If you need a bit of a boost, the best essential oil diffusers can really help. Scent can be a powerful stimulus – according to numerous studies, essential oils can help to promote feelings of calm, relaxation and general wellbeing, and the right fragrance can wake you up, help you focus, or calm you down.
And now it's possible to indulge in a little aromatherapy in your very home. The best oil diffusers are a great way to disperse these replenishing scents around your home with zero fuss or mess, and without adding any nasty toxins or particles into the air that could worsen your indoor air pollution. Modern aroma diffusers tend to use ultrasonic technology to generate fragrance without anything getting heated up or burned. Some even some with sound or light effects for a complete, multi-sensory effect.
Considering that many of us are staying in more than usual right now, an essential oil diffuser can be a good way to change the mood of a space – for instance, making your home office feel calm when you need to use it for an after-work yoga session. Add some candles and perhaps one of the best massagers, and you've almost got your own at-home spa.
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How do oil diffusers work?
Most diffusers contain a small reservoir which you'll need to fill with water. You'll then add a few drops of essential oil (the number will depend on the size of reservoir), before turning the diffuser on. For an idea of which scent to choose, explore our guide to the best essential oils.
A fan will then turn the water (which contains the oil) into a mist, dispersing it throughout your home. However, some diffusers have a small pad instead of a reservoir. The essential oil is simply sprinkled onto this pad, before being dispersed by the fan. Diffusers powered by USBs, which are often designed to be portable, are most likely to have pads instead of reservoirs.
What scent should I use?
It's worth purchasing at least two different oils to start with – ideally a relaxing one, made with ingredients such as lavender, and an energising one containing livelier notes such as citrus or spice. Some of the most powerful scents include lavender, which has been proven to activate our brains' GABA receptors, which in turn inhibit anxiety-producing brain signals.
And then there's lemon, grapefruit and orange – countless studies have shown that citrus scents can aid concentration by increasing our ability to focus. Jasmine is a great one, too – a recent study conducted by scientists at Germany's Ruhr University found that smelling jasmine enhanced the effects of the amino acids which decrease our 'fight or flight' responses, increasing a sense of calm.
Finally, remember that you can use any brand of oil with any diffuser, but if you're using a diffuser which has a pad, rather than a reservoir, you'll need to change the pad whenever you change the scent.
The best oil diffuser 2021
An excellent all-rounder, the Beurer LA 40 tops our list of the best oil diffusers to buy now. The simple but stylish bamboo and porcelain design has a pleasantly 'natural' vibe, and there's the choice of adding light effects when you want to liven things up a bit. You can set it to cycle through a rainbow of hues (in a slow, soothing manner, rather than an out-and-out disco), pause it indefinitely on a shade you like, or opt for a warm, constant glow (our preference). Timer functions, and automatic shut-off when empty mean you don't have to worry if you've left it on. Head to our Beurer LA 40 review to find out more.
If you want more from your essential oil diffuser, the Ellia Adore might be for you. Not only do you get effective scent dispersal, there's also light and sound effects to round out the package. Set it to cycle through a rainbow of shades, or pick and pause it on the one that suits your mood. You can also choose from a selection of soothing or invigorating background music. Finally, you can opt for continuous mist or intermittent (30 seconds on, 30 off). All this is controlled via a handy remote control. Head to our Homedics Ellia Adore review to find out more.
Stoneglow is known for its beautiful candles, and its Modern Classics Perfume Mist Diffuser is its first foray into diffusers. This elegant, vase-like creation features four timer settings (ranging from 30 minutes to four hours), combined with an optional illumination setting allow it to be used in any room for any occasion. This mains-powered diffuser is also incredibly easy to operate – the ceramic lid simply twists off to reveal a 100ml reservoir. Choose from four different neutral tones, to match your decor.
With this ultrasonic diffuser and humidifier from Equsupro, you get actually get two looks for the price of one. In daylight it looks like a lovely silvered vase, but switch it on in the evening and you get a cosmic-looking LED display in seven colour options. It's compact and portable with a 120ml water capacity that means it'll happily run from three to five hours, and its ultrasonic design means that it's whisper-quiet. There are three timer modes, from half an hour to three hours, and you can also use it as a night light with the diffuser switched off.
If turning your essential oil diffuser on by hand is just too much effort for you, here's one that you can activate by simply shouting at Alexa. The Maxcio Alexa WiFi Essential Oil Diffuser connects to your wireless network and is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home, and you can also control it from your phone with the Smart Life app, with full control over power, colour and brightness adjustment, mist modes and more. It features a 400ml water tank that'll keep it going for anything between six and 12 hours, and as well as standard timers you can set it to run between certain hours via the app. It's super-quiet, running at under 30db, and like most of the diffusers featured here it'll switch off if the water runs out.
Neom is famous for its candles, which means it's a trustworthy option for the best-smelling experience for your home too. As such, the stylish Neom Organics Wellbeing Pod Diffuser would make a perfect gift for those who have already bought into the brand. This diffuser delivers a long-lasting 12 hours of fragrance to fill your home with great scents within minutes, as well as having a light option too. With a distinctive design and glass casing, it's also one of the most stylish options on our list of the best oil diffusers.
If you're looking for a diffuser that stands out from the crowd, this distinctive device from Homedics with a rounded ceramic design is for you. As sister model to the Ellia Adore above, the Ellia Gather oil diffuser provides a full sensory experience for your home. It has quick scent-diffusing that lasts up to 10 hours, a colour-changing lamp and it includes a speaker too in order to play soothing sounds, including waves, as you relax. Unlike some of the other oil diffusers on the list, the Elia Gather comes with two 2ml bottles of pure essential oils to get you started.
This is This Works' second travel diffuser, and its sleek, pebble-like shape will instantly appeal to those with a penchant for minimalism. The diffuser, which has a USB connection, will disperse scent quickly and efficiently from the second it's turned on. The best bit? It will continue to work (for up to four hours) when unplugged, too. The only downside is that it relies not on a water reservoir, but on refill pads, to which drops of oil are added. Only two are provided, and the accompanying instructions warn that these pads shouldn't be used with more than one scent of oil. However, replacements are relatively cheap – just £5 for three. Beware if you're sensitive to sounds too: some reviewers have found the fans to be on the noisy side.
If you like the look of natural products in your home rather than anything too futuristic or minimal, then the best oil diffuser for you is this device from Innogear, which is made from bamboo. It offers four different diffusing settings to suit you and your home, including continuous mist, interval mist, a 2-hour mist timer or a 10hour mist timer. There’s also an auto-off mode if the device detects there isn’t enough water left to diffuse your oil. It’s not just one of the best oil diffusers for ensuring your home smells divine, but this device from Innogear also has seven colour-changing LED lights to create the perfect relaxing environment within your home.
If you have a large room that you want to ensure smells lovely all of the time, then you're going to need one of the larger capacity best oil diffusers to match, like this one from Tenswall. This unique-looking oil diffuser pushes out your favourite essential oil scents to big rooms of up to 40-square-metres. It also has a range of different timer settings depending on your needs, including 1-hour, 3-hours, 6-hours and continuous diffusing. It will last up to 10-hours so is a great option for big spaces that don’t need constant care and attention, like large living rooms, reception areas or even small businesses.