By Emma Stessman
Essential oils don’t just make your space smell like a luxury spa, they can also provide a slew of mind-body benefits. That’s the premise behind aromatherapy, a practice that uses plant-derived oils to reduce stress, boost energy, and even improve immunity.
In fact, aromatherapy may help you deal with the challenges of a busy lifestyle in all kinds of ways, whether you need a pick-me-up or a quick dose of calm, explains Sara Panton, the co-founder of Vitruvi, a leading aromatherapy brand known for high-quality organic oils and pretty stone diffusers.
“How we think about producing our products is simply to make it really easy for [the average woman] to find quick moments to herself throughout the day—to fill her cup back up and go and take on the world,” Panton says.
While that could mean setting a diffuser up in your bedroom to help you drift off to sleep at night, it could also be as simple as opening up your favorite essential oil and taking a deep breath before a big meeting. “I love when people change the methodology with which they apply the oils throughout the day,” Panton says. “For example, I steam my face with our geranium oil in the morning, and when I get to work, I use our focus roll-on that’s a mixture of peppermint, rosemary, and lemongrass.”
Want to find the right oil for whatever issue is confronting you? Below, Panton shares her go-to oils and how they can help you deal with common issues like stress and fatigue. Think of them as the truly essential oils.
(Photos: Opener: Vitruvi, Below: Shutterstock)
5 Essential Oils and What to Use Them For
Best Scent for Energy: Grapefruit
Whether you need a little kickstart at the beginning of the day or a pick-me-up come 3:00 p.m., grapefruit is Panton’s top choice for an energy boost. In general, bright, fresh citrus scents tend to be energizing and awakening, she says.
Best Scent to Relieve Stress: Lavender
It probably won’t come as a surprise that one of Panton’s go-tos for stress relief is lavender. The herb is often touted for its calming effects, and many studies back up the benefits. When used in aromatherapy, lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety and effectively decrease the physical signs of stress; lowering markers like heart rate and blood pressure.
Best Scent for Sleep: Cedarwood
While lavender is also a great option for de-stressing before bed, the lesser-known cedarwood can help you fall right to sleep to get those crucial ZZZs. “Traditionally, cedarwood has been used in many other cultures to promote sleep and calming,” Panton says. Research shows that cedrol, one of the main components of cedarwood oil, can be an effective sedative and may help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Panton suggests combining 20 drops of cedarwood and another calming essential oil like lavender with one cup of water in a spray bottle for a DIY aromatherapy mist to spray on your sheets and pillows.
Best Scent for Sick Days: Eucalyptus
There’s a reason why so many spas use eucalyptus in their steam rooms. When you breathe in eucalyptus, it helps to open up your lungs and promote deeper breathing, Panton says. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. To get the true spa feeling, she suggests putting two to three drops in the palm of your hand when you shower in the morning. “The heat from the water will help the oils evaporate faster. It strengthens the scent because oils are volatile—when they’re heated they actually intensify,” Panton says. “So that’s a really fun way to start your day with a spa moment.”
Best Scent for a Brain Boost: Peppermint
When your mind is spinning and you can’t seem to finish a single task, consider peppermint. “It’s like mouthwash for the brain,” Panton says. The minty scent is bright and invigorating and can be super helpful when you need a little something to finish out the workday. Plus, research shows that peppermint can help improve memory and alertness (while also boosting feelings of calmness!).