Ask Jean: Essential Oils

Dear Jean, Essential oils seem so mysterious—but I want to try them. My specific problem is fatigue during the day, and sleeplessness at night—both of which contribute to my looking drab and tired. What’s the best way to use them—and do they really work? – Inna K.

I’d always enjoyed an essential oil mostly for the experience of scent: I’d breathe in lavender and think, I’m being calmed and energized all at once! I’d put eucalyptus in the bath and think, this cold is about to get better! But when I met the gorgeous and incredibly smart Shrankla Holacek, founder/CEO of Uma, and member of a family who has organically farmed, processed, and administered Ayurvedic essential oils for the royal family in India for several centuries and who continue to be the world’s major supplier of organic essential oils (they’re also in many of the most expensive perfumes on earth, like Tom Ford, for example), I (kind of) finally got it.

“Sure, there are aromatherapeutic benefits you get from essential oils, but their major benefits come from being absorbed into the bloodstream, through the skin,” Shrankla explains. Putting a given oil directly on your skin can cause irritation; blends that use a carrier oil are the novice’s way to go for sure. When that oil blend is bottled in thick glass etched with gorgeous minimalist flowers, this novice is beyond-sold. And Shrankla’s method for applying any oil blend—I’m obsessed, obsessed, obsessed with both the trance-inducing Pure Calm and Pure Energy (“this is that extra cup of coffee you shouldn’t be drinking”, says Shrankla, and she’s not kidding) oils—completely changed my approach:

  1. Smooth a bit of the oil between your fingers; add more as you need.

  2. Rub into the soles of your feet and especially between your toes, where the skin is very thin and absorption is at its maximum.

  3. Massage into your wrists (another thin-skinned, circulation-intensive area).

  4. Finish at your temples and behind your ears; inhale a little of the scent from your hands while you’re at it.

  5. Fall soundly asleep—or easily, non-joltingly, energize.

Uma Pure Calm

goop, $85

When you’re stressed, this aromatherapeutic oil is (literally) essential: Vetiver relaxes muscles, Roman chamomile calms nerves, and lavender soothes the mind, leaving you in a peaceful, restorative, ready-to-face-the-world mode.

Uma Pure Energy

goop, $85

Smooth on this beautifully invigorating, aromatherapeutic oil whenever you’re feeling tired, or just to get started in the morning: The combination of rosemary and peppermint is an easy, healthy alternative to caffeine—and of course, it smells incredible.

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