Lavender, of the genus Lavandula, is called the "fragrant plant of the mint family," and has clusters of small, sweet-smelling, purple flowers. Lavender comes from the Latin word, "lavare" meaning, "to wash" because in ancient times, it was used as a bath scent and for washed clothing. Skin products with lavender in them tout many benefits of this fragrant ingredient.
Essential oils are volatile oils taken from plants using extraction or distillation. These oils are usually used in perfumes and medications.
Although essential oils were used in ancient history, French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé coined the term "aromatherapy" in 1928. He published his book, "L'Aromatherapie", in 1937 and made "aromatherapy" a common word. Gattefossé also was very supportive of the lavender farmers and helped them to succeed.
Gattefossé demonstrated how effective lavender oil was on skin when he severely burnt his hand and doused it with pure lavender oil, immediately stopping the tissue gasification. He said his hand not only healed quickly, it healed without scarring.
Applying Lavender Oil
Apply lavender directly from the bottle to the skin. Unlike other essential oils, lavender doesn't have to be diluted. But if you want to dilute it, combine 2.5 to 10 per cent of lavender essential oil to a carrier oil like olive, jojoba or almond oils. Jodi Baglien, certified aromatherapist, says even though lavender oil is considered safe to use undiluted, your skin can become sensitised from repeated use and will react when it comes into contact with it.
Pour lavender oil onto cotton and apply to burns for healing without scarring.
Add a few drops of lavender oil to a bowl of cool water. Make a compress and apply it to your sunburn for healing.
Dab lavender oil onto acne blemishes or skin infections with a cotton swab, as a natural antibiotic. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, science has shown lavender oils have antibiotic properties, although these studies are still being tested.
Beautify, moisturise and tone your skin by misting it with a combination of purified water and a few drops of lavender oil in a bottle. Shake it well before each use.
Experiment with using lavender oil directly on stretch marks three times each day. This simple home remedy claims to fade stretch marks.
Purchasing Lavender Oil
Find 100 per cent pure lavender essential oils in natural health food stores and on the Internet.
Get advice on which lavender oil to purchase from an expert. Your local health food store may have an aromatherapist on staff.
Sniff the lavender oil before buying. Choose the one you resonate with. Jodi Baglien says each brand has a different smell depending on its origin and distillation method.
Stay away from lavandin. Lavandin is a cheaper hybrid of lavender oil, with a high camphor content.
Tips and Warnings
Use caution when using products containing lavender oil on children's skin. Ken Korach, Ph.D., chief at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), discovered lavender essential oils may cause breast growth (gynaecomastia) in boys, based on three patients. He said lavender and tea tree oil mimic oestrogen. When the boys stopped using their products, the gynaecomastia stopped and reversed.
Perform a patch test of lavender oil on your skin. Don't use lavender on your skin or in any form if you get a rash after applying, because you may be allergic to lavender.