LAVENDER OILS 101: A HELPFUL GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL LAVENDER OILS 101: A HELPFUL GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL


LAVENDER OILS 101: A HELPFUL GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

July 07, 2020    
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IN ESSENCE...

  • Due to the incredible diversity associated with the Lavender plant, there are many types of Lavender Oils available to purchase on the market today.

  • As the benefits and uses of Lavender Essential Oil can vary from one type to another, choosing the right Lavender Oil can be the key to a successful commercial product. It is also important to ensure the oil is used safely and in line with its intended applications.

  • Some useful factors to consider before buying a Lavender Essential Oil include its use, cost, botanical species, country of origin, as well as its chemical and aromatic profile.


 

INTRODUCTION

 

The world of Lavender Essential Oils is both vast and enchanting. While many may already be familiar with Lavender's pleasant and distinctive scent, there is also an amazing sense of diversity associated with this popular essential oil.

The Lavender plant has more than 30 species and close to 500 known varieties, all of which produce essential oils that can slightly (or sometimes greatly) differ in their specific scents and properties. This leads to an immense variety of the types of Lavender Oils that can be purchased, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the choice currently available on the market.

This article will help you understand which type of Lavender Essential Oil may be best suited to your needs, whether you are a home user, skin care enthusiast, aromatherapist, or cosmetic formulator. It will also offer some guidance for those who would like to go beyond their current Lavender 'comfort zone'. The following three areas will be covered:

  • What gives rise to the characteristic scents and uses of different Lavender Oils

  • What factors you should consider when buying a Lavender Essential Oil

  • The profile of each of the Lavender Oils available from NDA


 

THE DIVERSITY OF LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OILS

 

The Lavender plant is part of the fragrant mint family 'Lamiaceae', which also houses other incredibly aromatic plants such as Rosemary, Spearmint, Thyme, and Melissa (Lemon Balm). Within this family, any plant belonging to the genus Lavandula is considered a Lavender plant.

The diversity of the scents, properties, and benefits of different Lavender Essential Oils can be attributed to a wide range of factors, and it may be easier to think of these factors as existing on different 'levels'. On the first level is the botanical species of the Lavender plant used to distill the essential oil. This can relate to the overall species, of which there are more than 30, as well as the specific variety or cultivar, of which there are more than 450. Different Lavender species and cultivars can have flowers or leaves that have distinct sizes and colors, and they may thrive in slightly different climates and growing conditions. They also have aromas that can vary in terms of its strength, sweetness, and overall quality.

On the second level, differences in Lavender Essential Oils can be attributed to their country of origin. Each country is subject to their own unique weather patterns and geographical conditions that ultimately impact the composition of the essential oil. Thus, a Lavender Oil from Bulgaria will have somewhat unique characteristics from one that is distilled in South Africa, even if the plant belongs to the same species. Depending on the origin, Lavender Oils may be close to the classic Lavender scent, and some will be more gentle, more bold, more herbaceous, and so on. Once confined to the Mediterranean region, Lavender is now cultivated in many countries, including Bulgaria, France, Greece, Spain, Italy, South Africa, England, and the US, although in many respects Europe is still thought to be the 'heart' of Lavender production.

On the third level, variations can exist due to regional factors such as the local climactic conditions, geography, timing of the harvest, and extraction method, all of which can affect the quality of the oil as well as its scent. A perfectly timed Lavender harvest and impeccable weather, for instance, can give rise to an excellent harvest yield and a superb smelling oil. An ill-timed harvest, on the other hand, might result in an inferior quality oil. Thus, even a Lavender Essential Oil purchased from the same country of origin can slightly vary depending on the supplier or over time.

The Most Popular Species of Lavender Used To Produce Essential Oils

At present, NDA carries the essential oils of two of the most well-known species of Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula hybrida:

Lavandula angustifolia - Also known as 'True Lavender', this species produces the most recognized Lavender scent. It is also the species most celebrated by aromatherapists and researchers, and is considered to be highly therapeutic. True Lavender is characteristically high in both Linalool and Linalyl Acetate esters while being relatively low in Camphor. As it is a somewhat 'fussy' plant with a smaller essential oil yield, L. angustifolia oils are more expensive, and are also more prone to adulteration.

Lavandula hybrida (also known as Lavandula x intermedia) - Also called Lavandin, this species is a mass-cultivated hybrid of the Lavender species Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia ('Spike Lavender'). Lavandin plants produce an essential oil that is more intense, refreshing, and herbaceous. It is relatively higher in the constituents Camphor and 1,8-Cineole. Lavandin can lack some of the more gentle and floral aspects of L. angustifolia, and also does not share the same versatility in terms of its therapeutic benefits. It caters primarily to the perfuming of household and personal care products such as soaps, washing powders, fresheners, and cleaners. Lavandin's popularity is due to its oil yield, which is considerably larger than that of L. angustifolia, and is therefore significantly cheaper.



 

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

 

Selecting the right Lavender Essential Oil that fits your needs and preferences involves researching and comparing aspects such as the benefits, cost, botanical species, country of origin, and chemical profile of different types and varieties. A reputed supplier will ensure this information is readily available and accessible for customers before purchase, and should also be able to assist you with any questions you may have.

Benefits & Intended Use

The benefits of Lavender Essential Oil are numerous and can vary from type to type. Consider the purpose of your Lavender Oils. Will you be using it for aromatherapy or cosmetic reasons (or perhaps both)? Is it purely for perfuming a product?

Lavandula angustifolia oils are recommended for aromatherapy and other therapeutic purposes. Emotionally, they are deeply relaxing, soothing, and uplifting. Cosmetically, they support skin rejuvenation and are known to help heal scars, burns, insect bites, and inflammation. Medicinally, they boast a range of reputed benefits, including antimicrobial, sedative, analgesic, and anti-rheumatic properties. L. angustifolia oils are incredibly versatile, and can be used for diffusion, massage, aromatherapy baths, skin care, and hair care.

Beyond this, L. angustifolia is also excellent for adding natural scents to cosmetic or personal care products. Its aroma is perceived to be more floral and superior in quality compared to other Lavender species, and is therefore used in high-end perfumes and colognes. For scenting products such as air fresheners, laundry detergents, linen sprays, natural cleaners, and rinse-off cosmetics, the more economical Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin) can also be a good choice. Lavandin is not typically recommended for aromatherapy and other therapeutic applications.

Cost

There can be considerable variation in the pricing of different Lavender Oils. Indeed, very low prices for 'pure' or 'genuine' Lavender can signal possible adulteration. Due to its reputation and production quality, Lavender Oil from France tends to be more expensive than those produced in other countries, although there are exceptions. Lavender Oils that are high in beneficial esters, such as those grown in high altitudes in France, are also pricier as they are thought to release a finer fragrance. Conversely, Lavender Oils high in camphor tend to be less expensive. Due to its production capacity, Lavender Oil from Bulgaria can now be very competitive in pricing and is also excellent in quality. Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and other certified Lavender Oils will also be more costly compared to conventional oils.

On the lower end is Lavender 40/42, a natural essential oil blend, and Lavandin Essential Oil. Lavandin costs less as it is a larger plant with a much higher oil yield, and is also easier to cultivate. However, these more inexpensive oils are not considered to be as therapeutic as other Lavender varieties.

Keep in mind that, as with other essential oils, the pricing of Lavender can vary due to market conditions and the size of your order. NDA has long-term contracts in place with trusted producers around the globe and we keep an eye out for market trends to ensure a reliable, high-quality supply of Lavender Oils can be offered at competitive wholesale prices.

Tip: Use NDA's price comparison tool to quickly compare the costs of up to five different Lavender Oils. Simply hover over an essential oil from the list in the left-hand panel to access the tool.

Botanical Species, Plant Part, & Extraction Method

The product page for each Lavender Oil lists its botanical name, plant part used, and extraction method. It is crucial to know the botanical (Latin) name of what you're about to purchase as this will advise you of its benefits, safety, and potential uses. A company could label both a bottle of Lavandin and a bottle of True Lavender oil as 'Lavender', but the Latin name will reveal its true botanical identity.

The essential oil of Lavender is typically extracted from the flowers (the flower 'spike', which contains the oil-rich corolla and calyces) and this is where the highest quality oil can be derived. The essential oil can be found on the Lavender stalks as well, albeit in lesser amounts. It is generally steam distilled, although more expensive CO2 extracts also exist.

Country of Origin

As the most widely available Lavender Oil species is L. angustifolia, an important distinguishing factor becomes the country of origin. Apart from Bulgaria and France, which are perhaps the most well-known producers, Lavender Oil is also produced in Italy, Spain, Greece, South Africa, Turkey, England, Australia, Canada, and many other countries. Each will have slightly varying chemical and aromatic profiles. A good way of exploring Lavender scents from different origins is to obtain and test a small sample – you may be surprised at what other Lavenders you may also really like!

Certifications

You may want to consider whether you may benefit from a certified Lavender Oil. NDA carries USDA Certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil as well as Fair Trade and ECOCERT-verified Lavender Oils. For premium cosmetic brands and products, an internationally certified essential oil can help you stand a step above the competition.

Chemical Profile

The chemical profile can give further insight into the aromatic qualities, safety, and potential therapeutic uses of each Lavender Oil. NDA provides a list of the main constituents on each Lavender Oil and an up-to-date GCMS report is also available to view via the 'GCMS & Documents' tab on the product page.

The key constituents of Lavender Oil include Linalool, Linalyl Acetate, Camphor, 1,8-Cineole, Lavandulyl Acetate, Terpinene-4-ol, and beta-Caryophyllene. The quality of certain Lavender Oils is sometimes talked about in terms of its camphor content, as the lower the camphor, the sweeter-smelling it will be.

Therapeutically, a higher proportion and good balance of Linalool and Linalyl Acetate esters is thought to be beneficial and bring out Lavender's relaxing and sedative properties. Linalool is a compound that has also been implicated in certain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities. The effects of these 'calming' constituents however can be cancelled out if there is a considerable concentration of the more energizing 1,8-Cineole and Camphor. Indeed, the higher the concentration of 1,8-Cineole and Camphor, the more invigorating and stimulating the Lavender Oil will be, with possible decongestant, expectorant, and insect-repellent properties. The scent may also become reminiscent of other camphoraceous oils such as Eucalyptus or Rosemary.

Aromatic Profile

The aromatic profile of each Lavender Oil is also dictated by its chemical profile. Linalool imparts a very pleasant, refreshing, floral aroma, and the esters Linalyl Acetate and Lavandulyl Acetate bestow the oil with sweet, fruity, or honey-like notes. Considerable amounts of Camphor and 1,8-Cineole can add a spicy, herbal, and somewhat woodsy tinge.

There can be subtle variations in the Lavender aroma from one batch to another. This is the effect of everchanging natural conditions that give rise to the oil, including factors such as the amount of rainfall, sunshine, and soil quality. For those who prefer a more consistent and economical floral scent for soaps, candles, lotions, and other cosmetics, Lavender 40/42 can be a good choice. This is a natural blend of various Lavender Oils designed to release a very pleasant and floral scent by harmonizing the balance of Linalool and Linalyl Acetate constituents. Due to its consistent scent qualities, it is sometimes described as a 'standardized' essential oil. It is worth noting that while the majority of Lavender 40/42 available on the market has been created through the addition of synthetic compounds, NDA's Lavender 40/42 is entirely natural and contains no synthetics.

The next section describes the aromatic qualities of each Lavender Oil available from NDA. However, as aromas can be so subjective, a great way of acquainting yourself with each oil and finding out which might be the best fit for you is to obtain samples and try it yourself. Also, don't be afraid to experiment and mix and match various Lavenders as this can be quite a fun experiment for any Lavender lover!



 

A GUIDE TO NDA LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS

 

LAVENDER ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OIL - FAIR TRADE

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: Bulgaria

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 25-45%
Linalyl acetate: 20-40%

This Lavender Organic Oil will appeal to ethically conscious consumers. Its scent is complex, versatile, and lavishly floral, and is a good fit for eco-conscious and sustainable brands that desire to use certified cosmetic ingredients that align with their core values. This oil is certified by the Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA), which secures fair pay and favorable conditions for local farmers and working communities. In addition to this, the Fairtrade Premium is allocated to empower farmers to improve their quality of life and communities. For premium cosmetics, a Fair Trade Lavender Essential Oil can easily become a distinguishing factor that boosts brand loyalty.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OIL

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: Bulgaria

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 30.84%
Linalyl acetate: 30.65%
Camphor: 0.19%

Lavender Organic has an intense and pleasing sweet-floral fragrance that is classed as a top note. Rich in Linalool and Linalyl Acetate, it can be used to create a relaxing environment through diffusion or massage. Its organic qualities lends itself well to aromatherapy and premium skin care. Diluted with a preferred carrier oil, a few drops of this essential oil can be applied to skin that is dry, itchy, or irritated for instant soothing. Alternatively, massage onto the temples or the dab onto soles of the feet to combat insomnia. Vegan and organic brands will find the scent adds an alluring touch to practically any cosmetic product.

This organic essential oil is certified by NOP/USDA.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL (BULGARIA) - VERIFIED BY ECOCERT

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: Bulgaria

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 28.47%
Linalyl acetate: 31.99%
Camphor: 0.24%

Bulgaria is now recognized as one of the world's most reputed producers of Lavender Oil. This essential oil is a top note, carrying a fresh, sweet, and uplifting aroma. It is abundant in Linalyl Acetate esters and Linalool while having a very low Camphor content, and delivers on a fully-fledged Lavender scent that is of premium quality. It is an excellent choice for those who dislike more herbaceous tones in their Lavender.

This Lavender Essential Oil is approved by ECOCERT Greenlife, conforming to the COSMOS Standard. It is a good fit for cosmetic brands that value sustainability and environmental conservation.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL - POPULATION

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: France

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 25 to 45%
Linalyl acetate: 20 to 40%
Camphor: Max 6%

Lavender Population (sometimes also called Fine Population) exudes a rich, intense, and intricate floral scent. Classified as a top note, it can appear to be slightly more delicate, softer, and sweeter than Lavender 40/42. This Lavender Oil is good for aromatherapy and is also a perfect fit for relaxing and pampering cosmetics such as face masks, bath bombs, and natural soaps. Lavender Population can be an ideal choice for those who dislike more camphoraceous Lavenders.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL (FRANCE)

Botanical Name: Lavandula officinalis

Country of Origin: France

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 25-45%
Linalyl acetate: 20-40%
Camphor: Max 0.6%

Cultivated in the pristine hills of France, NDA's Lavender French has a rich and exquisite Lavender scent that is also timeless. It has a high upper end for both Linalyl Acetate and Linalool, and is often indeed a Lavender Essential Oil of choice for aromatherapy. Historically, it first served the perfumery industry, a trend that continues today as it is still prominently featured in both men's and women's perfumes. Formulators and aromatherapists will find Lavender French a harmonious oil to blend with.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL - 40/42

Botanical Name: Lavandula officinalis

Country of Origin: France

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 29.5%
Linalyl Acetate: 36.1%

Our Lavender 40/42 is 100% natural and made by blending various Lavender Essential Oils together to form a pleasing floral scent. The fine aroma is achieved by harmonizing the balance of Linalool, which imparts fresh, floral aromatic notes, and Linalyl Acetate, which adds sweet, floral, and somewhat citrusy tones. Lavender 40/42 is preferred by some manufacturers of soaps, candles, perfumes, lotions, and other cosmetics due to its cheaper price point and reliability.

Suitable for: Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL (GREECE)

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: Greece

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalyl acetate: 30-42%
Linalool: 22-34%
Camphor: Max 0.6%

Compared to Lavender Oil from France or Bulgaria, Lavender Greek is perhaps less known to most, although its ethereal scent is a must to experience. It gives rise to a splendid, full-bodied Lavender aroma that shows off a hint of sweetness. Rich in Linalool and Linalyl Acetate, it is excellent for diffusion and aromatherapeutic purposes, as well as the scenting of natural or handmade products including soaps, scrubs, creams, candles, and perfumes.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL (SOUTH AFRICA)

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Country of Origin: South Africa

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalyl acetate: 30-42%
Linalool: 22-34%
Camphor: Max 0.6%

In South Africa, Lavender crops are meticulously cultivated and distilled to produce a pristine quality Lavender Oil that is predominantly exported. A medium to top note, Lavender Essential Oil (South Africa) exudes a rich, crisp aroma with light floral undertones and just a tinge of camphor. It is high in Linalool and Linalyl Acetate, and thus well-suited for aromatherapy, skin care, and many other applications.

Suitable for: Aromatherapy, Diffusion, Massage, Skin Care, Hair Care, Scenting Soaps, Candles, Perfumes, and Cosmetics, Natural Household & Cleaning Uses.

 

LAVANDIN GROSSO ESSENTIAL OIL

Botanical Name: Lavandula hybrida

Country of Origin: France

Distilled From: Flowers

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 30.8%
Linalyl acetate: 31.4%

Lavandin Grosso Essential Oil has a fresh and intense aroma that is reminiscent of True Lavender but is more camphoraceous. The Grosso variety is the most commercially popular due to its robustness and relative resistance to disease. It is thought to account for roughly 75% of total Lavandin production. Cosmetic manufacturers use Lavandin due to its strong and pleasant scent combined with its more economical price point, and it is particularly preferred for cheaper mass-produced goods.

Suitable for: Scenting Soaps, Shower Gels, Detergents, Cleaners, and other Personal Care or Household Products.

 

LAVANDIN ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OIL

Botanical Name: Lavandula hybrida

Country of Origin: Spain

Distilled From: Flowering Tops

Main Constituents:
Linalool: 29.5%
Linalyl acetate: 37.2%

Lavandin Organic Essential Oil has a similarly fresh and intense aroma that is reminiscent of True Lavender but is more camphoraceous. Cosmetic manufacturers use Lavandin Organic due to its strong and pleasant scent combined with its more economical price point, and is particularly preferred for cheaper mass-produced goods. It is a good fit for vegan and organic cosmetic brands.

This organic essential oil is certified by NOP/USDA.

Suitable for: Scenting Soaps, Shower Gels, Detergents, Cleaners, and other Personal Care or Household Products.

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Learn more about the history, benefits, and uses of Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia) in this blog post.

Explore the history, benefits, and uses of Lavandin Essential Oil (Lavandula hybrida) in this blog post.

Interested in learning how to read a GCMS report? Check out our easy-to-understand guide here.



 

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

 

It is important to enjoy Lavender essential oil benefits while keeping in mind relevant safety considerations. As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, essential oils are for external use only. Essential oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes.

Pregnant and nursing women are advised not to use essential oils without the medical advice of a physician. Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of seven.

Prior to using any essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of Lavender essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.

In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.



IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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