March 16, 2018 HERBAL DYNAMICS BEAUTY
For centuries lavender has been applied to skin to treat various conditions. Though more studies are needed to test the efficacy of this purple powerhouse’s extract and essential oil, preliminary test results show incredible promise for lavender in terms of battling bacteria and repairing skin.
There are many skincare products that use lavender as one of their ingredients. One primary reason for inclusion is to beautifully perfume the product, but other major benefits of lavender for skin care are the powerful cleansing and calming properties.
THE LAVENDER PLANT
Lavender, most commonly found as Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender or Bulgarian lavender), is an evergreen shrub that blooms elegant purple flowers with an extraordinary scent.
The lavender plant grows in dry and hardy conditions and as such, is excellent as an all-year-round plant for your garden or landscaping. Lavender is generally planted in the spring to flower in the summer and can grow up to three feet in height. The lavender plant can survive for ten years if well-tended.
When the plant is finished blooming for the year, the blossom turns brown and the seed head appears. At this stage you can cut the head off along with the stem, tie a bag around the heads, leaving the stems sticking out. Leave them hanging upside down until the seeds have dropped out of the head.
The lavender seeds are dried out in a small paper bag until they are required. The seeds are needed to regrow more lavender for use in skincare products or for use as an herb in cooking.
DIFFERENT SPECIES OF LAVENDER
With over 40 species of the lavender plant and over 400 varieties, how do you know which one is suitable for you? The most common species is the Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) and is used in topical skincare products.
There are other varieties sometimes seen in skincare, including Lavandula latifolia(spike lavender) and Lavandula stoechas (often called French or Spanish lavender), both of which are more applicable to respiratory or antimicrobial concerns. Another common species for inclusion in skincare products is Lavandula hybrida (which is a hybrid of any two varieties, but typically of Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia).
With so many different varieties of lavender, you’ll find that there are some specific species with chemical compounds that are best used for other means than topical skincare.
THE VERSATILITY OF LAVENDER BENEFITS FOR SKIN
The versatility of lavender makes it a favored ingredient to add to topical solutions. Products using lavender as an ingredient to neutralize the skin, control dryness, and plump-up the skin stretch across every step of a skin care routine from cleansers, to toners and serums, and finally, creams for the body and face.
The natural antimicrobial and antioxidant properties in lavender refresh and neutralize the skin, helping to clear bacteria and excess oil.
Lavender improves the circulation by adding oxygen to the skin cells. With the much-needed oxygen, the skin cells are granted a boost of energy and kick-started into growing new cells. The regeneration of new skin cells gives your skin that healthy glow.
Better circulation through your bloodstream brings amazing anti-aging effects to skin. Wrinkles, the telltale signs of aging, are plumped up and therefore minimized. Lavender added as an ingredient to skin care products is beneficial for the skin, helping to give a youthful glow.
Lavender in your skincare products can help to equalize the skin’s pH balance. Lavender oil moisturizes and controls the oils in your skin. Your skin will be more supple and healthy-looking without dry or flaky patches.
You might even see lavender oil marketed for spot-treating, but essential oils dabbed onto skin in their pure form (without a carrier oil) can be too concentrated and skin may react, so this is not usually recommended.
ANTIBACTERIAL AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES
The antibacterial properties of lavender fight bacteria and hep to clean out your pores. With the aid of anti-inflammatory properties, lavender will help to calm skin and reduce the swelling that can accompany acne and other irritations. Lavender is reported to be good for minimizing the appearance of scars, thus being useful for healing skin after a blemish.
When used in skincare products the effect of lavender’s amazing compounds minimize redness with its natural anti-inflammatory properties. When the skin isn’t inflamed with infection it is better capable of forming new skin cells.
And there are even studies looking at the discomfort associated with surgical wounds that show the plant’s amazing abilities to calm troubled skin.
ANTIOXIDANTS IN LAVENDER
Lavender contains antioxidants that nourish your skin. Added to skincare products the antioxidants improve the look of your skin by scavenging the free radicals that cause your skin to look dull and dehydrated. Dead skin cells are removed, and new skin cells are produced to form a healthy barrier against pollutants.
Lavender is also being looked at as a possible natural preservative for skin care products due to it’s antimicrobial activity.
AROMATHERAPY AND STRESS RELIEF
The scent of the lavender plant is used in many nighttime skincare products to give a calming effect and to induce quality sleep. Throughout the years lavender has become famous for helping you to achieve a calm state and better sleep (by relaxing your body).
A great deal of sleep-promoting products use lavender as a base ingredient to promote that lavender helps to relax muscles, calm your nerves, and get started on a good night’s sleep.
But is this actually true? According to studies, lavender promotes sleep by up to 20% more than if you never used lavender products!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE SLEEP MYTH
Lavender doesn’t really make you fall asleep, it promotes relaxation in your mind and body. When your mind and body are relaxed, you can fall asleep. So, using lavender products to help you relax doesn’t hurt, but don’t expect it to be a magic potion and send you to sleep immediately.
LAVENDER BEAUTY PRODUCTS
When lavender is used as an ingredient in skincare products, your first instinct is to imagine the smell of lavender. But again, the process to extract lavender doesn’t include the fragrance as such, it’s more about extracting the goodness from the plant.
Organic lavender is the purest version and you can be sure that it has not had any chemicals sprayed on it to kill pests and facilitate its growth.
ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO LAVENDER
A small percentage of the population do suffer from a lavender allergy, so you should be certain you’re not reactive to lavender oil before adding any skincare products that contain lavender to your daily routine. A good place to test a new product for a potential reaction is on the skin on the inside of the forearm as it is similar to skin on the face.
LAVENDER EXTRACT VERSUS OIL
Lavender in extract form is less likely to lead to a skin reaction than lavender in its oil form. The fragrant components are weakened in the extraction process which makes this form more tolerable to sensitive skin. This is especially true for the linalool and linalyl acetate components identified in lavender. One of the major benefits of lavender extract is that it has no chemical irritants that would cause a reaction to allergy sufferers, though both the oils and extracts offer benefits.
With the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits of lavender for skin helping to soothe and control the skin’s outer layer, it is an obvious ingredient for inclusion in products for the face and body.