10 Ways Lavender Enhances Your Life
Plants sustain life. They provide nutrition, oxygen, medicine, and contribute to our wellbeing in countless ways. We're praising lavender in particular because July is Lavender Month. Lavender has been used as a healing plant for centuries. It is also a highly prized ingredient in skin care and perfumery. Recent scientific studies have validated its effectiveness for treating neurological issues like anxiety and stress, as well as many skin conditions. In addition to its anxiolytic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, lavender contains chemical constituents that show promising results in relieving pain and depression, improving concentration, and boosting productivity, which makes it a valuable aid in your work and personal life.
There are other amazing plants that share many of these benefits, but few that smell or taste quite as good as lavender, and that's what makes it such a unique little flower with an array of applications. We've put together a list of 10 ways to use fresh or dried organic lavender for your home and self-care, including some yummy culinary recipes, laundry and cleaning solutions, and decadent body care.
Mindful Breathing: Lavender is renowned as a calming and stress-relieving plant. Its ability to quiet the mind and focus awareness make it an incredibly useful plant in any mindfulness practice, in any task that requires your concentration and focus, and just about anytime you need to relax. Use a lavender plant or dry lavender to do some breathing exercises. Hold the lavender up to your face and inhale deeply through your nose. Hold for a few seconds and exhale. This is called orthonasal olfaction. Now, in reverse. Inhale through your mouth. Hold for a few seconds and exhale. This is called retronasal olfaction. The brain interprets aroma molecules differently when inhaled through the nose than when inhaled (tasted) through the mouth. Get the full impact by doing both.
Harvesting & Drying Bundles: The number of things you can do with dried lavender are endless. Here's how to harvest and dry your lavender bundles. Cut about a fistful of long lavender stems with some clippers or regular kitchen shears. You can include the leaves but don't cut beyond where the green stems turn woody and hard. Line up the flower heads as desired - uniform, irregular or arrowhead shapes. Use a rubber band or twine to tie your bundle. Make sure the tie is not too tight or crushing the stems. Use a small hook, like a holiday ornament hook, a paperclip, or another piece of twine to loop through your tie and hang upside down from a rope, hook, nail or bar (a clothes hanger will also work). Hang in a dry, cool area that is not in direct sunlight or in a moist environment so that your bundles dry quickly and retain their vibrant color. It takes a few weeks for the flowers to dry, depending on the climate. Once dry, you can leave bundles intact, keep in a vase, hang in your bedroom, laundry, bath, etc., or you can remove the buds from the stems and store in sachets or jars for future use. I recommend storing buds in airtight jars if you plan to use them for skin care, perfumery or culinary use in the future. Don't have lavender plants? You can buy bundles for local growers or order online.
Aromatic Face Mask: Now that you’ve harvested and dried your lavender, (or bought some), fill a small pouch with a few buds of lavender and place it inside a PPE face mask with a filter pocket. Just a little lavender makes the world a better smelling place. It also refreshes, which is a bonus when you have to rebreathe your exhaled air. The pouches are easy to make. Simply use a small cotton drawstring bag or a tea bag and add a few buds of lavender. If you don't have a small pouch, use a cheese cloth or other thin cotton material to make a small pocket-like flat pouch. Test it out for desired aroma strength and add or remove lavender as needed. That's it. You're all set! Instant mask protection and relaxation.
Air Fresheners: The best part of lavender season is making sachets from dried lavender buds for your shoe closets, pantry, bathrooms and any smelly places around the house. Keep one in your car. The heat trapped in your car will create a natural diffuser. Sachets also make great gifts for friends and family. If you have live plants, you can also distill some fresh lavender flowers and collect the hydrosol, or create an alcohol extract to use as a room or linen spray. If you are interested in these methods, reach out to us for details.
Infusions: Infusions are a great way to capture the beautiful essences of flowers and herbs for use in a variety of home and personal products. You can create a lavender infusion from dried buds using either a base of alcohol, a shelf-stable carrier oil, glycerin, or vinegar (for cleaning and culinary solutions). All you need are a few ingredients: a jar with a lid, dried lavender buds, a fluid base (alcohol, carrier oil, glycerin, vinegar), a sieve or a cheese cloth, and a little patience. There are many ways to make infusions. We'll cover the 3-week process for an oil infusion. Instructions: Fill your jar about 3/4 full of lavender buds. Make sure buds are dry to avoid mold. Completely cover buds with oil. Seal jar. To infuse, store in a windowsill or sunny spot (like making sun tea). Shake jar daily. Wait. After 3 weeks, sieve plant solids and discard. Add vitamin E to prolong the infusion's shelf life. Store in a cool, dark place. Uses: use directly on the skin as a massage oil, moisturizing oil, bath oil, on pressure points as a light perfume, in cooking (depending on oil base you used), and in salad dressings.
Lavender-ade: If you're feeling stressed, anxious or just having a long and exhausting day, refresh and renew yourself with a glass of lavender-ade. It's easy to make and the subtle floral notes pair wonderfully with the sweet and sour base. All you need are lemons, lavender, and agave nectar (or sweetener of choice). You can make a lavender syrup for this or just add the sweetener and the lavender separately if you're in a hurry. Contact us for Lavender Agave Syrup recipe, which can be used in desserts, cocktails, salad dressings, and a number of recipes. Tickle your senses, cool your body and calm your mind with a tall glass of lavender-ade.
Body Scrub: Scrubs are easy to make and a pleasure to use. If you have rough patches on your body, or calluses on your feet, scrubs are a great way to exfoliate away dry, rough, dead skin cells. You can make scrubs from a variety of ingredients that have a bit of texture, like salt, sugar, coffee grinds, and clays. We like to work with salts because they have natural minerals that benefit the skin. For a basic lavender salt scrub, all you need is some sea salt, lavender flowers, and a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil. Mix together to create a slightly damp consistency. Muddle the lavender flowers to release the oils. Store in a jar with a lid and let sit for a few hours to allow the oils to meld together. Select your carrier oil based on the type of body scrub you want to make (foot scrub, face scrub, body scrub, etc.).
Floral Brunch: Edible lavender flowers make an amazing garnish for breakfast bowls, smoothies, fruit salads and beverages. Some varietals of lavender taste better than others. We prefer Melissa Lavender and Jean Davis for culinary applications. Lavender Fog is our take on a London Fog latte. It’s a super antioxidant way to energize in the morning without feeling jittery. Simply steam some plant-based milk (we like cashew because it’s the creamiest), steep some green tea in your milk, and garnish the foam with lavender buds. The heat will infuse your beverage with the flavor and aroma of lavender.
Cocktail Aromatherapy: Add a little aromatherapy to your happy hour with sophisticated beverages enhanced with the stress-relieving properties of lavender. Try a Blood Orange Lavender Mimosa with lavender agave syrup. The combination of juicy, sweet oranges, crisp sparkling champagne and light florals is just divine. Note: this can also be made with a plain kombucha or sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of lavender. crush the petals with your fingers before you drink, inhale the fragrance of your botanicals and enjoy.