After two months (or more) in quarantine, you’re likely reaching for just about anything that promises to take our stress down a peg or two. If you’re already meditating regularly, eating healthy, and practicing good sleep hygiene, but still can’t shake the tension and anxiety, your next reach should be for an essential oil diffuser.
Most guys’ exposure to essential oils comes through a mom, wife, or girlfriend who enjoys them (and maybe even sells them). But essential oils are a lot more than a multi-level marketing scheme. Diffusing essential oil in your home is shown to reduce dust, pet dander allergens, and other airborne allergens. Right now, we’re especially interested in recent scientific studies that show how oil diffusers offer significant benefits for both physical and mental health.
A Swedish research team showed that study participants recovered much more quickly from stress responses after being exposed to scents they associated with nature — fresh air, evergreen trees, wildflowers, damp earth. The stress reduction that came from these scents was even more significant than exposure to sights or sounds from nature. Neuropsychologist Johan Lundström, who co-authored the study, said that unlike other sensory inputs, smell bypasses the “switchboard” of the thalamus and goes straight to the various areas of the brain that process stress relief, such as the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala.
Long overlooked in the medical research arena, the sense of smell has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for its ability to reduce tension, ease anxiety, and lift depression. This is believed to be the result of the link between the sense of smell and the limbic (emotional) system. You’ve probably noticed how specific smells can instantly trigger memories or moods that last all day long (for better or worse). But the more scientists examine how exposure to nature can right the wrongs of our increasingly urban society, the more they are leaning on the benefits of smell. Studies have shown improvement of depression symptoms among participants who inhaled scents such as lavender and bergamot, while another showed a marked decrease in violent behavior among prison inmates after they were exposed to the scent of cedarwood.
While the end of quarantine is in sight for many, it’s undeniable that life is going to take a long time to return to life as we know it. To help you weather the ups and downs of re-entry, we recommend finding yourself a great oil diffuser and loading it up with nature-derived scents to help maintain your balance. Cedar, spruce, pine, and eucalyptus are all great choices for general uplift and well-being. Lavender and chamomile essential oils are great natural sleep aids, while bright scents such as jasmine, neroli, and ylang-ylang are great for improving your energy and clearing away anxiety. Cinnamon is a natural energy booster, while peppermint is shown to stimulate productivity and focus. In short, there’s an essential oil for every ailment, and finding the right diffuser will help you get the most out of your fragrance.
A few things to consider when shopping for your oil diffuser:
How big is your room?
Looks aren’t everything. All diffusers have different water capacity and range. The cute little porcelain model you’re eyeing right now might be perfect for diffusing a soothing lavender or eucalyptus oil from your bedside table, but it’s unlikely to make much impact in your kitchen or living room. Putting the wrong size diffuser in your room requires you to use a lot more oil to get the same level of fragrance, so look for a model with at least 500 mL capacity to run in bigger rooms. Something in the 200 to 400 mL range is fine for a bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. (Some diffusers provide an estimated square-foot range in their specs.)
Do you want to move your diffuser around?
The biggest downside of any oil diffuser is the cord. If you plan to bring your diffuser along as you move from one room to another or just have a shortage of electrical outlets in your home, it’s worth considering a battery-powered or chargeable diffuser so you can enjoy your fragrance without constraints.
Do you want added moisture in your room?
Depending on your region’s climate and the time of year, a little added moisture isn’t a bad thing. Many oil diffusers operate like mini-humidifiers, sending out your chosen essential oil fragrance in a puff of fine mist.
How important is your diffuser to your health?
If you’re adding an essential oil diffuser to your room for health reasons, it’s worth considering the materials of your chosen diffuser. Cheaper diffusers tend to be constructed from plastic, which corrodes more easily (especially when certain oils are used, such as citrus) and can leach chemicals into your essential oil. If you’re hoping to reap significant aromatherapy benefits from the olfactory molecules in your essential oil, you’ll want to select a diffuser made from all-natural materials like glass, wood, and porcelain. You might even want to invest in a nebulizer over a diffuser since these machines are better at preserving the integrity of your essential oil. (Read more below.)
Best Oil Diffusers for Men
Our Pick: Saje Aroma Om Deluxe Diffuser
This ceramic diffuser is a looker, to be sure, but it’s also a real workhorse. Its 15-fluid ounce reservoir, 11-hour continuous run time, and reach of 1,200 square feet are paired with a whisper-quiet operating system. Fans of this diffuser say it’s like living in the presence of a quiet, fragrant volcano.
Best Decorative Diffuser: Ellia Imagine Cordless Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser
Looking for a diffuser that you won’t want to hide behind a plant or bookshelf? Ellia has a wide array of handsomely designed diffusers, both ultrasonic and non-electric ceramic models, that complement just about every decor style. Our pick is this model, and not just because of the soothing oceanic gradient of its thick glass exterior. We also love its compact size, 4-hour runtime, and most of all, the battery-powered construction that lets this beautiful diffuser bounce all around the room.
Best Salt Lamp Diffuser: Hammacher Schlemmer Himalayan Salt Lamp Diffuser
Want to combine your oil diffusing with the therapeutic effects of Himalayan salt? Your high-vibe needs are all taken care of with this combination salt lamp-ultrasonic oil diffuser. Halotherapy (i.e., Himalayan salt therapy) gives your respiratory ailments some extra support by releasing positively charged ions in the atmosphere that clear clogged airways. At the same time, ultrasonic waves send your preferred essential oil scent through a 160-square foot range. The lamp and diffuser can be operated independently, too. At 4.5 pounds, it’s on the bigger side, but the mod beehive shape makes it a handsome conversation piece.
Best Set-and-Forget Diffuser: Aera Diffuser
If you’re the type who has every appliance cued to your smartphone, this is the diffuser for you. Rather than leaving you to dither over the scent and strength of your oil each time, the Aera Diffuser is designed for use with its own proprietary aroma capsules. Once you’ve popped in your scent of choice, use the Aera app to program how long and strong you want the diffuser to run, or even schedule the diffuser to start as soon as you walk in the door. Aera’s Microdroplet Technology sends out a clean, even stream of ultra-tiny oil particles and uses the room’s airflow to evenly circulate the scent — unlike many other diffusers, you’ll smell your fragrance almost instantly. Best of all, this high-tech machine continuously diffuses scent for as long as 800 hours.
Best Analog Diffuser: HyaScent Hourglass Diffuser
With its hourglass shape and wooden accent, the Hyascent looks more like a coffee flask than a diffuser. This ingenious design and function deliver consistent, long-lasting fragrance with no battery or electricity required. Designed by a San Francisco realtor for both form and function, this diffuser combines with proprietary HyaScent fragrance oils to saturate the wooden base with oil, emitting a fresh burst of scent each time you turn the glass over. No cords, no charging, no noise—it’s the minimalist’s dream come true.
Best Waterless Diffuser: Sofia Waterless Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser
There are plenty of reasons to invest in a nebulizer over a traditional diffuser. Most of these reasons have to do with a nebulizer’s waterless delivery system. Rather than spreading your essential oil through a watery mist, the nebulizer sends ultra-fine particles of 100% essential oil into your room’s atmosphere. As a result, you enjoy a concentrated fragrance as well as the full potency of your chosen plant essence, which some say improves the delivery of the oil’s health benefits. Without any mist altering the humidity of your space, the ultra-fine oil particles stay suspended in the air for a longer time. And without water in the system, the nebulizer is much less likely to grow mold or mildew. (That also makes it easier to clean.) Finally, nebulizers operate without heat, so there’s nothing to compromise the molecular integrity of your essential oil. We liked this nebulizer for its minimal geometric design, natural oak and ceramic construction, and adaptive mist technology that lets you adjust the misting intensity to suit your preference.
Best Splurge: AromaTech AromaPro Nebulizing Diffuser
So you’re a “nothing but the best” type of dude? Have we got a diffuser for you. The AromaTech uses cold-air diffusion technology to release residue-free nanoparticles with all their olfactive and therapeutic benefits intact — no heat, no evaporation, no dilution. You can control the scent intensity through an external dial, and you can even connect the unit to your home HVAC system, allowing you to pair fragrance with your home’s temperature control. Ultra-quiet and energy-efficient with a range of up to 4,000 feet, this essential oil diffuser will make you feel like you’re living under a redwood canopy.
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