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a beginner’s guide to essential oils

Culture
collage photos via Getty Images

aromatherapy essentials

You don't need to jump on a plane to be transported to a blossoming European rose garden, nor do you need a spa appointment to feel your stress melt the oil out of your pores. It's not at all necessary to take sleeping pills to help you fall asleep, and it's possible to cut down on the amount of coffee you need to get through the day—all with the help of essential oils.

With just a few drops of oil, you can make a little magic happen. Whether you’re trying to assuage a headache, relax at the end of the day, or simply make your home smell amazing, essential oils are the simple answer to reinvigorating your senses. These aromatherapy essentials are easy to pick up in specialty shops or health food stores, but their many applications and purposes can be a little confusing for the beginner oil user. We spoke to three experts about how to use these all-natural oils to transform your everyday experience. 

What is aromatherapy?
"Aromatherapy (a.k.a., 'aromatic plant medicine') is a complementary and alternative care modality that is a powerful support to our own bodies' innate ability to heal itself," says Amy Galper, Executive Director of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. "Using essential oils, which are the highly concentrated and highly volatile aromatic molecules extracted from aromatic plant material, is an easy and beautiful way to de-stress and be proactive about our preventative care.”

Aromatherapy can be used not just to de-stress, but also to combat some minor health problems, like allergies and headaches—making them a great option for people seeking more natural remedies. “Essential oils have also long been used in many cultures to address a variety of ailments, including depression, nausea, headaches, and bacterial or viral infections just to name some," say Amy Lindwall and Fannie McWatt of EVER Brooklyn, an artisanal essential oil shop. These holistic oils also operate on an psychological level, working as mood-lifters.

What can essential oils be used for?
The uses of essential oils are seemingly unending. “I use essential oils on a daily basis for so many different reasons," says Shaby Tavakol of New York essential oil shop Enfleurage. "A drop of our organic peppermint oil in my coffee in the morning to promote digestive relief, a dash of bergamot dropped in the shower to wake me up and transcend me to the orange blossom groves in Italy, rose otto to balance my skin after I wash my face, a couple of drops of wild lavender on my pillow at night to help me fall asleep, a drop of thyme and cinnamon bark in a spoonful of honey when I feel a cold coming along, et cetera...”

Each essential oil has its own benefits, so depending on your specific ailments or desires, you can select the best oil for your lifestyle and apply it in whichever way works best for you. Essential oils can be used not just for aromatherapy, but also for "alternative medicine, massage, acupuncture, skin care, candle and soap making, flavoring, and perfuming," says Tavakol.

How do you apply essential oils?
Essential oils have two common application methods: dilution and diffusion. "Blending them with a carrier oil like jojoba, grapeseed, or coconut is best for body applications when you need quick absorption," say Lindwall and McWatt. Alternatively, a few drops of essential oil can be mixed with unscented body lotion or hand cream for foolproof dilution.

Diffusers can spread essential oils through a room, so this technique is best for enhancing the aroma of your home. The Jasmine Aroma Diffuser, stocked by Enfleurage, is a water-based diffuser that spreads a fine mist of the oil. Each different oil used in a diffuser can have a different result. "When congested, diffuse eucalyptus. When restless, diffuse lavender or marjoram. When cleaning, diffuse lemon to cleanse the air," says Tavakol.

Alternatively, an inhaler can be used for diffusing on-the-go or for a targeted mist. "These are perfect for treating sinus infections, allergies, and asthma, and other applications where you need quick relief," say Lindwall and McWatt. "It’s the fastest route for getting the essential oils into your bloodstream."

What are the benefits of using essential oils?
While essential oils have a multitude of purposes, as a whole they are a great product to help you relax, combat minor ailments, and overall, get more in touch with nature. "Our daily lives consist of routines," says Tavakol. "From the moment we wake to the time we lay our heads for rest, there is a lot of chaos that can happen between the 17-plus hours we are awake. I strongly feel that the ritual adornments of essential oils can take an average day to one most decadent."

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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