Essential oils have been linked to many health benefits, such as improving concentration, lowering anxiety, decreasing cold symptoms and even promoting weight loss. Many of these outcomes are even scientifically proven.
But, how do you find the best essential oils for you?
After all, there are many different types to choose from. Each essential oil has its own properties too – and a different set of benefits.
The best answer is to start small. Don’t try and collect dozens of essential oils all at once. Focus on key ones instead, oils that offer the most versatility and are especially powerful.
The items in this list are all great examples. Each offers powerful benefits and can be easily included in diffuser blends.
The Best Essential Oils for Beginners
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Every essential oil list seems to feature lavender. It’s one of the most common oils and is often associated with promoting sleep. But, lavender makes it onto these lists for a reason – it’s powerful.
The oil has a peaceful and calming effect, helping to lower stress and anxiety (1). One study even found that ingesting the oil could impact heart rate variation during film clips designed to promote anxiety (2). Diffusing the oil also has anxiety-lowering effects (3,4).
Other properties include lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, acting as a disinfectant, while being analgesic, antifungal and antiseptic.
There are actually multiple types of lavender, including English, French and Spike varieties. The varieties contain many of the same compounds, although there are some differences. Most essential oils will use the Bulgarian lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), as it offers the same benefits and is less expensive than other varieties.
Lavender essential oil is also very versatile and can be found in countless different blends. It’s also safe and most people can use the oil without a problem.
2. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri or Boswellia sacra)
Frankincense oil is another calming option and it is incredibly versatile. It is commonly found in blends to lower depression and anxiety. The oil can also help decrease inflammation and associated pain (5,6).
It may help improve the immune system too – and frankincense has traditionally been used in this role.
Many different blends will use frankincense as an ingredient, especially if the focus is on relaxation or de-stressing.
3. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Clove is primarily an antimicrobial oil, with the ability to fight bacteria, parasites and fungi (7). The oil is especially common for dental problems – and is often used to combat toothaches. This is reason enough to keep a bottle handy.
It has other uses too, including reducing the risk of infection, decreasing nausea and lowering stress.
4. Sandalwood (Santalum album)
Sandalwood is another essential oil with antibacterial properties. It is also a calming oil and can help lower inflammation. It even has the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease, although more research is needed (8).
The oil is also powerful for its aroma, which is earthy with a spicy component. This makes it a popular choice for diffusing and it combines well with other essential oils.
Santalum album is the most popular variety of sandalwood for essential oils. Hawaiian sandalwood (Santalum ellipticum) is also an option. But, that version is typically more expensive and doesn’t offer extra benefits.
5. Lemon (Citrus limon)
As a citrus product, lemon essential oil is powerful for boosting your mood and providing energy. We naturally associate the scent with freshness and cleanliness as well, which helps increase the impact on energy.
Lemon essential oil is also powerful for cleaning. It is a natural disinfectant, with antiseptic and antibacterial properties. You can even make your own cleaning products with it.
The limonene in the oil has skin-repairing properties as well (11). This makes lemon essential oil powerful for homemade skincare products. You can use it directly on the skin too, just make sure that the oil is diluted.
6. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
This is another extremely popular oil and a critical component of your essential oils toolbox. Tea tree oil is most powerful for its antibiotic, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
It’s often found in homemade skincare products. In this role, it may help to treat acne and promote the healing of scar tissue. It’s commonly used to treat colds and the flu as well and is included in various related blends.
Many people simply add tea tree oil to products that they already use, like adding a few drops to their mouthwash.
Regardless of how you use it – test for sensitivity first. Tea tree oil is relatively mild, but some people do react to it.
7. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Eucalyptus oil has an intense aroma. Simply smelling it is enough to clear up congestion and to improve energy.
But, this isn’t the only reason for its effectiveness. Eucalyptus oil can also kill bacteria and viruses, making it common in homemade cleaning products. You can also simply diffuse it into the air to create a very fresh environment.
Eucalyptus and tea tree oil are similar enough that most blends can use either one. You can simply choose whichever option you prefer.
8. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
We’re all familiar with peppermint already. The scent is intense and certainly helps improve alertness and energy. It’s hard to be tired if the smell of peppermint is in the air. That’s partly why peppermint flavor is in so many different products.
Peppermint oil mostly consists of two compounds: menthone and menthol. These contribute to the oil’s strong antimicrobial properties, along with how stimulating peppermint is.
Most people don’t diffuse peppermint oil due to the intense scent. But, it is often included in body products. Lip balm with peppermint oil also works exceptionally well, as the oil is right under your nose (literally!).
9. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary essential oil is most significant for its mental impacts. The oil can improve concentration and even increase performance at mentally-stimulating tasks (12). It is also associated with benefits like an improved immune system.
It is a stimulant oil, which means it can help increase energy. Despite this, the scent is relatively mild. So, it won’t overwhelm you in the way that peppermint, eucalyptus or lemon oil can.
Rosemary oil is relevant to your hair too, helping promote hair growth and thickness. Adding it to homemade shampoo or conditioner is a good way to get these benefits. Some people massage the oil into their scalps directly to combat dandruff (make sure you check for sensitivity first!).
10. Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis or Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile essential oil is produced from one of two plants. Both versions are calming and have many of the same benefits, such as reducing depression, improving digestion and relieving pain.
But, there are key differences too.
- Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis). Is the most calming version and includes the active compounds alpha pinene, beta pinene and camphene. Dr. Axe offers a useful guide that highlights the top ten benefits of Roman chamomile.
- German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). This oil is less calming, but it is more powerful for fighting inflammation. This is due to the compound azulene (which also makes the oil blue).
Because most of the benefits are the same, you can choose whichever version you prefer. Still, it’s best to stick to the recommended type if you’re making a specific blend or skincare recipe.
11. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
As a spice, cinnamon offers many health benefits – and it’s popular for that reason alone. Cinnamon essential oil doesn’t offer all of the same advantages but it’s still an interesting choice.
The oil has a warm and musky scent that manages to be both sweet and spicy (similar to cinnamon itself). This makes it especially powerful for diffusing and it can create a wonderful atmosphere.
There are two versions to choose from, cinnamon leaf oil and cinnamon bark oil. Both types are antioxidants and have antimicrobial functions.
- Cinnamon leaf is milder. This makes it less likely to cause any negative reaction, which is important for anyone with sensitive skin.
- However, cinnamon bark may offer more health advantages. This makes it more powerful overall.
The oils do also have many similarities. In fact, many discussions don’t distinguish between cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf oil.
What About Essential Oil Blends?
No essential oil discussion is complete without considering blends.
These are basically combinations of essential oils, giving you access to a wider range of benefits. Blends allow you to promote specific outcomes. For example, the links below all highlight blends that you can try.
- 39 of the Best Essential Oil Blends for Colds – from Nutrition You Can Use
- 7 Energizing Diffuser Blend Recipes – from Recipes with Essential Oils
- 15 Must Try Essential Oil Recipes for Your Diffuser – from Fresh Mommy Blog
- 5 Uplifting Essential Oil Blends to Fight Fatigue – from Intoxicated on Life
- 6 Essential Oil Blends for Piece and Calm – from The Mommy View
You can also turn to the site Essential Oil Haven for details about combining your essential oils independently, without relying on a recipe.
Buying Essential Oil Blends
Alternatively, you can buy pre-blended essential oils. These are typically designed for specific needs.
Making blends yourself is more powerful and gives you more versatility. But, if you just want to buy one or two oils, a blend may be a good choice. The examples below are some of the most popular essential oils blends available.
- Thieves (from Young Living). Includes clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils. It is incredibly popular. Uses include household cleaning and skincare. The oil is also promoted as energizing, with the ability to provide immune support.
- Stress Away (from Young Living). This is a de-stressing brand. It relies on copaiba, lime, cedarwood, vanilla, ocotea and lavender oils. Reviewers suggest that it smells amazing and does help lower stress.
- Balance (from doTERRA). Promoted as a grounding blend. Balance includes spruce, ho wood, frankincense, blue tansy and blue chamomile oils. It can help reduce anxiety. Amazon reviews show that many people don’t like the scent but find the blend is very powerful.
- Citrus Bliss (from doTERRA). This is an energizing blend. It relies mostly on citrus oils, including wild orange, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin and tangerine.
This list just scratches the surface. There are many other blends too and each brand has their own areas of emphasis.
Choosing the Best Brand
Essential oil brands are controversial and people vary in what they recommend.
Either of these sites will give you a good guide about the field and how the brands compare.
There are many lower-priced oil brands out there too. But, be aware that they won’t always be high quality. Choosing the brand carefully is critical if you want the most health benefits.
Essential oils are powerful. But, you don’t need to own dozens of them to see the full benefits. Instead, a handful of the most powerful essential oils can get you started. You can always grow your collection over time.
If you want a simpler solution, try purchasing one or two pre-blended oils. They might not provide the same versatility but they’re a great place to begin.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.