What to Buy

18 Essential Oils To De-Stress, Restore & More

Expert-approved scents for some major me-time.

February 23, 2022
Photo by Vitruvi

Self-care looks different for everyone. For me, it includes engaging in daily movement, reading as many books as possible, and indulging in some serious couch time. For others like CEO of luxury pet fashion house Pagerie and self-care expert Mandy Madden Kelley, essential oils are key to holistic well-being. “I’m a big believer in nurturing your body in as many ways as you can, which is why I fell in love with aromatherapy,” she says. “When I discovered essential oils, I was invested in finding the best ones to enhance my moods, and relax my body and mind."

Mandy isn’t alone in her quest for the best essential oils for every situation, which is why we chatted with nine experts about their favorite oils and blends that help de-stress, boost energy, encourage a restful sleep, and more. Read on for their tried-and-true picks.

To help de-stress

Photo by Enfleurage

1. Enfleurage Wild Alpine Lavender, $25+

Would you be surprised that lavender came up time and time again as the essential oil to help deal with stress? According to Amy Galper, author, certified aromatherapist, and founder of the first aromatherapy school in New York City, lavender “has a pleasant, soft, grassy, floral aroma that has an almost instant sedating effect on our minds and bodies.

Photo by Nordstrom

2. Aveda Stress-Fix Composition Oil, $32

Master hair stylist Jay Braff also loves using this lavender, lavandin, and clary sage essential oil to help relax. “It’s a really nice blend that’s not too harshly lavender or pungently floral,” he says. “The high-grade essential oils are blended to the right dilution in a jojoba carrier oil, and it smells delicious.”

Photo by Vitruvi

3. Vitruvi Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil, $13+

For all the spa vibes, co-founder and CEO of Vitruvi Sara Panton loves fresh eucalyptus. “I add five drops of eucalyptus to my shower in the morning and set a calming intention for the rest of my day,” she says. “The heat of the shower helps the scent fill the bathroom, creating the feeling of a steam room at a spa.”

Photo by David Elliott

4. David Elliott 4th Chakra Open Heart, $26

When Kelley is meditating or practicing her breathwork, she’ll put a drop of David Elliott’s Open Heart on her chest. “Having the calming blend of jasmine and rose close to my heart allows me to focus and relax," she says.

Photo by Amazon

5. Edens Garden Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, $12.95

While lavender might send you off to dreamland, sleep and travel influencer Alex Shannon prefers ylang ylang to help relax without making himself too sleepy. “With a rich, sweet, and floral scent, it sets a soothing mood whether you choose to diffuse it, wear it on your pulse points, or just smell it from the bottle when you need a little me-time,” he says.

Photo by Vitruvi

6. Vitruvi Grove Blend, $26

Meanwhile, founder of SIDIA and co-founder of Coveteur Erin Kleinberg likes the grounding energy of cedarwood. “It engulfs you in a feeling of warmth, cozy, and hygge,” she says. “To me, woodsy earthy notes like cedarwood are like a big warm hug on a cold day and instantly transport me back to my camp days!”

For a quick pick-me-up

Photo by Eden Botanicals

1. Eden Botanicals Bergamot FCF Organic, $2+

When it comes to energizing essential oils, Linda Sivrican, perfumer, founder of Capsule Parfumerie, and owner of superette Sesame LA, is a big fan of bergamot. In fact, she uses it often in Capsule Parfumerie fragrances because “it's a citrus note that lifts the spirit so it's energizing and cleansing, which [can lead to] a calm and relaxed spirit.”

Photo by Enfleurage

2. Enfleurage Sweet Orange, $6+

For a much-needed boost, Galper loves citrus notes like sweet orange, grapefruit, mandarin, lime, and lemon. “They smell fresh, sweet, bright, and citrusy, and can immediately disperse sluggish negativity,” says Galper.

Photo by Saje

3. Saje Liquid Sunshine, $18

“This fresh, citrus-y blend from Saje is my go-to when I need a quick burst of energy,” says Shannon. “If I'm feeling lethargic during the day, or trying to get going in the morning, or have just woken up from a nap, it always puts me in a more motivated and positive state of mind.”

Photo by Vitruvi

4. Vitruvi Pacific Blend, $26

Kelley also reaches for a citrus-based blend, but one that also has hints of eucalyptus, basil, and fan-fave lavender for a fresh scent. “I love using the Vitruvi Pacific Blend. It utilizes clean, safe ingredients from sources you can backtrack, which is so important when you will be diffusing and inhaling a product,” Kelley says.

For restoration

Photo by Saje

1. Saje Fortified Breeze, $22 $17.60

Los Angeles-based fitness instructor Hannah Gross teaches all day, so she reaches for an herbaceous and zingy eucalyptus, tea tree, and lemon blend to revive her mind, body, and spirit.

Photo by Living Libations

2. Living Libations Eucalyptus Essential Oil, $10+

“Eucalyptus is one of my all-time most adored essential oils,” says Kleinberg of its minty, herbaceous scent. “You'd have a hard time finding someone who doesn't love fresh eucalyptus in their shower. I think we’re all nostalgic for the days when our parents would rub Vicks on our chests when we were sick.”

Photo by Vitruvi

3. Vitruvi Organic Lemon Essential Oil, $13

Another all-time favorite for Kleinberg is lemon for its awakening, uplifting, and reviving effects. “It is so refreshing and I gravitate toward citrus whenever I feel that I need a pick-me-up,” she says. “It feels reminiscent of my winters in Palm Springs with the fresh crisp air, grabbing citrus right off the tree. Heaven!”

For better sleep

Photo by Amazon

1. Plant Therapy Organic Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil, $15.95

“When it comes to essential oils for sleep, most people immediately think of lavender, which is a true classic, but there are so many other relaxing, restful options,” says Shannon. His fave? Sweet, woody, and warm frankincense. “Before bed, I’ll use it in a diffuser, drop it into a warm bath, dab it onto pulse points, or even spritz it onto my sheets for a guaranteed great night’s sleep.”

Photo by Canopy

2. Canopy x Open Spaces Aroma Kit, $40

Fitness instructor Savannah Simon adds Dusk, a warm blend of vanilla, lime, and lavender from Canopy’s collab with Open Space, to her humidifier every night to relax and unwind after a long day. Five drops of the oil, and she’s out like a light.

Photo by Saje

3. Saje Sleep Well, $54

To let go of tension, Gross loves the combo of lavender and chamomile—so much so that she even drinks a lavender and chamomile tea every night or throughout the day if she’s feeling stressed. “Before bed, I’ll also dab a couple drops of this restful sleep oil blend on my temples, under my nose, and behind my ears.”

Photo by Living Libations

4. Living Libations Bedtime Story Blend, $24

Kelley has used the lavender-based Living Libations Bedtime Story Blend for years, calling it her most trustworthy essential oil. "I diffuse this not only for myself, but it’s also a great product to use for your little one’s room before and during naptime or bedtime."

Photo by Vitruvi

5. Vitruvi Sleep Blend, $32

Vitruvi's Sleep Blend includes all the essential oils associated with relaxation, calming, and good sleep—lavender, frankincense, ylang ylang, and Roman chamomile. Panton diffuses the blend when starting her nighttime routine, letting the aroma fill her bedroom and turning it into a sleepy oasis.

What's your go-to essential oil? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

1 Comment

CAndreaW February 23, 2022
Good article with a few pointers:

Essential/botanical essences and oils are incredibly powerful and must be respected. Just because they are “natural” do not mean they are safe. Do not put neat oils on your skin, always dilute with a carrier oil. Never ingest essential oils. Do not put neat oils in bath water, EO are not miscible in water and can cause severe skin irritation. Always consult a reputable aromatherapist before using any essential oil while pregnant, and always do so before applying them to children. For more information consult the Tisserand Institute, www.tisserand.com