Making your home a sanctuary has never been more important than it is now, and it all comes down to creating the right environment.
One of the keys to this is the scent that fills the air – you can’t see it, but it will have a profound impact on how you feel in your space.
Air fresheners can smell pleasant, but they can also contain harmful chemicals that really should not be entering our bodies. Thankfully, electric diffusers provide a similar result in that they produce a fragrance for a room, but without the harsh ingredients. Add essential oils and you not only get beautifully scented air but also the holistic benefits of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plant extracts, such as flowers, leaves, bark and berries, to enhance the health of the body, mind and soul, says Jenya Di Pierro, a naturopath and herbalist who is the founder of Cloud Twelve.
“Aromatherapy is particularly balancing because when molecules from the essential oils reach the brain, they affect our limbic system (the part of our brain that deals with key complex concepts such as emotion, behaviour, motivation and memory),” she adds.
Improved sleep and reduced stress and anxiety are among the benefits and different oils have different properties, so they can be selected depending on what is needed at the time.
Di Pierro explains: “For example, most people know about the calming effects of lavender, used to enhance relaxation and sleep. Other great examples are lemon balm, which can help to relieve stress, enhance the production of endorphins and lift anxiety, and marigold helps to support the skin by improving the action of sebaceous glands, reducing damage caused by free radicals, healing lesions and calming inflammation of the skin. The best of aromatherapy is combining different oils to increase the array of benefits and really target symptoms holistically to ensure the best results.”
As well as filling your space with delightful aromas, essential oil diffusers have evolved considerably in recent years and most can now be considered design pieces in their own right. We tried out two types – ultrasonic and cartridge.
The latter works using a refill that is slotted in, while ultrasonic models simply require the addition of water and a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Either way, they will deliver a splendid aroma that will boost your mood and wellbeing.
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This beautiful diffuser may be for the home, but we would say it is salon-grade quality. The natural colours and enchanting ceramic and wood design would look great in any decor scheme and the remote control means one can operate it without moving a muscle.
As well as filling the room with a subtle yet noticeable aroma for up to 10 hours to uplift and soothe when we tested it with lemon myrtle essential oil, the gather plays a choice of spa-esque music tracks and gives off a colour-changing glow for maximum tranquillity even in the face of life’s daily chaos.
A smart little diffuser, this one has earned itself pride of place on our tester’s bedside table but also on her desk as she works during the day. We love the contemporary minimalist design and that it is powered by USB so that it can be taken with you wherever you go – it will certainly be packed among the travel essentials on our next trip. Plus, there is no need to worry about dozing off when it is in use because it automatically powers itself off after an hour.
This compact and stylish diffuser is unlike the others we tested for this round-up in that it features a dish-style shape onto which drops of water and essential oil can be placed to fill a room with a beautifully subtle aroma. We love the opulent, high-shine indigo colour and that it can be left on for as long as needed because it will never overheat. We also found it extremely easy to clean because it could be gently wiped down with a tissue after use while it is still warm.
It looks like a mystic’s crystal ball, but the Ellia Adore will not allow you to see into the future — it will make your home smell fantastic though. This diffuser has all of the functions of the Ellia Gather, the tranquil soundtracks, colour-changing lamp and smart remote control, in a frosted glass and wood design. We found the black, unlit ball to be ultra-chic and liked that we could move the diffuser from room to room and still have it fit all our decor schemes with a switch of the light colour.
Waking up to your favourite scent every morning is a surefire way to get the day started on a positive note, and this smart product from specialist heating firm Dimplex will let you do just that. It has a clock function that powers up the diffuser when the alarm goes off and it can also be used at any time, with settings for 30-, 60-, 120- and 180-minute run times. It features a sleek black and chrome design, and an LED light system means it can be used as a relaxing colour-changing night light. At just £30, we think this is an excellent value-for-money diffuser with great features.
Moments after adding a few drops of Neal’s Yard’s Vitality aromatherapy blend and powering up the oska, the room was filled with an energising scent that helped to combat the post-lunch slump. The ceramic diffuser features a Nordic-inspired design and the colour-changing glow is a lovely touch. We like that this product allows for flexibility with the option of either continuous or intermittent misting mode, which is great for use with more potent essential oils. Most excellent of all though is that this clever model can be controlled by a mobile app from afar.
The height of home fragrance sophistication, Diptyque’s diffuser is entirely unique and a real showstopper. The opulent gold and white ceramic design looks exceptional – and oh so Parisian – and those familiar with the brand’s scents will know to expect something truly delightful. Rather than adding essential oils, this product works by inserting a perfumed pearl-filled cartridge into a cavity that releases the aromas of nine Diptyque fragrances, including “figuier”, “baies” and “ambre”.
Glo combines the benefits of aromatherapy with Himalayan pink salt therapy – which includes cleansing, deodorising and purifying the air – for a real boost to the senses. We love how the salt rocks give off a calming pink glow as they sit in a clear cavity in the teardrop-shaped unit, while adding water and drops of essential oil in the diffuser part of the glo left the room beautifully scented. The design of this model is a little larger than most, but since it is essentially a salt lamp and diffuser in one, we feel it can get away with it.
Minimalist, elegant and high quality, this ceramic diffuser is everything you would expect from a White Company product. Add three drops of the brand’s oils – we especially love the rejuvenating Spa Restore fragrance – and water to the diffuser to leave your space smelling as divine as a White Company store. It features a timer that allows you to set it off to do its thing for 60, 120 or 180 minutes before automatically switching off.
This contemporary, Scandi-inspired product is as much a stylish ornament as an aromatherapy diffuser. We love the look of the grey-glazed ribbed ceramic dome and found its compact size meant it could fit in almost any room. The diffuser is also powerful at transforming essential oils into a beautifully fragrant mist and we were left feeling suitably soothed after adding a few drops of clary sage and setting it to run for an hour. Four different time settings and six colour options for the light make it a great addition to any space.
The verdict: Aromatherapy diffusers
The natural design and outstanding features of the HoMedics Ellia Gather, as well as its ability to fill a room with a beautiful scent make it our highest-rated diffuser. We also loved the simplicity and elegance of the Aromatherapy Associates home diffuser so feel it deserves a mention among our top picks, as does the Dimplex electronic aroma diffuser for allowing us to wake up to the soothing effects of aromatherapy every day.
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