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The Best Essential Oils To Add To Your Bath, According To An Expert

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There's actually quite a bit of science involved in choosing the best essential oils for baths, Valerie Cooksley, R.N. — a holistic nurse and Houston-based clinical aromatherapist — tells Bustle. But for starters, you'll want to purchase high-quality, wild-crafted essential oils (even better if they're certified-organic) that are stored in amber or blue glass. "The label should state the exact Latin botanical name (not just the common name) to ensure you are using the correct oil," says Cooksley, along with the country of origin, plant part used, and method of distillation.

Though Cooksley points out that "Essential oils are safe and effective naturally-derived phytotherapeutic agents that have been used since ancient times, in many different traditional healing systems all over the world," using essential oils properly requires that you always dilute them in a carrier oil before applying them onto your skin. If left undiluted, they might be too strong, and can cause skin irritation.

Use approximately six to 10 drops of a skin-friendly essential oil in your bath, using caution if you are pregnant, have health conditions or allergies, or are taking certain medications (when in doubt, ask your medical provider). Before using a new essential oil, do a patch test first, Cooksley suggests, and always keep essential oils out of the reach of children. Since heat and water both increase absorption, an ideal water temperature falls between 97-101 degrees Fahrenheit. You can soak for anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour to fully reap the essential oil's aromatherapeutic benefits.

Whether you're looking to fall asleep faster, clear up stuffy sinuses, ease body pain, or accomplish something else entirely, scroll on to shop five of the best essential oils to add to your baths.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

First You'll Need:

“Always use a carrier to blend with your essential oils to disperse them safely into the water," says Cooksley. "Good choices for bath carriers include honey, milk, or cream, such as buttermilk or goat's milk, mineral salts, like Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts, and vegetable, nut, or seed oils."

Jojoba oil, like this cold-pressed, unrefined, USDA certified-organic jojoba oil, is one of the most popular carriers for essential oils, because it's full of good-for-your-skin antioxidants and vitamins. Plus, when you're not putting it in your bath, you can use it to strengthen and nourish your hair, skin, and nails.

1. The Best Lavender Essential Oil

Wonderful-smelling lavender oil is calming to the nervous system and the skin, says Cooksley. It can help relax and calm your mood, which is why it tends to be the go-to choice for people with sleep issues and anxiety.

All Gya Labs essential oils are 100% pure and natural, cruelty-free, and undiluted, containing no fillers, bases, or additives. Note that Gya Labs suggests a ration of two drops of essential oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil. Mix the brand's lavender oil into your nightly bath, and you might find yourself falling asleep faster than usual.

2. The Best Chamomile Essential Oil

Much like lavender, chamomile has calming benefits and is often used at nighttime to destress, while its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties make it a safe choice for people with sensitive skin, Cooksley explains. It's also known as a fortifying oil that may help with irritated skin and other health-related issues.

This 100% pure German chamomile oil from Plant Therapy is steam-distilled, USDA certified-organic, and made without any fillers or additives. Note that some of the brand's essential oils, including this one, are labeled KidSafe, meaning that, when safely diluted, they can be used for children.

3. The Best Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Not only will the scent of eucalyptus make your bathroom smell like a spa, but it's also energizing and stimulating, Cooksley says. Additionally, it can help relieve congestion, making it a great choice to add to a hot bath when you're dealing with a sinus infection or cold. Or, use it in your morning bath to make you feel invigorated and alert for the day to come.

Cliganic's 100% pure, undiluted eucalyptus essential oil is USDA certified-organic, cruelty-free, and verified by the Non-GMO Project. And the best part is, it'll set you back just $7.

4. The Best Angelica Root Essential Oil

Cooksley says Angelica root is another fortifying and invigorating essential oil, and it also may be able to reduce pain and inflammation. The plant was apparently considered so powerful that it was used as a way to ward against evil spirits during the Middle Ages. These days, people use it to help with everything from heartburn to runny noses.

Edens Garden's essential oils are 100% pure, with no bases, carriers, or additives, and the woman-owned company uses sustainable practices whenever possible.

5. The Best Sandalwood Essential Oil

Relaxing sandalwood is often used during yoga, meditation, and other times when people are seeking calm and focus. It's also often used in beauty products due to its skin-enhancing benefits. Plus, it simply smells amazing.

This Red Silk Essentials Indian sandalwood essential oil is USDA certified-organic, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. Unlike many other sandalwood essential oils on the market, this one isn't mixed with anything else — you're getting 100% pure sandalwood here. (Sandalwood tends to be one of the more costly essential oils due to the difficulties in sourcing, so always read labels carefully to make sure you're getting just sandalwood and nothing else.)

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If you really don’t want to do anything but pop open a cap and hop into the tub, this Kneipp Dream Away Bath Oil comes from a well-regarded German brand that's been making bath products for 125 years. This bath oil is vegan and cruelty-free, and the valerian in the formula can help promote rest and relaxation. It also contains hops, which may have similar sleep-enhancing, anxiety-reducing benefits. As a fun added bonus, the oil will turn your bath water into a lovely shade of blue, but fear not: it won't stain your tub.

Expert:

Valerie Cooksley, R.N., O.C.N., F.A.A.I.M., Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, Certified in Oil Dispersion Bath Therapy, Founder of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy/Houston, and Instructor for the nationally-accredited correspondence course in Integrative Aromatherapy.

Studies referenced:

Natarajan Bhaskaran, Sanjeev Shukla, Janmejai K Srivastava, and Sanjay Gupta (2010). Chamomile: an anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2982259/

H. Woelka, S. Schläfke (2010). A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S094471130900261X

Janmejai K Srivastava, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta; Chamomile (2010). A herbal medicine of the past with bright future - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/