“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” –Alice Walker
Lavender has bewitched us for centuries, and yet it continues to gain popularity. What is it about this intoxicating flower/herb that vastly diverse groups of people find so similarly pleasing? Is it the attractive beauty of its long and vibrant stalks? The way the uniquely alluring scent can command attention from an unsuspecting nose as one walks past a small bush in a garden or front yard? Even images of lavender—whether they are of a sprawling French hillside or local artisan farm—are enough to inspire paintings, postcards, Facebook cover backgrounds, band names, and folk songs. Lady Lavender is a true muse, an enchantress, and an exceptionally skilled seductress.
Whole vendor booths are dedicated to lavender at farmers markets. People will even go to local fields just to cut their own in a sea of purple, often posing for photo ops among these otherworldly pods of pleasure. Lavender is a common ingredient in perfume, soap, lotion, candles, sachets, laundry detergent, and bath salts. Not to mention it is creatively used in upscale vinegars, various candies, cookies, and cocktails. It can even be found as an ingredient in tea, chocolate, salad, cheese, and ice cream!
Much like that must-have “little black dress” or men’s dress shirt in any closet, this versatile key element of perfumery can be worn either fancy or dressed-down and casual. This scent, perhaps surprisingly to some, actually works quite well on both men and women, making it perhaps the one flower that is not gender specific. Its spiky and herbal appeal smells just plain clean. Did you know it’s actually a member of the mint family, which explains it’s dynamic kick. It’s also useful for a wide age range, from preteens to grandparents—it not only fights acne, this little miracle can even help with hair loss and combat wrinkles! If ever an herb were a truly flirtatious charmer toward all humankind, this would be it.
But lavender is far more than just your average fragrance; it’s even revered as a natural medicine (though proof of its effectiveness varies). Most people have heard it can be beneficial as a natural antibacterial device, for a mild case of the blues, restlessness, and insomnia. However, did you know that it has also been used as an excellent bug repellant, a treatment for poor circulation, nausea, sunburns, headaches, and various other aches and pains? A plant befitting the Greek gods, perhaps this is a small trinket of ambrosia they allowed to be dropped from the sky.
And indeed, the lovely lavender can be traced as far back as ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, and India, to name a few civilizations who knew of its early wonders. It was used, of course, as perfume, in baths, and for sleeplessness, but also for purposes of mummification and household disinfection. Furthermore, lavender appears throughout great works of literature, receiving mention by Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Tennyson. There were numerous lavender sellers’ cries (sometimes nearly endlessly multi-versed), particularly in London. One such sweet (or silly, depending on your point of view) cry, circa 1900, went, “…here’s your sweet lavender, sixteen sprigs a penny, that you’ll find my ladies, smell as sweet as any.” Today, it’s grown in most countries that have areas of warmer climates such as many parts of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Americas.
One modern, imaginative use for this divine flower is to tie a delicate sprig with a ribbon, string, or colorful bow onto a gift. Additionally, one could scatter several of the purple-blue buds between clear cellophane and tissue paper in place of traditional gift-wrap to classy-up any present. Or pin a stem in your hair with a bobby pin or barrette to enhance the perfume you presumably wear on your neck and behind your ears. You could also add it as a creative garnish to cupcakes or any dessert, soups, or how about some refreshing lemonade?
Alas, like all good things, it does come with a few possible, mild precautions. It’s never wise to apply undiluted essential oils (those that have not been first mixed with a carrier oil such as almond, grapeseed, olive, etc.) directly to your skin, as some people may find it irritating. Additionally, it’s always smart to use caution with any herbs or essential oils if one is going to be exposed to excessive sun, or if you are pregnant or nursing.
Those are very particular precautions, of course. The vast majority of people safely and thoroughly enjoy generous amounts of lavender products, perfumes, and oils. It’s hard to beat an invigorating spritz of some lavender perfume or lavender oil water on anything from pillows and linens to your lovely face or whole body. It’s the perfect pick-me-up in winter and the ultimate cool-down in summer. Just don’t forget to share it with your grandma!
Le Noir Bleu products with lavender include our Multipurpose Miracle Balm, Lulling Spritzer, Glycerine Soap, and of course the event popular Lavender Bath Soak Salt:
Lulling Lavender & Rose
-promotes rest & relaxation
Epsom, Dead Sea & Pink Himalayan salts. Orange & Lavender Essential Oils. Dried Organic Rose Petals, Hibuscus & Lavender Buds. Vitamin E.
*AND YES, THESE WILL BE AT THE NEXT PORTLAND NIGHT MARKET AT THE LE NOIR BLEU VENDOR BOOTH ON MAY 12-13, 2017. SEE YOU THERE!
*This article was originally written for WildFeather and was featured on their website. Although it also contains additional information.