Well Being

Seasonal Smells: Swap Perfume for Essential Oils in Spring

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Lighten up this spring by ditching heavy perfume in favor of essential oils. Not only do many essential oils cost a fraction of most perfume, but some work double-duty as anxiety lifters, bug repellents and more. Keep in mind, a dab will do you; natural essential oils are highly concentrated. Rub just a few drops on your skin or on clothing — many oils are recommended not to come directly in contact with skin, so always check the bottle for specific directions/precautions.

My favorites:

Tea Tree oil: Tea tree oil is the wonder oil, as far as I’m concerned. It’s got a scent that’s distinct and fresh, a bit earthy, a bit evergreen-ish. My go-to “perfume” is a mix of tea tree and lavender oil. Tea tree oil is also a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent (limited research has even shown it to fight herpes). It can be used in cleaning, or keeping cuts clean. Pure tea tree oil can cause skin reactions in a lot of people, and be poisonous if ingested, so use sparingly your first time or pick a diluted variety and, you know, keep it out of your mouth (this goes for most essential oils).

Lavender oil: In the 12th century, German herbalist Hildegarde von Bingen advocated lavender as a means for maintaining a pure character. I don’t know about all that, but I like the way it smells (especially when mixed with tea tree oil). These days, lavender is used in aromatherapy to promote calm, relieve headache pain and improve sleep.

Evening primrose oil: There’s something so vintage-girly about the smell of evening primrose oil. In addition to upping your daintiness factor, it may also help soothe aggravated skin and relieve breast pain and other PMS symptoms.

Lemon oil: Wearing lemon oil makes me feel like I’m dousing myself in dish soap. Since I’ve always liked the smell of dish soap (at least the lemon kind we always used growing up), I consider this a plus. Lemon oil has been shown to boost people’s moods, and it’s also got antiseptic properties.

Citronella oil: You’ve probably smelled citronella candles before. That’s pretty much what citronella oil smells like, but in a slightly milder way. I like to wear citronella because I’m a bug magnet, and citronella oil – like it’s candle kin – helps keep insects away (the EPA considers it an official biopesticide). To avoid smelling like a backyard summer patio, I suggest mixing it with a little lavender or tea tree oil (unless that’s your thing, in which case, go for it).