For a routine that requires almost no thought, your daily shower is likely one of the highlights of your day (or night). However, racing through your washing on autopilot is a wasted opportunity if you aren’t taking time to experiment with how to use essential oils in the shower.
While you likely know that an aromatic bath can detoxify your body and leave you relaxed, few of us have the time or desire to linger in a tub for 45 minutes at a time. An easier option? Incorporate essential oils into your daily shower, and you’ll enjoy their benefits long after the tap is turned off.
From the saunas of Finland to the sweat lodges of Native Americans, aromatic steam has long been revered as a natural healing remedy. Try it for yourself by using essential oils in the shower.
The Benefits of Aromatherapy
Essential oils are a critical component of the art of aromatherapy. This alternative medicine has been used for centuries to naturally treat a variety of health concerns, including exhaustion, depression, headaches, respiratory ailments and many more. Depending on your specific condition, aromatherapy experts can recommend the best oil to combat it.
The benefits of aromatherapy come from the volatile compounds contained within medicinal flowers, herbs, roots, fruits, and trees. By stimulating the smell receptors in your nose, these oils can send messages from your nervous system to the brain, especially the parts that control emotions.
While cultures throughout history have intuitively understood the healing powers of plants, it wasn’t until the invention of steam distillation in the 11th century that essential oils came into use. This technology made it possible for the first time to extract and concentrate plant’s essential oils, dramatically boosting their efficacy.
Today, essential oils are used in a variety of ways. Some work best when inhaled directly, while others are absorbed through the skin through massages or within lotions. One favorite way to spread their benefits throughout a room is with an essential oil diffuser.
But don’t think you need to buy your own diffuser to enjoy the benefits. With a little prep work, your steamy shower water can produce the same effect.
A Brief History of Medicinal Steam Baths
Using essential oils in the shower builds on a long history of medicinal bathing. In fact, herbal steam has been a popular healing remedy across the world for thousands of years.
While herbal baths may seem like a sign of luxury today, in centuries past they were primarily valued for their healing properties. Steaming fresh herbs in hot water was understood as a proven way to extract at least a fraction of their essential oils, which is why they were such a popular addition to bathing routines.
The ancient Greeks and Romans might be most famous for their public bathhouses, but the practice has been used across the globe by cultures ranging from the Mongol empire to the Mayans in Mexico. Even Hippocrates personally studied hundreds of herb varieties and recommended the practice of regular baths will aromatic oils.
22 Best Essential Oils To Add To Your Shower Routine
Which oils should you start with? That depends on what your needs are. This guide will go through the best essential oils for showering for different situations to help you decide which ones are right for you before we discuss how to use them.
Essential Oils for Relaxation
If you struggle to fall asleep, consider relaxing with an aromatic shower before turning in for the night. These oils make a great choice for those hours before bed because they will work to relax your mind, reduce stress, and even overcome insomnia.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Soothing and calming, lavender oil can eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, and improve blood circulation.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Roman chamomile tends to be the most calming variety, and it has been found to treat depression and reduce anger.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): Ylang ylang oil is a natural sedative that can relax and improve your mood.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin): Known for being emotionally grounding, patchouli oil has a sweet and musky scent.
Cypress (cupresus sempervirens): Not only does this fresh-smelling oil restore the appearance of oily skin, but it can produce a powerful grounding effect to help you feel centered.
Sandalwood (Santalum album): The oil from this South-Asian tree has been used as a sleep aid for centuries.
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana): Valued for its calming properties, marjoram oil can rebalance your nervous system.
Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides): Thanks to its heavy, earthy fragrance, vetiver oil can center and relax you.
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata): A few drops of mandarin essential oil can promote relaxing sleep and soothe away your stress.
Essential Oils to Boost Energy Levels
If your morning coffee isn’t doing enough to perk you up, consider incorporating one of these essential oils into your shower instead. Their volatile chemicals will give you a boost if you feel low on energy, and they will refresh your brain to help you function at a higher level.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Cardamom’s distinctively sharp scent can bolster your energy levels and improve mental clarity.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata): Though milder than other mint varieties, spearmint can refresh your brain and make you more alert.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinale): This ever-popular essential oil has a potent scent that improves mental clarity to enhance learning retention.
Black Spruce (Picea mariana): Known for being invigorating and stimulating, black spruce can rev up the adrenal glands to alleviate fatigue.
Essential Oils to Improve Your Mood
Everyone feels dragged down occasionally. If you’re looking to give yourself a mental boost and combat the symptoms of depression or anxiety, a relaxing shower with one of these oils will work to improve your mood long after you step out of the water.
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis): If you need a boost to feel more cheery, sweet orange oil can counter the effects of depression for an instant pick-me-up.
Lime (Citrus aurantiifolia): This naturally energizing fruit is equally effective in essential oil form, so a few drops can add some zest to your mood.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradise): Extracted from the fruit’s thick peel, grapefruit essential oil is an effective antidepressant when you inhale the steam.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia): If you tend to turn to a cup of Earl Grey tea when your anxiety rises, the bergamot essential oil will also give you the relaxation you crave.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): With a distinctively sharp scent, clary sage acts as a natural antidepressant and can relieve stress and anxiety.
Lemon (Citrus limon): Not only can lemon essential oil lead to pain relief and improve your mood, but it can also leave you less anxious than before.
Essential Oils to Restore Your Respiratory System
Essential oil-infused steam is one of the best ways to restore your sinuses when you are struggling through a cold or with seasonal allergies. Give your respiratory system a fully immersive experience by taking a shower with one of the following essential oils.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): There’s a reason why eucalyptus oil is the main ingredient in many decongestants – it really works to control coughing, soothe the sinuses and even relax sore muscles.
Pine (Pinus silvestris): The anti-inflammatory properties of pine oil makes it perfect for relieving headaches, freshening up your brain, and even acting as a decongestant.
Ravensara (Ravensara aromatic): Anti-allergic properties make this rare Madagascar oil ideal for cleansing the sinuses during allergy season.
How To Use Essential Oils In The Shower
Using essential oils in the shower couldn’t be easier. Below are a few methods that you can experiment with.
- Take a bottle of your chosen essential oil and apply 5 to 20 drops of oil to a washcloth, cotton ball, or other “carrier material” to easily transport it into the shower.
- Place the material on the shower floor in a place where the falling water gently grazes it without it being a direct hit (to prevent the oils from evaporating into steam too quickly).
- Turn the shower as hot as possible to build up steam. Once there is an adequate amount, turn the water to your preferred temperature and enjoy.
Shower Wall Infusion
- Use a spray bottle to lightly spray the inside of your shower with cold water, making sure you hit all the walls and the shower curtain.
- Take a bottle of essential oil and lightly flick the walls with oil. Turn the water to the hottest temperature to build up steam before stepping in to take your shower.
Personal Oil Application
- Shower as usual, and turn the water off once you have washed your skin and hair.
- Slowly massage some essential oil into your skin, starting with a drop behind each knee and working upward once you are sure you aren’t having any adverse reactions to it.
- Continue applying the oil a drop at a time across your body, paying particular attention to your feet, underarms, and throat. Take care to only apply trace amounts of oil to the sensitive skin on your face.
- Breath in deeply for several minutes before turning the water back on to rinse off.
Tips For The Best Essential Oil Shower Infusion
The right preparation is paramount for getting the most out of your essential oil-infused shower, so take the time to set the right tone for your time to ensure you get the maximum benefits.
- Carefully consider the properties of the various essential oils before selecting one for your shower. Because they are highly concentrated, it’s important to know what impact an oil will have on your system.
- Read any instructions included with the oil and never apply more than 20 drops to the washcloth or shower wall- any more might be overwhelming.
- Take time in the shower to practice deep breathing to ensure the oil’s compounds make it deep into your respiratory system.
- While showering, use a washcloth to rub your arms and legs in circular motions to encourage circulation and boost lymph movement to enhance the immune system.
A Note on Safety
Contrary to how innocent they might appear, not all essential oils are safe for direct contact with skin. Do some research first or consider diluting the oil in a carrier oil like coconut, almond or jojoba oil.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone reacts the same way to essential oils, and certain compounds might irritate your skin or lungs. For this reason, it’s important to experiment with tiny amounts of oil first before infusing them into your shower.
If you feel any pain or irritation, discontinue use of the oil immediately, and seek out medical attention if necessary. You might be having an allergic reaction.
Check out this article for more tips on using essential oils safely.
Make Your Own DIY Shower Disks
If you want to enhance your essential oil showering experience, then consider creating your own DIY shower disks! These small fizzy discs are meant to be placed on the floor of the shower, and they make excellent gifts for the essential oil enthusiast in your life.
We have a recipe for making your own “Breathe Easy” Shower Disks that can be personalized with any blend of oils you prefer to use. All that’s needed to complete them is baking soda, arrowroot powder and the essential oils of your choice.
Where To Buy Essential Oils
To experience the full benefit of essential oils, it’s vitally important you purchase pure and high quality oils. Some rogue sellers offer adulterated products made with artificial fragrance to smell like essential oils – but these adulterated products contain none of the benefits and likely a host of harmful toxins and chemicals.
You can browse their entire collection – including every essential oil mentioned in this article – on their official site here.