Lavender oil might sound like something only found on the dressing table of an old lady, but there are so many benefits to using lavender oil on your skin other than it's usual calming properties which you've probably already heard of. So why should lavender be your next go-to for skincare?
Looking after your skin is a delicate balancing act, and it can often seem like the slightest change in temperature, diet and stress levels can lead to dryness, a small oil slick or a huge break out. For those with sensitive skin, this can be even more of an issue - so what can you do at home to keep your skin as balanced, healthy and clear as possible, without breaking the bank?
Say hello to the old favourite - Lavender oil. It might have more of a reputation for helping get you off to sleep and comes with a smell that might slightly remind you of old women, but lavender has some amazing benefits and could work wonders for your complexion. It was first properly used by the Egyptians for its healing properties and potent aroma, while the Romans used it to scent their baths - and its effects are just as strong today.
In fact, lavender is the most widely used essential oil in aromatherapy, and can actually be found in most skincare products, so it's no surprise that the global production of lavender is about 200 tonnes per year. The plant itself is a member of the mint family, and while its primary purpose is for its fragrance, it does have many antibacterial properties which can massively improve the health and appearance of your skin.
Lavender Oil Benefits For Skin
Lavender oil has so many benefits for your skin that if you had to choose just one essential oil, this would probably be it. The most scientifically proven benefits of using lavender oil for skin include numbing pain and healing wounds, as well as its widely known calming effects. Other probable benefits include preventing bacterial colonisation, treating fungal infections, combating blemishes, preventing skin cancer, and countering the damaging effects of UV radiation. Impressive stuff, so let's check out lavender oil a bit closer...
It's a really common misconception that putting oil on your skin will only worsen the appearance of acne, however this isn't always the case, and it has to be considered that everyone's skin is different. Acne is generally characterised as by red, raised sores on the face and body that develop due to a bacterial infection caused by a build up of oil on the skin. Puberty and hormones can worsen this as extra sebum is produced, creating a cycle of irritation and infection and can result in bad scarring.
However, despite its name, plant based oils such as lavender won't clog your pores, while its antibacterial and antiseptic properties offer a natural solution to treating acne, where harsh, over-the-counter topical treatments can lead to further irritation - potentially making your skin worse than it was to begin with. As well as having the power to kill bacteria on the skin while protecting it from irritation and stress, lavender oil also helps to balance hormone levels, which is another key reason behind acne flare ups, as hormones control the level of which oil is produced in the body.
Similarly to acne, eczema can also be an unsightly and embarrassing skin condition, however lavender oil can also be beneficial here. This is because the oil has the ability to relieve itching and therefore reduce the redness and visual irritated symptoms of eczema. It also decongests the irritated areas on the skin by adding moisture, thereby accelerating the healing process. Apparently lavender oil is most effective for treating eczema when it's combined with chamomile - so time to head to your nearest health store.
There are so many toxins that our skin encounters in our everyday lives, so it's no surprise that our skin can often suffer with stress-induced break outs, dryness, and generally a lack-lustre, dull appearance. Sometimes you just need a bit of a skin detox. Lavender oil can help fight the common culprits as it contains powerful antioxidants that can fight against the harmful effects of pollutants on the skin.
Premature ageing can also be a sign of the harmful effects of our busy lives and polluted environment. But never fear, lavender oil can be helpful for that too. A Japanese study reported that lavender oil stops the production of 'singlet oxygen', which causes the most sun damage in response to UV rays. This means that the regular use of lavender oil in your skincare routine can suppress the visual signs of ageing. It's antioxidant properties also means that it could also aid in preventing skin changes that can lead to skin cancer and more lasting sun damage.
Healing Burns And Bites
As if all that wasn't enough, there's also evidence that lavender oil is an effective remedy for painful burns and bites. Some say it's a bit of an old wives tale, but the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory factors of lavender oil definitely have some sort of impact in pain relief at least.
Lavender oil absorbs particularly quickly into the skin, so it provides almost immediate pain relief, while it can also help stimulate new cell growth and regeneration. A medical study even showed that inhaling lavender essential oil in hospital significantly reduced the amount of pain experienced, compared to patients breathing with only oxygen after surgery.
When it comes to bites, they might not be life threatening, but they're probably one of the most irritating things in the world. Adding a few drops of lavender oil on the insect bite or gnaw will see the itching and swelling decrease considerably, and it also acts as an insect repellent - so remember to pack a little bottle of lavender oil for your next holiday. You can thank us later.
Lavender oil is probably best known for it's soothing properties, and is considered a tradition, natural method of promoting sound sleep. This is because its scent induces alpha waves in the area of the brain that is responsible for relaxation, thus making you fall asleep faster and relaxing the nervous system.
You can make your own sleep spray by mixing 5 or 6 drops of lavender essential oil with half a cup of distilled water and 1 teaspoon of witch hazel. Pour it into a spray bottle and spritz onto clean skin or fresh linen for a sleep that will leave you feeling like a whole new man.
It might not be obvious, but your digestive system plays a massive part in the appearance of your skin, as it is responsible for getting rid of all the unwanted toxins out of your body. Effectively, the better your digestive and immune systems, the better your skin. Lavender oil is useful for digestion because it increases the mobility of food and enables the body to digest fats by soothing the lining of the digestive tract. Now there's a pretty image. Brew up your own lavender tea by mixing a tablespoon of lavender buds with boiling water and reap the benefits.
One of the most prominent uses for lavender oil is for its calming effects on the nervous system, and in the context of skincare, this is a really important factor. Being stressed can wreak havoc on your face, with acne break outs directly linked to anxiety levels, so it's vital to chill out in order to let your skin fully detox and recover. You can place lavender plant in the corner of your room or place a few lavender stems in a small vase and it's soothing aroma will not only relieve stress, but also repel mosquitoes. There you have it.
How To Use Lavender Oil For Skin Care
There are loads of ways to incorporate lavender oil into your skincare routine to get back a bit of a youthful glow and all round healthy-looking skin. These don't have to break the bank, and there are several natural home remedies that are just as effective as more expensive products that feature lavender as a key ingredient.
If you want to get the full effect of lavender oil, your best bet is to whip up a toner. Lavender tones and firms skin as it helps to boost circulation, giving more nutrition to skin cells and boosting their renewal process. Boil 100 ml of water in a bowl and then put in the lavender buds, so that they are completely submerged. Leave to cool and then spritz the lavender water on a cotton wool pad and gently wipe over your face - this is best done over a clean face in the morning to refresh and hydrate your skin.
You can also use pure lavender oil as it is, but combine with a more nourishing base oil such as coconut oil, and use as a moisturiser. This might not be so good for super oily skin, so try out a small bit first before you go slathering it all over your skin. Another great way to get some lavender into your life is to bathe in it - doing this can help you relax as well as helping to reduce inflammation all over your skin.
Is Lavender Oil Irritating To Skin?
While there are a ridiculous amount of benefits to using lavender oil, there are some people that suggest that question if lavender oil is good for skin. Research suggests that properties of lavender, specifically something called linalool can actually be really harmful and cause skin-cell death if applied directly onto the skin. While there is some scientific backing that lavender can be a irritant, there are a whole host of other beneficial natural ingredients that can also induce similar reactions - so this doesn't mean that lavender oil in necessarily worse than other skincare ingredients.
However, while undiluted lavender oil can work wonders on stings and blemishes, it's best not to apply it directly onto large areas of skin - this is simply because it has a drying effect due to rapid evaporation. Your best bet is to do a small patch test using lavender oil directly on to your skin before you use it in excess to avoid any big allergic reaction.
On That Note
It might be slightly disputed amongst skincare professionals, but the vast array of benefits from using lavender oil definitely outweigh the concerns. Try and look for products with hints of lavender as a natural way to reduce redness and improve the general appearance of the skin, or even start drinking lavender tea more regularly to help your skin from the inside out.