Vanilla essential oils are beloved for their delicious, homey scent. Just a whiff conjures thoughts of cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, and other vanilla-infused treats that can make your mouth water. But what, exactly, makes one oil different from another? And what should you look for when choosing one?
We did some investigating and found three top-quality vanilla essential oils that are great for adding to a carrier oil or moisturizer and softening your skin, putting in an aromatherapy diffuser to make your home smell amazing, or dropping into your next bath to make it extra luxurious.
Why use vanilla essential oils?
There are benefits to using this popular oil other than just making your home (and yourself!) smell like dessert. Aromatherapy experts say it can boost your libido, help reduce anxiety, help wounds heal faster, ease digestive upset, and even help regulate your menstrual cycles.
Adding a few drops of this sweet-smelling oil to lotions, bath oils, or to a diffuser is a great way to get all the benefits — and to enjoy its warm, comforting scent as well!
How are vanilla essential oils made?
Unlike some other essential oils, which are distilled directly from the source, vanilla essential oil is not, strictly speaking, an essential oil at all. That’s because the chemical makeup of vanilla beans does not lend itself to the distillation process in the same way that grapefruit, jasmine, echinacea, or many other fruits and plants do. For this reason, some aromatherapy aficionados are skeptical of many products that are labeled “vanilla essential oil.”
Most vanilla essential oil products are made by mixing pure vanilla extract with a carrier oil, such as jojoba. The result is not noticeably different from any other essential oil you might use — but it is important to find a vanilla essential oil that is made from the highest quality ingredients possible.
See more of our best product recommendations.
Where to buy: $29, Aveda
Why we like it:
- Layers well with other essential oils
- Never tested on animals
Aveda products are some of the highest quality you can buy, and this vanilla essential oil is no exception. Made with a coconut base, it has a deliciously nutty smell and mixes particularly well with tangerine or patchouli oil for a more complex scent. Try adding it directly to your scalp or hair for a scent that lingers all day long, or smooth it on your skin as a perfume substitute. This happy reviewer wrote: “Maybe it is because I am a grandma, but I LOVE this aroma!”
Where to buy: $19.34, iHerb
Why we like it:
- Blended with jojoba oil
- Mild scent
If you’re sensitive to powerful fragrances, this vanilla essential oil is a perfect choice for you. Made with nourishing jojoba oil, it can be applied directly to skin and has a relaxing, calming effect. While some reviewers wished it were stronger and more long-lasting, it’s good for those looking for a milder vanilla scent. “Wonderful. Soft and pleasant smell. Loved it!” raved one buyer.
Where to buy: $11.99, Amazon
Why we like it:
- Floral and citrus notes add complexity
- Excellent customer reviews
Buyers rave about this Gya Labs oil, which is the most affordable pick of the bunch. It’s a therapeutic grade oil, so the scent is more potent than some others. It’s a good one to add to your favorite skin care products or carrier oils (such as jojoba or coconut). “One drop is all you need,” writes one customer, who recommends mixing it with other essential oils. “My favorite combo right now is vanilla and peppermint … You really can’t go wrong. Cinnamon, citrus, anything goes with vanilla. It has a true vanilla scent, not the fake play-doh vanilla smell.”