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10 Best essential oils that everyone should have in their collection
Whether it’s for the sake of smelling good or helping us sleep, we in the wellness world use essential oils for pretty much everything. And while there are *plenty* of scents out there worth adding to your arsenal, we tapped S.W. Basics founder and Skin Cleanse author Adina Grigore to spill on the 10 best essential oils that everyone should have on deck.
Consider Adina Grigore your tour guide to the (sometimes intimidating) world of health-boosting botanicals. The natural beauty guru has pored over the dense, Latin-heavy texts so you don’t have to—and she’s experimented on herself (a lot!). In this excerpt from her book, Just the Essentials, the plant-power champion shares her advice on starting your own DIY home lab by way of the 10 best essential oils you need in your medicine cabinet right now.
When compiling her “mecca” list of best essential oils, she considered a number of factors: affordability, efficacy, potency, and range of applications. Each one will run you under $15, and packs a “real punch” because of the variety of ways they can be used. As Grigore puts it, “They don’t just smell good. They have the ability to make you feel really good, too.”
Keep reading for the 10 bet essential oils on her botanical best-of list, from “the Taylor Swift of the oil kingdom” to the scent that could help you curb sugar cravings.
1. Lemon oil
Lemon oil is commonly used in the kinds of commercially available products you encounter every day. If you walk down the aisles of any grocery store, you’ll find everything from household cleaner to hand soap to flavored sparkling water with the essence of lemon. As is the case with many citrus oils, the scent closely mimics that of the fruit from which it’s derived: bright, light, zesty, and clean.
These days, of course, a lot of those flavors and smells are made artificially, but still, there’s a reason that lemon has become so universally identified with freshness and cleanliness: Its oil is a powerful antibacterial, astringent, and antiseptic agent.
There’s a reason that lemon has become so universally identified with freshness and cleanliness: Its oil is a powerful antibacterial, astringent, and antiseptic agent.
Diluted lemon oil can be wonderfully effective when it comes to skin care because of its high concentration of D-limonene, a compound that assists in diminishing the appearance of wrinkles, promoting circulation, and toning the skin. In fact, recent research showed that D-limonene has skin-repairing and anti-inflammatory properties.
The scent of lemon oil has also been shown to have a powerful effect on mood. One study’s findings suggest that lemon oil vapor has antidepressant qualities. Another compelling study found that the scent of lemon oil boosted participants’ moods, a finding confirmed through self-reported data as well as empirical data (elevated levels of the anti-stress hormone norepinephrine were measured in the blood of participants).
2. Cinnamon oil
If lemon oil is bright, cool, and invigorating, cinnamon oil is its opposite: sweet and spicy, musky and warm. For me, cinnamon conjures up a distinct mixture of sexy exoticness and cozy familiarity, which makes sense because it’s both a Far East import and a spice drawer mainstay.
Derived from both the bark and leaf of the Cinnamomum verum tree, it’s actually one of history’s oldest essential oils, with the Egyptians recording their extensive use of it in Ebers Papyrus, a medical text dating to approximately 1550 BC.
For me, cinnamon conjures up a distinct mixture of sexy exoticness and cozy familiarity.
At that time, cinnamon was a hot commodity. It was expensive and hard to get because Arab traders controlled most of the supply coming from Sri Lanka and India and—in a pretty savvy marketing tactic—they kept the true source of their supply a secret. Cinnamon oil was affordable only for the very wealthy—emperors, royals, and, later on, Europe’s elite. Fortunately for us, price and access to this super-useful oil are no obstacle today.
In aromatherapy, cinnamon essential oil can be used to help clear up chest colds. Applied topically, it can soothe muscle aches and pains, thanks to its antispasmodic and analgesic properties. It’s also an antiseptic and makes a powerful natural preservative. It is both antibacterial and antimicrobial, as well as being anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving. Some studies have shown that cinnamon oil contains powerful antioxidants and could potentially be useful in fighting neurological disorders and heart disease.
3. Lemongrass oil
Google “lemongrass” and your search will most likely garner a bunch of hits for Thai restaurants in your local area (yum!). I’m all for a killer curry, but I’m even more into the plant’s essential oil.
Lemongrass is a fast-growing, tropical grass native to Sri Lanka and south India and is now cultivated in warm climates in Africa and Asia. The entire plant is utilized in everything from tea to cleaning products, and it has been used for years in Indian healing traditions to treat maladies like gastrointestinal issues and fever (it earned the nickname “fever grass”).
I like to use it for its cheerful, energetic scent alone, but there also happens to be plenty of evidence that it possesses powerful medicinal and pharmacological properties.
Lemongrass essential oil is derived from the steam distillation of the plant and, true to its name, it possesses a mild, sweet, lemony-yet-herbal aroma. I like to use it for its cheerful, energetic scent alone, but there also happens to be plenty of evidence that it possesses powerful medicinal and pharmacological properties, including the potential to slow the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.
Research also shows that lemongrass essential oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and can be a potent insect repellent. Its antifungal properties are especially helpful in combating the nasty yeast associated with dandruff. One study noted that participants who used a dandruff tonic with a 10 percent concentration of lemongrass oil saw a significant reduction in dandruff in as little as a week.
Personally, I love to add some lemongrass oil to my bath when I’m feeling sick.
4. Clary sage
Clary sage possesses myriad beneficial properties for the skin: It’s antibacterial, astringent, antiseptic, and can help improve circulation. I like the uniquely sweet herbal aroma of clary sage, which helps to cut through some of the more pungent ingredients used in natural skin care, too.
Clary sage has been lauded for its reputed ability to regulate hormones, and its scent is thought to have antidepressant effects.
Clary sage is a perennial plant that is native to the northern Mediterranean region and North Africa; its essential oil is derived via the steam distillation of the plant’s flowering tops and leaves. Although the ancient Egyptians used it in medicinal practices, it wasn’t until medieval times that clary sage really took off. During this time, doctors and herbalists used clary sage seeds to help treat vision problems; “clary” is derived from the Latin word for clear, “clarus.” And it was also used to flavor wine (and referred to as “muscatel sage” because of its similarity to German muscat wine). Someone, somewhere, got clever—maybe while drunk off clary sage wine?—and mashed up the two nicknames. Hence: clary sage.
Clary sage has been lauded for its reputed ability to regulate hormones, and its scent is thought to have antidepressant effects. A 2020 study of twenty-two postmenopausal women in their 50s—some of whom were depressed—showed that breathing diffused clary sage helped to alleviate participants’ depression by lowering cortisol levels and improving thyroid hormone levels. And a 2020 study revealed that clary sage—along with lavender and marjoram—makes an effective massage treatment for alleviating menstrual pain and cramping.
5. Lavender oil
Okay, okay. I know you’ve heard about lavender oil so many times in your life (and in this book) that you’re rolling your eyes at me. Why did the Taylor Swift of the oil kingdom make it onto my top 10 list? Because the honest truth is that it’s impossible to deny how amazing lavender oil is.
First of all, what we call lavender is actually Lavandula angustifolia, one type of lavender among 39 total species. Different species have different properties, but all types contain large proportions of linalool, linalyl acetate, eucalyptol, and camphor. That’s a lot of components to have in high quantities, and it’s the reason it’s such a powerhouse essential oil. Lavender is: sedative, antispasmodic, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antibacterial, anesthetic, immune-boosting, and antiviral.
Why did the Taylor Swift of the oil kingdom make it onto my top 10 list? Because the honest truth is that it’s impossible to deny how amazing lavender oil is.
It’s super safe, but it does have a high content of linalool, which can be sensitizing for some people. As with all essential oils, and ingredients in general, be sure to try a small amount on your skin, diluted at about six drops in one tablespoon of carrier oil, and watch for a reaction.
If your skin loves lavender, you can use up to a 50-50 mix of half lavender oil, half carrier oil in your DIY products. I use lavender in a million different ways, all day, every day.
6. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil (also called melaleuca oil) is definitely enjoying a moment in the natural-beauty-world sun right now, and deservedly so. It’s pretty awesome stuff.
The only place that tea trees grow naturally is in Australia, but they grow super abundantly there. Traditionally, native Australian cultures used tea tree leaves to treat coughs and colds, heal wounds, and alleviate sore throats and skin ailments.
Tea tree oil is antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and exhibits anticancer activity.
Tea tree oil is antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and exhibits anticancer activity. It kills oral bacteria for up to two weeks, can be used for gingivitis, heals mild to moderate dandruff, kills the influenza virus, and has been shown to slow the growth of tumors in mice. This Australian wonder also works like benzoyl peroxide to treat acne. It takes longer, but causes fewer side effects, while being less drying than the common drugstore ingredient.
I put tea tree oil in virtually all of my DIY products; I recommend diluting to a 5 percent concentration, which is about 14 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil. One of my favorite ways to use it is to add a couple of drops to my store-bought mouthwash.
Eucalyptus essential oil is definitely not for the weak. Even if you’ve never smelled it directly, you’ve probably smelled something that contains it—like Vicks VapoRub, maybe? The scent is similar to camphor (another ingredient in VapoRub, and also in Tiger Balm ointment) and slightly minty. It will clear your airways super quick and can take your breath away.
The scent is a little strong, but it really freshens up a room and makes the air feel clean.
Here’s what else it’s been shown to do: It works as a pesticide and has the ability to kill fungus, bacteria, insects, mites, and weeds—and it has been believed to kill the drug-resistant parasite that causes malaria. (It’s possible this is why eucalyptus trees were first planted in California in the 1850s. They were an invasive species from Australia but the government was worried about the spread of malaria. The trees helped!) It can also help boost your immune system and is anti-inflammatory.
I like to diffuse eucalyptus oil at home. The scent is a little strong, but it really freshens up a room and makes the air feel clean. It also makes a great pantry and closet moth and bug repellent.
8. Rosemary oil
The scent of this oil is a lot like the herb you put in your food. It’s commonly found in skin care, especially natural products, because it not only has topical benefits but also will extend the shelf life of a product exponentially.
While it stimulates many bodily systems, it also decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Rosemary oil is a stimulant. When inhaled, the aroma of rosemary has been shown to increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate and boost your immune system. It has also been shown to increase brain wave activity and aid the part of your nervous system that controls organ function. But while it stimulates many bodily systems, it also decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And it does all of this while airborne, so you can simply diffuse it and gain these health benefits. If you like the scent of eucalyptus, you can combine it with rosemary to make your space smell like a forest.
9. Sweet orange oil
I was born and raised in south Florida. You know what they say about that, right? You can take the girl out of Florida but you can’t…okay, you get it. I love sweet orange essential oil. I think it is the best-smelling essential oil, period. It makes me happy and energized from one whiff, and in a weird way I believe that just smelling it can sometimes satisfy my sweets cravings (which are severe and constant because sweets are the best). So having orange oil around solves all of these problems for me in one inexpensive, convenient swoop.
In studies, it reduced anxiety when it was inhaled, and when applied topically, it slowed down participants’ pulse rates and breathing rates, while they also reported feeling more cheerful and vigorous.
It makes me happy and energized from one whiff, and in a weird way I believe that just smelling it can sometimes satisfy my sweets cravings.
It can be a little tricky to incorporate orange oil into your life because it doesn’t diffuse well, and, like lemon oil, it can make your skin photosensitive when applied topically, so I recommend using it in products you plan on rinsing off in the shower, and not going higher than 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. I find the smell of sweet orange oil to be so fragrant that you need only a very small amount when DIYing.
One important note: Make sure you purchase sweet orange oil and not bitter orange, since bitter orange oil is very phototoxic.
10. Peppermint oil
You know what peppermint smells like. It’s already in your medicine cabinet, mixed into your toothpaste or mouthwash or shampoo. Or it might be in the chewing gum in your back pocket. But what you probably don’t know is why peppermint is in all of these products.
It’s incredibly invigorating, and having it literally right under your nose makes you feel refreshed all day.
Peppermint oil is made up mostly of menthol and menthone. It is a stimulant, antispasmodic, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant. It is an effective treatment for headaches: Participants in one study reported a significant reduction in the pain of their tension headaches within 15 minutes, and the pain continued to drop for the following hour. It helps soothe nausea, improves concentration and memory, and is an analgesic, which means it numbs and kills pain on the skin.
I think peppermint oil is best when it’s in a lip product. It’s incredibly invigorating, and having it literally right under your nose makes you feel refreshed all day.
Reprinted from Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life by Adina Grigore. Copyright©2020 by Adina Grigore. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Originally posted March 6, 2020. Updated June 10, 2020.
The 10 best essential oils are excellent bath add-ons as well, whether you want to turn your bathroom into a dreamy spa-like sanctuary or get in touch with your pre-Twitter self, at least for one day.
The 10 Essential Truths to Upgrade Your Life (And Crush 2020!)
If you’re like me, you’re already thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2020.
If you’re not, get on it. It’s already December.
As I have been making plans to take my business and life to the next level, I realized I have some essential guideposts that help me push myself.
And since you have been asking for more solo rounds, I want to share those ideas with you on today’s episode of The School of Greatness.
Even one of these steps has the power to transform your life and open the door to massive progress.
My hope for you in listening to this episode is that you can identify which step (or steps) will make the biggest impact in your life and then TAKE ACTION to upgrade that area of your life in 2020.
As you probably know, one of my favorite words is “hustle.” But hustling will only get you so far if you aren’t taking the effort and time on a daily basis to set yourself up for greatness.
In Episode 111, I pull back the curtain on my ten most essential steps to breaking through my barriers and getting to the next level. Please join me for this solo round and prepare to upgrade your life!
The School of Greatness Podcast
The 10 Steps to Getting to The Next Level:
1. Set a clear vision
This is a given. If you want to accomplish anything then you need to be clear on EXACTLY what you want and why you want it.
THIS is a great resource for finding your vision and getting clear on your goals for 2020.
2. Check your health
If your health isn’t working, then you aren’t working. And if you want to take your life to the next level then your health is a huge part of it. Time to get that in check and make a shift in your lifestyle if you must.
3. Feed your mind
I’m constantly learning and growing. If you aren’t growing then you are slowly dying. Listen to podcasts, read books, and challenge yourself every day.
4. Hire a coach
The best athletes in the world rely on having the best coaches. And so should you if you want greatness in your life. There are a few good coaching programs out there but Clarity.fm is a great place to find people who are where you want to be that you can hire by the minute or the hour. It’s a good place to start, or just reach out to someone you admire in business, health, or relationships and ask to hire them as your coach.
If you are looking for a specific coach (business, life, health, relationships, etc.) submit your contact info and what kind of coach you are looking for HERE and I will make a recommendation!
5. Give up responsibility
Allow your team to support you in your vision and stop putting the world on your shoulders. It’s freaking heavy when you do that!
6. Express gratitude every night
The key to wealth is gratitude, and wouldn’t you know it’s the key to just about everything else as well. Fall in love with gratitude.
7. Meditate and make your bed
I tell you why this is important in the episode… would love your thoughts on this below
8. Say thank you
Especially when you wake up as you have been given another day. Embrace it.
9. Acknowledge more people
The most important person to acknowledge is yourself. Stop beating yourself up and take a moment every day to realize what you’ve created.
10. Give back
Need I say more?
In This Episode, You Will Learn:
- The importance of writing down and displaying your goal (so you see it every day)
- How your health is related to making money
- Why it’s important to hire a coach and not just have mentors
- What the difference is when your team takes on your vision with you
- Why I make my bed every morning (small win to start the day!)
- About the effect of acknowledging your efforts and accomplishments
- My email to let me know how I can support you in letting go of negative self-talk: lewis at lewishowes.com
- Plus much more…
Continue Seeking Greatness:
- My interview with Tony Robbins
- The story of me overcoming my childhood rape
- Learn from transformation coach Chris Lee (my coach)
- Pencils of Promise
- Gratitude Journal app
- If you’re looking for a coach, submit your contact info and what kind of coach you are looking for HERE and I will make a recommendation!
Have you signed up for The School of Greatness Academy yet? This is my six-month online course and mastermind that will change your life and business. If you have what it takes, apply today! I want to see you make something great.
You may also like these episodes:
Did you enjoy the podcast?
Let me know! This podcast is all about service and giving back. Which of the steps I discussed is working for you now and which one are you going to take on for the coming year?
Ten Essential Time Management Tips
Over the past six years, I’ve picked up a lot of time management tips. Some of them have been helpful and, frankly, some have been useless. Here, I’ve compiled the ten that have served me best. And yes, I’m sure you’ll have heard some of them before … but are you actually doing them?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re self-employed, employed or a student: over the past six years, I’ve been an undergraduate student, a full-time employee, a part-time postgraduate student, and a freelancer – and these tips work for all those situations!
- Three Important Things
This is the “big rocks first” technique of scheduling your three most important tasks into your day and letting everything else flow around them.
In case you’ve not come across the “rocks” analogy before, it goes like this:
You’re given a jar, three large rocks, a handful of pebbles and some sand. If you pour the sand and pebbles into the jar first, there won’t be room to force the rocks into it – but if you put the rocks in first, the pebbles can flow around the rocks, then the sand can be poured in to fill the gaps.
- Always Carry a Notepad
How often have you been stuck waiting for a train or standing in line at the bank with absolutely nothing to do? Keep a notepad in your pocket or purse and you’ll always be able to do some productive work: whether it’s an outline for your next project, a list of ideas for new products, or a few notes for an article or short story.
If you have a PDA or phone that you can type on, try using that instead of a notepad – you can transfer your notes to your computer.
- Make Checklists
Do you ever find yourself procrastinating on big projects – or spinning your wheels without much idea of what needs to be done next? For almost any project, a checklist is a good way to keep on track. You might keep checklists like:
- Books and articles to read for your next essay
- Steps to take whenever you take on a new client
- Office procedures, such as closing up at night
Checklists are particularly important for tasks which you do on a regular basis: they’ll save you the time of trying to figure out exactly what it is you need to in order to set up a new website or launch a new product. Breaking down a big project into individual tasks is also a great way to avoid procrastination.
- Work in Short Bursts
Many people make the mistake of trying to work for long hours at a stretch. Inevitably, they run out of energy quickly – or end up working inefficiently. It’s much easier to concentrate when you’re working for a short time period, which is why students are normally advised to study for 20-45 minute bursts, taking frequent breaks.
If you’re struggling to concentrate on work, set a timer for twenty minutes, and see how much you can get done in that time. Twenty minutes of concentrated work can be more productive than two hours of fiddling around.
- Do One Thing
Our world is becoming faster and busier than ever. It’s all too common for us to be replying to emails, keeping up with friends on Twitter, and holding a conversation with colleagues – while trying to get that big company report finished. No wonder we end up working late.
Experts now believe that it’s better for us to concentrate on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking: every time we switch between different tasks, we have to refocus – and we’re also likely to get distracted.
- Pay Yourself First
If you’ve done any reading on financial management, you might have come across the idea of paying yourself first – setting aside money towards your long-term goals each time you get your paycheck. You can apply a similar principle to your time, either on a daily or weekly basis.
“Pay yourself first” by spending an hour before work each morning on your goals – not on household chores. (If the chores really need to be done, you’ll get them done in the evening.)
- Get Enough Sleep
Many of us try to cram more into our day by cutting out sleeping time: but this can be hugely counter-productive. You’ll never be able to focus well when you’re yawning over your keyboard and if you push yourself too hard for too long, you may end up getting ill.
Some people can function well with under eight hours sleep, but most of us need to be getting at least seven hours.
- Track Your Time
Where does all the time go? I’m sure that’s a question most of us have asked ourselves recently. Of course, it’s not hard to find out: simply spend a week keeping track of your time, writing down what you do each hour.
Don’t make the excuses that you “don’t have time” to do this – it’ll only take a few extra minutes during the day (simply make a note of the time you start and end each task) – and it can reveal some uncomfortable truths about where you’re spending the bulk of your time.
- Schedule Time for Emails
When you sit down at your computer in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? For many of us, it’s checking emails. It’s easy to get sucked into replying to just one thing … only to find that it’s lunch-time and you’ve not really accomplished anything.
If you find yourself checking emails whenever you’re stuck or procrastinating, then set yourself rigid times to read and reply. You could try 11am and 4pm – it’s unlikely that anyone really needs a reply from you at 8am.
- Delegate Whenever Possible
Finally, the best way that I’ve found to free up my time is to delegate. The more tasks you can pass on to other people, the easier it’ll be to cope with your own workload. This might mean training a subordinate to take over some of your tasks at work, it might mean hiring a virtual assistant for your home business, or it could just be getting your spouse or teens to cook dinner once in a while.
Many of us find delegating stressful, so here are some tips on how to do it right.
Which of the above ten tips work for you? Have you got a favorite time-management tip that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments…
Best Choice For Beginners!
Free Trading Education!
Free Demo Account!
Big Sign-up Bonus!
Perfect For Experienced Traders!