Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lavender in the Bath

Lavender! I am a soap maker of 5 years, and this is by far the most asked for oil and scent in my market.

Apparently, even the word lavender is associated with the bath. It comes from the Latin work "lavare", which means "to wash". The Greeks and Romans used lavender water with which to rinse their bed sheets. Lavender water was a popular face wash 14th through the 19th centuries. (1) And, it was a popular strewing herb for its insect & mice repellent properties, as well as the long lasting fragrance of the plants. (2)

Keville & Green (1) write that is a good oil for all skin types. They say it is a cell regenerative that actually helps in preventing stretch marks and skin scars. It reads to be a pretty awesome skin herb and oil.

Lavender also enjoys the reputation of a "balancing" oil, which means that if you are tense and stressed, lavender tends to relax; and where you are lethargic or even irritable, lavender can "raise the spirit" and stimulate into action.
Mind, Body, & Spirit write "lavender is the perfect bathroom will relax your mind and muscles after a hard day's work, and is also good for your skin and hair."

I read in three sources out of three that lavender is good for acne, burns, and for delicate and sensitive skin; it also speeds cell replacement.

It is not the only oil and/or herb good for the bath, skin, and hair, but it is a good one with which to start a new regime of natural products. From lavender, you may want to go more woodsy (cypress is my favorite), more flowery (rose geranium comes to mind), or more fruity (LEMON, yay!), but I think Lavender is a great place from which to begin your aromatherapy adventure.
I have also read that lavender is one of two oils that seem safe enough to use undiluted. The other being Tea Tree oil from Australia. When I go out in public, I use a drop as my natural deodorant - it works very well without fear of negative side effects. And, I KNOW it
keeps me de-stressed, because my reputation seems one of a "friend to all". Now, I know me better than that. But, it seems, others don't know my ugly side...probably thanks to this lavender deodorant. *laugh*

I had a customer at the market yesterday who found all my lavender products too weak. Someone had given her a lavender spray that made her feel so good she said, but it was much stronger than any of my products. Odd. I use between 2 and 3%, the high end on the aromatherapy scale. I found out she had been given a lavender "fragrance" spray - not essential
spray. She was convinced she had the real deal when in fact, she had a man made synthetic fragrance - not plant derived at all.

Does this make a difference? Yes, it does. Lavender has molecules of alcohols, ketones, and esters to make it what it is. These molecules actually attach themselves to some of our own cells and effect change.

The molecules of fragrance oils linger and hang out, but do not connect. When a molecule of plant oil connects to other molecules, it can and does effect change. This is what gets rid of odor molecules - change the molecular structure. Fragrance oil or man made molecules do not connect to other molecules, and therefore do not effect change. It masks odors but does not eliminate them. Plant oils actually eliminate them as they connect and effect change. This is my understanding of how aromatherapy works.

So, when you pick up your lavender product, read the label. If it reads a bit "fishy", then it is probably fragrance oil. If the real lavender plant oil is used, somehow this reads out pretty boldly, because those of us who use the real oil want this to be known.

Do I have lavender oil in my products? Oh, yes. I don't own one bottle of Lavender fragrance oil. All my lavender is Essential oil. I think the price is fair enough to use even in soap. What products do I make with lavender oil? Oh, my gosh, several. Take a look...

Lavender Spray, 4 sizes of this lovely french lavender spray are offered.
Lavender Powder without the talc
Lavender Provence Salve two sizes, 2 oz. and 1/2 oz. I'm getting ready to list a 4 oz. too.
and several soaps and one shampoo bar
Lavender Shea is the shampoo bar
Lavender Lemon is a nice hand soap with poppy seed
Lavender Rose Buds is a cocoa butter bath soap
Lavender Peppermint, another cocoa butter bath soap
Lavender Rose is a avocado oil bath soap
Lavender Oats is just lavender oil alone
and several soaps have lavender in it as part of a blend, such as
Pine Tar bath soap
Marshmallow Mellow Shampoo bar
plus more...

And, as always, Thanks, kathleen

(1) AROMATHERAPY A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green, The Crossing Press, 1997
(2)HERBS with contributing editor Lesley Bremness, Reader's digest, NY, 1990
(3) Natural Healing, by Mind, Body, & Spirit


  1. One of my fav herbs! I only have 3 plants and when they're in bloom, the area smells wonderful. I can't imagine how good a field of lavender smells. :)

  2. What variety do you grow, Katie? And, are you able to dry some of the flowers for fragrance throughout the year? :)

  3. They're English. I've had them for a long time, purchased at a local garden center.

    I cut and dry them and store bundles in with our woolen clothes.

  4. Cool. Something I didn't mention...lavender makes a great moth repellent. Good idea.

    I found, in order to keep mine from dying, I have to keep dogs from peeing on them, and they have to have excellent drainage for their roots. :)

  5. so many lavender things. Must smell really great in your work area.

  6. Unfortunately, as you may already know, our noses become desensitized when working and living around heavy scents all the time. I'm told my home smells so very good. I don't really smell it anymore unless I put my nose right in it. And, I sure do that sometimes!! :D