Common Scents: Guide to Aromatherapy


The simple act of inhaling can change your life…read on to find out how.

This post comes from our friend and beauty contributor, Allie White.

Sure, they smell nice, but essential oils can be powerful healing tools if you know how to use them correctly. And one super simple way to harness their effectiveness is through aromatherapy.

First things first: what is aromatherapy, actually? The simple explanation is that it’s using your sense of smell to achieve something specific. The prettier explanation is that it’s the art of using natural aromatic plant essences to balance and heal the mind, body and spirit. That’s right: the simple act of inhaling can change your life.

Why? Well, scent is an incredibly powerful thing. One single aroma can trigger both an emotional and physical response, connecting a scent to the deepest parts of your brain, psyche and body. That smell can trigger something instinctual, something emotional, something physiological. And if you choose the scent wisely, you have the power to control and create the response you want or need in a given moment.

So, how do you smell your way to health and happiness? Let us help.

The basics…

Once you’ve picked your aroma, using it is simple. Dot a few drops on your pulse points (inner wrists, temples, behind the ears) to activate the oil via body heat, sit back and let the oil get to work. The oil will sink into your skin and make its way through your blood stream, carrying its healing effects through the body. At the same time, inhale deeply a few times to let the aromatic benefits abound.

When you’re dragging in the morning…

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the sky is blue…and you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed. Sure, the blanket burrito in which you’ve cocooned yourself is super cozy, but there are things to do and places to be and people to meet, so you need to get that butt UP. For an extra push in the morning, opt for anything in the citrus family (lemon, orange, grapefruit, petigrain, neroli and bergamot). The brightness of the citrus is uplifting yet gentle, giving you just the right amount of stimulation and boost to get moving. Peppermint and spearmint are great alternatives if citrus isn’t your thing.

When you’re about to reach for that fourth cup of coffee…

You’ve hit your daily limit for coffee and green tea, but your energy levels still aren’t where they need to be. You’re awake, but you can’t seem to get started on the things that really need doing. Instead of reaching for another mug of caffeine, try inhaling instead. Opt for spicy scents like clove, black pepper, cinnamon, patchouli and sage to perk you up naturally and get the energetic juices flowing. Bergamot and ylang-ylang are also great at waking up your senses and giving you a much-needed second wind.
When the creative juices aren’t quite flowing…

Stoking the fires of creativity shouldn’t be an aggressive act (unless that’s your thing), which is why aromatherapy is an effective, gentle way to spark something amazing. If you pick your scents right, they can invoke a focused, concentrated state by calming and centering the mind, preparing it for some serious creative genius. Scents like bergamot, lemon, frankincense, neroli and jasmine can help to stimulate your creative center as they contain notes that both de-stress and energize. Inhale deeply to refresh your mind and set the stage for genius!

When you seriously need to de-stress…

Stress, anxiety and muscle tension…no thanks. Luckily, aromatherapy is an excellent all-natural first step to dealing with all of these. A big whiff of lavender, chamomile or frankincense are all great stress-relievers and can seriously aid in relaxation (not to mention easing you into a great night’s sleep). If stress is causing you to hold tension anywhere in your body, try a body oil with rosemary, ginger or black pepper essential oil. Not only will you smell great, but these oils are great at easing muscle tension.

When the sniffles start, but need to be stopped…

That pile of used tissues is growing by the minutes, but a brutal cold is not a good look. While there’s not much scientific evidence that aromatherapy helps the body fight infection, certain scents can help clear out those nasal passages. Eucalyptus, peppermint, pine and lavender can work wonders for colds and coughs when added to a bowl of steaming water and inhaled for a few minutes. Cinnamon oil is a good alternative, as it warms your body and increases blood flow, which can help combat inflammation and flush infection.

When it’s time to hit the hay…

You brush your teeth, you wash your face, you read quietly in bed with a cup of herbal tea (because you know you’re not supposed to be staring at screens at night…right?!) … you dab some relaxing essential oil on your pulse points to help usher in sleep. A nighttime routine is crucial to getting great sleep, and aromatherapy can definitely be your friend in the quest for a solid eight hours of shuteye. Lavender is at the top of the list here, and has been backed up by science as a powerful sleep and relaxation aid. Vetiver, chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot, sandalwood and cedarwood are all warming, relaxing, peaceful and will help you shut your mind off so you can drift into blissful, deep sleep.


Whether it’s an easier wake up, dealing with stress or tapping into your creativity, finding the scent that works for you will seriously change your life. Never underestimate the power of your nose again!

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