For countless millennia, cultures around the globe have been harvesting fragrant lavender for its unique therapeutic properties.
As far back as biblical times, pure lavender oil was valued for healing and anointing, and the Romans used it to cook, bathe, and purify their air. Ancient Egyptians even incorporated lavender in their sacred burial rituals: in 1923 when archaeologists opened King Tut’s tomb, they were still able to smell the faint smell of lavender lingering after more than 3,000 years!
Today, science is beginning to understand what all this early enthusiasm for lavender was about as they uncover its benefits for beauty and well-being. If you always thought lavender was just a pleasant scent, you’re in for some wonderful surprises as you discover these eight unexpected ways lavender can work for you.
1. Relaxation and Stress Relief
There’s something about lavender’s gentle scent that somehow makes it feel like everything will turn out okay—no matter what’s going on around you.
The latest research reveals that the peaceful feeling you experience when you breathe in lavender isn’t all in your imagination—lavender oil has been shown to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the neurological process that counteracts the stressful “fight or flight” response.1
In one recent study, new moms who used lavender in an essential oil diffuser for four weeks found they were less affected by the “baby blues” and they felt calmer overall.2 Lavender aromatherapy also comes in handy for students with pre-exam jitters. Graduate nursing students who inhaled lavender before tests felt less stressed, lowered their heart rates, and even felt more mentally focused.3
To encourage a calmer, more beautiful mood, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser and allow it to run while you read, relax, work, meditate, or spend time with family. You can also add a few drops into your bath, mix several drops into water in a spray bottle to mist yourself, or add them into a carrier oil to dab on your wrists, the tip of your nose, or behind your ears.
We always recommend adding your essential oils to a carrier oil before applying them topically, as this gives your skin the best protection (essential oils are super powerful and quite potent) and channels all of those amazing essential oil properties right back into your skin and senses, where they can do their best work.
2. Restful Beauty Sleep
Because it’s so effective at activating the parasympathetic nervous system and helping us unwind, lavender essential oil is also the perfect wingman when the sandman is playing hard to get. Recent research found that both new moms and night shift nurses (two classically sleep deprived groups!) who were given lavender aromatherapy before bed enjoyed significantly improved sleep quality.4,5
It isn’t just the young and active who benefit from lavender aromatherapy for sleep. Sleep quality also improved for intensive care patients and nursing home residents after inhaling lavender, making this botanical a safe, gentle way to invite sweet dreams no matter what your age or health.6,7
To relax more easily into delicious beauty sleep, run a diffuser with a few drops of lavender oil in your bedroom for an hour or so before bedtime. If needed, you can keep it going during the night. It’s also helpful to take a warm, peaceful bath with Epsom salts and up to 15 drops of lavender oil in the evening—and of course you can also apply it topically, mixed it into a relaxing carrier oil such as organic rosehip oil.
3. Timeless Radiant Skin
In addition to its aromatherapy benefits, using lavender essential oil for skin is a simple, holistic way to help reveal your most gorgeous self. It enhances your fresh, ageless beauty with powerful antioxidants that work hard to keep damaging free radicals in check.8 As if this wasn’t enough reason to include lavender essential oil in your daily routine, lavender oil also supports the growth of new collagen to keep your skin looking smooth and plump at any age.9
If occasional breakouts or irritations are an issue, lavender oil is antibacterial, antifungal, and calming as well, to help you achieve a clear, glowing complexion and the confidence to step out into the world and shine.10,11,12
Research also shows that using lavender essential oil supports healthy blood circulation.13 Not only does this positively impact overall well-being; it benefits the appearance of the skin, since strong circulation shows up as an attractive, healthy blush you just can’t duplicate with makeup.
For smooth, clear, rosy skin, mix a few drops of lavender oil into a beautifying carrier oil (such as argan, jojoba, prickly pear, or rosehip), and after cleansing, massage gently into your face. For an even greater effect, repeat before bedtime.
4. Luscious Lips
Lavender’s protective antioxidant benefits aren’t just for facial skin. Your lips deserve some pampering too—especially if they’re regularly exposed to pollution, grime, and UV rays. To keep lips soft and kissable, add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to some shea butter, jojoba oil, or coconut oil and apply liberally whenever a bit of nourishing moisture is needed.
5. Rich, Luxuriant Hair
To perk up tired tresses with healthy fullness, introduce lavender oil to your hair care ritual.14 Simply add a few drops to your favorite shampoo or conditioner and rinse out as usual. For a more intense treatment, mix a few drops into a carrier oil and massage into hair and scalp. Leave on for an hour or more, and wash out with a gentle shampoo.
6. Monthly Comfort
If hormonal cycles are literally cramping your style, you might want to try relaxing with some lavender essential oil. A recent study found that lavender aromatherapy massage helped female nursing and midwifery students feel more comfortable during two consecutive monthly cycles than a control group receiving a placebo oil.15
For a calming mini-retreat before or during that time of the month, mix a few drops of lavender essential oil into a carrier oil and massage into your abdomen, feet, hands, arms, and legs. Better yet, enlist the help of a friend to take over the massage so you can relax even more completely into lavender bliss.
7. Keeping the Bug Bites Away
As an added bonus, multiple studies reveal that the smell of lavender we humans love so much has just the opposite effect on many types of annoying insects—including mosquitoes and ticks.16,17 So before exposing your body to commercial insect repellents containing dangerous chemicals when you’re out playing in nature, give safe, sweet smelling lavender oil a try. Mix a few drops into a spray bottle with water alone, or add one or more other essential oils that insects also seem to hate such as tea tree, mint, citronella, and clove. Apply to skin and clothing as often as needed.
8. Relaxed Respiration
When you’re occasionally feeling under the weather, inhaling the fragrant scent of lavender oil can actually help you breathe more comfortably by calming and clearing aggravated airways.18 Unlike eucalyptus, which is the most well known go-to oil for respiratory relief, lavender oil is gentle enough for even very young kids to inhale—making it it a safe choice for the entire family. To ease temporary respiratory discomfort, mix a few drops of lavender oil into a carrier oil and massage into chest, neck, or back. You can also add several drops to a vaporizer or diffuser.
Choosing a Lavender Essential Oil
Unfortunately, not all products that call themselves botanical oils are really what they claim to be. Some may contain artificial additives or coloring, and others may actually be synthetic fragrances that contain only minimal natural ingredients if any.
To get the most from lavender oil, look for a high quality, single-ingredient product such as Valentia Lavender Essential Oil that’s 100% natural, steam distilled, cruelty free, ethically sourced, non GMO, and free of any questionable ingredients.
Genuine lavender essential oil can truly be a life changing experience for mind and body. With the advantages of restful sleep, a relaxed mood, and a radiant appearance, you’ll be ready to take on the world in a whole new way.
1. Chien, L., Cheng, S. L., & Liu, C. F. (2012). The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Autonomic Nervous System in Midlife Women with Insomnia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1-8. doi:10.1155/2012/740813
2. Conrad, P., & Adams, C. (2012). The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman – A pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 18(3), 164-168. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.05.002
3. McCaffrey, R., Thomas, D. J., & Kinzelman, A. O. (2009). The Effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils on Test-Taking Anxiety Among Graduate Nursing Students. Holistic Nursing Practice, 23(2), 88-93. doi:10.1097/hnp.0b013e3181a110aa
4. Keshavarz Afshar, M., Behboodi Moghadam, Z., Taghizadeh, Z., Bekhradi, R., Montazeri, A., & Mokhtari, P. (2015). Lavender Fragrance Essential Oil and the Quality of Sleep in Postpartum Women. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 17(4). doi:10.5812/ircmj.17(4)2015.25880
5.Kim, W., & Hur, M. (2016). Inhalation Effects of Aroma Essential Oil on Quality of Sleep for Shift Nurses after Night Work. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 46(6), 769. doi:10.4040/jkan.2016.46.6.769
6.Cho, E. H., Lee, M., & Hur, M. (2017). The Effects of Aromatherapy on Intensive Care Unit Patients’ Stress and Sleep Quality: A Nonrandomised Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2017/2856592
7.Faydalı, S., & Çetinkaya, F. (2018). The Effect of Aromatherapy on Sleep Quality of Elderly People Residing in a Nursing Home. Holistic Nursing Practice, 32(1), 8-16. doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000244
8. Silva, G. L., Luft, C., Lunardelli, A., Amaral, R. H., Melo, D. A., Donadio, M. V., … Oliveira, J. R. (2015). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 87(2 suppl), 1397-1408. doi:10.1590/0001-3765201520150056
9. Mori, H., Kawanami, H., Kawahata, H., & Aoki, M. (2016). Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1128-7
10, Hossain, S., Heo, H., De Silva, B., Wimalasena, S., Pathirana, H., & Heo, G. (2017). Antibacterial activity of essential oil from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) against pet turtle-borne pathogenic bacteria. Laboratory Animal Research, 33(3), 195. doi:10.5625/lar.2017.33.3.195
11. Puškárová, A., Bučková, M., Kraková, L., Pangallo, D., & Kozics, K. (2017). The antibacterial and antifungal activity of six essential oils and their cyto/genotoxicity to human HEL 12469 cells. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08673-9
12. Zu Y, Yu H, Liang L et al. (2010). Activities of ten essential oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 cancer cells. Molecules, 15:3200-3210
13. Shiina, Y., Funabashi, N., Lee, K., Toyoda, T., Sekine, T., Honjo, S., … Komuro, I. (2008). Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. International Journal of Cardiology, 129(2), 193-197. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2007.06.064
14. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders - Herbal Medicine - NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/
15. Bakhtshirin F, Abedi S, Yusefizoj P, Razmjooee D. (2015). The effect of aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on severity of primary dysmenorrhea in Arsanjan students. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 20(1):156-60.
16. Adams, T. F., Wongchai, C., Chaidee, A., & Pfeiffer, W. (2015). “Singing in the Tube”—audiovisual assay of plant oil repellent activity against mosquitoes (Culex pipiens). Parasitology Research, 115(1), 225-239. doi:10.1007/s00436-015-4739-x
17. Mkolo, M., & Magano, S. (2007). Repellent effects of the essential oil of Lavendula angustifolia against adults of Hyalomma marginatum rufipes. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, 78(3). doi:10.4102/jsava.v78i3.307
18. Ueno-Iio, T., Shibakura, M., Yokota, K., Aoe, M., Hyoda, T., Shinohata, R., … Kataoka, M. (2014). Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia in a murine model of asthma. Life Sciences, 108(2), 109-115. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2014.05.018