Alternative Medicine

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Using Lavender as an ingredient in skin care products

Lavender - what is it, where does it come from and what properties does it have that make it suitable for use in natural skin care products?

Lavender essential oil is popular as a complementary medicine in its own right and as an additive to many over the counter complementary medicine and cosmetic products. Indeed, products made from the popular garden herb Lavender (Lavandula spp.) have been used for centuries as a therapeutic agent, with the more recent addition, the essential oils derived from these plants, being widely used as an antibacterial in World War I.

This essential oil is traditionally believed to have sedative, carminative, anti-depressive and anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to its recognised antimicrobial effects.

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What is Lavender

Lavender’s botanical name is Lavendula officinalis / angustifolia. Lavender is a member of the Labiatae Family and is a native of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, however, lavender plantations are now widely found around the world as species hybridisation has enabled lavender to be grown commercially outside its natural climatic range.

The grey-green foliage and purple-blue flower spike of lavender is easily identified and commonly seen in herb gardens. Its aroma originating from the essential oil contained in lavender is readily recognised, especially when the flowers or leaves are touched.

Where does Lavender come from

The most well known lavender comes from the Mediterranean region of France. The essential oil from the ‘French lavender’, is often preferred by Aromatherapists. However, there are two main species, Lavandula latifolia (spike or sweet lavender) and L. angustifolia (English/French lavender) that are used in commerce. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States.

What are the properties in Lavender

Lavender is used in many forms. Herbalists are most likely to use lavender in the form of tea or as a herbal extract. Aromatherapist however, will use the essential oil extracted by steam distillation from the flowers of lavender in their treatments.

In either case, lavender has many powerful, therapeutic applications, which include:
Depression, insomnia, migraine, hysteria, nervous tension and paralysis.

Although it is not really anti-inflammatory, lavender is often useful where there is inflammation, hence its use in burns, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, rheumatism, wounds, ulcers, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, cystitis, diarrhoea, laryngitis, etc.

Lavender is well known for its wound healing, cleansing and toning properties and removes redness and heat from the skin, making Lavender oil a suitable addition to any skin care preparation and for any skin type. Lavender has been shown to be very useful in the relief of burns in which case it can be applied neat to the area. Research has confirmed that lavender produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.

Using natural ingredients is crucial to making good quality natural skincare products. Not only are using natural ingredients safer, but they also have less negative impact on our natural environment.

Lavender is suitable for use in any skin type. It’s gentle, soothing and calming properties are especially indicated for use on sensitive, dry and/or irritated skin. It is also a popular ingredient in shampoos, soaps, hair conditioners and body lotions.

Lavender’s use in skin care products is far and wide. Because of its soothing, calming properties it is an ideal ingredient in cleansers and moisturisers, but is also of value in toners and masks.

In moisturisers, lavender may be combined with other ingredients such as chamomile, jojoba, calendula, avocado and others, to reinforce the calming and soothing effects of lavender.

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