxing experience. You can add Epsom salt, too with essential oils to make them dissolve better. You can mix it with lotion and apply it to allergies or soak a hot towel with the mixture of hot water and essential oil and apply it on the skin. Inhaling the steam of essential oils are great to tackle respiratory problems.
- Food: Whether it’s for food consumption or applying externally or internally, always keep it in mind that less is more. Add no more than a drop while cooking. You can substitute the constituents like ginger with ginger oil, lemon with lemon oil, oregano with oregano oil and so on. You can even add a few edible essential oils in milkshake, tea or coffee.
Best Essential Oil Brands
There are many brands that have the best essential oils. However, it differs from person to person and also the reason you’re using it for. But I have mentioned a few popular and common brands that you can try:
a. Edens Garden Essential Oil
c. Mountain Rose Herb
d. Plant Therapy
e. Now Foods
f. Art Naturals
g. Young Living
h. Kama Ayurveda
i. Khadi Natural
So, this was a complete guide to best essential oils. Have you used essential oils? What have you used it for? Do you have more interesting ideas to use them? Let us know! Tweet @shilpa1ahuja!
Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17