Lavender essential oil is a common ingredient in natural skin care products. Besides being a wonderfully relaxing and uplifting scent it contains molecules that have specific healing actions when used topically on the skin. Some of these include calming inflammation, neutralizing bacteria and stimulating cellular regeneration. Most of the world's supply of Lavender essential oil comes from France. What is not widely known is that this country holds several patents for synthetic varieties and these are labeled and sold as pure Lavender essential oil in 100's of retail products.
Mislabeling of products is an unsettling issue in and of itself but what is even more concerning is that when products containing these synthetic varieties are used on damaged skin tissue it can cause the skin to become even more inflamed and compromised. An enormous number of naturally perceived health and beauty products contain lavender essential oil as an ingredient. It’s impossible know what percentage of those products are made with synthetically produced varieties or what percentage of people are using those products on their already damaged skin.
When purchasing lavender essential oil, or any essential oil, it’s important to confirm product purity directly with the distiller or make sure to order from a reputable supplier. Unfortunately, many natural product brands do not disclose supplier information. Like anyone manufacturing products for sale, many natural products makers are looking for ways to cut costs and make a bigger profit. Since most essential oil is manufactured for use in the conventional perfumery, cosmetics and food industries, producing whole pure plant essential oil is not the main objective. These industries are built on manufacturing products with consistent flavor, scent and cost. Pure essential oils can vary in flavor and taste with each distillation depending on the time of year, soil conditions and distillation method. Oftentimes distillers remove certain chemical constituents because they are deemed useless to these industries. These molecules are then sold for use in other chemical industries or they are used to alter other essential oils so that the distiller can gain a larger profit. Essential oils that have been tampered with in this way are considered to be incomplete. They are lacking in components found in the whole plant in nature. Some oils, particularly citrus oils, are highly concentrated with molecules taken from other plants in order to boost the levels of naturally occurring molecules in these oils. Other oils are completely manufactured in a laboratory from chemicals taken from various sources. The chemical properties of these synthetic oils are so close to pure essential oils that they are considered to be "nature-identical" and sold as pure essential oils in retail and in wholesale. Lavender is just one example but this practice has been going on throughout the industry for decades with very little regulation.
To an Aromatherapist, who is working with essential oils to correct imbalances and impact health and well-being, product purity is the number one concern. When an essential oil is chemically altered or synthetically made the body knows the difference. Not only does it undermine any therapeutic effects the oil would have in its pure state, it opens up the possibility of producing harmful effects that further aggravate unhealthy imbalances. Used correctly, essential oils in their pure state are amazing healing gifts from nature but impure oils masquerading as safe natural ingredients should not be tolerated by the natural products industry. Until we demand more regulation, transparency and quality control companies will continue to source impure essential oils for use in their products.