Packed with potent natural healing powers, essential oils are a must have for any home. But with over one hundred incredible oils to choose from, essential oil novices—especially those on a tight budget—can face a real dilemma trying to figure out which oil they should use.
Well, if you’re a newbie to oils I’ve got some good news for you. You can stop scratching your puzzled head and you can unfurrow your perplexed brow because today we’re going to get to know lavender oil, which is without a doubt the most versatile essential oil on the planet.
It’s also one of the most inexpensive oils and as an added bonus it smells absolutely gorgeous.
If you’ve never experienced the aroma of real lavender before—and trust me synthetics don’t even come close—then you’re in for a real treat when you pop the cap on your first bottle of lavender oil, with its sweet, clean, uplifting fragrance.
First Some Lavender Oil Basics
Lavender oil comes from the pretty purple flower spikes that shoot up from the lavender plant in the spring and summer time. It takes 100 pounds of fresh lavender to make one pound of essential oil.
You can use undiluted lavender essential oil on your skin in small amounts—it’s one of the few oils that can be used in this way. But those with sensitive skin should dilute the oil in a carrier oil before use. And it’s always a good idea to test your reaction with just one drop of lavender oil before you use any larger amounts.
A typical concentration of lavender essential oil for adults is a 2% dilution which works out to 12 drops of essential oil to 30ml of a carrier oil.
All essential oils are incredibly potent so don’t think that using such small amounts won’t be effective.
Lavender oil is recognized for its many healing properties and these include:
- Analgesic – relieves pain
- Antidepressant – brightens mood
- Antimicrobial /Antiseptic– kills germs
- Cicatrizant – promotes wound healing
- Deodorant – masks odors
- Hypotensive – lowers high blood pressure
- Insecticide – kills and repels insects
- Sedative – relaxes and calms
- Vulnerary – helps to heal wounds
It can often seem like there’s no escape from the multitude of small (and sometimes large) stresses that are part and parcel of modern life.
Pressures at work (or school), financial worries, relationship difficulties, crazy politics, health problems, and the relentless stream of ratings-grabbing bad news that the media churns out, all combine to make it seem as if you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders at times.
One of the reason that taking a vacation feels so good is that it allows you to step away from your normal stress filled life. You get to relax and unwind and feel like a different person. Then you have to come home again and get back to the grind.
Using lavender oil can induce the same feeling of wellbeing that you experience on vacation. Inhaling lavender oil or massaging it into your skin brings about a state of relaxed calm and tension drains away as the stress monster relaxes its grip.
Whenever you’re feeling under pressure or just plain miserable from the worries running around in your mind, take five or ten minutes to take care of yourself.
Massage a few drops of oil into your temples or other pulse points on your body, and then hold your fragranced fingers close to your face and inhale deeply. You’ll quickly notice a difference in the way that you feel.
Anecdotal evidence abounds for lavender’s stress relief properties and a number of studies have proven the effectiveness of lavender oil in bringing relief.
One recent study (2015) into workplace stress investigated the effects of lavender oil on a group of nurses. Nursing is a highly stressful occupation with little opportunity to switch off during a shift. Researchers measured stress levels in a group of 110 nurses. Fifty-three were given a small vial of lavender oil to pin to their clothing (chest level), the other 57 were given a placebo vial.
Stress levels in the lavender group reduced from 6.1 to 2.8, while in the control group stress levels actually increased. That’s an impressive win for lavender!
Lavender Heals Burns Fast
Lavender oil is a potent home remedy for minor burns and sunburn, and it’s even been used with great effect to heal serious burns under the supervision of hospital physicians.
In 1994, Ciaran Kelly, a tiny tot living in Scotland, suffered serious burns to his face, head, shoulders and hands; the burns on his hands were so severe that he needed skin grafts. In addition to his physician ordered therapy, his mom was given approval to use lavender essential oil on Ciaran’s burns, with great results. You can read the story of Ciaran’s amazing recovery on Robert Tisserand’s website.
Lavender can be applied directly to burned skin to relieve pain and speed up the healing process. If skin is too sore to touch, which is often the case with severe sunburn, you can spritz the oil from a spray bottle.
Helps You Find Restful Sleep
Lavender essential oil helps you gently drift off to sleep. It’s the perfect choice if you’re feeling frazzled at the end of a long day or if your little one’s are having trouble settling down for the night.
Using lavender as a sleep aid is safe, and unlike sleeping pills you won’t have any drug residue in your system leaving you sluggish the next day.
To use lavender at bedtime, you can sprinkle a few drops onto a cotton handkerchief and lay it next to your pillow, add six or seven drops to an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, use a lavender essential oil linen spray on your bedding, or make a salve and rub a little into your chest.
Soothes Itchy Skin and Insect Bites
Lavender is the perfect treatment when your skin is feeling irritated or has reacted to an insect bite or sting with a maddening itch.
Use one drop of undiluted lavender oil on bites and stings.
For general itchy skin, dilute lavender oil in a light, non-greasy carrier oil, like sunflower oil or rice bran oil and rub it over the affected area.
Another good option is to combine lavender essential oil with Aloe Vera or Witch-hazel gel.
Clears Up Spots
Spots and acne respond well to lavender oil.
When you see a pimple rear it’s annoying red head, act fast with a drop of neat lavender oil applied 3 times a day.
If you suffer from acne you can dilute lavender oil with a non-comedogenic carrier oil, or your preferred moisturizer, to calm the irritation and combat bacteria.
Team lavender oil with tea tree oil for a real acne knockout punch. Tea tree oil’s stronger antimicrobials work wonderfully with lavender oil’s pain relieving and soothing qualities.
Brings Relief from Painful Headaches
Rubbing a couple of drops of lavender oil into your temples when you have a headache can bring fast relief from pain, as can simply inhaling the aroma.
And unlike painkillers which only mask the pain, lavender oil relieves the pain as well as its underlying cause which is usually related to stress and tension.
When you apply lavender oil to your skin, the active compounds are absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream where they are swiftly carried around your body bringing you relief from pain.
The same is true when you inhale the oil. The oil’s volatile compounds enter through your olfactory system which delivers them right to the limbic system in your brain as well as to your lungs where they enter your bloodstream.
The limbic system is the emotional center of your brain where stress, tension and mood are regulated.
Keep a small bottle of lavender oil in your purse that you can use to ease headaches whenever they strike. And if you know that you’re going to face a stressful situation during the day, use lavender essential oil as a preventive measure to stop a headache developing.
Eases Menstrual Cramps
Lavender oil can bring relief from menstrual cramps and other symptoms associated with painful periods.
Researchers tested the effects of lavender essential oil on dysmenorrhea which is a condition encompassing a variety of unpleasant symptoms that can be experienced by menstruating women—cramps and sharp pains, lower back pain, headache, nausea and vomiting, hot flashes, dizziness, fainting, night sweats, depression and irritability.
Researchers randomized 96 women with dysmenorrhea into 2 groups; one half to receive lavender oil (the experimental group) and the other half to act as the control, and followed them for 4 months.
Women in the experimental group were asked to rub 3 drops of lavender essential oil mixed with sesame oil into their palms and then bring their hands up to their face and inhale the aroma. They did this every six hours during the first three days of their period and also after experiencing pain.
The control group used only sesame oil.
At the end of the research period, results showed that lavender oil significantly reduced the symptoms experienced by the women.
The control group were almost 7 times more likely to experience abdominal pain and lower back pain than the lavender group, and 12 times more likely to suffer from nausea, vomiting, headache and fatigue. Finally, the control group were 16 times more likely to experience dizziness and fainting.
Repels Insects Naturally
While lavender will soothe the itch when insects strike, it’s better to prevent the bite or sting in the first place, and lavender can help you do just that.
Use diluted lavender oil in a carrier oil or combine it with your regular lotion and apply to all exposed areas of your skin.
If you’re planning to spend a summer evening outdoors, you can further ward off the mosquitos by using a lavender linen spray on your clothing and if you’re going to be sitting at a table, you can add lavender essential oil to an oil burner.
Inside the home, adding lavender essential oil to an aromatherapy diffuser will make insects think twice before they intrude.
Soothes Painful Toothache
The analgesic properties of lavender oil can help to relieve a throbbing toothache. Mix a few drops of lavender with a suitable carrier oil and massage the blend along your external jawline.
Lavender as a toothache remedy is most useful for the kind of short lived toothache that’s usually induced by hot or cold temperatures setting off a sensitive tooth
While lavender oil can kill germs, it’s unlikely to be effective at killing germs in an infected tooth. If you need a home remedy for an infected tooth because you can’t get an immediate dental appointment, then you can use a fresh crushed garlic clove.
Garlic contains allicin which is a powerful antibiotic. The allicin in garlic is activated by an enzyme once a clove is crushed.
Take the crushed garlic and hold it over your infected tooth. It might irritate your cheek a little and make your eyes water but it’s worth it to get a head start on tackling the bacteria which are responsible for the pain.
Using lavender and garlic together will make life bearable until your dentist can get to work on your tooth.
Cleans and Disinfects Wounds
Once minor wounds have been flushed with clean water to remove any dirt or debris, you can add 4 or 5 drops of lavender essential oil to a small bowl of fresh water and use a cotton ball to swab the area.
Lavender’s antimicrobial properties will sanitize the wound, and its cicatrizant and vulnerary qualities will speed up healing while its analgesic action eases pain.
Use the wash 2 or three times a day to prevent bacteria colonizing the wound.
Revives Aching Feet
After a long day, especially in hot weather, feet can swell and ache. Using lavender essential oil in a soothing foot bath will bring relief to your feet and leave you feeling revived.
Add 5 or 6 drops of lavender oil to your foot bath, then sit back and relax while your feet absorb lavenders therapeutic properties.
Another oil that you can add to the soak for even more relief is peppermint essential oil. The menthol in peppermint cools hot feet and relaxes tight muscles. Use two drops in your foot bath.
Where Can You Buy Lavender Oil?
So, now you know about some of the great ways to use lavender oil, you’re probably itching to get your hands on a bottle of your own.
Unlike the more expensive oils which should only ever be brought from a specialist retailer like Tisserand, Mountain Rose Herbs or Plant Therapy, lavender oil is so inexpensive that there is little to be gained by unscrupulous sellers adulterating the oil, so you can pick up a perfectly good bottle of lavender essential oil from pretty much any reputable retailer.
That said, you do need to look out for a few things before you purchase.
Essential oils degrade in light and should always be stored in dark glass bottles, so back away from anything in a clear glass (or plastic) bottle.
Their therapeutic qualities also break down when they’re subjected to heat. So, if you’re at the store and their oils are in a display near the windows where they’ll be exposed to warm, bright sunlight, you should buy your oils elsewhere. It’s not at all easy to check this with online retailers, so you’ll need to cast an eye over customer reviews to get an idea of quality.
What Size Should You Get?
You can make a great saving if you buy your lavender oil in a big bottle. Lavender is one of the more stable oils and has a shelf life of around 4 years—if kept in a cool and dark spot. Citrus oils like lemon and mandarin on the other hand oxidize and degrade in just 1 year.
Expect to pay roughly $6 for a small 10ml bottle and $12 to $40 for a 100ml bottle.
How Many Drops In A Bottle?
In general, the number of drops in a bottle of essential oil depends on the viscosity of the oil. Thicker oils have fewer drops than thinner oils.
Lavender essential oil is a very thin oil, almost like water, and you should expect to get around 20-25 drops per ml. So, 200-250 drops in a 10ml bottle.
Drip Cap or Dropper Top?
Essential oils come in 2 types of bottles. Dropper top bottles are easier to use, especially with thicker oils which can take entire minutes to emerge from drip caps.
The downside of dropper bottles though, is that they allow more oxygen into the bottle, and oils degrade each time they come into contact with oxygen.
You know how a cut apple turns brown if you don’t eat it up quickly? We’ll, that’s known as oxidative damage and it’s the same type of damage that happens to your oils, you just can’t see it.
Drip caps which seal the neck of the bottle and have a tiny opening for the oil to drip from, minimize oxidative damage to your oils and give them a longer shelf life.
Since lavender oil is such a thin liquid, it’s best to choose the drip cap option.
Lavender oil makes a great introductory essential oil, and it’s an essential component of all effective aromatherapy home remedy kits. It’s cheap, it works and it smells amazing, so what are you waiting for? Go grab some!