Lavender’s botanical name comes from the Latin lavare, which means to wash. Lavender has been used in both purification rituals and health practices that need antiseptic and deodorizing. Considered the Oil of Kings, the scent of lavender was still powerful after 3000 years in King Tut’s tomb in Egypt. An amazing oil with an amazing history.
Today’s blog discusses the different types of Lavender typically used in soap and cosmetics.
At Honey Sweetie Acres, we use real Lavendula Angustifolia, the high-altitude (over 3,000 ft) lavender grown in France and Bulgaria. This is the oil of choice for professional aromatherapists because of the compounds it has and also the ones it does not. True Angustifolia has a camphor rate of less than 1%, making it the best choice for sensitive skin and where healing is needed. The oil is a true, sweet floral. As true, Lavender is NOT standardized; therefore, it will vary in chemical composition due to differences in growing conditions and locale. Every batch will have slightly varying nuances. The amount of rain, wind, humidity, sunshine, and pH & microbes in the soil affect the final oil. Consumers need to understand there exists a slightly different aroma profile with each batch. In its unadulterated form, the therapeutic range of this oil is simply amazing. One drop effectively reduces the pain of a burn blister, bee sting, or rash. Lavender soothes and helps a myriad of skin problems—acne, scars, abscesses, warts, eczema, and even sunburn. It is a deodorizing, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, insect repelling, calming, and relaxing. Lavendula Angustifolia carries a definitively higher price than the other Lavender options we will discuss below.
As part of our process, we require the chemical analysis of the Lavender Oil we use. By obtaining the date from Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry analysis we can determine the purity of the oil. A high Lavendulyl Acetate is an indication of a premium grade oil with tremendous therapeutic potential. The analysis also confirms for us that synthetic linalool and linalyl acetate are not present in our oil.
Another “Lavender” heavily used in soap and cosmetics is known as Lavender 40/42. Lavender 40/42 is a STANDARDIZED essential oil that is commonly used. The oil has been designed to have a consistent aroma from lot to lot, as this is what most consumers expect when they “smell” a Lavender essential oil. They expect it to be the same each and every time. But this does not happen in nature. The numbers in Lavender 40/42 represent the linalyl acetate content. In other words, this standardized Lavender contains 40%-42% linalyl acetate. Oil processors add linalyl acetate to cover the smell of camphor constituents. Sometimes consumers prefer Lavender 40/42 because it smells the way they believe Lavender should. However, since it contains Linalyl and is truly a blend, it has much less therapeutic power.
Another commonly used form of Lavender is “Lavandin.” Lavandin is a cross between true Lavender Angustifolia and other species of Lavender. A common cross is between Angustifolia and Spike Lavender (Latifolia). Lavandin is different. It has the highest camphor content of any of the “lavenders” and is therefore not ideal for sensitive skin or skin irregularities. It is not as healing as pure Lavender Angustifolia; it is not as sweet nor as floral; it is more herbaceous. This is the oil that is commonly used in lower-priced Lavender Essential Oil Soap. Lavandin is still considered helpful for inflammation and respiratory imbalances. Lavandin plants also produce more essential oil because they are larger and have bigger flowers. Just remember that Lavandin is a CROSS; it is not pure Lavender.
Lavender 40/42 and Lavandin are in many cosmetic products. They are not bad essential oils; they are blends. They are therefore less expensive, and it offers more consumers an entryway into using essential oil products, which is a good thing as compared to synthetic fragrances that have the potential to aggravate skin conditions. We share this information to help consumers understand the differences and therefore make more informed decisions.