Which essential oils should you use?

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Hotels, spas and malls have long utilised the power of scents to evoke positive emotions they want associated with the space they occupy. Diffusers, too, have been mainstay in people's home and office space. It's no wonder that popular essential oil blends often fly off the shelves, whether in retail stores or online.

Create your own blend with these essential oils.

With more than 130 essential oil profiles in the market, how do we narrow down to the scents we might need? We've put together a short guide for some of the more common situations when a few drops of essential oils in the diffuser will enhance your enjoyment in the now.

To diffuse tensions in the room

Asian Chinese man work at home. Children were having playing in pillow fights. Father loss concentration and frustrated.
Can everyone please just calm down. (Photo: Gettyimages)


One of the most recognisable smell in this list, orange essential oil has an energising and uplifting aroma. In a 2019 study on mice which looked at the inhalation of orange essential oils and its potential effect on depression, researchers found that the mice who inhaled the orange essential oil displayed fewer depression-like behaviours.


Less common than some of the other oils on the list, spikenard is a plant in the Valerian family, collectively known for its sedative properties. It's used mostly in aromatherapy for relaxation, and in ancient times, was costly and prized as an anointment oil.

Palo Santo

My personal favourite, Palo Santo is a sacred tree native to South America. Indigenous Latin American cultures have used its wood in traditional healing and spiritual ceremonies, and in modern usage, users have said it brings positivity into the space. It's also said to have antimicrobial properties.

Interestingly, Palo Santo is a cousin of both frankincense and myrrh.

To concentrate and focus

Enhance your focus with citrusy, strong scents.
Enhance your focus with citrusy, strong scents. (Photo: Gettyimages)

Basil Oil

For those feeling mentally exhausted, basil has a calming effect and gradually gives an energising boost to the surrounds.

Sage Oil

Sage oil is great for stimulating the mind, helps with focus, and research suggests that it may help with symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Lemon Oil

Studies suggest that lemon essential oil may help with the stress associated with ADHD, and can also help with focus.

Rosemary Essential Oil

Used to help individuals concentrate, the aroma of this oil can help with mental alertness.

To unwind for the day

Stressed out? Unwind with aromatherapy instead
Stressed out? Unwind with aromatherapy instead. (Photo: Gettyimages)

Ylang Ylang

Stress is a daily occurrence for everyone, but the effects of stress can be countered with this oil, which promotes relaxation. It can also help individuals focus on both simple and complex tasks without letting stress interfere.


With an aroma that puts you in the middle of a forest, sandalwood is an ideal essential oil to diffuse for relaxing and relieving stress.


Extracted from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, neroli essential oil has a tranquillising effect that helps relieve insomnia, lethargy, anxiety and stress.

To set the mood for love

Romance is in the details, like a beautifully scented room
Romance is in the details, like a beautifully scented room. (Photo: Gettyimages)


Extracted from the premier flowers of love, rose essential oil has been known to be an aphrodisiac and antidepressant. It also helps relieve anxiety and high blood pressure.


With an aroma that is similar to rose, the scent helps lessen fatigue and enhance emotional well-being. It is also commonly used to balance hormones and relieve anxiety.


Jasmine’s floral aroma is believed to arouse passion and helps with managing negative emotions.

Other oils that have been known to have aphrodisiac properties include atlas, black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, clary sage, grapefruit, lemon, lime, nutmeg, orange, patchouli, and rosemary.

For better sleep

Smell like a spa, sleep like a baby
Smell like a spa, sleep like a baby. (Photo: Gettyimages)


Cedarwood is said to support the function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin, the hormone that promotes good sleep.


The go-to for sleep-related uses, Lavender is known for its calming effects.


Frankincense is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, and its woody and pleasant aroma makes it a popular choice of scent. Frankincense is used to balance emotions, calm the mind, and may even be able to support the body's response to healing, in addition to promoting sleep.

Other essential oils that are soothing and can promote sleep include Roman chamomile, clary sage, sweet marjoram, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, and ylang ylang.

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