In my last post, I concentrated on the negative of cosmetics, choosing to discuss the very nasty ingredient known as “talc“. This week, however, I am focussing on a refreshingly wonderful ingredient of interest; lavender. More specifically, lavender essential oil. Essential oils are fabulous; they are, without a shadow of a doubt, the closest thing to magic potions we have. They can cure colds, clean up acne, soothe various aches and pains and heal all manner of different ailments.
The plant’s botanical name “lavandula” originates from the Medieval Latin “lavendula” which is in fact derived from the Latin “lavare” meaning “to wash”, thus alluding to the plant’s frequent use in baths and laundry.
Otherwise known as:
What is lavender?
Along with most of the herbs in our kitchens, lavender or lavandula, belongs to the mint family; a beautiful bunch of flowering plants, each with their own distinct fragrance. Lavender is most commonly known for its calming scent, thus it is often stuffed into little pillows and hidden beneath bedroom cushions or hung upside down around the house. However, this fabulous herb has many other magical properties concealed beneath its petals.
One of lavender’s most significant benefits is that it assists the body in its production of antioxidants. Our body is forever fighting various unpleasant chemicals, toxins, pollutants etc., which create nasty molecules known as free radicals. These are then responsible for the majority of our diseases including, but not limited to, cancer. To combat these free radicals, the body creates its own little army of antioxidant soldiers! The problem is, nowadays our environment is so chemical laden and our bodies can contain so many of these free radicals that sometimes we use up more antioxidants than we have to spare and become antioxidant deficient. This is why lavender is so brilliant! It acts as an extra pair of hands, helping to produce more antioxidants at a quicker pace, ultimately, protecting us from various unpleasant ailments.
Another benefit of lavender essential oil is its power to cure depression and improve mental health. Whether it’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), postnatal depression or simply moodiness, insomnia or anxiety, this magical oil dramatically improves any mental health condition! This same quality means that lavender essential oil can be very helpful in curing simple migraines and headaches. It is said to be particularly potent when combined with peppermint oil and massaged into the back of the neck, temples and forehead.
Finally, thanks to its antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, lavender oil does wonders for the skin. Whether it’s to treat acne, wrinkles, eczema, liver spots or to heal and prevent scarring of wounds, burns and sunburns, lavender essential oil reduces and cures any skin blemishes and imperfections.
Further benefits include pain relief, blood circulation and even bug repellent!
Due to its myriad of versatile properties, lavender has been cherished for centuries, with the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans readily adopting it in their bathing and relaxation rituals, in cooking and as a perfume. While the Egyptians were the first to find a use for the aromatic herb, it was the Romans who discovered its medicinal merits. So popular has it been throughout history, that lavender was even used throughout the Renaissance as a successful combatant for the plague. The reason for its success being that the plague was carried by lice and lavender, as previously stated, is a potent insect repellent. Queen Victoria herself had so fervent a fondness for the herb’s gentle fragrance that she is said to have had a fresh lavender bouquet brought to her daily. Furthermore, the stone floors of the palace would be strewn with the herb so that when stepped on, the halls would be filled with its floral scent. The queen’s frequent use of the herb was the beginnings of a fashion and, as a result, lavender throughout the Victorian era was used in everything; from washing the floors and doing the laundry to perfuming beauty products.
How does lavender essential oil get into the body?
Direct topical application
If it is certified “food grade”, meaning edible, you can include it in your food
Where can lavender essential oil be found?
Lavender essential oil is included in all manner of different beauty products, from skin and hair care to makeup. However, when buying any such products you should be careful and make certain that the lavender mentioned is organic and natural. If the ingredient list mentions lavender fragrance, or any fragrance for that matter, without clarifying that it is of natural origin, then you should avoid using that product as the implication is that the fragrance is chemically derived.
Here is a short list of beauty and skin care products, natural and organic of course, that include lavender essential oil in them:
Powder Foundation: Alima Pure, Pressed Mineral Powder Foundations
Liquid Foundation: NU Evolution, Complete Coverage Foundation
Multipurpose balm: Skin & Tonic London, Calm Balm
Moisturiser: RawGaia, Floral Rejuvenating Cream
Lip and Cheek multipurpose tint: Tata Harper, Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint
RECIPE: Lavender Face Mask
I am super excited to share this little recipe with you as it is so very easy, so effective and has become a firm skin care favourite of mine! After using this mask my skin always feels refreshed, relaxed and oh so smooth and it also smells lovely! Can you tell I’m excited…?
You will need:
2 heaped tsp of kefir or natural yoghurt – this works as an antimicrobial and clears spots and acne like nothing I’ve ever tried. It is a natural probiotic, which is just good bacteria that supports and balances the bacteria already on your skin leaving it blemish free! Kefir is simply a more potent natural yoghurt that you can make at home but natural yoghurt works too!
2 tsp of honey – this is also an antibacterial but it is likewise very soothing and gentle to the skin and has the added benefit of adding a little stickiness to the mixture so that it stays on your face! The king of all honeys to use is Manuka honey as this is an incredibly strong natural antibacterial and helps with acne, eczema, burns and sunburns etc. as well as giving the skin a beautifully smooth texture. However, as its royal status demands, this honey can be very expensive and it can prove tricky to find genuine Manuka honey, shipped in from New Zealand (its country of origin), and appropriately certified. Therefore, ordinary honey can work wonderfully too. Just try to make sure that when buying honey, you choose raw honey as opposed to heat treated honey as when undergoing thermal treatment its molecular structure changes and it loses all of its health benefits.
2 drops of lavender essential oil/ handful of dried lavender – naturally the dried lavender will not be as effective as the essential oil, however, if you crush it with a mortar and pestle beforehand it will still release some of its natural juices into the facemask and into your skin.
Step one: Wash your face and neck until any makeup is gone and your skin is super clean.
Step two: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and smooth the mixture onto your skin.
Step three: Prop your feet up and entertain yourself with a good book while the mask works its magic. I suggest leaving it on for 15 minutes or so but I am sure you could leave it on for longer if you wish.
Step four: Wash away with warm water and enjoy your beautiful, smooth skin!
It is worth noting that this mask does not keep, meaning, you can not make a large batch to last you for several days. This is because prolonged contact of the ingredients with the air causes oxidation leading them to lose all of their beneficial qualities.
Have a beautiful evening of relaxation, happy pampering!
I hope very much that you enjoyed this post and that you will be back, eager to read more about how to be healthy minded in the world of pharmaceutics! Nicky xx
My research was conducted with help from these websites: