A Guide To Lavender Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses

A Guide To Lavender Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses | Lavender field on top and lavender soap, oil, and flowers on bottom.

"Lavender embodies the warm, protective love of Mother Earth. It is caring, cherishing, and nurturing, and energetically very active in the auric field, closest to the body, incorporating heavenly energies into the physical with great efficiency," writes Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul.

Worwood says the spiritual benefits of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustfolia) are to encourage security, gentleness, compassion, reconciliation, vitality, clarity, comfort, acceptance, awareness, and emotional balance.

Beyond these nourishing qualities, the benefits and uses of lavender essential oil include skin and hair care, relaxation, and pain relief.

Basic Lavender Facts

Plant family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae

Production: Steam distilled from the flowers of the lavender plant.

Aroma: The scent is generally light and mild with a floral aroma and woody undertones. However, the aroma can vary greatly between different species and hybrids of plants.

Perfume/Aromatic note: Lavender is generally considered a middle note oil but you can use it as either a base or top note, depending on the blend of essential oils.

Is lavender safe to use during pregnancy? Generally, yes. For more information, see Lavender Oil and Pregnancy by aromatherapy expert Robert Tisserand or read more about using essential oils during pregnancy.

Is lavender essential oil safe for children? Lavender is generally safe for children and has traditionally been used to calm small children and babies. If in doubt, consult your child’s healthcare practitioner. And, of course, keep all essential oils out of reach of children.

Some time back, a study linked lavender to possible breast enlargement in boys. Many sources, including Robert Tisserand in Lavender oil is not estrogenic, have discussed why that study was inaccurate.

Types Of Lavender


It's important to understand the types of lavender oil. The three common lavenders you are likely to encounter in aromatherapy are:

  • True lavender (Lavandula angustfolia or Lavandula officinalis) — sometimes called English lavender — is generally what you want when you buy a lavender essential oil. The main chemical components are linalool and linalyl acetate. Unfortunately, some oils sold as "pure lavender" are either a different type of lavender or have been adulterated with synthetic ester linalyl acetate.

  • Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) is chemically different from true lavender. Spike lavender doesn't contain significant linalyl acetate. Instead, the two primary components after linalool are 1,8-cineole and camphor. Because of the camphor content, spike lavender has been traditionally used for colds, flu, bronchitis, aches, and pain.

  • Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) is a hybrid of true and spike lavenders. Lavandin is an easier, cheaper crop to grow than the other two. Lavandin is harsher, sharper, and contains far more camphor than true lavender. Lavandin is often used in soaps, detergents, lotions, and hairspray because the scent lasts longer than that of true lavender.

  • Among the other 30+ species of lavender, not commonly used in aromatherapy, are Lavendula stoechas (also known as Spanish lavender) and Lavandula dentata (also known as French lavender).

If you want to use lavender essential oil for therapeutic purposes, especially on your skin or on burns, it's important to be sure of the species of lavender. Although lavandin has the same calming effect as true lavender, the one use for which you never want to confuse the two is for burns. True lavender helps burns heal but lavandin may make burns worse.

Because lavandin is cheaper, some companies sell "lavender" essential oil that is really lavandin or a blend of true lavender and lavandin. Another apparently common, yet highly undesirable practice, is to add synthetic ester linalyl acetate to lesser quality lavender oils and attempt to sell them as high-quality lavenders.

Also, the quality of the essential oil is affected by how the lavender plant was grown and harvested. Depending on the location and the altitude where the lavender plant is grown and the way the plant was harvested, the composition of its oil varies greatly.

Look for scientific names on the label to know what you are getting. Avoid products without a scientific name on the packaging. Buy your essential oils only from reputable companies.

Benefits Of True Lavender Essential Oil


"Lavender is nurturing, supportive, and uplifting," according to The Heart of Aromatherapy. The benefits of true lavender (Lavandula angustfolia) include:

  • Soothes skin irritations and inflammation
  • Supports the respiratory system
  • Helps relieve allergies and sinus congestion
  • Soothes minor burns and reduces scarring from burns
  • Helps bruises, cuts, bites, and stings heal faster
  • Relaxes the mind and body and supports emotional balance

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: "Lavender is among the safest and most widely used oils in aromatherapy and is considered a universal first aid oil."

Aromatherapy for Dummies: The benefits of lavender oil include acting as a sedative, to relieve depression, and to reduce stress that causes asthma flare-ups.

Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine lavender has cool, dispersing, and relaxing qualities that benefit heat and inflammation, spasm, and pain. Lavender works to cool an overheated liver, soothes and supports the Qi of the heart, and releases pent-up energy within the Wood Element.

True Lavender Oil Uses

Lavender is calming for most people, making it useful for dealing with mood swings, anger, mental stress, and anxiety. The aroma creates a balancing effect on the central nervous system. Here's how to use lavender oil for relaxation:

  • Diffuse lavender with an aromatherapy diffuser.
  • Make a massage oil with 6 to 9 drops of lavender in 1 tablespoon carrier oil.
  • Make a body butter containing lavender.
  • For sleep, rub a drop on your palm and smooth over pillow case or put a drop on a tissue and place it by your pillow.

Personal Care

For stuffiness and congestion or coughing: Use steam with lavender essential oil. Pour boiling water into a metal or glass bowl, then add a few drops of lavender. Drape a towel over your head and position your face 12–24 inches above the bowl, as the heat permits.

For headaches: Sniff lavender oil or massage it into your neck and shoulders. Often works better combined with peppermint essential oil. Combine the two essential oils with a carrier oil to use to massage your neck, shoulders, and temples.

To relieve sore muscles and help you sleep: Blend 13 drops lavender and 5 drops German chamomile essential oil into 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel. Shake well before each use. Massage a little of the blend into sore muscles before going to bed.

Skin Care

Lavender helps keep skin in balance and can help clear blemishes and even out skin tone. It's helpful for all skin types. Go here for skin care recipes using lavender and other essential oils. If you have any doubts about the benefits of lavender in skin care, see Lavender oil - skin savior or skin irritant? by Robert Tisserand.

Other suggestions:

  • For minor skin irritations, stings, insect bites, or minor burns, apply 1–2 drops (dilute if needed).
  • For sunburn, blend lavender in aloe vera gel and apply to skin.

Hair Care

Lavender is beneficial for all types of hair. Learn more about essential oil hair care.

How to use lavender oil for hair growth: Dilute 1 to 2 drops lavender in a few drops carrier oil. Massage into your scalp and let rest for at least 10 minutes before shampooing your hair. Here are more hair growth essential oil blends.

Home Care

You can also use lavender around the house:

  • Deodorize your laundry by dropping a little lavender onto a wet cloth and placing it in the dryer.
  • Repel moths and insects and scent linens by placing a cotton ball with a few added drops of lavender in closets and drawers.
  • Make cleaning products, such as this soft scrub: Mix together 1⁄2 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap, and a few drops of lavender oil. Stir in just enough water to make a thick paste.

Buy Lavender Essential Oil

I recommend lavender essential oil from Young Living. The company has lavender farms in Utah and Provence, France.

Lavender Essential Oil


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