Essential Oils in Aromatherapy, istockphoto, used with permission
Essential Oils in Aromatherapy, istockphoto, used with permission

Some essential oils which are used in aromatherapy practice are very expensive. Although such oils have some useful therapeutic properties, they are not within everyone’s budget because of their high price for the initial investment.

Expensive essential oils are sometimes adulterated with lesser or cheaper oils but they are not pure essential oils. However, if you can’t afford the high price of some of the more expensive oils, there are alternative essential oils with similar properties. These essential oils are pure oils and have therapeutic properties in their own right.

Substitute Oils for Rose Essential Oil

Rose (Rosa damascena) essential oil is one of the most expensive and most adulterated essential oils in aromatherapy practice. Rose oil is difficult to extract; it takes several thousand rose petals to produce a minute quantity of oil.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil is an acceptable substitute for rose oil. Although rose oil and geranium oil are made up of different chemical components, in different quantities, they both contain a high content of alcohols. In addition, both of these essential oils are popular with women and are used for many skincare complaints.

Substitute Oils for Melissa Essential Oil

Melissa (Melissa officinalis) essential oil, also known as lemon balm essential oil, is also highly priced. The plant produces little oil, so again a high quantity of plant material is needed to extract a reasonable amount of oil.

Melissa oil is often adulterated with lemon (Citrus limon), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) or lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) oil because of its lemony scent. A substitute oil for melissa oil depends upon your use for the oil; for example, if you are looking exclusively for the aroma of melissa oil, the aforementioned oils are acceptable substitutes. In addition, if you are looking to use it as insect repellent, both lemon and citronella essential oils possess the same therapeutic properties for such a purpose. If you are looking to replicate the calming properties for melissa oil used to relieve depression, try bergamot (Citrus bergamia) (for a citrus aroma) or lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oils.

Substitute Oils for Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) essential oil, also known as orange blossom essential oil, is a favorite oil in the perfumery industry. The pure essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the bitter orange tree and again is difficult to extract.

Neroli oil is used in skincare, as a treatment for shock and for stress-related illnesses. If you are looking for a more reasonably priced substitute for skincare, try geranium essential oil (as mentioned above). For stress-related illnesses, try an essential oil which is high in alcohols and/or esters (for example, lavender) or if you are looking for a citrus aroma, try bergamot. As an alternative for shock, Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy: An A -Z recommends peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil.

Take a Foundation Course in Aromatherapy

There are various other essential oils that are expensive too. You can learn how to substitute one oil for another in aromatherapy practice by learning and studying the chemical make-up and various uses of essential oils. If you are new to aromatherapy, take a course such as the Sedona Aromatherapie Foundation Course in Aromatherapy to learn the basics of essential oils and how you can use them in therapeutic aromatherapy practice and to make aromatherapy skincare products!


  • Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd
  • Davis, Patrica, 1999, Aromatherapy: An A-Z, UK: Vermilion
  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
  • Author is a certified aromatherapist.


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2 Thoughts on “Alternative Essential Oils That Can Be Used in Place of Expensive Essential Oils”

  • I am allergic to lavender essential oil, especially on my face and arround my eyes. Can you recommend a substitute for DYI blends/lotions?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Bonnie!

      There are many essential oils that you can use instead of lavender essential oil. However, it depends on what you want to use it for and what your other health issues are. Some “gentle” essential oils include geranium, Roman chamomile, and rose. But I can’t really advise more unless I knew your specific circumstances. I recommend that you pick up a good aromatherapy reference book or take a short aromatherapy course to educate yourself further 🙂

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