Product Review: Monq Portable Essential Oil Diffusers

Aromatherapy has been practiced for so long in various parts of the world that there's really no general consensus  on when or where it started. But even the term "aromatherapy" is old; first credited to French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who coined the term after using lavender oil to heal a burn.

I myself grew up with a mother who loved aromatherapy, albeit without realizing - she had a steady love affair over the years with all types of incense, scented candles, wax burners, and even those little felt circles you'd put essential oils on and then sit it on top of a light bulb to warm. Her love of most things scented passed to me at an early age, which may have been where the felt lamp things came into play - much safer than giving a kid a candle, right? But as I've grown and developed my own scent and scented product preferences, I've found a new way to appreciate the smells I love.

Between scented laundry soaps, scented body washes, perfumes, lotions, and body sprays, you'd think I've got all the smells I could handle. But those are mostly for quick enjoyment, for that moment when you close your eyes and breathe something good deep into your lungs. The scent of coffee, a whiff of cocoa, the spice of herbs, the sweetness of flowers. But aside from those products, I'm also madly in love with wax melts - because they're safer than flamed candles, I never lose the wick in the wax, thy're soot-free, and they come in smells that mimic just about any delicious baked good known to man.

You see, I'm not really a baker - I don't even play one on TV (I wish, though) - but I do love the heavenly scent of freshly baked everything.

And yet, I hadn't really ventured into aromatherapy specifically - and I've never really used actual essential oils in any specific way other than those already mentioned.

I've been curious about oils and aromatherapy for a while though, so ...

I've been looking into various companies that offer various oil blends - some for mood enhancement such as dealing with depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, etc., and others because they offered blends I thought I'd find reassuring or generally pleasant. But the girls and I currently live in a somewhat crowded family home, and part of being crowded means acknowledging and attempting to respect the various preferences, likes, and dislikes of those in the house. Which means that a scent one person might find utterly divine could be completely bothersome to another - not really conducive to the use of melts, candles, and room sprays for the most part, or even diffusers of other varieties.

I looked into rub-on blends and stuff, too, but I know some oils interact funny with some people, and I didn't really feel comfortable enough to go quite that far until I learned more about what I do and do not like to smell and experience.

Personal diffusers like the kinds you can wear (lava beads, felt lockets, etc.) still would have needed me to know what I liked, as well as where to get decent oils, how to store them, how to mix them, and which ones would work well together. And sure, I could have learned a good deal of that just from combining research with trial and error, but oils aren't usually cheap and as a single mom on a limited budget, I'm not really looking to throw away money I don't have. Which is where Monq comes in.

Monq is one of a few companies that have taken an entirely new step in the process to innovate the use of essential oils in a way that makes them easy to understand, quickly accessible, and totally fun to use! Their blends are all 100% organic and vegan, beginning with coconut-derived vegetable glycerin and ending with custom-blended oils sourced from trusted United States companies. And the delivery couldn't be simpler - each blend comes packaged neatly in a sealed tube no bigger than a marker, and once you open the tube, out slides a beautifully crafted, portable stainless steel vaporizer already prefilled and ready to go.

Still, while "vaporizer" is technically the right term (because although these are totally safe to use and completely free of tobacco or nicotine, they do use the same easy technology that makes scented, flavored vape cigarettes so popular), Monq prefers to call their tidy, totally pocketable devices "portable aromatherapy diffusers" both in an effort to break away from the vape/cigarette connection and to openly acknowledge the purpose and benefits of aromatherapy diffusers in general.

Seeing Monq pop up in my Instagram feed was just the encouragement I needed to keep looking into the concept in the first place, and eventually I worked up the courage to offer a review. To my delight, a few simple email exchanges led to my receiving four of Monq's 11 custom blends in the mail - and just in time too, as I've been having a ton of craziness in my personal life and really needed the burst of excitement that came from opening the package and admiring the product firsthand.

The first thing I did was sniff them to test the scents, all of which I liked - some better than others, of course. The second thing I did was call the girls in to sniff them too, partly because I was curious and partly because I knew their responses would be hilarious. These devices aren't meant to be used by anyone under the age of 18 because they are breathed into the mouth and out the nose (no inhaling!), but I didn't see the harm in letting them smell the blends. Here were their opinions of the diffusers I chose to try for this review.

LOVE: notes of cacao, davana, and siam wood
  • Joey said, "Ewww! It smells like cinnamon!" (which made me laugh because while it is one of the "other" ingredients in the blend, it isn't listed among the main three)
  • Eden said, "I don't like it." When I asked her why, she just shrugged and said, "Because it doesn't smell good to me."
OCEAN: notes of eucalyptus, lime, and tangerine
  • Eden said, "Mmm. I've never really smelled the ocean, but this is what I think the ocean would smell like. It's good."
  • Joey didn't actually say anything with this one - instead she closed her eyes, sighed softly, and attempted to walk away with the diffuser still held to her nose. Apparently, Ocean was a winner with both girls.
SLEEPY: notes of chamomile, kava, and lavender
  • Joey said, "Nope, I don't like that one either. Maybe aromatherapy just isn't for me."
  • Eden said, "Blech!! I do not like that! It smells disgusting!" (which was surprising, as I think it smells quite similar to one of my favorite teas, which she loves to drink)
ZEN: notes of frankincense, sweet orange, and ylang ylang
  • Eden smelled this one several times, sighed, and said, "I like this one; it smells sort of like flowers."
  • Joey said, "I don't really like that one either ... it smells like lavender." (No surprise there, as lavender isn't a scent she usually cares for anyway)

With that little bit of amusement out of the way, it was time for me to test the blends myself, taking time to breathe them in and really use them, noting how I felt, what I liked and didn't like, the efficiency of the blends themselves, etc.

I knew right from the get-go that Ocean would be my favorite of the four diffusers Monq sent for me to try. I'm a Tennessee girl through and through, and have been since I was sixteen, but I'll always be a Florida transplant with a soul-deep love of the ocean. The main scent notes are marked on the side of the device, but as they come together with the minor notes in the blend, they retain the eucalyptus tingle while smoothing out the citrus zest. It all comes together beautifully to mimic the sandy, salty tang of an afternoon in the foaming, rolling waves of the beach ... and this transplanted beach babe almost felt like home again. Two to three gentle puffs (careful not to inhale into the lungs) is all it takes to close my eyes, calm, my heart, and gift me with the sort of contented smile I haven't had nearly enough of lately. I can definitely see this blend becoming a staple in my life, especially since I have trouble relaxing to sleep and it wasn't ten minutes after breathing Ocean in that I was ready to head to bed for the evening.

Which leads to Sleepy, which I took upstairs with me when the girls and I shut down for the night. I finished my bedtime routine, cleaned my teeth, washed my face - and then took a minute to soak in the hint of lavender-laced chamomile that somehow almost perfectly mimics several of my favorite green tea blends. A soft sigh, a second puff of calm relaxation. I waited, letting the scented water vapor from the diffuser waft around me, noticing the drop developing in my shoulders, the heaviness weighing my eyes. Now, granted, I had had a very stressful day and it was getting pretty late - I was authentically tired in every sense of the word. But I wasn't all that sleepy because I was worrying. Still the effects of the Ocean from a few hours earlier were still lingering in my scent memory, and when I covered them with Sleepy ... well, I slept that night.

Waking up the next day was hectic; Eden was hyper, I had a ton of stuff to catch up on, I knew there was no way I could do it all in the time I had allowed, and I had a raging headache. The day's demands started rolling in almost as soon as I rolled out of bed, and by the time I stumbled to the kitchen and found my way to the coffee pot, my frustration and sense of overwhelm was already about to boil over. So I walked away from the coffee pot, took a couple of deep breaths, met the demands of the kids and the dog, and realized that that moment was a perfect time to experiment with Zen. With just the right blend of spicy and clean, this blend lives up to the hype with a scent reminiscent of a quiet spa. Coupling this with water sounds and bells or gongs - like I did by using my favorite instant-getaway app - had me in an almost instantly relaxed state. And after a few moments of letting the aroma sink in while the water sounds washed away my frustrations, I was myself again, ready to get the day going with a smile.

Later that day, as I wrapped up my writing and settled in for a much-needed reading session, I opened the Love blend and slipped the diffuser from it's storage tube, taking in the scent as I reveled in the weight of my dog against my leg and the quiet of a relatively empty house. The girls were next door playing with the neighbor's daughter, leaving me free to enjoy the effects of the blend. For me, the scent is similar to what I imagine would happen if a chai tea had a deliciously spicy-sweet baby with a cinnamon-dusted hot chocolate, and as I settled in to read the rest of Confess (by Colleen Hoover), I was amazed to notice that while the blend was somehow both relaxing and uplifting, it also had some amusing impact on me in other ways. Can't say it made me feel particularly in "love," but ... well, let's just say now I'm anxious for the chance to try Monq's Sexy blend!

And I like that for $20, I could try any one of the blends - including active, forest, happy, healthy, love, mountain, ocean, sleepy, sexy, vibrant, and zen! To top that off, there are deals for bigger purchases, blend sets, bonuses, subscription options, and other ways to earn FREE Monq products for yourself or your loved ones.

Oh, and they have a recycling program too, as if they weren't already awesome enough. (There's also an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.)

So tell me - have you tried aromatherapy before? If so, what are your favorite blends and where do you source the products you love best? If you don't like aromatherapy, why not? Would you like me to review more Monq diffusers or products like them? Let's chat in the comments!

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Note: This post is a partnership with Monq Aromatherapy. The products used in this review were provided to me for free; nonetheless, all thoughts, opinions, and ideas expressed in this post are my own. As you know, I would never recommend any site, service or product I didn't authentically love - but I think my signing up for their rewards program should testify to the honesty of my infatuation.