The use of lavender for health and beauty purposes is not new. In fact, its very name suggests that it was probably used for cleansing long ago. "Lavender" is derived from the Latin root word "lavare" which means "to wash" [source: University of Maryland Medical Center]. Oil extracted from the small, light purple flowers of the lavender plant -- a Mediterranean mint plant with aromatic leaves -- is used in many skin care products today [source: Britannica].
It's not surprising that many skin cleansers contain lavender. An aromatherapy oil with a pleasing scent, it may have a positive effect on overall well-being. Some researchers believe there's a correlation between the scent of lavender and stress reduction. A recent study found that inhaling linalool -- a floral-scented compound found in lavender -- reduced the number of stress-induced chemical changes in rats [source: Warner]. Researchers think these results may apply to humans, as well. Take that idea one step further, and it's easy to conclude that, since acne can be caused by stress, lavender's calming influences could be beneficial in a skin cleanser, too.
Beyond reducing stress, lavender may also have a more direct effect on the skin. Some people combine it with other essential oils and use it as a natural product for soothing inflammation [source: Scirrotto]. Others use lavender to treat skin problems like superficial wounds, acne and eczema -- but there's not a lot of scientific proof that it works in all of these cases [sources: University of Maryland Medical Center, WebMD].
A cleanser containing lavender may not be the answer to all of your skin problems, but it might help a little and, at the very least, will make you smell good. To learn more about improving the appearance of your skin, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Encyclopedia Britannica. "Lavendar." 2009. Encycopedia Britannica Online. (Accessed 10/13/09)http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article-9047391
- Scirrotto, Julia. "Soothing Solutions for Sensitive Skin." WebMD. (Accessed 9/2/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/soothing-solutions-sensitive-skin
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Lavender." (Accessed 9/2/09)http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm
- Warner, Jennifer. "Linalool May Explain Some of Aromatherapy's Stress-Reducing Benefits." WebMD. (Accessed 9/2/09)http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20090724/floral-scent-soothes-stress
- WebMD. "Eczema." (Accessed 9/2/09)http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/eczema