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Published Aug 4, 2022 10:48 AM

Essential oils are more than just a trend in wellness. When used for aromatherapy, they can provide a range of therapeutic benefits. The best essential oils are high quality and capture compounds from plants (including flowers, fruit, bark or leaves) to deliver a pure, powerful scent. Essential oils, while not regulated by the FDA, are commonly used for many reasons including improving mood, treating anxiety, helping with insomnia, relieving pain, alleviating symptoms of cancer patients, and can sometimes even have antiseptic qualities. Aromatherapists and integrative medicine experts help advise scents for individual needs and issues.

Typically essential oils are inhaled, but they also can be used topically on skin when diluted using carrier oil, body lotion or bath products. (When used topically, it is incredibly important to dilute essential oils, as using a concentrated essential oil can cause irritation and long-term skin damage.) The best essential oils will be from reputable aromatherapy companies that disclose information about the purity and country of origin, and when possible are organic. Always read ingredients on essential oils to help you avoid cheap ‘fragrance oils’ that can be dupes and filled with chemicals. When shopping for undiluted essential oil products, steer away from clear bottles and plastic containers—the best essential oils will come in dark glass bottles which help preserve the quality and lifespan of the oil.

How We Selected the Best Essential Oils

We selected our picks for the best essential oils by carefully reviewing each product based on the following criteria:

  • Reputation of the manufacturer: We considered whether the brand is well known and respected in the field of aromatherapy.
  • Quality of ingredients: We examined what goes into each product, and how pure the essential oil is. 
  • Commitment to sustainability: We looked at how the companies strive to source their products. We also considered how sustainable their packaging is with respect to reduced waste and minimal environmental impact.
  • Cost: We considered the value of the product in comparison to its price. 

We reviewed the following brands: Whole Foods 365, Healing Solutions, Plant Therapy, doTERRA, NOW, Aura Cacia and Young Living. As part of our research, we weighed each company’s product specifications, medical articles about essential oils, and articles written by certified aromatherapists. In addition we read customer comments and customer reviews related to essential oil products. 

Best Essential Oils: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Plant Therapy Organic Lemon Essential Oil

Plant Therapy Organic Lemon Essential Oil Plant Therapy

Why It Made The Cut: Plant Therapy is our top choice because not only is the company committed to transparency about the purity and sourcing of their ingredients, but they also charge fair prices, making their essential oils accessible to a greater audience. 

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Lemon
  • Quantity: 10 ml.
  • Ingredients: Citrus lemon peel oil

Pros

  • Shelf life of 1 to 2 years
  • Safe for kids and pregnant women
  • Can be added to cleaning products to refresh your home

Cons 

  • Lemon essential oil can cause photosensitivity

Plant Therapy is a highly regarded company that is committed to providing quality, pure products with plenty of organic offerings. The Plant Therapy website discloses details on exactly what goes into each product, as well as safety guidelines. Not only do they go the extra mile compared to many essential oil manufacturers, they are also committed to sustainability and giving back to the community. 

Plant Therapy provides all recommended uses as well as important precautions to take with each essential oil variety. Each batch of essential oil goes through multiple rounds of testing including GC-MS from third-party laboratories which helps identify the elements in the essential oil and provides extra confidence on our recommendation of this product. If using this product topically, Plant Therapy recommends a maximum dilution of 2 percent to avoid photosensitivity or skin irritation.

Best Budget: Healing Solutions Peppermint Essential Oil

Best Budget

Healing Solutions Peppermint Essential Oil Healing Solutions

Why It Made The Cut: By marketing directly to the consumer, Healing Solutions is able to offer high-quality essential oils at an accessible price. 

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Peppermint
  • Quantity: 30 ml.
  • Ingredients: Pure peppermint oil

Pros:

  • Can be used topically (maximum 5 percent dilution) and for inhalation
  • GC-MS tested by Healing Solutions’ in-house chemist
  • Eyedropper allows for controlled measuring

Cons: 

  • Not independently tested

Healing Solutions is an affordable resource to buy pure essential oils. The Healing Solutions website provides detailed specs on strength, extraction methods, and country of origin. While the batches are tested (with results accessible from their website) by an in-house chemist they aren’t independently tested. The company is very thorough in providing background information on each product, uses, and precautions to take for optimal safety.

Best Set: doTERRA – Family Essential Kit

doTERRA – Family Essential Kit DoTerra

Why It Made The Cut: This collection offers a useful assortment of essential oils and blends that can help alleviate common health issues. 

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Lavender, lemon, peppermint, tea tree, oregano, frankincense, deep blue, doTERRA Breathe, DigestZen, doTERRA On Guard
  • Quantity: Ten 5-ml. bottles
  • Ingredients: Deep Blue (wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, ylang ylang, helichrysum, blue tansy, blue chamomile, and osmanthus), doTERRA Breathe (laurel leaf, eucalyptus leaf, peppermint plant, melaleuca leaf, lemon peel, cardamom seed, ravintsara leaf, ravensara leaf essential oils), DigestZen (peppermint, coriander, ginger, caraway, cardamom, fennel, and anise essential oils), doTERRA On Guard (wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus leaf, and rosemary leaf/flower essential oils).

Pros:  

  • CPTG (Certified Pure Tested Grade)-certified, which means doTERRA tests to make sure there are no added fillers, synthetic ingredients or contaminants in their essential oils
  • Quick usage guide included for each essential oil and blend
  • Includes four blends (Deep Blue, doTERRA Breathe, DigestZen and doTERRA On Guard) which can be used to help treat common ailments and for massage

Cons: 

  • Expensive

The doTERRA Family Essential kit offers a great variety of popular and useful essential oils. While the sizes are rather small, at only 5 milliliters, this is a great introduction to aromatherapy and a way to try out and find your favorites. The bundle was created to offer families pure essential oils that are used to treat common ailments such as stress, congestion, indigestion, and muscle pain.

This established brand is well known, and the doTERRA website is a great resource for learning about each essential oil. While it’s not an inexpensive product, you can rest assured that each oil is pure and free of added chemicals or fillers. Details about each oil, including extraction method and usage, can be found on the doTERRA website.

Best Roll-On: NOW Essential Oils Seasonal Defense Roll-On

Best Roll-On

NOW Essential Oils Seasonal Defense Roll On NOW

Why It Made The Cut: In addition to using superior ingredients, NOW offers transparency at all levels of manufacturing.

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Sweet and camphoraceous
  • Quantity: 10 ml.
  • Ingredients: Jojoba seed oil, orange peel oil, clove bud oil, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, rosemary leaf oil, cinnamon bark oil, cardamom seed oil, cedarwood atlas oil

Pros:  

  • Can be applied directly to the skin
  • No synthetic fragrances or chemicals
  • Detailed information about each sourced ingredient
  • Jojoba carrier oil is organic 

 Cons: 

  • Scent may not be strong enough
  • Excessive pressure to rollerball may result in oil leakage

From NOW Essential Oils, the Seasonal Defense Oil is a perfect blend of fruit and spices to help relieve symptoms related to seasonal allergies and stuffy noses. The pure essential oils are blended with organic jojoba oil and can be applied directly to the skin without the need for further dilution.

The brand is well-trusted and an institution in health food and health specialty stores, with a legacy spanning more than 50 years. The NOW website offers education and resources to inform customers about all uses for their products.

Best Body Lotion: Plant Therapy Lavender Aloe Jelly

Best Body Lotion

Plant Therapy Lavender Aloe Jelly Plant Therapy

Why It Made The Cut: Plant Therapy Lavender Aloe Jelly is our top pick for essential oil body lotion because of the quality of ingredients. 

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Lavender
  • Quantity: 16 fl. oz.
  • Ingredients: Water, aloe leaf juice, hydroxyethylcellulose, lavender oil, carrageenan, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, wild geranium extract, gotu kola extract, dandelion extract, horsetail extract

Pros: 

  • Includes added botanical extracts: gotu kola, horsetail, wild geranium, and dandelion
  • Can be used on sunburned or irritated skin
  • Safe for kids

Cons:  

  • Check with a doctor if you are pregnant or have health issues

Adding essential oils to body products is a popular trend with more than just natural brands. It’s common to find essential oil infused lotions in the aisles of just about any pharmacy or supermarket. What this product offers which is different is a base of aloe jelly, pure diluted lavender oil, and added botanical extracts. When you are looking for a more natural approach to lotion, this is a unique choice. 

Beyond just moisture, aloe jelly is naturally soothing for irritated and burned skin, and when combined with the scent of lavender is an all around relaxing skin treatment. Each oil that Plant Therapy makes is third-party tested for purity. 

Best Mist: Aura Cacia Relaxing Lavender Aromatherapy Mist

Aura Cacia Relaxing Lavender Aromatherapy Mist Aura Cacia

Why It Made The Cut: Versatile and light, Aura Cacia can be used as either a room spray or body spray. 

Specs:

  • Fragrance: Lavender
  • Quantity: 4 fl. oz
  • Ingredients: Water, lavender oil, lactobacillus ferment, benzoic acid, lavandin oil, spike lavender oil, sodium hydroxide, citric acid

Pros:  

  • No synthetic colors or fragrances
  • Paraben and petroleum free
  • Made in the USA

Cons:  

  • Test for sensitivity prior to use

Another health store classic brand, Aura Cacia, with a 40 year legacy, is a brand to know and trust. They operate as a member-owned co-op with the focus on helping people and the planet as opposed to a profit focus. The ingredients are responsibly sourced and tested for purity.

The lavender aromatherapy mist uses pure lavender essential oil mixed with lavandin essential oil and water. This dual-purpose spray can be used on the body or in the house as a general air freshener. You can also refresh your linens with it or dab it into your hair as a perfume. 

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Essential Oils

With essential oils being so popular and trendy, there are no end to options and places to buy these products. Consider a few key points before you commit to your purchase.

Most importantly take the time to read the ingredients of the essential oil product you are buying. The best essential oils will be pure, concentrated extracts. It’s even better if the company discloses the Latin name, country of origin, and purity testing. If possible also look for organic ingredients so you can be sure your essential oil isn’t tainted with any pesticides or chemicals from the growing process.

Research and consider the reputation of the manufacturer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go for the big name. Look into the brand history, transparency of production, and reputation amongst aromatherapists and integrative medical specialists.

Finally consider the packaging the essential oil manufacturer uses. It is important to buy essential oils that are in dark glass vials. This packaging is best for maintaining potency and extending the life of the product. If you see some cheap oils in plastic in a discount store, chances are they aren’t good quality.

FAQs

Q: Is breathing essential oils safe?

Yes, breathing essential oils is safe when you follow the usage guidelines for each specific oil. For example, while rare, clove oil can cause an allergic reaction, interact with certain medications, and should be avoided if you’ve had recent surgery. It’s important to read through the uses, potency and possible side effects before you decide which oil to inhale. 

Pure essential oils are potent and should be used sparingly and diluted according to manufacturer recommendations. All the products we recommend in this article have excellent companion websites that educate consumers on each specific oil and how to use them safely. 

Remember breathing essential oils is safe only when used according to the directions. They can be harmful if used incorrectly. If the manufacturer says two to four drops in your water-based diffuser, start with two. A good rule of thumb is less is more until you determine how your body reacts. 

Q: How do I choose essential oils?

The most important decision when choosing essential oil is to make sure you are buying a pure, high-quality product and not a fragrance oil that contains synthetic ingredients. When deciding on the type, you can start with scents you know you like, or you can decide based on what their potential therapeutic use is. For example, if you are congested you might want to try eucalyptus oil.

Q: What essential oils are used for what?

Be sure to  research essential oil benefits (and safety precautions) when deciding which oil to buy. Here some of the most popular essential oils and their uses: 

Lavender essential oil: Stress, pain, sleep
Tea tree essential oil: Acne, athlete’s foot, ringworms
Frankincense essential oil: Inflammation, mood, sleep, asthma, gum disease
Peppermint oil: Anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, fatigue, mood, digestion, memory
Eucalyptus essential oil: Opens nasal passages, relieve pain, fight herpes simplex virus
Lemon essential oil: Anxiety, depression, relieve pain, nausea, kill bacteria
Lemongrass essential oil: Stress, anxiety, depression, kill bacteria
Orange essential oil: Anxiety, relieve pain, kill bacteria
Rosemary essential oil: Improve brain function, reduce joint inflammation
Bergamot essential oil: Lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, lift mood
Cedarwood essential oil: Antioxidant, antibacterial, sleep, anxiety

Final Thoughts

The best essential oils will be high quality and from companies like our top recommendation, Plant Therapy. The best brands to buy essential oils from value transparency of their manufacturing process and provide purity testing. Pure concentrated essential oils have a wide variety of potential health benefits, but have to be used according to manufacturer directions to ensure safety.

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