The use of essential oils is a much talked about trend these days, but aromatherapy techniques have been used for almost 6,000 years in countries like India, China, and Egypt. Essential oils are derived from flowers, roots, leaves, stems, and sometimes fruit. Aromatherapy has been studied in more recent years to determine its effects on the human brain and emotions, as well as its role in mood, alertness, and stress management.
Research shows that various smells have a profound effect on mood swings and changes. It is believed that mood is a direct result of what the senses take in, and therefore the more pleasant the sensory experience, the more pleasant the mood. This is the theory behind pairing the use of aromatherapy and essential oils with other therapeutic techniques to help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, insomnia, racing thoughts, and even improve meditation practices.
Essential oils can be used in several ways, including applied directly to the skin, in a bath, and in a diffuser. A good company will include educational information about how to use the oils, as well as be transparent about how their oils are processed. Look for pure oils extracted from organically grown plants and free from additives, which will be reflected in the price. A general practitioner from our Medical Expert Board reviewed the claims in this article around the uses for essential oils and considerations when shopping for them.
Plant Therapy maintains a close relationship with its farmers and growers. Based in Twin Falls, Idaho, the plants are sourced from individual growers around the world to ensure they grow in their most ideal climate. Plant Therapy also employs certified aromatherapists to ensure that the precisely formulated blend of oils delivers the most effective results possible.
They offer many organic oils and all testing is cruelty-free. Plant Therapy focuses on education and even offers dilution charts to ensure effective and safe use. Their YouTube channel provides a wealth of information about how to get the most out of your essential oil purchases, and their generous rewards program will help you stay stocked up at an affordable price.
The Vitamin Shoppe
With a focus on health and wellness products, The Vitamin Shoppe recently rolled out its Vthrive brand of essential oils. The line includes 14 types of oil including lavender, orange, and tee tree. All oils are made with 100 percent pure, USDA-certified organic oils with no added ingredients.
The line offers a good variety of scents, like cinnamon, which is known to promote alertness and help you feel awake and energized. The oil labels offer clear guidance on oil extraction methods (steam and cold-pressed) to ensure oil quality and transparency. Currently there aren’t as many options available as some other companies like Plant Therapy and Eden’s Garden, but if you’re just getting your feet wet with essential oils, these products are a great starting point.
Best Locally Sourced
Enfleurage specializes in all things aromatic. It is the first and only store in New York that brings aromatics from the natural world. They work directly with distilleries from six continents and do not allow any additives in their oils. The company prides itself on the close relationship between farmers, distillers, and the brand.
The oils are blended carefully to help heal specific issues, from insomnia to stress to weak immunity and even digestive issues. Enfleurage also offers online classes to educate and make sure customers are getting the best results possible from their oils.
Best for Parents
Rocky Mountain Oils
Established in 2004, Rocky Mountain Oils focuses on education, quality, and customer satisfaction practices. Many of their oils can be used in diffusers or cleaning products, as well as applied topically (see specific instructions for each type of oil). The company also offers a simple labeling guide for parents, indicating which age group each oil is most appropriate for.
Located in Orem, Utah, the company focuses on several layers of rigorous third-party testing to ensure efficiency and quality. All oils are tested by on-site chemists before bottling to further ensure quality and purity. The company also has a great line of personal products, as well as essential oil-based household cleaners.
This company is family-owned and operated, and maintains some of the most transparent operations to keep customers informed and educated. They offer virtual training sessions to help customers make the best oil selections for their needs.
These oils are third-party tested for quality, they are sustainably sourced, cruelty-free in testing procedures, and contain zero fillers, chemicals, additives, or fragrances. In addition to their individual oils, Eden’s Garden has a wide range of sets that are perfect for different uses, such as collections for aches and pains, sampler sets for beginners, and around-the-world sets. You can also create your own set of oils if you want to customize it yourself.
Great selection of oils
These oils are getting a lot of buzz due to their high-quality ingredients but surprisingly affordable pricing. While a few of their oils are synthetic, the company offers many organic oil options as well as transparent labeling and oil processing information.
The company offers detailed descriptions of its processing procedures and clearly labels all combinations of ingredients used in each scent. This is a great option when considering affordability in conjunction with good quality. The oils are also widely available at a number of retailers, such as Walmart, Whole Foods, and Walgreens.
Either cold-pressed or steam-distilled, these oils are free of additives and chemicals, though they are not marketed as organic. They do offer an ingredient database to allow customers to research each ingredient used, helping the customer feel very informed and able to make good purchasing decisions.
This line is marketed as medicinal rather than as a fragrance. For example, most of the brand’s blends are catered towards health concerns, such as “Fatigue Fighter” and “Aroma Sleep”. Just remember to always consult a doctor before using essential oils to address health concerns.
This company impressively puts itself through some rigorous testing procedures to ensure that all oils are of therapeutic-grade and quality. Family-owned and operated, all oils are made from plants that are pesticide-free, organically-grown, or wildcrafted. Their YouTube channels and online resources are a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about aromatherapy.
Each bottle is topped with nitrogen gas to prevent the oxidation process which can affect the quality of the oil during its shelf life. This company was founded on education and community and seeks to continue growth with these two goals as top priorities.
These oils are marketed specifically as fragrances rather than as medicinal options. This brand focuses on mood improvement through scent. Based in the UK, they can easily ship to the United States. The offer a number of essential oil blends for a variety of purposes, from increased energy, to calm, to better sleep.
This brand is unique because it focuses on all products being 100% clean, rather than organic or all-natural. The website does a great job of informing the customer of all ingredients used and sustainable operating procedures employed. This brand is not only known for its quality, but for its stylish aesthetic as well.
How We Selected
To find the best essential oil brands, we researched the qualities of a good essential oil and used these features to guide our search. We only chose companies whose essential oils are untainted by additives, and we also selected brands whose oils are widely available, either in stores or online. Finally, we prioritized companies that provide educational resources that are easily accessible.
What to Look for When Buying Essential Oils
Good oil brands are very transparent about where the plants are grown, how they are sourced, how the oils are extracted, and the bottling process to ensure quality. High-quality brands employ certified aromatherapists and/or chemists to create oil combinations that will deliver the desired healing effects.
A quality oil is made from plants raised organically and contains zero additives. A good brand will provide information about their standard of quality, ingredients, and processing procedures. A high-quality brand will use multiple types of third-party testing to ensure quality. Oils and plants should be organic and 100-percent pure with no additives or chemicals.
Price Reflects Quality
Organic plants shipped from around the world and then carefully processed to increase quality is not a cheap process. The price will reflect this. If you find oils that seem remarkably cheap, chances are you’ve found a bottle of oily chemicals. In the world of essential oils, you most certainly get what you pay for.
It is very important that you research each type of oil used and follow instructions carefully to avoid skin burns or irritations if used topically. Some oils are considered “hot oils” and must be diluted before topical use. A good company will offer in-depth education and instruction on each type of oil to ensure confident, effective, and safe use. A good oil company will provide education and instructions for the most effective and safe use for each and every type of oil it sells.
Medicinal or Fragrance?
Some oils are produced and marketed as medicinal and advertise healing properties for everything from migraines to digestive issues. Other oils are marketed as fragrances to be used on the skin or in a diffuser as a mood enhancer. This is an important distinction as oils used for fragrance only are not meant to be ingested.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are produced by extracting oils from various plants, such as lavender or peppermint. This creates a highly concentrated substance, or “essence,” which can be used for aromatherapy and other purposes.
What is the best way to use essential oils?
Essential oils can be applied to the skin topically, usually combined with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil. They can also be added to a diffuser, which expels particles into the air to create a calming effect. The best application really depends on your specific needs.
What should I look for in an essential oil brand?
The best essential oil brands are transparent about the harvesting and production of their essential oils. Make sure the brand you choose does not use additives in their essential oils, since these can lessen the therapeutic qualities of the final product.
Why Trust Verywell Health?
As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC, has worked with people struggling with depression, anxiety, and trauma for 17 years. Since going into private practice, she has always had either peppermint or lavender essential oils in her office. Mary chooses to use a diffuser in both the waiting room and the therapy office.
The oil in the waiting room helps calm people before they begin to talk about difficult topics. She uses the scent of the oils in her therapy office to help with a technique called “grounding,” where the five senses help bring patients’ focus away from trauma and into the “here and now.”
Personally, she uses peppermint scented essential oils in a diffuser in her own home to help with focus when working and to maintain a serene mood. Serenity has been her daily mantra over the last year.