Turn to Facebook, your neighbor — hell, a random person on the street — and you're bound to hear about the essential oil that wiped out their skin condition or helped them kick a nasty cold. Simply put, essential oils are kind of a big deal.
"Scent is tied to memory more than any of our senses," says Emilie Hoyt, the founder of LATHER. "It has an incredible power to affect our mood and well-being."
The obvious next step is shopping for them. "To ensure that you’re getting the highest quality, look for Clinical Grade pure essential oils with the Latin name of the plant on the packaging and a notation of '100% Pure,'" says Barbara Close, a certified herbalist, esthetician, and aromatherapist, as well as the founder of Naturopathica. "Pure essential oils will be stored in dark (amber or cobalt blue) glass bottles to protect the oil from degrading with exposure to light. Finally, be wary of low price tags. Most essential oils require large amounts of plant material to produce a single oz., so the price should be proportionate."
Once that's checked off your to-do list, you need to learn how to actually use them in real life. To help you out on that front, we quizzed a few pros on the best essential oils out there. Ahead, 10 winners, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into your daily routine.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, this oil is a pro at soothing itches caused by dry, sensitive skin, says Close. "The bright blue color is a hallmark of this oil, as is its ripe, honey-apple scent," Close says. "Be sure that it’s diluted in a base oil like coconut oil, sunflower, or grapeseed oil before applying it to dry skin."
Sometimes called tiger grass, cica, or centella asiatica, Close says this ancient multi-tasking herb is known for its reparative and soothing properties, which can help to soothe itching caused by dryness and lack of elasticity — from eczema patches to stretching skin during pregnancy. "Clinical studies show that it helps to heal by stimulating collagen synthesis and increasing the level of antioxidants in newly formed tissues," Close says. "Add a few drops of essential oil to your base oil, lotion, or salve for soothing relief.
Hoyt says while the oil might sound run-of-the-mill, it is anything but. After all, lavender is a powerful oil known for helping with a host of issues, including restless sleep, skin issues, and depression. "Lavender is also an anti-inflammatory, so it will help with anything from a headache to eczema," Hoyt says. "Put two drops between your hands, rub it together and inhale through your nose, this will help soothe the headache."
Close says the oil’s sweet aroma not only has detoxifying properties, but it also provides lymphatic stimulation and acts as an antidepressant for "fatigued minds."
If you're feeling congested, then Jodie Pappas, a natural family health expert and founder of Clean Kiss Organics, says you'll want to add this oil to a shower or bath. "Create your own at-home spa by running the shower to get it steamy, then plug the drain hole to help fill up the shower floor with a little hot water and steam," Pappas says. "Next, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and let it work its magic to create an in-home eucalyptus steam shower — pure heaven."
Pappas says an alternative is to rub it on your feet: "Our feet have so many pores and nerve endings that it’s actually a very effective way to decongest."
Hoyt says the oil is a solid choice for alleviating pain related to sore muscles. Hoyt likes to mix a few drops along with black pepper essential oil — which is known for also known for helping with aches and pains — into her LATHER Elemental Journey Bath Salts, therefore helping the body to relax while also reducing muscle inflammation.
Need a mood pick-me-up? Pappas says this citrus essential oil is her "absolute favorite" because of its smell and mood-boosting abilities. Add to a natural body lotion or butter for a refreshing boost.
Also known as melaleuca, Pappas says tea tree oil is a must-have in her essential oil arsenal. "It’s good for so many things, including keeping lice out of children’s hair, zapping a pimple, helping to disinfect a wound (it’s anti-bacterial), giving your hair a great shine, and as a scalp treatment for dandruff when mixed with a bit of apple cider vinegar."
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If you're looking for a natural and refreshing way to spruce up your home, then Pappas says this is a favorite of hers for cleaning. "Just add a few drops to castile soap for hand soap dispensers, add to your floor steamer to clean floors and leave a fresh lemon scent," she says. "Or, put it in a spray bottle with distilled water and a little white vinegar to clean countertops."
Typically grown on the southern coast of Italy, Close says this oil’s bright, citrus aroma helps ease stress, anxiety, and nervous tension. But she warns: "Use caution when using bergamot topically, as it can increase skin sensitivity and create hyperpigmentation."
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