They're the gadget whose popularity soared in lockdown and it seems we're still loving electric diffusers for their mood-boosting and ambience-creating capabilities
If you’ve ever been to the spa or for a massage, chances are in the corner of your treatment room, a little electric diffuser was puffing out clouds of soothing essential oils, making you feel all the more blissed out. It used to be that these gadgets were only available to professional beauty haunts leaving us regular folk with the option of candles (we’ve rounded up the best winter candles if you’re on the hunt for a new one) and the best reed-diffusers we could lay our hands on.
Then the pandemic hit and our houses became sanctuaries, offices, gyms and everything else, our stress levels hit the ceiling and brands realised that we too needed the calm-inducing qualities of electronic diffusers. In fact, Neom's electric diffuser the Wellbeing Pod Mini, £50, sold a full-year forecast in just one month during one of the many lockdowns.
“There’s been a consistent demand for wellness products that produce more than just an aesthetic addition to a space," says Neom's founder Nicola Elliott. "Fragrance is being relied on more and more to change our feelings and emotions. It's an incredible tool to create and maintain a particular emotion and can impact on almost everything including stress levels, concentration, general mood and memory.”
Why do we love electric diffusers?
"We have spent so much time in our homes since the start of the pandemic and for many, they have now become the constant workplace," says massage therapist and founder of the SJW Signature Treatment, Sarah Jane Watson, who always has an electric diffuser on during her treatments. "This has created a need for something that supports our well-being as we navigate these changes. By using an electric diffuser with an aromatherapeutic blend we can have a direct impact on the nervous system helping to allay feelings of anxiety, depression or overwhelm."
And unlike candles or reed diffusers, you can blend your own bespoke scent using essential oils so that the scent in your home is as totally unique as you.
Do electric diffusers use a lot of electricity?
Of course, we all have to think about our bills more than ever before but the good news is that electric diffusers don't use up a lot of electricity. The standard wattage of a diffuser is 12W which is low, plus because they’re not heating anything up they are fairly energy efficient. However, they do of course use some electricity so it's definitely a point to consider when buying one. If you do have one then our top tip for making it as energy efficient as possible (and this applies to all your gadgets) is to switch it off from the plug once you're done and also take the plug out from the socket as it can still drain a very small amount of electricity if left in.
Is it ok to run a diffuser all night?
In short, yes! Most diffusers come with an automatic shut-off button which makes them a safer option than a candle. Plus they are completely smoke-free.
12 of the best electric diffusers
The luxury one: Aromatherapy Associates The Atomiser, £120; Oil blend in Forest Therapy, £25
This is waterless (so no mouldy reservoirs to clean), pretty much silent (no trickling noises or whirring fans) and doesn’t use heat so the purity of the oils is preserved. The ceramic tower comes with two diffuser heads which you screw into your chosen oil blend bottle and slot back into the diffuser. It gently puffs away with the odd delicate cloud of vapour. One charge will give you 18 hours of use in standard mode and 15 in boost mode for a stronger scent. You can choose a 30-minute, one-hour or three-hour setting. It comes with an empty bottle which you run with rubbing alcohol for cleaning, but there’s nothing to stop you from mixing your own blends in it either. It’s incredibly easy to use, very stylish and has a soft glowing light option, for a chilled spa vibe. It's cordless so you can relocate it wherever you want to scent, be it a deodoriser in the kitchen or bathroom or a mood-creator in the bedroom.
The budget one: Air Wick Essential Mist Kit Balancing Peony and Jasmine, £10; refills, £4
Less stylish than other electric diffusers we’ve seen, but if you’re not fussed about a fancy-looking device, this is well worth trying, especially if you pop it behind your computer screen or a photo frame. It uses 100 per cent natural essential oils, with each refill lasting around 45 days. It has three intensity settings; when you first turn it on an initial boost of scent fills the room, then it slowly releases scent for eight hours, with a bigger puff every few minutes. It delivers a subtle background scent. We tried the Balancing Peony and Jasmine mist, but there’s also Energising Orange Blossom and Lime and Relaxing Lavender, along with 10 other scents. It’s battery-operated and simple to use. Just click the refill in and off you go. Because it works exclusively with Air Wick refills, you can't create your own blends for this.
The luxe plug-in: Diptyque Electric Wall Diffuser, £95; Diffuser Refill in Baies, £35
You will be hard-pushed to find a better-looking plug-in diffuser than this, but then would you expect anything less from Diptyque? This gorgeous gilded-gold plus goes in the socket and then you simply switch it on to activate the scent. It automatically begins on a three-hour scenting cycle with the scent being released three times every hour. However you can change it to a manual setting which allows you to have it on or off as you choose. And the best part is you can buy inserts in all your favourite Diptyque scents; Baies, Roses, 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, Ambre, Mimosa, Tubereuse and Fleur D’Oranger and can change them whenever you choose rather than having to wait for one to finish before starting the next. Each refill lasts 40 hours if used continuously, far longer if used as and when you want it.
The handheld one: Alexandra Kay Time To Inhale Handheld Diffuser, £20; Oil Blends, £15
Super simple to use, you just twist the device open, add 3 drops of your favourite oil and half fill with water. Close it back up, give it a gentle shake to mix and then press the button for a fine mist whenever you need it. It is charged up via USB and when fully charged will deliver 8-10 cycles of 60 seconds of scent. This is very much the electronic diffuser for you the individual, rather than to scent your home or create an atmosphere. And the mist quite literally goes on and around you to help adjust and affect your mood.
The versatile one: Espa Aromatic Essential Oil Diffuser, £85; Diffuser Pod Oil in Restful, £15
Whilst this is not cordless, it's definitely one you might want to move around your home as it works perfectly to scent rooms but also has a soft nightlight making it ideal for by your bed at night time. Once you've decided where you want it situated, you fill it up with water, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil - there are brilliant Espa ones (GTG Beauty Director, SJ loves the Restful Aromatherapy Oil), but it works with any. It has a gentle trickling noise that's very spa-like and the scent reach is very impressive.
The nighttime one: Rituals Ritual of Jing Sleep Aroma Diffuser, £42.50; Ritual of Jing cartridge, £10.80
Very slick in design this gorgeous electric diffuser has been designed to prepare you for a good night's sleep and the idea if you're meant to use it to scent your wind-down routine whether that's reading in bed or practising some mindfulness. It’s super simple to use. You just click the cartridge into place underneath the diffuser, plug it in and you're good to go. It runs on a ten-minute cycle and puffs out very gentle wafts of scent whilst also having a very soft light too. It automatically switches off after ten-minutes but you can stop it manually beforehand if you want to. But we don't think you will as it smells divine, a mix of scents known to help boost sleep such as lavender and sandalwood. Our only negative is that it's only compatible with the one cartridge; Rituals’ Sleep of Jing so you’re committing to one scent with this.
The desk-friendly one: Marks & Spencer Portable Electronic Diffuser, £20 (includes Calm Fragrance Oil)
If you love the idea of scenting your workspace but don’t have the most spacious of desks or work areas then this is what you need. It fits in the palm of your hand and almost looks like an Alexa. It comes with disc-shaped pads that you sprinkle the oils over and insert into the diffuser. This comes with one of M&S's signature scents, Calm which contains sweet orange, lavender and clary sage but it would work with any of their other oils or your own.
The contemporary hotel one: Soho House Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser, £80; Signature Diffuser Oil Discovery, Set of Three, £25
Bring a little bit of the ultra-chic, and beautifully smelling, Soho House hotels into your own home with their very own diffuser. The diffuser uses ultrasonic technology which means the scent reaches really far but also that it cleans the air as it's doing it. There is a trio of oils that come separately and are the unique scents of all the Soho House hotels; Fig Verde is inspired by the gardens at Soho House Istanbul, Bergamot & Mandarin Zest is inspired by the oceanic view at Little House in Barcelona and Fireside which is the comforting scent of the fires at Babington House in Somerset.
The home decor one: The White Company Textured Ceramic Electronic Diffuser, £80; Pomegranate Fragrance Oil, £10
With a pretty herringbone texture, this ceramic diffuser looks like an objet d’art for the house as well as being an electric diffuser. It has settings for two, eight and 16 hours, though fills the room with scent in mere minutes. It makes a gentle bubbling noise that's soothing to have next to you in your home office and releases a heatless fine mist into the room. It's not cordless so can't be moved around the house at will and is a water and essential oil diffuser, so you can use The White Company's blends or create your own. And if you're already a fan of The White Company candle or reed diffuser scents then you will find nearly all your favourites available in the oil blend for the electronic diffuser.
The cult one: Neom Wellbeing Pod Essential Oil Diffuser, £95; Scent to Make You Happy Essential Oil blend, £20
This much sought-after plug-in ceramic diffuser comes with a sustainable sourced and upcycled wooden base. You fill it up with a blend of water and essential oils and switch it on for a tailored mood boost for either one hour, two hours, three hours or continuously. It lights up and sends the most beautiful calming and soothing smells, filling up the room in a short amount of time. There are lots of different oil scents to choose from - 14 in fact - and some of the pods come with a selection box (for a higher price point) but if you’re looking for a recommendation then we love the Make you Happy! with neroli, mimosa and lemon. However, you can add your own if you prefer.
The quiet one: Tisserand Aromatherapy Total De-Stress Aroma Spa Diffuser & Total De-Stress Oil Blend, £35
This plugin electric diffuser comes with oil included, making it a great buy in our opinion. All you need to do is unpack it, add some water and a few drops of oil and you're all set. It emits a fine and silent mist, accompanied by a soothing, soft light that makes the room feel cosy. You can set it to mist continuously or in bursts and because it’s so quiet, this is a great one to use at bedtime or even to keep on overnight. Tisserand is an expert in aromatherapy (the brand’s pulse point rollerballs are ideal for sending you to sleep) so the pure essential oils are potent and powerful but also very budget-friendly so if you want to try some of the other fragrances it will only cost you an additional £6.95.