Although many swear by dried lavender in the bath (constantly washing thoroughly afterward), others are more cautious. There is evidence to suggest that dried lavender may cause contact dermatitis, including skin irritation and rashes, so if you have sensitive skin, we recommend buying fresh or drying your own in an oven at a low temperature.
When purchasing fresh lavender, look out for those with a high oil content, which are better for oil pulling and have more soothing and healing qualities. If you want to dry your own, the best option is to buy real flowers or buds, which should be bleached in an oven on low heat (or in an air-tight plastic bag for two to three weeks). The flowers and buds may then be used as a potpourri or added to soaps, baths, and other scented products.
Like many herbs – oregano and rosemary spring to mind – lavender is one to which some people can be allergic. Even if you are not allergic to lavender, however, complications can occur from long-term use of oregano or rosemary oils, so it’s essential to see a doctor if you have skin irritation or a rash.
Some precautions should be taken before using a lavender essential oil, though. While it is a very safe herb and generally considered non-toxic, if the oils are used in large enough quantities, they may still cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid using lavender if possible – even little amounts of it can be not very reassuring.
Dried lavender oil may be used neat or diluted in oils and other products, with lavender-scented soaps being a favorite. The oil is also said to be suitable for use in aromatherapy treatments. Many people also enjoy lavender-scented massage oils, but these should be used in a variety of ways.
If you want to use lavender essential oil or dried lavender in the bath, always test a small amount on your skin first to see if you have an adverse reaction. Do not use it on broken skin.
Many people swear by the healing properties of lavender essential oil in the bath – adding a few drops to some warm water and bathing in it is said to calm both body and mind. Lavender is also said to be a good remedy for insomnia. You must avoid getting the water into your eyes, though – both are irritants and may cause irritation if they come into contact with your eyes.
Some supermarkets and health food shops will carry it. Lavender is also available in many spa shops or at health food stores. If you can’t find lavender oil in the shop, however, you can order it online – some suppliers will provide a full range of massage oils and soaps incorporating lavender oil.
You can order some herbs and spices by mail order too – most supermarkets, although they won’t usually keep or carry them after they’ve been bought – will do most of the rest. Just telephone one of the local supermarkets and ask if they can source herbs and spices in bulk. Most will be more than happy to oblige.