How to Use Lavender Oil to Soothe Your Skin

lavendar oil

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

Lavender oil might be best known for its calming, aromatherapeutic properties—but according to dermatologists, it actually has benefits for your skin, too. Lavender's sweet, floral smell belies its soothing properties, which have been found to help treat everything from dry skin on the arms to acne on the face.

To learn more about this all-purpose oil, and how it can benefit the skin, we consulted board-certified dermatologists. Together, they explain what makes this essential oil different than the rest and why you might want to consider adding lavender oil to your skincare lineup.

Meet the Expert

  • Anna Guanche, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas.
  • Nava Greenfield, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Brooklyn.

Lavender Oil

Type of ingredient: Essential oil

Main benefits: Soothes skin, improves acne, protects against free radicals, and combats bacterial and fungal disorders.

Who should use it: In general, anyone with acne-prone skin who does not have a contact allergy to lavender or fragrance and does not have sensitive skin.

How often can you use it: Provided you do not have an allergy to the ingredient, lavender oil is safe to use in your daily routine, and how often it is used depends on the type of product.

Works well with: Lavender oil can be diluted in a carrier solution, such as a fatty oil. "When lavender is mixed with coconut, jojoba, or grapeseed oil, it has wonderful benefits on the skin," Guanche says.

Don't use with: Inform your doctor of any medications you’re taking or products you’re using before trying lavender oil.

What Is Lavender Oil?

First, a word about essential oils: These are concentrated liquids derived from the aromatic parts of plants, such as the flowers, roots, and leaves using a process called steam distillation, according to Guanche. Lavender oil (aka lavandula angustifolia) is a type of essential oil that comes from the flowers of the lavender plant, which grows in various regions such as France and Bulgaria. Greenfield says its main components are linalool, linalyl acetate, lavandulol, geraniol, and eucalyptol, which have antibacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. However, she points out that, "studies have also demonstrated that there are many different types of lavender oil, and because of their different composition, they have different chemical properties."

Lavender oil is available in a concentrated form on its own (which should be stored in a cool, dark place) but is also used in creams, moisturizers, oils, and mists. The route of entry into your body (through topical application, inhalation, or ingestion) will determine the effect that the lavender oil has. According to Greenfield, applying lavender oil topically will have the most benefit to the skin, inhalation can trigger sensory neurons in the olfactory system and can have neuro effects, and ingestion can have systemic effects if it's absorbed in your gut and enters the bloodstream.

Benefits of Lavender Oil for Skin

"Science has only recently started to evaluate the health benefits that lavender oil contains," Guanche says. "However, there’s already an abundance of evidence to illustrate its capabilities, and it's one of the most popular essential oils in the world." Below are the main potential benefits of lavender oil for skin.

  • Helps with eczema and dry skin: Lavender oil mixed with a carrier oil can be used directly on the skin to aid in locking in moisture. The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of lavender oil are especially useful when trying to defend against bacteria that cause eczema.
  • Protects against free radicals: As an antioxidant, lavender oil may help protect the skin against environmental stressors. "The most common and dangerous risk factor for disease often comes from free radicals, toxins, and pollutants," Guanche explains. "Free radicals can shut down your immune system and damage your body. Lavender oil is a natural antioxidant that may work to prevent and reverse disease."
  • Reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: Lavender oil is packed with antioxidants making it an excellent option when tackling wrinkles. These antioxidants defend your skin against free radicals which can cause fine lines and wrinkles. You can try a mixture of coconut oil and lavender to use a natural, DIY anti-aging serum for your face.
  • Improves acne: Thanks to its antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects, Guanche says lavender oil could contribute to the improvement of acne.
  • Soothes skin: Since bacteria and fungus on the skin often result in inflammation, Greenfield says the anti-fungal properties of lavender oil can have anti-itch and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Promotes skin healing: Guanche points to research that shows lavender oil may speed the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes, and wounds, and may also help with scarring. The appearance of scars could potentially be improved by lavender oil because of its ability to promote cell growth.
  • Prevents infection: Lavender oil has been used to prevent infections and combat bacterial and fungal disorders, according to Guanche, and this study showed it to have a fungicidal effect.
  • Soothes bug bites: You can eliminate some of the pain that comes with bug bites by applying lavender oil directly to the bite. Lavender oil's anti-inflammatory properties make it a go-to for getting relief from pain and itchiness associated with bug bites.
  • Promotes hair growth and scalp health: Lavender oil can also be incorporated into your hair care routine. Studies have linked lavender oil with the ability to increase hair growth speed. This oil can be used in your hair care by mixing it with a carrier oil, adding drops to your shampoo, or using products that already include lavender oil.

Side Effects of Lavender Oil

Essential oils are highly potent, so contact allergies to lavender oil are a definite possibility. "Even if you are not allergic to lavender, the immune system in the skin can develop allergies and result in dermatitis," Greenfield says. "If you generally have sensitive skin, it is a good idea to avoid products with fragrances." With that said, she adds that it's generally well-tolerated when used topically. Before spreading it all over, Guanche recommends applying the oil on a small patch of skin on an area other than the face first to test for a reaction. Because eyelid skin tends to be very sensitive to allergens, Greenfield also recommends avoiding the eye area.

"There is not enough information to know if lavender is safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding, so I suggest to stay away from using it at this time," Guanche says. It's also important to check with your physician before ingesting lavender oil, as it is generally not recommended.

How to Use It

According to Guanche, it's safe to apply lavender oil directly to the skin (although that's not the case for most essential oils), and you can also dilute it in a carrier substance for added benefits, absorption, and safety. The dilution rate depends on the usage or method of application (i.e. steaming, toning, moisturizing, etc.) and your specific skin needs. As for a carrier substance, Guanche suggests mixing it with a fatty oil, such as coconut, jojoba, or grapeseed. Greenfield says it can be added to almost any product, but she favors it in gentle, non-foaming, sulfate-free soaps and moisturizers, like a ceramide or hyaluronic acid emollient. "It can be applied to any part of your body as long as the product is otherwise formulated for that body part," Greenfield says. In other words, don't apply heavy body creams on the face, and use separate face and body cleansers.

Lavender Oil vs. Vitamin E Oil

Like lavender oil, vitamin E oil offers hydrating, antioxidant, and protective benefits. The primary benefits of vitamin E, though, are that it seals moisture into the skin. However, the benefits of vitamin E are best reaped via a product containing the ingredient rather than a pure form (which can cause a reaction in the skin). You can always try mixing either oil with a carrier substance for topical application.

If you have sensitive skin or are worried about developing a negative reaction to a new oil, do a patch test on your inner elbow.

What Lavender Oil Products Are Best to Use on the Face?

Greenfield loves Belli's Pure and Pampered Body Wash ($13) for its subtle scent and calming ingredients, including lavender oil, chamomile, and green tea extracts.

Aura Cacia's Pure Essential Oil Organic Lavender ($15) is another safe bet. It's a completely pure essential oil made from certified organic flowers, which means it only contains the good stuff and none of the bad, like synthetic ingredients and parabens. We've even named it one of the best essential oils on the market.

Byrdie editors love Aromatherapy Associates' Anti-Ageing Intensive Skin Treatment Oil ($79), a soothing blend of lavender, vitamin E, and rosehip seed oil for calming stressed skin.

Those with problem skin will appreciate Osmia's Spotless Blemish Oil ($24), a rollerball spot treatment. The blend of essential oils (like evening primrose, rosemary, lemon, and lavender, of course), targets your pimples without totally drying them out, which is why it won a Byrdie Eco Beauty Award.

FAQ
  • What is lavender oil?

    Lavender oil (aka lavandula angustifolia) is a type of essential oil that comes from the flowers of the lavender plant, which grows in various regions such as France and Bulgaria. Greenfield says its main components are linalool, linalyl acetate, lavandulol, geraniol, and eucalyptol, which have antibacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. However, she points out that, "studies have also demonstrated that there are many different types of lavender oil, and because of their different composition, they have different chemical properties."

  • Is lavender oil good for skin?

    Lavender oil soothes skin, improves acne, protects against free radicals, and combats bacterial and fungal disorders.

  • How should you apply lavender oil to skin?

    According to Guanche, it's safe to apply lavender oil directly to the skin (although that's not the case for most essential oils), and you can also dilute it in a carrier substance for added benefits, absorption, and safety.

  • Does lavender oil help pimples?

    Lavender oil can kill bacteria, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation in the skin. These qualities make it an excellent choice for those looking to combat breakouts. When applying lavender oil to help prevent acne, you should dilute the oil with a carrier oil first and only apply it to your skin after cleansing.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304.

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