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We Tried The Aromatherapy Diffusers Everyone's Talking About

Diffusers are bougie af but are they worth it?

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Tim Lane/BuzzFeed

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Aromatherapy diffusers might sound like a deeply bougie thing to have, and tbh they kinda are, but that’s not to say they don’t have lots of benefits.

For one, they make your room smell nice, without any risk of burning down your house, unlike candles and incense. They also restore moisture into dry indoor air, which means your skin stays clear and balanced, your hair stays shiny and moisturised, and your indoor plants don’t wither and die. There’s also a huge difference of prices that humidifiers can come at, and we wanted to see if those prices actually reflect their performance.

So, we three champagne-on-lemonade-budget babes tried out a £25.99 diffuser from Amazon, and a £59.95 diffuser from Muji – to see which was worth the money.

Amazon, Muji

Ailbhe: I love fancy bedtime things, but also have a low tolerance for "hippy crap", as my inner old timey grouchy old lady alter ego would say.

Ailbhe Malone

I've spent a small fortune on fancy candles and sleepytime sprays, and have eyed up diffusers for ages. But really, does the price affect the quality? I'm open to buying an expensive one – if it proves itself.


Ailbhe Malone/ BuzzFeed, Ailbhe Malone

Appearance: Like everything from Muji, this is so pleasing it hurts. The cord clips into the base of the diffuser neatly, and tucks to one side. There's two settings on the light, one dim and one bright – the bright one was enough to read my book by. There's a gentle splish splosh of the water filtering through the diffuser and the mist is fine enough to make a jet, but not thick enough for the water condensation to settle on my phone.

Effectiveness: The timer and light sync up perfectly, and you can schedule it so that the light turns off when the mist does. I tended to run the diffuser for 30-60 minutes, but there are longer options available too. When it comes to oils, the Muji oil bottles were difficult to open! There was no huge difference between the Amazon oil and the Muji oil – I preferred the Amazon one as it smelt less powdery, but that could be my cheapskate's confirmation bias.

Overall: By the third night of using this, I was almost on the Muji website buying my own one. My boyfriend was equally emotionally invested. On nights when I didn't turn the diffuser on, he grumbled "where's the nice steaming thing with the bubbling noise?" I'm so interested to see how the cheaper version stacks up, nothing can replace this in my heart – I'm certain of it.


Ailbhe Malone/ BuzzFeed

Appearance: I hate to be super ~ lifestyle ~ and constantly bring things back to ~ aesthetics ~, but I thought the coloured lights were horrid, and not illuminating at all – they're more for ambiance than actual lighting. However, I am someone who is firmly team #nocolouredchristmastreelights, so perhaps you may like the lights more than me.

Effectiveness: I found it didn't diffuse the scent as well as the Muji one either – as I had this diffuser in my living room, I left it on for 3 hours and also added a higher concentration of essential oils. But it didn't really make a difference. By the end of the test, I was looking at the Muji website, mournfully singing "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis.

Overall: I tried really hard to love this diffuser, but Muji had won me over. The Amazon diffuser had a weird whirring noise that meant I never brought it to my bedside. I'm into diffusers for zen, chill bedrooms – the only extra noise I want is the soothing rain noises from my sleep app.

Natalya: I love plants and I love skincare, and humidifiers are one of the few products that fully satisfy both those interests because they're good for your skin and your plants. Here is a picture of me caressing a leaf as proof of my love of plants.

Natalya Lobanova / BuzzFeed

I've had a humidifier on my Amazon wishlist for many years, and for many years I also put it on my Christmas wishlist yet no one ever chooses to buy it for me because apparently it's a "boring gift"???? I think we can all agree that this is not true.


Natalya Lobanova / BuzzFeed

Appearance: The shape of this lil guy is so adorable. It looks like an onion, or a dumpling, or a Studio Ghibli soot sprite. It's so cute that I will refer to it as the Li'l Onion Guy from now on. The dark wood grain is also perfect, because it looks so inconspicuous amongst my plants.

Effectiveness: It's a really simple thing to set up: you just plug it in and pour some water and essential oils into the belly (internal compartment) of the little guy and put his onion lid back on top.

It works well, though it produces a kind of unpleasant dripping noise occasionally (particularly right after you fill it up) and a constant hum. You can turn the humidifier on for one, three, or six hours, and it'll automatically turn off once the time is up or there is insufficient water.

I much preferred the Amazon oils to the Muji ones. I used the sweet orange oil: the scent was entirely natural, as though I'd just peeled 20 oranges with my bare hands, which I think is a good thing to smell like. The corresponding Muji oil I'd used, clementine, had a slight artificial twang to it – a little acidic. The bottle was also smaller, and after I got halfway through, I couldn't get any more out for whatever reason. Not great. With both of the oils, I felt I had to pour way more than the recommended three drops per 100ml to get any sort of fragrance in my room.

Overall impressions: I do like this humidifier and I'll probably buy more when I eventually turn my house into an indoor jungle.


Natalya Lobanova / BuzzFeed

Appearance: Okay, I'm sure people are going to disagree with me on this, and perhaps I'm biased and too attached to my lil onion guy. That said, if I had to say which of these looked more expensive and stylish, the Muji humidifier would not be the one I'd go for. There's something about all-white plastic that just makes it look like a cheap kitchen appliance.

Effectiveness: One thing that put me off immediately was that the plastic had absorbed the smells of the essential oils Ailbhe had used (we each took turns to use these). So much so that despite me carrying the humidifier home in a box, my bag still smelt like lavender the next day! I don't understand why it couldn't have just been made out of a material that doesn't absorb scents.

That said, it didn't actually hugely effect the scent of the citrusy oils I put in it. In fact, I think it was actually more effective at distributing the essential oil smell; I didn't feel like I needed to pour out half a bottle as I did with the Amazon one.

The main strength of this humidifier is just how efficient it was. I filled it up once and had it on for the maximum amount of time (about six hours). The next day, I was about to refill it when I'd realised that for six hours it had only used half the water that was inside it! Unlike the Amazon one, which I found myself having to basically refill every three hours. So, despite this being three times the price, it might actually be the more cost-effective purchase.

Overall impressions: It's an efficient humidifier, but I'm not sure if it's double-the-price efficient.

Emma: I have an obsession with both aromatherapy and pretty things and I live my life surrounded by enough clutter that fits both those criteria to horrify any minimalist.

Emma Cooke

And what's prettier than a glowing diffuser that puffs out scented mist? I have a desk humidifier, but now I know it's time to make the next step to house humidifier, I've cleared off a four by four patch on my bedroom table and I'm ready.


Appearance: Muji always has one of these set up in their shops, and I have never gone in and not ended up lusting over it. It's glowing and smells beautiful and the vapour looks magical, like they've got a tiny, mist-topped mountain landscape inside. The thing is though, that while the Muji diffuser looks gorgeous in Muji, where it is surrounded by its similar looking friends, in my flat which is almost entirely filled with bohemian-style (a.k.a shit I picked up in a market) decor, it looks a little out of place.

Effectiveness: Functionality-wise, it's great. The light is strong enough to use instead of a lamp, while the dimmer setting is a beautiful mood light. It's so easy to set up, which is good as I never read manuals for anything. It also has a soft bubbling water sound, which again makes me think Muji has snuck a bucolic scene inside – that's a babbling brook they've got in there, I swear it.

The oils, however, are nightmares. I hurt my hand twice trying to open the little buggers, because they just do not want to be used. There's child safety, and then there's just being a dickhead and this falls into the latter category. Unlike Ailbhe and Natalya, I couldn't smell much difference between the Amazon and Muji oils. The Muji ones are smaller, but I also feel like it lets out smaller drops so you end up using less.

Overall Impression: Despite the aesthetic issues, I love this. It makes my tiny studio flat feel like the luxurious abode of a fancy lady. And it helps me sleep!


Appearance: My boyfriend was in my house when I used both of these diffusers, and was entranced by both of them. I've heard they had a similar effect on Ailbhe's partner, so I guess these diffusers are also catnip for men? If you ever need to lure one into your house, just stand at the door with a diffuser and a big net.

Funnily enough, my boyfriend was convinced the Amazon one was the most expensive – he was quite shocked when I told him the price of the Muji diffuser in comparison. I definitely think the Amazon looks more expensive on first glance, with it's wooden outer shell and sleek shape. It also fits in a lot better with my house ~aesthetic~.

Effectiveness: On use, I think the Muji is slightly better – the Amazon has a small babbling brook noise, but it's drowned out by the whirring sound it also emits. The mist is also way less magical, and much less noticeable – you can barely see it in my pics. I'm also not a huge fan of the strip of light that changes colour. I don't really see the point of it. It's distracting to have on when you're trying to sleep, but also isn't bright enough to replace a lamp. It does smell as strong as the Muji ones though, so if you care about scent strength, this is just as effective.

Overall Impression: Pretty, but a little less sleep/relaxation friendly than the Muji one.

Final thoughts

Ailbhe: I mean, my thoughts are clear. I want a chill, sleepytime diffuser that I can schedule to turn itself off. So Amazon just wasn't for me. Team Muji for ever.

Natalya: For me and my purposes, I don’t think the Muji humidifier justifies a price tag twice the amount of the Amazon one, even if it is more efficient. However, if you prefer the aesthetic, and you want it for ambience, it’s probably a good option. If you just need an affordable humidifier, the Amazon one can do just as good of a job. All that said, I think the main thing I’ve learnt is that humidifiers are surprisingly easy to become emotionally attached to.

Emma: Overall, I'd be hard pushed to pick which diffuser I preferred. But I think if you're on a budget, the Amazon is 90% as good as the Muji one, for 50% of the price, which is a pretty good deal. Plus it may fit your home decor much better. Either way though, make sure you buy the Amazon oils – they're double the size of the Muji oils and won't make you consider smashing them against the nearest wall to get them open.