Lavender is a traditional health and beauty favorite which has been used for thousands of years for its sweet smelling fragrance and variety of uses.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used the flowers in the water they bathed in to help clean away dirt and contaminants from the skin.
And there’s evidence of the ancient Egyptians use of lavender oil as a perfume and in cosmetics as long as 5000 years ago.
The use of essential oils remains popular to this day, with lavender essential oil chief among them.
When applied to the skin it has both beauty and medicinal uses that are increasingly supported by scientific research.
In this article, I’ll show you what we know about the benefits of lavender oil for skin. And how to start using it as part of your skin care routine today.
- 1 What Is Lavender Oil?
- 2 The Benefits Of Lavender Oil
- 3 How To Use Lavender Oil For Skin
- 4 Side Effects & Precautions
- 5 Related Questions
What Is Lavender Oil?
Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils worldwide, and most people recognize its distinctive, fresh, and relaxing scent.
This has made it very popular in aromatherapy and it’s regularly used by holistic health practitioners.
But, its health uses may go beyond that, and science is starting to investigate the possible benefits it has for addressing a range of issues.
The oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant Lavandula angustifolia, an easily grown and evergreen shrub.
Originally a native of the Mediterranean area, where its use stretches back to antiquity, it’s now grown around the world in temperate climates.
A testament to its popularity, worldwide production of lavender oil is estimated at approximately 1000 metric tons per year. With Bulgaria being the biggest producer.
There are different methods that can be used to extract lavender oil.
And when you’re buying it to use on your skin it’s important to understand the difference so that you know what you’re getting.
The method of choice for producing lavender essential oil is a process called steam distillation (1).
The lavender harvest usually takes place in June, and the extraction of the oil uses the following process:
As you can see, this is a process that doesn’t add any impurities to the oil and allows it to obtain a certified organic status if the lavender has been grown organically.
Solvent extraction is also used to produce lavender oil. In this method, chemicals are used for the extraction.
But, this is usually considered less desirable for skin care, because who really wants the possibility of leftover chemical residues being absorbed by their skin?
As an ideal, it’s best to use organic essential oils when you can. And the chemicals used in solvent extraction will usually prevent the final product from being certified organic.
The major phytochemicals that make up lavender oil can be seen in the table above.
Lavender oil contains over 100 different compounds, many of which are only present in very small quantities.
It consists largely of monoterpeneoids and sesquiterpeneoids, with linalool (also known as linalol) and linalyl acetate the major constituents.
Also present in moderate to low quantities are terpinen-4-ol, lavandulyl acetate, and β-Caryophyllene.
These are known to be bioactive and have a range of healthy effects on the human body.
Is lavender oil good for skin?
Many people find lavender oil beneficial when applied to the skin, whether it’s for relief of pain and irritation, or as a treatment for minor injuries and skin conditions.
Some people use it simply because they enjoy the proven calming and relaxing properties of its scent as they go about their day. And it can be easily mixed into homemade skin care preparations.
Its popularity has led to its use in a variety of commercially available products for use on the skin such as soaps, body lotions, and moisturizer creams.
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The Benefits Of Lavender Oil
Like most of the best essential oils for skin care, lavender oil contains antioxidants (2) that could help to protect the skin from the aging caused by free radical damage.
Free radicals are created in the skin after exposure to UV light from the sun and toxins that are present in the environment.
This leads to lipid peroxidation and damage to the structural proteins collagen and elastin.
Unfortunately, as this damage accumulates over time it results in the formation of some of the things we most want to avoid; lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
The two major constituents of lavender oil are the monoterpenes linalool and linalyl acetate. And both are potent antioxidants. As are many of the other compounds that are present in lesser amounts such as camphor and terpinen-4-ol.
This means that the topical application of antioxidants such as the monoterpenes found in lavender oil could provide protection against free radical damage and slow the appearance of the visible signs of aging.
Lavender oil has developed a good reputation for being an essential oil that can help to treat acne.
But, you should know that despite the hype, there still hasn’t been clinical trials conducted that prove its effectiveness when used on acne patients.
However, there are many anecdotal reports by people who claim that it’s helped with their condition.
Lavender oil does have a number of well-known properties that suggest a reason for this.
Firstly, scientific studies have shown that it has strong antibacterial properties. And these studies have also confirmed that it kills the acne bacteria P. acnes (3).
That’s a good start, and on its own would make it potentially useful when mixed with a beneficial carrier oil or added to a face mask.
But, lavender oil is also anti-inflammatory. Acne is a condition characterized by the inflammation caused by the bacteria. So a reduction in this inflammation could reduce its severity.
And its antioxidant properties might be able to prevent the oxidation of sebum in the skin pores. A known contributing factor to the development of the skin condition.
So lavender oil appears to have a lot going for it as a natural acne treatment. But we’ll have to wait for scientific confirmation before we know exactly how effective it is.
One of the most well-established effects of lavender oil on the skin is its ability to act as an analgesic (4).
When applied topically it can relieve pain, which is thought to be due to its high linalool content.
Linalool’s analgesic properties have been well documented in scientific studies (5).
This effect also makes lavender oil useful for soothing bug bites, knocks, and scratches.
Wounds & Burns
Lavender oil has shown encouraging results when used to help heal wounds.
Its antibacterial properties can help prevent infection, and animal studies also suggest that it can increase the speed of healing as well.
Topical application of the oil leads to an increase in collagen synthesis at the wound site and the proliferation of cells that are required to accelerate wound contraction (6).
Anecdotal evidence also suggests a use for healing burns. This makes sense in light of its antibacterial, analgesic, and incision wound healing effect. But, it requires further study to examine its usefulness.
MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria naturally live on the skin or in the nose around a third of all people.
Usually, it doesn’t cause a problem. However, it can cause a nasty infection if it gets into the body through cuts or sores on the skin.
Unfortunately, MRSA infection can be difficult to treat because it has developed a resistance to some of the commonly prescribed antibiotics.
But, studies suggest that the antibacterial properties of lavender oil could provide a solution.
In a study examining the effects of a variety of essential oils against 3 strains of MRSA in vitro, lavender oil was shown to have significant inhibitory activity (7).
In addition to its powerful antibacterial properties, scientific studies have also shown that lavender oil is an antifungal that’s effective against a range of fungi that are responsible for skin infections (8).
In one study, a 2% solution was shown to be 100% effective at killing 50 different strains of Candida albicans (9).
As much as we love the sweet smell of lavender oil, many insects find it just as offensive.
This includes some of the nasties like mosquitoes and midges that like to bite your skin, leaving it feeling itchy and sore.
Add several drops to your favorite carrier oil and spread it on your skin for an effective and fragrant homemade bug repellent (see recipes below).
How To Use Lavender Oil For Skin
Many people find undiluted lavender oil to be too powerful for their skin and it can cause irritation.
So, it’s best to dilute it using a good carrier or water.
Here are some simple recipes for you to try that aim for about a 2% concentration. Most people will find this suitable for their skin. You can adjust it according to your experience and tolerance.
Lavender Oil And Water Spray
Directions For Use:
1. Get a bottle of organic lavender essential oil
2. Get a dark amber glass bottle with a spray nozzle (6 or 8 oz bottle).
3. Put 7 tablespoons of water into the bottle.
4. Add ½ a teaspoon of lavender oil.
5. Shake the bottle well to mix the oil with the water before each use.
Lavender Oil, Tea Tree Oil, And Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil makes a very good carrier. It’s low on the comedogenicity scale with a rating of 2 which means it’s unlikely to block your skin pores.
It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and can help to normalize skin sebum production. This makes it one of the most popular facial oils that’s used by people with acne and oily skin.
You can substitute the jojoba oil with another carrier of your choice.
Tea tree oil is well known for it’s acne fighting properties, and is effective at killing the acne bacteria and reducing the inflammation.
Directions For Use:
1. Purchase a bottle of organic jojoba oil, a bottle of organic tea tree oil, and a bottle of organic lavender oil.
2. Put 2 tablespoons of the jojoba oil into a small amber glass bottle (a 2 oz bottle is fine).
3. Add 6 drops of tea tree oil to the bottle.
4. Add 6 drops of lavender oil to the bottle.
5. Shake the bottle well to mix the oils together.
6. Use a dropper to put a few drops of the mixture on your skin and then use your fingertips to massage it in gently.
Lavender Oil And Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera can also be used as a carrier for essential oils. It’s moisturizing and soothing, and can help to relieve itchy skin conditions.
Directions For Use:
1. Get a bottle of the best organic Aloe vera gel and a bottle of organic lavender oil.
2. Put 3 tablespoons of the Aloe vera into a bowl.
3. Add 18 drops of lavender oil to the bowl and mix the ingredients together with a spoon.
4. Use your fingers to spread the mixture over your skin.
5. Keep any excess mixture in the fridge in a sealed container for further use.
Side Effects & Precautions
Can lavender oil help scars?
There are no scientific studies that have looked at its impact on scarring, and there’s no evidence to suggest that it can do anything about existing scars.
However, its ability to enhance wound healing could possibly result in less scarring. But, this is yet to be studied.
Does lavender oil help eczema?
There’s only weak evidence at the moment to support its use for the treatment of eczema, mostly anecdotal.
There is one case history that looked at the effect of a number of a number of essential oils used together with positive results. But it’s impossible to tell the importance of lavender oil in the treatment as it was one of 5 oils used and it was not a controlled study (11).
Some people find that it causes contact dermatitis, particularly if not adequately diluted.
Is lavender oil good for psoriasis?
There’s not much evidence that it helps with psoriasis when applied to the skin, other than anecdotal reports concerning its ability to reduce inflammation and the itchy sensation.
Its scent is relaxing and can reduce stress which is sometimes considered a trigger for psoriasis flare ups.