The Best Scents for Relaxation and Recovery – Poised Aroma

The Best Scents for Relaxation and Recovery

Sometimes relaxing can be hard. Work catches up with you, maybe you're stressing about upcoming projects or tests. Whatever the stressor, everyone needs to be able to relax and recover after their hard work. Poised Aroma set out to find the best, scientifically validated, aromas to help you relax and unwind. 
It's also important to note that all subjectively pleasant fragrances have an anti-anxiety effect. This effect is likely the cause of the reputation of aromas to be relaxing. There are, in fact, few scientifically validated objectively relaxing aromas. We have pinned down the most effective and listed them below.
  1. Lavender. Lavender is by far the most researched aroma for relaxation, with a variety of effects for relaxation and recovery. A study evaluated the effects of lavender on autonomic arousal, measuring blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, all of which significantly decreased after the inhalation of lavender. In terms of mood responses, people reported feeling fresher and more relaxed than subjects just inhaling base oil [2]. Lavender has also shown promise in increasing sleep quality in men and women. A study reported a significant increase in "the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep in men and women and decreased rapid-eye-movement sleep." AND "All subjects reported higher vigor the morning after lavender exposure." [1] Another research team studying the effects of lavender-scented bath oil on mothers and infants reported "mothers... were more relaxed and smiled more. In addition, their infants cried less and spent more time in deep sleep after the bath"  [3]
  2. Orange/Neroli. Exposure to neroli, orange, and also grapefruit oils showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels and promoted a relaxed state. [4] Neroli, the essential oil of the bitter orange, has shown to enhance alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are associated with calmness, alertness, and cognitive performance. Neroli and grapefruit oils induce a sense of calm focus. Neroli/Orange has been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety in stressful situations. [7]
  3. Bergamot. A study evaluating the effectiveness of music and citrus bergamiaalso known as bergamot, showed promising results for unwinding after a hard day. "Listening to soft music and inhaling Citrus bergamia essential oil was found to be an effective method of relaxation" [5] The study also reported that bergamot combined with lavender was even more effective for relaxation.
  4. Ylang Ylang Oil. Ylang Ylang oil is frequently used as a relaxant in aromatherapy. A group of researches sought out to find evidence for Ylang Ylang as a legitimate de-stressor. They were not disappointed as exposure to Ylang Ylang decreased blood pressure and increased skin temperature. Subjects reported feeling "calmer and more relaxed than subjects in the control group" [6]. Although ylang ylang oil is an effective relaxant, it is not recommended for use right before sleep, as exposure increases skin temperature, possibly making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  5. Frankincense. The essential oil of frankincense, also known as Boswellia serrata, has proved to be effective for reducing inflammation. [8] During clinical trials, consistently using frankincense was found to help asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis and other ailments caused by inflammation. [8]. Frankincense can also be used simply for loosening joints and helping with recovery. Using frankincense in combination with lavender in the bath is the perfect way to relax and unwind at the end of the day.
  6. Lemongrass. Lemongrass has shown to exhibit potent anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. [9] [10] Try using lemongrass in combination with Frankincense in the bath for effective detoxify your body and loosen up your joints.
  7. Vetiver. Vetiver has shown to exfoliate the skin and help get rid of pesky acne, oily skin, and eczema. [11] Add vetiver to your bath to help give you clear and beautiful skin.
  8. Tea Tree. Tea tree oil has been shown to be an effective anti-bacterial. "Tea tree oil studies suggest the oil is effective as a treatment of acne and fungal infections".[12][14] The oil best works when it is taken orally or topically. Try using tea tree oil consistently in the bath if you have any recent scars, cuts, or acne to help stave off infection. 
  9. Grapefruit. Grapefruit oil has been shown to aid with lipolysis, which is the break down of fat, and help to reduce appetite.[13][15] If you are struggling with losing weight, grapefruit oil may be able to help. Try putting a few drops of grapefruit in your bath, or adding the oil to diffusers around your house or work. The consistent decrease in appetite will help you burn more fat, and lose weight.  


Given the typical aura of aromatherapy, we were surprised to see so few fragrances scientifically confirmed as relaxants. Luckily the scents which have been studied are thoroughly validated and effective in a variety of settings.

You can find all of the above scents in our Relaxation Collection



[1] Goel, Namni, et al. “An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women.” Chronobiology International, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2005

[2] Sayorwan, Winai, et al. “The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, Chotmaihet Thangphaet, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2012

[3] Field, Tiffany, et al. “Lavender Bath Oil Reduces Stress and Crying and Enhances Sleep in Very Young Infants.” Early Human Development, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2008

[4] Iijima M., Nio E., Nashimoto E., Iwata M. Effects of aroma on the autonomic nervous system and brain activity under stress conditions. Auton. Neurosci. 2007

[5] Peng, Shu-Ming, et al. “Effects of Music and Essential Oil Inhalation on Cardiac Autonomic Balance in Healthy Individuals.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2009

[6] Hongratanaworakit, Tapanee, and Gerhard Buchbauer. “Relaxing Effect of Ylang Ylang Oil on Humans after Transdermal Absorption.” Phytotherapy Research : PTR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2006.

[7] Lehrner, J, et al. “Ambient Odor of Orange in a Dental Office Reduces Anxiety and Improves Mood in Female Patients.” Physiology & Behavior., U.S. National Library of Medicine

[8] Ernst, E. “Frankincense: Systematic Review.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 18 Dec. 2008.

[9] Mohamed Nadjib Boukhatem, Mohamed Amine Ferhat, Abdelkrim Kameli, Fairouz Saidi & Hadjer Tchoketch Kebir (2014) Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs, Libyan Journal of Medicine

[10] Deepak Ganjewala, Ruchika Mittal, Ashish Kumar Gupta, Martha Premlatha & Reetika Dawar (2014) Antibacterial Properties of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus Steud) Wats Essential Oils in Single form and Combination of Honey Against Drug Resistant Pathogenic Bacteria, Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature

[11] Orchard, Ané, and Sandy van Vuuren. “Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2017

[12] Ernst, E, and A Huntley. “Tea Tree Oil: a Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials.” Forschende Komplementarmedizin Und Klassische Naturheilkunde = Research in Complementary and Natural Classical Medicine, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK), Feb. 2000.

[13] Dallas, Constantin, et al. “Lipolytic Effect of a Polyphenolic Citrus Dry Extract of Red Orange, Grapefruit, Orange (SINETROL) in Human Body Fat Adipocytes. Mechanism of Action by Inhibition of CAMP-Phosphodiesterase (PDE).” Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2008.

[14] Carson, C. F., et al. “Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, American Society for Microbiology Journals, 1 Jan. 2006.

[15] Shen, Jiao, et al. “Olfactory Stimulation with Scent of Grapefruit Oil Affects Autonomic Nerves, Lipolysis and Appetite in Rats.” Neuroscience Letters, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 June 2005.