Taking care of your face and skin is a hard task. But with the advance in medical research, it has become easier to treat skin conditions like acne. We now have a wide variety of products and treatments to choose from. Cleansers, moisturizers, masks and even oral medication like antibiotics and vitamins can now be used to treat skin conditions like acne. But what about skin oils? The use of skin oils has been increasing rapidly in the past decade.
Reports and research don’t have a clear answer regarding oils and their benefits for skin care. Many people swear by them, saying it helped them get rid of acne, while others claim that not only that they didn’t help, it damaged their face and caused ance outbreak. With lavender oil being one of the most used ones, we will take a look at the potential benefits and usages of it.
What is Lavender?
A plant most commonly found in northern Africa and the Mediterranean, it has always been everpresent in the everyday hygiene regime of ancient Romans, Greeks, and Persians. This was partly due to the fact that lavender oil was and still is very easy to make – using a procedure called steam distillation. Its popularity coined its name, lavender, which comes from the Latin word lavare – “to wash”. It was added to bathwater, oils, and creams to help purify and clean the skin. Other cultures have used it as a deodorant and disinfectant, and also as part of some religious rituals like mummification.
Of course, although most known for its wonderful signature fragrance, lavender oil has many uses. Anecdotal evidence shows that people have been using it successfully for centuries, as part of their skincare and body care routines. Fast forward to today, the potential uses of this plant and its derivatives are almost infinite.
- Bathing – adding a bit of lavender oil can relieve muscle pain and reduce stress. If you want to test it out, adding a few drops to your bath will work just fine.
- Massage – diluted, it can be used for massage. It can also help with other skin conditions and to treat wounds and burns. Mixing it with massage oil or another agent is better for skin application.
- Inhalation – to make decongesting easier and much more fun, people add a few drops of lavender oil to their steaming hot water.
- Relieves eczema symptoms and dry skin – because of the way it interacts with the body, lavender oil can reduce the symptoms of these conditions. Research has shown that lavender can help improve skin regeneration, making it a perfect remedy for treating skin conditions that damage the dermis.
- Reduce wrinkles – wrinkles are mostly caused by free radicals in our skin, which can be a product of external toxins or some other process in our body. The oil, with its antioxidant properties, can help reduce wrinkles and remove free radicals from your body.
- Insect repellent – yes! It can act as an insect repellent if you mix the oil with some water and apply it on your skin, or you can just add some of the oil to a burning candle. It can even treat insect bites, with the soothing effect of the oil providing relief around bitten areas, reducing redness and inflammation.
There is also a big list of medical conditions for which it can potentially provide relief, like asthma, depression, whooping cough, dermatitis, stretch marks, insect bites and etc.
Lavender Oil for Acne
The case for using lavender oil for acne is based mostly on its potential antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Besides treating acne, it’s also known to help with prevention. Hormonal fluctuations due to stress, anxiety, and irregular sleep patterns are associated with acne breakouts, and lavender oil can help you reduce them.
Keep in mind that skin oils can be too rich and strong for some types of skin. And with that, instead of helping, they can actually do harm. Make sure that you have the right kind of oil, should you decide to go for lavender oil. There are many lavender oils on the market, with many of them using different lavender plants (there are more than one) to make the oil. There is true lavender, lavandine, spiked lavender, and others. For best results, make sure you go for true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis).
How Does It Work?
When applied on the face, the oil penetrates it and it stays there for a few days, working its magic. Although there is no conclusive knowledge of what processes it helps with it is suspected that it helps to reduce skin stress by reducing the levels of histamine. In turn, this encourages the skin to heal, and reduce dark spots and acne.
The sebaceous gland that is responsible for keeping our skin from being dry, also has receptors for histamine. The higher the level of histamine, the more the glands produce sebum(oil). Therefore, you have a greater chance of reducing acne outbreaks if they are caused by another condition in your body.
How Do I Start?
First, before any serious exposure to it, you should conduct a patch test to see if your skin will react to the oil in any way. Although there are no reported serious side effects related to using lavender oil, it’s always better to test. After you are all clear, you can start applying it on the acne on your face.
Make sure that you do not use it in its pure form, but rather dilute it with water or another agent or oil. Apply it on your face, and leave it be. After an hour or so, you can go ahead and wash or do whatever other treatment (except using oily cleansers) you want to your face, after the lavender oil has soaked into your skin nicely. Also, make sure that your other remedies do not contain lavender, as excessive amounts can cause your skin to become more sensitive and prone to acne.
As we already said, there are no reported serious side effects related to the use of lavender oil as a treatment for acne. Some people have reported the following after using lavender oil:
- Irritation and dryness – It’s very rich and concentrated, and sometimes even when diluted, people with sensitive skin can experience skin irritation or dryness.
- Allergic reaction – as rare as it is, it can happen. If you experience a burning sensation in your throat, mouth or eyes, stop using lavender oil and ask for professional medical help.
- Acne outbreak – it’s an oil. Some oils can cause inflammation and cause our skin pores to swell and close, and so, lavender oil can actually clog our pores.
- Hormonal imbalance – in medical research conducted on boys younger than 14, lavender has been pointed out to cause a hormonal imbalance, leading to abnormal breast growth. This condition is known as gynecomastia.
- Interaction with other medication – lavender is suspected to interact with our central nervous system and slow it down. In some cases, people who take certain sedatives or anti-depressants may experience extreme drowsiness. Talk to your doctor about the potential interaction of lavender oil with any medication you are prescribed.
Generally safe and easy to get your hands on, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give lavender oil a chance. Make sure to get the right kind, and if you use it according to instructions and guidelines you should be all fine – more than that, you’ll reap some of the proven benefits of lavender oil. Remember that it shouldn’t be used as a standalone treatment, but rather as a part of a combination: it’s perfect for DIYing! That way it has a bigger chance of being effective.