There are a plethora of essential oils to explore, each one with it’s own unique qualities and purposes…
The range and diversity of what’s “out there” can be a bit overwhelming at first glance, so understanding them is essential to finding the perfect one for you.
Instead of hours Googling them, you’re better off giving this goop article a read; it’s broken down into four separate mini-articles that talk about oil absorption, essential oils “101,” why you should have them in your medicine cabinet, and how they can combat fatigue. The information is short and sweet, but this is a fantastic primer to all things essential oil!
All articles & photography by goop
Optimizing Essential-Oil Absorption
Who doesn’t love a foot massage? Whether as a moment of self-care or a few minutes of parent-child bonding that even the snarliest teenager will look forward to, a foot rub is an easy, powerful way to connect with anyone you’re caring for. The feel-good human contact benefits are many, but even the most slapdash massage can tap into centuries of Ayurvedic wisdom and the power of essential oils. Shrankla Holecek, whose family has grown and blended essential oils in India for hundreds of years, taught us this short ritual to maximize the benefits of oil blends. We love her Pure Calm oil just before bed, but Pure Energy is pretty fantastic first thing in the morning (or after a dry brush and a shower), and Pure Bliss is decidedly happy-making, any time of day.
Designed to optimize both the transdermal (through the skin) and the olfactory (the sense of smell, connecting to the limbic brain) absorption of the oils, these seven steps take two minutes, tops.
- Gently rub the skin between your toes to warm it.
- Take four to five drops of oil and massage between your toes, spending about three to five seconds between each toe. (The skin is thinnest and thus most absorptive there.)
- With the oil still on your fingers and palms, now massage the bottoms of your feet, spending about thirty seconds on each foot.
- Move on to your inner wrists and gently massage with your thumb; spend about ten to fifteen seconds on each wrist. (The skin at the inner wrists is also very thin.)
- Next, massage for fifteen seconds behind your ears, using your forefingers in a circular motion.
- Gently massage your temples and forehead, using your forefingers in circular motions, for ten seconds.
- Finally, cup your palms over your nose and mouth and take five deep inhalations. This final step triggers the olfactory therapeutic benefits.
Essential Oils 101
Megan O’Neill is new to goop—and the initiation process involves a pretty fantastic learning curve. Here, her adventures in onboarding, goop-style:
One of the best things about living in New York is the bunches of fresh eucalyptus sold at practically every neighborhood deli: I like to hang a bundle from my shower head (75 percent of my at-home activities happen in the tub; typical water-loving Scorpio behavior). Under the hot-as-I-can-stand spray, the clearing steam billows up, and the next few seconds are cocooned in a magic-smelling haze. Not to mention, the abundant dusty-green eucalyptus leaves dangling there lend my somewhat-dingy bathroom a glamorous hot-house vibe. (Do try this at home!)
Following my eucalyptus obsession naturally led me to its essential oil: The version from Vitruvi is organic, sourced in the French Alps, and a true essential oil, meaning it contains both the aromatic essence and therapeutic properties of the plant it’s derived from—as opposed to a simpler botanical oil like avocado, whose main benefit is hydration. Vitruvi extracts their essential oils only through steam distillation and cold pressing, not less expensive, highly adulterating chemical-extraction methods that some conventional oil brands practice.
I take deep, frequent whiffs from the tiny bottle—the scent is at once soothing and stimulating.
Vitruvi Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Sourced from France, this certified organic essential oil is known for its fresh, herbaceous scent—hence its popularity in spa steam rooms. The stimulating oil is brilliant to use with Vitruvi’s Stone Diffuser to clarify the air in your home/office/personal sanctuary.
One night as I’m lounging on the couch, I glimpse a sliver of my lizard-skin leg and realize the only thing that makes my parched skin truly soft is coconut oil. The organic one from RMS Beauty is supremely rich—it’s extracted using a proprietary technique that preserves a high percentage of caprylic and lauric acids, which are ruined in the refining process that even most organic, cold-pressed coconut oils undergo. Overflowing with fatty acids and antioxidant activity, the oil is stupendously hydrating and mild enough for most skin types. What if I mixed the eucalyptus into that?
I tilt a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a scoop of the coconut in my palm. (A touch more than two tablespoons, whether the coconut is in solid or liquid form, is enough for the entire body—along with three drops of essential oil). The herbaceous-tropical-tinged scent is intoxicating, and when I massage the mixture into my ashy legs, they gleam.
RMS Beauty Small Deluxe Raw Coconut Cream
A transformative treatment for all kinds of skin, from dry and sensitive to blemish-prone, this can be used as everything from moisturizer, makeup remover, cuticle and lip balm, to makeup primer and a base for mixing with makeup powders and pigments. The tiniest bit goes an incredibly long way.
Vitruvi Lavender Essential Oil
Made of 100% certified-organic lavender harvested from high alpine fields in France, this essential oil is soothing. Lavender’s powers can be accessed via Vitruvi’s gorgeous Stone Diffuser, or through direct palm inhalation.
I start experimenting: I massage a mix of the RMS and lavender oil into my neck and shoulders before bed—incredibly calming. Then I mix the lavender and eucalyptus with the coconut oil: heady.
Vitruvi Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil
Made of 100% US-grown pink grapefruit, this essential oil feels refreshing, uplifting, and rejuvenating.
I blend grapefruit essential oil into the coconut—the result is fresh and uplifting without being floral. It quickly becomes my everyday fragrance—I do my coconut oil concoction on my limbs in the mornings, then smooth a few drops of just the oil onto my wrists. Squashed in a packed subway on my commute to and from work, I feel relaxed, yet wider awake. I play around with how many drops to use in how much coconut oil—there’s no wrong or right (or exact chemistry) to it.
I’m not stopping there, either: I’ve started mixing friends their own coconut-essential oil infusions in chic Weck mason jars as b-day and housewarming presents. I gave my husband (who is running a crazy-town ultra-marathon) a lavender-coconut oil massage, and he won’t stop asking when his next “session” is.
The best thing is, there are infinite combinations of oils to play with (I might avoid blending tea tree and peppermint oils into body oil, since they’re intense for sensitive areas of the body). And while New York City delis dispense blissfully gigantic bundles of fresh eucalyptus for $15 or so, if you’re without that resource, I cannot recommend the Vitruvi diffuser + eucalyptus oil more.
Why Essential Oils Should Be in Your Medicine Cabinet—and How to Use Them
The brilliant founder of the goop-beloved, essential-oil-infused, clean line based in Gowanus, Brooklyn has come out with a fantastic book, Just The Essentials, on how to incorporate essentials oils into everyday life—easily. S.W. Basics founder Adina Grigore got into the field when even prescription medication wouldn’t treat her acne and problem skin—and essential oils did. She’s a fountain of knowledge, not just about the oils’ amazing effects on skin, but how to use them in all areas of life, from cleaning your house to treating even serious health issues. Best of all, her down-to-earth, funny voice is kind of the opposite of the often mysterious, jargon-heavy style essential oils get treated to.
Along with piles of tips, cool facts, and a ton of research, Grigore also gives simple DIY recipes for everything from beauty items to household cleaners. Cute, smart, funny, and brilliantly comprehensive, this is the book to get if essential oils even vaguely interest you.
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 occasional trouble sleeping 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! But then 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. She continues to be a major supplier of organic essential oils (they’re also in many of the most expensive perfumes on earth, like Tom Ford, for example). And talking to Shrankla, I (kind of) finally got it.
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 Pure Calm and Pure Energy oils—completely changed my approach:
- Smooth a bit of the oil between your fingers; add more as you need.
- Rub into the soles of your feet and especially between your toes.
- Massage into your wrists.
- Finish at your temples and behind your ears; inhale a little of the scent from your hands while you’re at it.
- Fall soundly asleep—or easily, non-joltingly, energize.
Uma Pure Calm
When you’re stressed, this oil is (literally) essential. Made with Vetiver, Roman chamomile, and lavender—it can leave you in a peaceful, restorative, ready-to-face-the-world mode.
Uma Pure Energy
Smooth on this beautifully invigorating oil whenever you’re feeling a little tired, or just to get started in the morning: The combination of rosemary and peppermint smells incredible.