Our skin is the reflection of our health and vitality, physical, mental and emotional wellness. A radiant and glowing skin indicates good health, positive attitude and vibrates self-confidence. One of the best ways to take good care of your skin is to feed it natural, nourshing ingredients. Avoiding toxins and chemical-laden products will do wonders to help many skin and health issues, such as; clearing up acne-prone skin, gaining a more restful nights sleep, fewer trips to the doctor or pharmacist, gaining an overall healthier appearance and energetic body and mind.
Of the many herbal and organic ingredients we can choose for our skincare and health regimes, lavender is by far the most-well-known, frequently used and most versatile.
What is Lavender?
Lavender’s botanical name is Lavendula officinalis / angustifolia. Lavender is a member of the Labiatae Family and is a native of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, however, lavender plantations are now widely found around the world as species hybridisation
has enabled lavender to be grown commercially outside its natural climatic range. The grey-green foliage and purple-blue flower spike of lavender is easily identified and commonly seen in herb gardens. Its aroma originating from the essential oil contained in lavender is readily recognized, especially when the flowers or leaves are touched.
Where does Lavender come from?
The most well known lavender comes from the Mediterranean region of France. The essential oil from the ‘French lavender’, is often preferred by Aromatherapists. However, there are two main species, Lavandula latifolia (spike or sweet lavender) and L. angustifolia (English/French lavender) that are used in commerce. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States.
What are the properties in Lavender?
Lavender is used in many forms. Herbalists are most likely to use lavender in the form of tea or as a herbal extract. Aromatherapist
however, will use the essential oil extracted by steam distillation from the flowers of lavender in their treatments. And newer pharmceutical and skin care usage has seen lavender explode as a key ingredient in everything from soaps to skin creams to cosmetics.
Benefits of Lavender:
This versatile essential oil is familiar not only to many herbalists and skin care experts but to many laypersons as well. If you search the kitchen or first aid kit of any serious herbalist – lavender will most likely be there in the largest quantity. Lavender is one of the best natural ingredients to help stop the pain from minor kitchen accidents such as burns from the oven/stove or knife cuts. A drop of lavender can ease the pain, and only the addition of the gel-like innards of a freshly sliced open aloe vera leaf is as good a remedy for instant relief. Combining the two is recommended, as aloe vera instantly cools a hot burn. For sunburn pain, lavender is also recommended. Pesky mosquito or other insect bites bothering you? Try adding lavender essential oil to the problem area(s) and your skin will thank you.
Headaches may disappear when you massage a tiny amount of lavender on your temples or the nape of your neck.
Lavender and relaxation are two words that are virtually synonymous with each other. However, according to author Erich Keller in his book ‘Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair and Skin Care’ he writes: “Lavender is an all-purpose oil for skin care. Its effect is antibacterial, pain-relieving, healing for wounds, soothing for skin diseases, deodorizing, antiseptic, fungicidal, insect-repelling, rejuvenating, and anti-inflammatory. It may be used to treat all types of skin and is effective for acne and oily hair (as it regulates sebum production), itchy skin, hand care, cracked skin, bruises, shock injuries (in ice-cold compresses), acne scars, blisters, abscesses, furuncles, warts, boils, eczema, athlete’s foot (tea tree is more effective here, however), wounds, and burns. A bath with lavender soothes and heals the skin after sunburn.”
In either case, lavender has many powerful, therapeutic applications, which include: Depression, insomnia, migraine, hysteria, nervous tension and paralysis.
Although it is not really anti-inflammatory, lavender is often useful where there is inflammation, hence its use in burns, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, rheumatism, wounds, ulcers, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, cystitis, diarrhoea, laryngitis, etc. Lavender is well known for its wound healing, cleansing and toning properties and removes redness and heat from the skin, making Lavender oil a suitable addition to any skin care preparation and for any skin type.
Lavender has been shown to be very useful in the relief of burns in which case it can be applied neat to the area. Research has confirmed that lavender produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.
Using natural ingredients is crucial to making good quality natural skin care products. Not only are using natural ingredients safer to use, but they also have less negative impact on our environment. Lavender is suitable for use in any skin type. It’s gentle, soothing and calming properties are especially indicated for use on sensitive, dry and/or irritated skin. It is also a popular ingredient in shampoos, soaps, hair conditioners and body lotions.
Lavender’s use in skin care products is far and wide. Because of its soothing, calming properties it is an ideal ingredient in cleansers and moisturizers, but is also of value in toners and masks. In moisturizers, lavender may be combined with other ingredients such as chamomile, jojoba, calendula, avocado and others, to reinforce the calming and soothing effects of lavender.