Essential Tip No. 1: Use The Right Oils
Before stepping into the realm of essential oils, it's crucial to figure out which scents you actually like—because even if an oil is noted for its relaxation properties, if you hate how it smells, it probably won't make you feel very relaxed. "It's such an interesting industry because it's so personalized," says Adina Grigore, founder of natural beauty brand S.W. Basics and author of Just the Essentials. "Don't overcomplicate it—find what smells good to you."
To brush off any bad mood, Grigore suggests trying these essential oils and finding your favorite:
Lavender: "I joke that lavender is the Taylor Swift of essential oils because it's so popular, but it's also really interesting," she says. "It has an even split of components that lift your mood, and components that calm you down. It calms you down so you can either literally calm down or go to sleep." Lavender Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Lemongrass: "Lemongrass is nice because it has sedative properties," Grigore says. "It will make you feel uplifted and it will help you sleep well." Lemongrass Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Sweet Orange: "The citrus family has been shown to affect your mood in the same capacity as an antidepressant," Grigore says. "There have been studies that show the scent has the same effect as a medication [would], which is pretty amazing." Sweet Orange Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Cinnamon: "I call cinnamon a sassy essential oil because of its spicy, mood-boosting scent," Grigore says. "It's also super-anti-inflammatory and antibacterial." Cinnamon Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Eucalyptus: "Eucalyptus has been proven to kill airborne bacteria, so it's great to diffuse or use on your skin, especially around your nose," she says. "It will clear up phlegm, too, so it helps to clear your airways." Eucalyptus Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Peppermint: "Peppermint helps with anxiety and nausea, so it's great for traveling. It's also been proven to help people who are going through surgery, and women in labor." Peppermint Functional Fragrance, $12, swbasicsofbk.com.
Essential Tip No. 2: Apply Them the Right Way
You should never apply an essential oil directly to your skin—they can cause irritation when not properly diluted. Some essential oils come pre-diluted in oil blends (like those offered by S.W. Basics), but pure essential oils should be diffused in a diffuser or mixed in with an oil or unscented lotion.
"Don't overcomplicate it—find what smells good to you." —Adina Grigore
"In a small bowl, mix a few drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil—which can be coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed, avocado, or whatever is around," says Grigore. "Test it on your inner arm, and if you like it, make a larger mixture that you can store in a pump bottle for easy use."
Once you have a skin-safe mixture, you can apply the oil to your skin. "Pressure points are a great place for essential oils," Grigore says. "They're the points where you'd apply perfume, so your wrist and behind your ears. I actually like to put some oils right around my nose to make the most of the aromatherapy benefits."
Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser, $70, muji.us.
Essential Tip No. 3: Listen to Your Body
Studies have shown which essential oils work best for different purposes, but the bottom line is that personal taste shapes exactly how you will react to any oil. "The best thing to do is to start with categories of oils," says Grigore. "There are citrus oils, floral oils, and herb-y oils. Find the category you like and explore how you react to different oils. You don't need to get overwhelmed by looking at a list and thinking, 'Oh my God, I have to rush out and get all 10 of these because I'm not going to sleep unless I buy them.'"
Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life by Adina Grigore (HarperCollins), $16, barnesandnoble.com.