Lavender may not be exotic or new but the fact it has been one of the most used herbs for hundreds of years proves to me just how effective it is for health and healing in our bodies.
Dioscorides, the author of the original herbal medicine bible de Materia Medica (written in 50-70 AD), was the first to document it’s many benefits. The Ancients Greeks used it, as did the Romans and every civilization since. It has been a staple in medicine cabinets as an antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aromatic, bitter, carminative, digestive, diuretic, sedative, stimulant, tonic, and more. PHEW!
But the story which always grabbed my attention and for me illustrates lavender’s remarkable benefits for our skin is the one involving perfume chemist Rene Gattefosse in 1910, in France. In his lab one day, an explosion caused severe injuries to his hands and arms. He had some knowledge that lavender could be healing for the skin so applied the essential oil (he had been making it for perfumery), only to experience incredibly quick and effective healing to his injuries. This experience led him to become the founder of the world of aromatherapy.
So what does it do? Well so many things, but let’s talk specifically skin benefits.
The two main properties I love it for are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and it is because of these it has such a great reputation for clearing up, healing and preventing blemishes and acne. It will help kill the infection, calm the inflammation and redness, and speed up skin tissue regeneration all in one go. Resulting in a much faster overall result. Most blemish/acne treatments are SO harsh for the skin. Yes, they may kill any infection but often causing increased inflammation, redness and scarring at the same time. I always recommend lavender as the best “spot” treatment. It is one of few essential oils that can be used safely on the skin without being diluted. Apply it directly to individual blemishes or put a few drops on a damp cotton ball and wipe it over the affected area. Another choice is to use the hydrosol (flower water) as a daily spritz. Safe for all ages and gentle on young and sensitive skin this is my first recommendation for troubled teenage skin.
You don’t have to have acne to benefit from lavender. It’s anti-inflammatory and cooling benefits help to reduce skin sensitivities remarkably well. And its’ fame for healing burns is well-documented. I use it to cool hot, sun baked skin for my whole family. Either in a spritz or a glug of hydrosol in a cooler bath.
One less known fact about lavender is its ability to repel insects too. That’s why it is in my Lemongrass & Lavender Sun Creams (also to help cool skin). I have used the essential oil and hydrosol very effectively against biting mosquitos and annoying midges (no-see-ums). I love the fact that it’s safe to spray liberally all over my young children when most insect repellants are not. It is also famous for its calming sedative properties which is a bonus when sprayed over children, and myself! And if you do get bitten it will calm the itching and reduce the inflammation – double whammy!
All this makes lavender my favourite summer herbal help.