Known for sending us to sleep, lavender is a favourite plant extract for many of us. But the purple plant hosts a myriad of skin benefits besides its heavenly smell.
Whether it’s a bag of dried buds in between your pillows, or a tiny bottle of essential oil, lavender is often a staple in every household. Famed in the world of aromatherapy for its near-instant calming effect and ability to send us drifting off to sleep, it also has an impressive roster of powers when it comes to skin.
What are the benefits of lavender for the skin?
Records of lavender being used botanically date back to 2,500 ago in the Mediterranean, Middle East, India, and also in Ancient Roman bathing practices to keep bacteria away. Soldiers in World War I carried the oil with them, to use as an antiseptic on wounds.
The healing powers of these purple buds was initially discovered by French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1910, thanks to a lab explosion. Upon plunging his burned hand into a vat of lavender oil, he noted how well the skin healed with barely any scarring. Since then, lavender has been used as a tool for aiding skin recovery as well as providing relaxation with its soothing scent.
Along with the other benefits commonly found in botanical ingredients (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial), lavender is unique in its proven ability to boost blood circulation. This enables more brightening oxygen and nutrients to reach the skin’s surface. It can also protect and promote the skin’s natural barrier, plus balance its pH levels.
A word of warning: lavender essential oil is only safe to use in a carrier oil like jojoba or almond, and can cause irritation and minor burns to skin if used neat. Those pregnant or with sensitive skin should avoid using it, as goes the advice from health professionals.
The best lavender skincare products
Aurelia Cell Repair Night Oil
Made with lavender, mandarin and neroli to uplift and soothe, this powerful oil blend sinks straight into skin instead of your pillow.
Elemis Herbal Lavender Repair Mask
This cooling, healing mask contains an antiseptic trifecta of rosemary, thyme and lavender.
Irene Forte Balancing Lavender & Rosemary Face Cream
This lightweight cream is enriched with aloe vera, olive oil and vitamin E to nourish skin.
Jurlique Lavender Hydrating Mist
Keep this marshmallow root-infused mist on your desk for when your psyche and skin start to stress out.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate
99.8% naturally-derived, this formula contains primrose and lavender oils with squalene (from olive) to give skin a healthy overnight drink.
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser Rose + Lavender
This floral twist on the cult cleanser uses Damascus rose petals and French high-altitude lavender for a fresh and indulgent scent.
Mario Badescu Lavender Witch Hazel Toner
Soothing aloe vera comes together with antibacterial lavender and oil-busting witch hazel to balance skin without stripping it.
Rodin Lavender Absolute Luxury Face Oil
With a blend of lavender oils from Bulgaria and France, this sumptuous formula is a total treat for dry skin.
MuLondon Lavender Foaming Cleanser
This mild organic cleansing formula is free from sulphates but still satisfyingly foams up, leaving skin clean without that squeaky feeling.
Image: Paul Ijsendoorn