There are approximately 39 different types of lavender we know of today, and although all 39 types come from the Lamiacea family, their chemistry profiles are very different from one another. Let’s take a look at two of the more popular types of lavender essential oil (EO): Lavandula angustifolia (true lavender) and Lavandula latifolia (spike lavender). The main constituents of L. angustifolia are the monoterpenol linalool (27-31%) and the ester linalyl acetate (30-38%). Then there is L. latifolia composed mainly of the constituent linalool (38-45%), the oxide 1,8 cineole (19-28%), and the ketone camphor (11-14%). These chemical make-up differences are exciting especially when it comes to skin care— the more options you have the better you can personalize a skin blend to fit you or the needs of the person you are blending for.
*Please, do not forget about the contraindications! Oxides (such as 1,8 cineole) must be used with caution when it comes to asthmatics and ketones (such as camphor) should be used in a low dilution or avoided with children under 5 years old.
Different Types of Lavender in Skincare
Let’s dive into the exciting topic of skin care! It may not be the first thing people think of when they hear lavender EO (did someone say calming?), but your mind will be changed after reading this article.
L. angustifolia- A recent study conducted in 2016 found that 1% topical application of L. angustifolia EO to open wounds can increase the speed of healing. More specifically, applying L. angustifolia EO “leads to rapid remodeling by collagen replacement and promotes wound closure”. L. angustifolia EO targets fibroblasts that are known to decrease an enzyme that causes oxidation of procollagen, a precursor to collagen. This in turn increases production of type I and type III collagen in the open wounds, the most common types of collagen found in our bodies (1). Another study found that L. angustifolia EO has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) which is known to cause a multitude of skin infections, such as pimples, boils, cellulitis, folliculitis, any many more (2). The study explains that treatment with L. angustifolia EO “stimulates the containment of intracellular bacterial replication…balanced the inflammatory signaling induced by S. aureus by repressing the principal pro-inflammatory cytokines and their receptors” (3). In simpler terms, L. angustifolia EO prevents the spread of S. aureus, as well as represses the inflammatory response by our immune system.
L. angustifolia EO is best used for:
- Collagen production
- Acute cuts, scrapes, or lesions
- Acute staph infections
- Acute skin inflammation
L. stoechas- French lavender is not the most popular of the lavender oils, most likely because the constituents found in L. stoechas EO are far different from its lavender counterparts. L. stoechas EO contains constituents such as the ketone fenchone (24-31%), the oxide 1,8 cineole (approx. 23%), and the monoterpene a-pinene (approx. 12%), giving it different biological effects than most lavender EOs. A 2015 study found that Lavandula stoechas subspecies luisieri EO has antimycotic and antioxidant properties against 12 fungi that are known to affect the skin. Antimycotic means that it has the ability to relieve, prevent, or reduce the symptoms of a fungal infection, “such as athlete's foot, ringworm, candidiasis (thrush)” and more (4).
L. stoechas EO is best used for:
- Acute skin fungal infections
Skin Benefits of The Lavandula Family
Not only is it important to look at the lavender oils themselves, but also the main constituents found in them. Sometimes when you dive deeper into the constituents that make up that type of lavender, you find what gives it its therapeutic effects.
Linalool- One of the most common constituents found among the lavenders is the monoterpenol linalool, which you may see sometimes as linalol. Besides being the main constituent that gives some lavenders their calming effect, a study conducted in 2016 found that linalool also protects UVB-induced lipid peroxidation in skin. UVB is a type of ray that is most well known for causing wrinkles or aging skin, sunburns, and skin cancer (5). What these rays do is damage the lipids in our skin through oxidation, resulting in loss of a protective barrier our skin is naturally made to have. The constituent linalool protects against that damage, acting as an antioxidant for the skin (6). Linalool can be found in the lavender EOs of L. latifolia or spike lavender (approx. 38%) and L. angustifolia or true lavender (approx. 27%).
Linalool is best used as:
Camphor- The constituent camphor has been found to decrease elastase activity, an enzyme that reduces elastin which is the protein that allows our skin to maintain its structure (i.e. its elasticity). While elastase seems to decrease, the amount of collagen seems to increase, even in skin that had been exposed to UV rays. This study concluded that camphor is an effective anti-wrinkle agent along with an effective inhibitor of signs of aging caused by UV damage (7). Camphor can be found in the lavender EOs of L. latifolia or spike lavender (approx. 11%), L. x intermedia or lavandin (approx. 8%), and L. stoechas or French lavender (approx. 8%).
Camphor is best used as:
- Anti-wrinkle agent
- Wound healing
- Support for skin damaged by UV rays
1,8-cineole- There was a study conducted in 2017 that discovered 1,8 cineole has the potential to prevent UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis. Skin carcinogenesis is what happens when our skin is exposed to UVB rays too often, too much, or in too high amount without proper skin protection causing oxidation damage, turning the normal skin cells into cancer cells. It was found in this study that topical treatment of 1,8-cineole delays the formation of and reduces the amount of tumors present in the skin (8). 1,8 cineole can be found in the lavender EOs of L. latifolia or spike lavender (approx. 20%) and L. x intermedia or lavandin (approx. 5%).
1,8 cineole is best used as:
- Antioxidant activity again UVB rays
- Acute skin damage due to UVB rays
Brielle Curtis first gained interest in essential oils after struggling with severe acne for most of her life and after giving the oils a solid try, she realized there was more to them than just the hype. After graduating from CSU Long Beach, she began her career in aromatherapy, focusing her research on essential oil chemistry related to skin care. Brielle is the youngest Certified Aromatherapist to graduate from the Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherpy. She is now a successful aromatherapy skin care consultant and continues to focus her business around natural and custom fit ingredients for each individual person.
- Mori, H., Kawanami, H., Kawahata, H. and Aoki, M. (2016). Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. [ebook] BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, p.8. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.
org/7116/ 9ef6257f6aa68b997a1c8fbec97c6c baedd9.pdf [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].
- En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Staphylococcus aureus. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Staphylococcus_aureus [Accessed 28 Feb. 2018].
- Giovannini, D., Gismondi, A., Basso, A., Canuti, L., Braglia, R., Canini, A., Mariani, F. and Cappelli, G. (2016). Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Essential Oil Exerts Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Effect in Macrophage Mediated Immune Response to Staphylococcus aureus. Immunological Investigations, [online] 45(1). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
pubmed/26730790 [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].
- Baptista, R., Madureira, A., Jorge, R., Adão, R., Duarte, A., Duarte, N., Lopes, M. and Teixeira, G. (2015). Antioxidant and Antimycotic Activities of Two Native Lavandula Species from Portugal. [online] hindawi.com. Available at: https://www.hindawi.com/
journals/ecam/2015/570521/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].
- Merriam-webster.com. (2018). Definition of UVB. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.
com/dictionary/UVB [Accessed 28 Feb. 2018].
- Srithar, G., Rajendra Prasad N. Life Science Archives: LINALOOL PROTECTS UVB-INDUCED LIPID PEROXIDATION IN MOUSE SKIN. (2016). 2nd ed. [ebook] JPS Scientific Publications Ltd. Available at: http://www.