How to Choose the Best Essential Oils for You

Disclosure: I do NOT sell essential oils. This is purely my personal opinion about my favorite oils. I do not receive any compensation from any essential oil brand I have listed or discussed. However, my posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you will not pay a penny more but I will get a small commission, which helps keep the lights on.


I am the person who will avoid something just because of it’s popularity. I don’t know if there is a name for people like me, but there should be. And we need support groups because due to my unwillingness to jump on bandwagons, sometimes I miss out on awesome stuff. Therefore, I was late to the essential oils party–but I am SO glad I finally showed up.

Why I Started Using Essential Oils

I first started using Essential Oils when I was desperate to get pregnant. I have PCOS, so it was a struggle. While I was researching ways to naturally improve fertility, a lot of information kept pointing toward essential oils.

One day Steph and I were exploring our local organic health and food store and I noticed they had Aura Cacia oils in stock (in all my research, this was the brand I was most willing to try, largely due to this article). I had never picked up a bottle of essential oils before this shopping trip, but it was love at first sight. I explained to Steph what I had been researching and she immediately jumped on board. Luckily, I had saved the fertility research I had been reading on my phone. We went through the list of oils and stocked up.

During those first few weeks, I kept saying I didn’t know if I believed they worked yet, but I enjoyed the way they smelled, so it was worth it. (side note: I did eventually get pregnant and I wholeheartedly believe the oils played a part in balancing my hormones and preparing my body for a healthy pregnancy)

From Curiosity to Obsession

After a while, I started looking for other reasons to use oils. I found diffuser recipes and cleaning recipes, first. Then I looked into bath bombs and shower steamers. Then one day Steph received minor burns from the grill and we were out of aloe and my automatic response was “There’s probably an oil for that. Give me a minute.”

It’s now my go-to for everything. Headache? Put some peppermint on those temples. Babies won’t sleep through the night? There’s a diffuser blend for that. Sweet tooth? Make a roller bottle to deter cravings. Anxious? Meditate with oils. Can’t focus? There’s an oil blend for that, too. Not happy with your skincare routine? Create a new one with oils (this is my current personal challenge–Skincare September, natural skin care with essential oils. More on that later)

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Choosing Your Essential Oils

There are a lot of really great brands of oils to choose from. I think all of them have pros and cons and deciding which one(s) you are going to use is completely up to you. Young Living and doTerra are probably the most well known. In my opinion, they are wonderful oils, but I strongly prefer Aura Cacia. My sister uses Young Living and a friend uses doTerra and they both love their oils. I’ve used peppermint oil from all three brands to treat headaches and have had the same (positive!) results from all of them.

The best advice I can give you for choosing your brand of oils is to do your research and know what you are buying.

These are the questions that guided my search:

  1. How long has the company existed? Companies that have shown success and positive reviews over time are more trustworthy to me.
  2. Are the oils ethically sourced and is the source disclosed? I like to know where my product is coming from and that collection methods are ethical and safe. If this is most important to you, Young Living is extremely impressive in this area.
  3. How is the product tested? Animals are for loving, not testing.
  4. Is it safe to use around my dogs? This applies not only to brand but each type. Not all oils are pet-friendly.
  5. How does the company prove the quality and purity of their oils? Until I read this article I had no idea how misleading the term “Therapeutic Grade” could be.
  6. How will I buy the oils? Personally, I am not a fan of the setup offered by Young Living or doTerra. Aura Cacia is more convenient for me. I bought the first few oils from a local organic foods store. I have since found them at Kroger and some Target locations. Mostly, I buy them from Amazon. Online shopping is my fave.

Where to Start with Essential Oils

Once you choose a brand of oil, you need to choose which ones you want to use first. This is where Young Living and doTerra are great because they have fabulous starter kits. Aura Cacia also offers a much simpler starter kit that includes lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus. All great oils and at a very reasonable $15 price tag.

The five oils I use the most and would recommend to anyone starting out are lavender, peppermint, lemon, ylang ylang, and Medieval Mix.

Lavender Essential Oil

If you must choose only one essential oil to begin with, lavender is probably the best choice. I would say it is the most versatile of all essential oils. It blends well with most other oils, treats an astonishing number of physical elements, and can make a positive difference emotionally. It may also be used to make nontoxic household cleaners, laundry detergent, deodorant, and much more. We have used it to create a carpet cleaner that leaves our house smelling amazing.

If you have an estrogen-dependent cancer you should avoid lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil has a deeply relaxing effect, so you should avoid it prior to driving, operating machinery, or doing other tasks that require concentration. I have diffused it in the nursery on nights the boys were not sleeping well. It works like a charm.

Peppermint Essential Oil

With its clean, crisp fragrance peppermint is a favorite with people everywhere. Peppermint essential oil is often listed as one of the most useful essential oils available and its ability to address a wide range of ailments makes it a valuable addition to your natural medicine collection.

I swear by peppermint essential oil to treat headaches. When I was about 21 weeks pregnant, I had a migraine and didn’t want to take medicine for it. I treated it by rubbing a drop of peppermint essential oil on my temples and using ice packs on the back of my neck and forehead. Now it is my go-to every time I have a headache. (note: not all oils are safe during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Peppermint is one of the oils to avoid during the first trimester because it can stimulate menstrual flow).

Peppermint essential oil can be a skin irritant for sensitive individuals, so you should conduct a patch test before use. Avoid contact with eyes!

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon is a powerful detoxification agent and it contains high levels of vitamins and minerals. It’s also great at removing odors. Lemon essential oil takes the power of lemon to new heights. It can treat illnesses, improve mood, and boost alertness. We have used it in the diffuser to make our house smell lemony fresh. I put a couple of drops in the bottom of every trash bag I put in the trash can to help deter odors. I have also used it to make a lemon face scrub as it is great at treating acne. 

Lemon essential oil can be a dermal irritant for sensitive individuals, so conduct a patch test before use. It is also photo-toxic, so avoid exposing application sites to sunlight for 12 to 24 hours following application. 

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

With an enticing, intoxicating fragrance that promotes mental and emotional balance, ylang-ylang essential oil is one of the best for easing anger, depression, and stress. It is also an excellent essential oil for balancing skin and hair, and its hypotensive quality makes it ideal for use by those suffering from high blood pressure and associated ailments. 

I used Ylang-Ylang a lot toward the end of my pregnancy. I was very stressed at work and having anxiety about becoming a new mom to twins and was afraid this would affect the babies; so I diffused ylang-ylang while I slept and made an anti-anxiety roller bottle that I kept in my desk. Still, I was put on bed rest at 32 weeks and had to have an emergency c-section a few days later due to high blood pressure, but I believe I didn’t end up on bed rest or hospitalized sooner because of the essential oils I was using. 

Excessive use of ylang-ylang essential oil may cause nausea and headaches in sensitive individuals. It should be used moderately for best results. Ylang-ylang essential oil has a deeply relaxing effect (I sleep sooooo well when I diffuse it next to my bed) and should not be used prior to driving, operating machinery, or doing other tasks that require concentration. 

Ylang-ylang essential oil has been proven to significantly increase calmness when inhaled. In a study reported in the January 2008 International Journal of Neuroscience, test subjects exposed to ylang-ylang essential oil experienced decreased alertness and increased relaxation, while those exposed to peppermint essential oil became more alert. 

Medieval Mix Essential Oil

Medieval Mix is a blend by Aura Cacia. It is similar to On Guard by doTerra and Thieves by Young Living. I cannot diffuse On Guard or Thieves because both blends include cinnamon, which Steph is allergic to. All three blends are formulated to strengthen the immune system and protect the body from bacteria.

Our baby boys were born in October, right at the beginning of flu season. They were two months early and spent two weeks in the NICU before we brought them home. We were terrified of germs, so we limited visitors and used gallons of Germ-X. I washed my hands so often my skin cracked, but we were determined to not return to the hospital. We diffused Medieval Mix almost nonstop. Steph came home one Friday feeling awful and presenting flu symptoms. I made her sit right next to the diffuser and breathe in Medieval Mix. Within hours she was feeling better. I swear by Medieval Mix. It is the oil I recommend most often.

As part of my Skincare September Challenge, I have used my oils to create an all natural skincare routine. Check back soon for my recipes and updates on how my skin is responding.

Do you love essential oils? What are your favorite way to use oils? Tell me in the comments!

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