What Is Lavender Oil?
Lavender oil is an ingredient that most of us have probably encountered before. Whether you are familiar with it through aromatherapy or the scent as you have walked by a lavender plant on your morning walk, it is a scent that most people can identify. What you may not know is that lavender oil can also be used in your skincare and cosmetic products.
Lavender oil is an essential oil which means that it is derived from a plant or flower, in this case the flower of the lavender plant. Like most plant derived ingredients, lavender oil is not one single ingredient but is actually made up of a number of different compounds such as linalool, geraniol, lavandulol and eucalyptol. Lavender oil has been studied for its mild antibacterial and antifungal properties and is used to help support wound healing in some skincare formulations.
Lavender oil is usually formulated as a concentrated essential oil, this is probably the type of lavender oil most people are familiar with as it is often sold for aromatherapy. It is important to remember that concentrated lavender oil such as the type sold for aromatherapy is not designed to be used on the skin. When used topically, lavender oil needs to be diluted and carefully formulated so as to not irritate the skin or disrupt the skin’s natural barrier.
the good: Lavender oil is being studied for its potential soothing and calming properties to the skin. It also is suspected of being able to help combat bacterial and fungal infections.
the not so good: Lavender can be irritating to the skin and has been linked with skin barrier disruption which prolonged use of high concentrations.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients but especially with fatty oils such as coconut oil and jojoba oil.
Keep an eye on: Make sure to never use undiluted lavender oil on the skin, always use a formulated
What Are The Benefits of Using Lavender Oil?
When you think of lavender oil you most likely think of the calming effects that have been studied when it is inhaled. However, the benefits differ from its calming abilities when a lavender-containing product is applied to the skin. Just a little reminder that lavender oil is not particularly well studied when it comes to use on the skin, this is why it’s so important to go with a product that has been formulated properly.
Lavender oil may act as an antioxidant when used topically, while the research into this is relatively new it is an interesting benefit to consider. Antioxidants work by reducing the effects of free radicals which are produced with exposure to the sun, pollution, smoke and can also be contributed to by diet. Free radicals cause damage to the cells in the body and have been linked to the aging process.
Lavender has been studied for its antibacterial and antifungal properties which may help to reduce the effects of bacteria that contribute to acne and blemishes. It may also support wound healing and support treatment for mild fungal infections. However, keep in mind that there are better options out there if you are looking to treat fungal infections or acne, speak to your dermatologist or doctor.
The scent that lavender oil provides to a formulation is also a significant benefit. Scent is a big part of the formulation process and helps to improve the useability of a product.
Is Lavender Oil Safe?
Lavender oil has only recently started to be researched for its benefits and side effects. Generally, the safety of plant-derived ingredients are harder to study compared to synthetic ingredients as they contain a number of different compounds. Lavender has been noted to be irritating and sensitizing to some people particularly when used in high concentrations or when it hasn’t been diluted properly. There have also been accounts linking lavender oil with disruption of the skin’s natural barrier. However, generally speaking if the lavender oil-containing product has been formulated carefully these side effects can be mitigated.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for investigating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has not yet evaluated the safety of lavender oil.
Cardia GFE, Silva-Filho SE, Silva EL, et al. Effect of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Acute Inflammatory Response. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1413940. Published 2018 Mar 18.
Mori HM, Kawanami H, Kawahata H, Aoki M. Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:144. Published 2016 May 26.