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Due to the overwhelming amount of essential oils out there, finding the right one for you—whether it's to relieve a headache or hydrate your skin—can feel super intimidating. But the truth is that essential oils are actually pretty accessible, and if you educate yourself enough (especially with our handy guide), they’re also easy to navigate.
A form of alternative medicine, essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy, a holistic healing treatment that utilizes plant extracts to promote better health and wellbeing. Lovely, isn’t it? Well, good news: You can practice aromatherapy pretty much anywhere you’d like, including from the comfort of your own bed.
Here, find our picks of the best essential oils that you’ll want to introduce into your Sunday self-care routine.
Best for Meditation: Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil
Say the words “essential oil” and the first one you may think of is lavender. It evokes the very essence that is aromatherapy—calming, comforting, subtle, yet very effective at transporting you to your happy place. It’s a great addition to your yoga or meditation sessions, as it can further deepen your mindfulness in the moment. Or if you’re feeling more stationary, add a few drops to a warm bath for the best relaxation money can buy.
Best for Hair Growth: Briogeo B. Well Organic + Cold-Pressed 100% Castor Oil
When we think of castor oil, we might think of it as a beauty ingredient from our grandmother’s generation. It’s been around for quite some time, though lately has been replaced with far more luxurious and pricier oils. Despite this, castor oil is still a great and affordable option when it comes to promoting hair growth. Because it's antibacterial and antifungal, it battles against scalp conditions like folliculitis and dandruff. To use, simply dispense a small amount and massage it onto your scalp and through your hair. Less is definitely more in this case. For your brow hairs, place a little product onto a mascara wand and comb through.
Best for Sleep: Rocky Mountain Oils Tranquility Essential Oil Blend
One of the best times to apply an essential oil is right before bed. This super-calming blend of orange, patchouli, blue tansy, and lavender feels like a warm hug. Not only does it immediately relax your mind at first whiff, but you’ll also find your body melting right into bed (as it should). Dab on your temples and wrists—and maybe even sprinkle around your pillow—for the sweetest dreams.
Check out our other reviews of the best essential oils for sleep available on the market today.
Best for Anxiety: DoTerra Cedarwood Essential Oil
Lose yourself in this warm, woody scent that promotes relaxation, even in the most chaotic of times. Considered the “grounding” essential oil, cedarwood has the ability to bring you back down to earth. After a challenging day, diffuse this scent throughout your home for a soothing zen experience. Or dab onto the skin when you’re not feeling quite like yourself. You can also add a drop or two to your facial toner for added skin-clarifying benefits.
Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
The scent of this 100% rosehip seed oil is divine, but it’s hydrating benefits are even better. High in omega fatty acids, this unrefined oil helps to reduce the signs of aging, moisturizes the skin, and calms irritation and inflammation. Slather all over the face and neck for baby-soft, glowing skin.
Take a peek at some of the other best essential oils for dry skin you can buy.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Desert Essence Eco-Harvest Tea Tree Oil
It’s happened to the best of us: You wake up one morning, fully ready to take on the day, and then you discover a pesky zit. That's where tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic, can come in. It’s antibacterial, making it ideal for eliminating blemishes, but also for speeding up skin’s healing (which can be slowed down by bacteria). Mix equal parts tea tree oil with distilled water for a DIY spot treatment. If you have other areas of concern, like your back or legs, add a few drops to the bath for a head-to-toe treatment.
See more reviews of our favorite essential oils for acne available for purchase.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Acure Seriously Soothing Blue Tansy Night Oil
This nighttime oil is super affordable, but that's only one of its perks. Made with blue tansy and rose, this rich oil is gentle enough to use on the fussiest skin types. To get some serious hydration, massage onto the face as the last step in your skincare routine before bed. While you’re sleeping, let argan oil and vitamin E replenish and balance your skin. When you wake, admire your gorgeous, bright complexion.
Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best essential oils for eczema article.
Best for Anti-Aging: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
This 100% marula oil protects against all kinds of skin stressors, like environmental damage and free radicals. While it’s shielding skin, it’s also penetrating to reduce the look of wrinkles, fine lines, and dullness. The texture isn’t slippery (read: not greasy), so it glides nicely over the skin and is almost immediately absorbed. Users love that although the formula is gentle enough for all skin types, it’s powerful enough to tighten the look of pores and leave behind a healthy, youthful glow.
Best for Headaches: Rocky Mountain Oils Migraine Support Essential Oil
All it takes is a swipe of this essential oil blend for headache or migraine relief. The mix of basil, lavender, and peppermint provides a peaceful reprieve from the pain. Apply to the temples and behind the ears if you’re experiencing head pain, and sweep over any other areas where you feel sore or achy.
Best for a Cold: Young Living Thieves Essential Oil
There’s a reason Moms stock up on this essential oil during the cold and flu season. It’s effective not only in neutralizing and purifying the air when diffused, but is also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-infectious, making it the ultimate trifecta to use when you’re dealing with a cold. Dilute with a carrier oil and massage onto your feet (take it a step further and wear socks overnight) and your chest, diffuse into the air, or add one or two drops to water and take a swig.
Best for Inflammation: Thrive Market Organic Frankincense Essential Oil
If you’re suffering through decreased mobility or painful joints, the anti-inflammatory properties in frankincense can help give you some needed relief. The terpenes and boswellic acids in this essential oil help to lessen inflammation when used topically. We recommend using a carrier oil (like coconut oil) with a few drops of frankincense and massaging the affected area.
Best for Sore Muscles: Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil
Whether it was a successful gym session or a windy, uphill hike, your muscles have gone through the wringer, and you're feeling it a day or two later. If you decide that a massage is in your best interest (let’s be real: it always is), don’t forget to request peppermint oil. It’s revitalizing and refreshing, but can also help to calm muscle spasms, which can sometimes cause muscle cramps. To get to the nitty-gritty, the peppermint stimulates circulation and delivers that warm, tingling feeling to exhausted muscles.
What to Look for in an Essential Oil
Target Your Concern
Essential oils are great for treating acne, scalp irritation, anxiety, headaches, and more. If you don't know which one to start with, take the time to assess what problems you want to address. Tea tree oil is an effective spot treatment for acne, whereas cedarwood is great for reducing anxiety. You don't have to pick just one either, there are many different essential oil blends that can tackle multiple concerns at once.
One of the reasons that essential oils have become so popular is that they can be used in numerous ways. So, make sure to consider how the essential oil can be applied. Most can be added to your baths, skincare products, placed in a diffuser, or even be directly swiped across your skin. How you want to apply your essential oil will largely depend on what you're using it for. However, always pay attention to any diluting instructions. You don't want your oil to cause any skin reactions, so it's best to dilute them with a carrier oil.