Choosing the Right Essential Oil for Your Needs

Now comes the fun part: selecting an oil based on what you're trying to achieve. Lavender is one of the best gateway oils, according to Goldstein, since it has few associated side effects. You can dilute it with water an alcohol into a DIY linen mist to promote sleep. Here are a few more standouts:

  • For relaxation: Vetiver is commonly used to promote rest and relaxation. Sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh will also help you reach a calm and cool state. “These essential oils help relax your breathing and mind,” says Hope Gillerman, an aromatic healer and the author of Essential Oils Every Day.
  • For pain relief: Arnica oil is often used to relieve muscle aches and soreness. Studies suggest it may help speed up bruise healing and reduce pain.
  • For energy: One study found that peppermint oil may enhance memory and increase alertness.
  • For anxiety: In one study, lemongrass lowered levels of anxiety and tension. (Here: more essential oils for anxiety.)
  • For stress: Ylang-ylang has been linked to lowered cortisol and blood pressure levels.
  • For seasonal allergies: Eucalyptus oil is associated with reduced congestion. (That's why Vicks contains eucalyptus.)
  • For cleaning: Tea tree oil is a star in DIY cleaning products because of its antimicrobial properties. (Try one of these three genius ways to clean your home using essential oils.)
  • For motivation: Refreshing hits of fir, rosemary, and eucalyptus can not only help motivate you, but also keep you focused on a goal, says Gillerman. Losing steam? Turn to geranium, cedarwood, and lemon to battle burnout.
  • To feel adventurous: Citrus, like lime, bergamot, and grapefruit, will inspire you to leave your comfort zone. “These zingy scents help us feel open to new possibilities,” says Gillerman. It’s the same mental trigger as a glass of fresh OJ in the a.m.
  • To win someone over: Scent is a key element when it comes to making a first impression. “Opt for inviting, familiar fragrances that most people are drawn to,” says Gillerman. Think rose, ylang-ylang, and sweet orange.

To read up on how to use a particular essential oil, you can consult the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy's list of most commonly used essential oils.