A few years ago I just wanted a Vitruvi diffuser for my birthday. I loved the idea of a constant source of home fragrance that I could buy once and let it run all day – doesn’t that sound amazing? But when I got the thing, I barely used it. The essential oils it spread literally couldn’t hold a candle to a candle, and its one-note botanical showiness was neither luxurious nor portable. Scent should be intoxicating! Essential oils remind me of lackluster things like standing in the Aveda product cabinet as a beautician during training, wiping up my own sweat after a too hard yoga class or draining a bottle from Dr. Bronner for several months with no significant showers. (Sorry! They’re boring and you won’t be able to convince me otherwise!)
Now I use my diffuser all the time. I love it! And the trick wasn’t learning to like the smell of lavender; Diffuser blends were found that reproduced the strong, more complex scents that I was used to with candles. After stumbling upon a nifty diffuser scent, I looked for more and now I have a whole bunch of options for every mood I find myself in. (Mind you, the whole bag still takes up less space than two candles, and each scent is under $ 30.) Do you have a diffuser that you want to upgrade? Start here:
The mixed bag: Saje
Similarity to a candle: 3/10
Saje makes roughly a million diffuser fragrances and blends, and a quick scan of her website can feel overwhelming. Most of these are what you would normally think of for an essential oil blend: rearrangements of calming herbs that smell like yogi. Meh. I thought I would have success with the woody, pine-like scents, but it turned out that diffusers aren’t as good at capturing the smoke as Feu de Bois. I liked Glow, a not-too-sweet mix of ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon. The most interesting part of Saje, however, is the diffuser-friendly versions of botanical scent notes – things like jasmine, sandalwood, and rose. While Saje fragrances are usually inexpensive, a 2ml bottle of rose oil will set you back a pretty penny (over $ 100). Its worth it? You decide.
Similarity to a candle: 5/10
I love Sangre de Frutas body products – they make my skin sparkle and smell amazing. Part of the brand’s pharmacy-like old world charm is that each product comes in a selection of signature essential oils scents. They are a pass-through line for the brand, and if you love the smell of any of them, you can order shampoo, soap, oil, and lotion that smell exactly the same. Recently, Sangre also made the signature fragrances available for the room fragrance. (As the website copy finally annoyingly announces.) I’ve tried all three, but my favorite is the mix of neroli, spikenard, and petitgrain called Neroli Forever. It goes with my body cream in the same scent, but the earthiness of Spikenard makes it darker than other neroli scents I know and love. Another attraction, but I understand.
Similarity to a candle: 7/10
Vitruvi, the maker of my diffuser, also sells essential oils. I clicked right past their originating oils (which are very nice! Just not what I was looking for) and made my way to the blends. For Vitruvi, making a mixture is a bit like alchemy: they only use essential oils and sometimes they don’t smell like essential oils. For example, velvet is described as “musk and French perfume,” but neither is an ingredient. Instead, a combination of frankincense, bergamot, and amber is used for a similar powdery, skin-like scent. I like Velvet a lot, but what I use the most is Nightcap. The ginger, black pepper, and blood orange mixture is fresh without it being obvious and adds a bright effervescence when I spread it around the kitchen.
Similarity to a candle: 10/10
The most perfumed of the range comes from a brand called Aromatech. Never heard of it? There is a reason! Aromatech’s main business is the manufacture of HVAC diffusers that are used to smell commercial spaces. However, unlike most fragrance marketing companies, they also sell miniature bottles of their fragrances for personal home use. A representative assured me that they would work fine in the Vitruvi I already own. Just a word to the wise, these guys are strong. The difference lies in the composition of their “aromatic oil” blends, which are made from essential oils, a carrier oil and other natural fragrances. In this way you can also create more complex scent profiles (Love Affair smells like Macc Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge, Santal like … well, Santal). It throws like a candle and quickly fills a room. Instead of the 20 to 25 drops of my Vitruvi oil blend, an Aromatech fragrance only needs one or two.
Photo via ITG