Aromatherapy 101: The Essentials of Essential Oils

Learn all about aromatherapy and the benefits of using essential oils all year round.
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It wasn't long ago that I associated aromatherapy with the whole hippy dippy scene that I overdosed on back when I lived in Woodstock with my hippy dippy parents as a kid. (Yep, THE Woodstock.) My nursery school was called The School of the New Moon, and it was in the middle of a forest and we cooked our own food every day. (You get the picture.) But in actuality, the use of aromatherapy dates all the way back to Roman times.

Make Your Own Essential Oils

Make Your Own Essential Oils

Learn how to make your own essential oils with plants from your garden.

As we spring into February and prep for spring, I'm ready to embrace anything and everything that will help in my quest to stay as relaxed and stress-free as possible this year. So let's get this aromatherapy party started!

What Is Aromatherapy?

Spa Bathtub With Waterfall Feature

Spa Bathtub With Waterfall Feature

This relaxing spa bathroom features a bathtub with chrome fixtures and a luxurious waterfall feature. A small glass shelf is positioned next to the tub, providing a convenient spot for bathroom essentials.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to help change your mood, cure ailments or promote balance in your life (body, mind and spirit). The idea is that certain scents help to bring about physical and emotional changes in our bodies.

At first it might sound like a silly concept, but if you've ever been to a spa before, chances are you've already experienced some of the effects of aromatherapy without even realizing it. Massage therapists and facialists often use products with aromatherapy properties to relax you, and some spas actually have systems that scent the air with specific oils and scents.

Which Scents Do What?

‘Silverdrop’ Eucalyptus

‘Silverdrop’ Eucalyptus

Wonderfully fragrant leaves are the scented offering on this pretty plant. Silver blue-green leaves add subtle color to indoor settings. Give it high light near a sunny south-facing window. Botanical name: Eucalyptus gunii ‘Silverdrop’

Photo by: Burpee


The fab thing about aromatherapy is that scents can be mixed and matched depending on what you're trying to achieve. But before you can become an aromatherapy DJ, it's important to take note of what each type of scent can do for your or your home.


Studies show that lavender can help to decrease muscle tension and even slow down your heart rate in some cases. As it helps so much with relaxation, it's a common ingredient in bath products, too.


Lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange or verbena scents can help boost your mood or give you a bit of an energy refresh.


This is a good choice if you're feeling a bit under the weather, as eucalyptus has been shown to help open the sinuses and soothe headaches.

Rosemary + Peppermint

Both scents have been shown to help stimulate the brain and help with mental fatigue, as well as alertness and memory enhancement.


Jasmine helps fight stress and anxiety and has even been shown to be a slight anti-depressant.

How Can I Incorporate Aromatherapy Into My Home?

Ok, now that we're ready to dive into aromatherapy, I wanted to share some easy ways you can start to incorporate these scents into your home.

Make Your Own Essential Oils

Top With Oil

Top With Oil

Add enough oil to cover your lavender and rose petals. Let it steep for a few days.

For those of you that love a good DIY, you can make your own essential oils at home. You’ll need some fresh herbs (which you might already have in your own garden), extra virgin olive oil and some glass jars to get started.

Make Your Own Essential Oils

See All Photos

Make Your Own Essential Oils

Learn how to make your own essential oils with plants from your garden.

Gather Your Supplies

You will need: dried plants/Mason jar/extra virgin olive oil/strainer or cheesecloth/light resistant glass jars.

Select Your Plants

A few tablespoons of dried lavender and rose petals are added to the bottom of a glass Mason jar.

Top With Oil

Add enough oil to cover your lavender and rose petals. Let it steep for a few days.

Filter the Oil

Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the spent plant products. Return the strained olive oil back to the Mason jar and add more dried lavender and rose petals. Let it steep and then strain it. Repeat this process until you have reached the desired potency of your essential oil.

Fill the Vial

Once you have reached the desired concentration, add the oil to your storage container.

Keep the Light Out

Store your essential oils in colored glass jars until ready for use.

Stadler Aroma Diffuser

Aroma diffusers are a great way for a beginner to get started with aromatherapy. Similar to a vaporizer or air purifier, these gadgets allow you to add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and diffuse them through the air in your home. You can easily mix oils or focus on one scent.

Get It: Stadler Form Jasmine Aroma Diffuser, Bloomingdale's, $59.99

Eucalyptus Spearmint Bath Soak

Taking a hot bath is already a great way to relax, so why not add some aromatherapy to the mix? Using these bath soak salts will take your bath to the next level.

Get It: Eucalyptus Spearmint Bath Soak, Bath & Body Works, $16
Our DIY Option: Lavender Bath Fizzies

Revive Aromatherapy Candle

This citrus-y essential oil-infused soy wax candle will help to refresh and invigorate you every time you light it up.

Get It: Revive Candle, Aromatherapy Associates, $61

Anti-Stress Sinus Eye Pillow

An eye pillow was actually my introduction to aromatherapy and now I’m completely hooked. These don’t necessarily block out all the light, but they do give you an all-night dose of your favorite scent.

Get It: Anti-Stress Microwavable Sinus Pillow, Bed Bath & Beyond, $12.99

Aromatherapy Locket Bracelet

For those of us that are ready to take a deeper dive into the world of aromatherapy, this is a gorgeous gift. This 18kt gold bracelet uses a locket to diffuse whichever scent you’d like through a few drops of essential oils.

Get It: The Royal Circle II, Aromawear, $450
Our DIY Option: Lip Balm Locket

Spa Comforts Shoulder Wrap

For those of us who are challenged by aches and pains, an aromatherapy wrap is a great tool to add to your arsenal. These can be heated up in the microwave or put in the freezer, so they work whether you need heat or ice.

Get It: Spa Comforts Shoulder Wrap, Bed Bath & Beyond, $19.99

Aromatherapy Anxiety & Stress Relief Spray

Aromatherapy is not just for people; your pets can actually benefit from it, too! This spray uses therapeutic-grade essential oils and can help your pup relax during times of stress or anxiety.

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