During lockdown, it’s become clear that we’re seeking comfort in small domestic pleasures. One retailer has reported that sales of candles, aromatherapy and other “wellbeing beauty” products are up 300%. It’s no wonder; when you’re involuntarily housebound, a beautiful, mood-lifting fragrance provides some solace.
Electric diffusers, which gently release fragrant steam at preset intervals, are an economical and customisable way of scenting the home without any of that nasty air-freshener fug. I love Oliver Bonas’s Essential Oil Electric Aroma Diffuser (£45), which is often sold out but perpetually restocked, since it combines relative affordability with a design nice enough to have visible in a Zoom background. Sold in ice-cream shades of peachy-pink and pistachio, as well as a muted elephant grey, the fluted ceramic diffuser takes up very little space and doesn’t have that off-putting plastic gadgety look. More importantly, it works: set the timer for a 30-minute burst, or a longer spell, and the room becomes pleasantly fragrant in a few minutes.
Oliver Bonas’s version has different coloured light settings to complete the ambient vibe; but if the light is as important as the aroma, I recommend Muji’s Aroma Diffuser (£59.95). This is a more minimalist, off-white design, so it’s perfect for bathrooms or sparse interiors, and its warm glow makes an ideal night light.
The appeal of individual oil blends is wildly subjective, of course. I love This Works’ Morning Expert Wake-Up Drops (£18 for 10ml), Neom Organics’ Feel Good Vibes Essential Oil Blend (£20 for 10ml) and other zestful, enlivening blends, because the last thing I need is to feel more sleepy. (Controversially, I hate the strong lavender commonly used in “relaxing” versions.) You can mix your own according to taste: I like to blend a drop or two of grapefruit, rosemary and orange by Tisserand (), who, in my view, make the best oils on the high street at very fair prices (mostly around a fiver).
If you’re simply looking to replicate an expensive candle, then Diptyque’s Electric Wall Diffuser is a sound, if indulgent, purchase (£90, refills £33). Think an exceptionally posh, pretty Glade PlugIn, only with real perfume and available in the same scents as Diptyque’s most popular candles. Baies, an opulent but unsticky, unexpectedly vernal rose and blackcurrant, is among my all-time favourite smells.