Lavender oil: harmful or beneficial?


Sometime last week, I came across a story “Are organic cosmetics better?” where Paula Begoun mentioned that lavender oil can cause cell damage.   I was rather alarmed and when I checked further, I found that this is what Paula Begoun has listed on her site Cosmeticscop about lavender oil:

Lavender oil and extract: Primarily a fragrance ingredient, although it may have antibacterial properties. There is no research showing it has any benefit for skin.  It can be a skin irritant and a photosensitizer. Research also indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, meaning that topical application causes skin-cell death.

I’ve removed the citations but you can refer to them in the original source.

Lavender oil can cause pigmentation
And to add on to the damage, I came across another dismaying piece of article which supports that lavender oil makes the skin more prone to burning from UV rays and also causes pigmentation because it contains Coumarin! In addition, lavender is also associated with contact dermatitis and allergies (source).  So Paris of My Women Stuff is likely headed in the right direction when she commented in my previous entry regarding her suspicion of lavender giving her contact dermatitis.

Seeking for clarifications
I was contemplating if I should post this because I don’t want to be a scaremonger but at the same time, I felt that people should know since lavender oil is a common ingredient used in most of the products.  Plus many of us also like the lavender scent.  I couldn’t find anymore information on the topic and decided to ask around and I did receive some clarifications when Jess of Yours Essentially sent me a link which discussed natural and synthetic linalool.

Natural linalool vs synthetic linalool
Linalool is one of the natural constituents of lavender essential oil.  According to the link which Jess sent me to, natural occuring linalool is safe and beneficial.  Linalool only becomes a problem when it is manufactured synthetically as it can have all sorts of nasty side effects due to the extreme strength at which it is produced, using often aggressive chemicals.

Lavender oil is used in many products
So does this mean that we’re fine if pure lavender oil is used?  But how can we tell?  And what about the UV damage?  I try not to be an alarmist but I’m sure I have raised some red flags here for many people reading this.  In fact, I’m worried too because some of the products I’m using contains lavender oil.  The products I use on my son has this ingredient!  My Marie Veronique Organics Creme de Soleil sunscreen has it too although it’s probably just trace elements since it’s listed behind.  I’m not about to junk that product! 

Please share anything you know about lavender oil
Honestly, besides knowing that it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the only other benefit I know about lavender oil is the smell.   Does it do anything more for our skin?  Well, if any of you know something more about this ingredient, please share your findings.  I’m certain many of us would be very grateful to know more.  For the time being, I’ll continue with what I have even it they contain this ingredient.  However, if the product is primarily using lavender oil, then I’ll likely think twice.


  1. Nikki says:

    thanks for an enlightening post! I love anything with “lavender” on anything! thanks !

    Nikki: Lavender is quite loved by many… I guess you’ll want to be more aware when using products containing this ingredient in future.

  2. Cyndi says:

    I have read that we should not go under the sun if we are using lavender products. It was an article by Avene if I have not made a mistake

    Cyndi: Ah…looks like we shouldn’t wear it under the sun.

  3. AtelierGal says:

    It’s indeed alarming to read that, considering that lavender is my fave scent.

    However, I’m not to big on oil, so I use body lotion & mist

    AtelierGal: I guess if you don’t use it primarily in your skin care, it’s probably all right.

  4. alixana says:

    Hmm. What’s the real difference between organically-derived and synthetically produced linalool? I read the link and I’m not satisfied with their explanation. If both the natural and synthetic linalool has the same molecular and chemical structure, aren’t they exactly the same thing? From what I know (and I may be mistaken) – synthetic ingredients are always named differently from naturally occuring ones. Like Vitamin E – DL-alpha tocopherol is synthetic while D-alpha tocopherol is natural. There may be a real difference between synthetic and natural linalool, but I think that source needs to include more info (like, what is the chemical name of natural linalool) before we can be certain that there is a significant difference…

    But this was a very interesting post. My mom and I both love lavender, and maybe it’s time for us to relook at what we’re using… Thanks Sesame!

    Alixana: I’m not sure. I thought those synthetically derived might have some stuff added. As for the name, yes I agree with you but they’re quite confusing. It would be good to have a differentiation of sorts for us to know.

  5. fwy says:

    Some brands promotes their lavender oil as natural. Not sure really what that means. BTW, Muji was having a storewide 10% off last weekend. I myself picked up a pkt of unbleached facial cotton & some cotton swabs.

    fwy: Oh, I was thinking of getting the Muji cleansing oil. Maybe I’ll check out if the sale is still on.

  6. pf1123 says:

    Good for me. I’m not a fan the lavender smell. Its not fragrance to me. So, I guess I’m spared.

    pf: I wasn’t big on it until lately. I even chose the essential oil for a sea mud mask I’m trying. So don’t know to continue or stop…but otherwise, my other products don’t contain this or probably very little of this.

  7. Lydia says:

    Your post has made me thoughtful for I love the smell of lavender. I think from now on I must be more careful with products that contain lavender oil…

    If you’re asking for other benefits of lavender oil, there’s one thing I know but it has nothing to do with skincare… A natural way to prevent clothes moths is to use lavender oil. It really works and your wardrobe smells nice. ;D Of course, if you like the smell…..

    Lydia: Oh I didn’t know it prevent clothes moths! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lily Christianne says:

    I like Lavender mainly for its smell – aromatherapy. Now that I read this article shall I stop using my Jurlique lavender body lotion? It’s just a small bottle I got as a gift.

    Lily: Perhaps you want to continue with it but only use it in the night if it is not giving you any trouble?

  9. Leon says:

    Thanks for sharing this:)
    Its true that Lavender can cause contact dermatitis in some people and also increases photosensitivity but Lavender oil has never given me any kind of dermatitis. I am currently recovering my chin dermatitis and I have no idea what caused it. It has to be something else because I haven’t used lavender on my chin for a while.

    I use lavender directly on my acne, for headache and sleep trouble but I don’t use lavender and go out in sun.

    Thanks for sharing this:)

    Leon: I rather like the smell but the products I use don’t really contain lavender or if they do, they’re listed behind…except for a sea mud mask I’m testing. So I guess it should be fine. I’m more concerned with products I used on my son though…

  10. Skin Care Recipes and Remedies says:

    I am familiar with lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties. I recommend its use in skin care recipes that provide some kind of soothing, such as after a sunburn or after an insect bite. Thanks for the link, very interesting read.

    SCRR: Oh thanks for that info! Yes, I reckon it must do that and that’s why it’s in the products I use on my son…

  11. Raelynn says:

    i wouldnt be really alarmed about the linalool etc found in lavender oil. because from what i know, almost everything contains it!

    one man’s delicacy is another’s poison, it eventually boils down to this old adage when we use natural products. when reports feature danger on a certain ingredient, i’m fairly skeptical, because it ignores the concentration that it is present in the product, the synergistic properties that it may have when combined together with the other natural elements.

    as for the natural occuring and synthetic linalool, it’s different IMO. synthetic linalool is not necessarily even molecularly identical as natural linalool, given that there’s so many commercial names for it. just like vitamin E is not the same everywhere since it’s a collective name for 8 different but related strains.

    Raelynn: You raised a good point about the concentration because I did read that it only has effects above a certain concentration although I don’t have the number. The only problem that presents for me is companies also don’t reveal the concentration level. But your comments gave me some comfort; I am less concerned now with formulations containing this and listed at the bottom. But I definitely would continue to watch out in terms of using anything containing primarily this in the day.

  12. Alison says:

    A friend of mine who is into all these organic stuffs shared with me. Women during pregnancy should avoid using stuffs which contain lavender. Reason being if the baby in the womb is a boy, the kiddo may develope symthoms of becoming gay or bisexual when he gets older and I guess it works vice versue for the girl too.
    It may be abit off track regards to your topic but then tot to share this info to any mums to be out there…


    Alison: Ah I know lavender should not be used by pregnant women but I didn’t know about the symptoms! Scary! Thanks for sharing this useful info!

  13. Ms. Blacklace says:

    Ah… Same with Alison, I read that pregnant women, should avoid lavendar and tea tree oil. They actually behave a little like female hormones, so it’ll coz young boys to grow man boobs. I think it’s called gynecomastia.

    Also, some people might be allergic to essential oils because when the oil is exposed to air or light, it changes a little and poeple might be allergic to the change.

    Ms Blacklace: Lucky I didn’t used any of these when I was pregnant. But it looks like we need to be careful with essential oils.

  14. Raelynn says:

    for the preganacy part, i think it’s more of during that phase your senses are amplified so lavender having a strong scent might make u uncomfortable instead of soothing. for the mimicking of hormones, it does have mild activity i think. and there was a one-off event that such a thing happened (the gynecomastia), but there was no conclusive evidence that it was a direct influence. as a side note, foetuses all start off as female *ding ding!* and male hormones trigger from the 6th week if it is supposed to be a boy. i believe that eventually, usage of lavender boils down to moderation, and that it should not be used during the first trimester since it is when the foetus is developing the most. after that, moderation should do just fine. if you enjoy it, why worry so much as long as it’s not excessive? moderation and concentration are key ladies, let’s not overly panic ourselves. it’s definately a lesser thing to worry about compared to other things that mass market producers add into baby care products.

    Raelynn: Changed sex in the 6th week…woah…I didn’t know it has such effects. Yeah, you’re right about the moderation part. Anyway, it’s not possible to avoid everything. Like although I avoid parabens, it’s not 100% avoidance. I don’t mind using some products with it.

  15. Deniz says:

    wow I never expected something like this from lavender products especially since it been popular for years.

    Deniz: Yes, my reaction is exactly like yours. I didn’t even realized that they can cause UV damage till now…

  16. Dee II says:

    Wow, very interesting facts listed in your article and I knew none of them at all. But side effects are to be expected, since many “natural products” all have their pros and cons anyways. Now, if it were concerning tiny amounts of lavender oil, I’d be very concerned for my health. But since it doesn’t appear to be the case, I’ll just keep an eye out on my usage of lavender.

    And to add on to Raelyn’s post, I actually believe that the surge in homosexual males/females is due to the amount of overpopulation on Earth. For every number of heterosexual couples capable of producing a child, there’ll be a number of couples who can’t and this includes gay/lesbian/etc. men/women. And apart from couples, this includes heterosexual women unwilling to have children.

    I call this “Nature’s idea of birth control” to prevent or even control over-population since everyone is trying to have children through reproduction and not through adoption, which places a very heavy strain on Earth’s resources. Well, how successful Nature’s method is, will be up to personal interpretation.

    Dee II: You have an interesting point of view regarding gender issues. I never thought about it this way.

  17. Exercises for Women says:

    I use lavender oil for incects bites, but the most favorite usage is not the oil but the lavender fragrance. I like to light lavender scent candle it calms me down and at the same time is recharging you don’t get sleep.

  18. Joanna says:


    My face wash has lavender as one of the major ingredients.. should I stop using it>.<

  19. Joanna says:

    just to clarify.. my face wash is made by apivita (it’s a greek brand), it contains olive and lavender as the major ingredients.. any advise would be nice. thanks alot

  20. Lala says:

    Hi Sesame,

    I am using the same sunscreen as you and begining to concern about the lavender oil content in it. Have you switched your sunscreen? I am considering changing mine but dunno which product to move to. Any thoughts?

  21. sesame says:

    You mean from Marie-Veronique Organics? I think it’s at the bottom so I’m not too concerned cos the percentage is probably very little.

  22. Jenn says:

    Lavender use during pregnancy will not make your baby gay. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! It’s use during pregnancy is discouraged because it is known to cause contractions.

    And Dee II…there is no surge in homosexuality, we only are more aware of it because society has realized there’s nothing wrong with it, so people don’t hide in the closet anymore. And as far as population control goes…wow, that’s a theory I have never heard of.

  23. Gez says:


    alarmist, crazy nonsense I’m afraid! The truth is that there are many types of ‘Lavender’ on the market, and they all contain a completely different balance of chemical components. The only thing that should be sold as Lavender is 100% natural steam-extracted Lavender essential oil – a completely non-toxic, non photo-sensitising natruraql product which is completely safe on your skin. Avoid the cheapest products, the synthetic products, and the compound called Lavandin which can burn the skin. You get lots of Lavandin in synthetic Lavender oil!

    So don’t panic ladies – get some proper, high grade lavender & yu will also prefer the smell. French Lavender Mont Blanc essential oil is widely accepted as the best.



  24. Elyssa says:

    This is false… and also, quite stupid.

  25. sesame says:

    Can you substantiate that it’s false?

  26. B_Ellen says:

    The baby doesn’t change gender b/c of the lavender. She’s saying that ALL babies start off as females, and if the fetus has XY chromosomes, the male hormones kick in LATER in development. If a fetus is meant to be female, it will have XX chromosomes, and will continue developing as a female.

  27. B_Ellen says:

    Yes, very interesting… I like it when people pose intriguing hypotheses like these.

  28. B_Ellen says:

    I agree with you that lavender does NOT cause homosexuality. I do find DeeII’s “theory” kind of fun, though. ?

  29. sesame says:

    Yeah, I was sold for awhile and asked pple about it. They just laughed at the theory.

  30. Amlin says:

    A small study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that it may cause breast development in boys. This is in no way related to homosexuality.
    Also, the implication that a child “developing symptoms” of homosexuality is undesirable is both discriminatory and narrow-minded, although that’s besides the point.

  31. Ginny says:

    While synthetically derived products do have a different long name, they are often not listed with their precursors, leaving just “tocopherol,” for example, on the packaging. Synthetically derived products go through an entirely different manufacturing process which can make the molecules volatile, and more hostile to our own skin cells. However, organic and naturally derived essential oils have numerous benefits to the skin. Lavender, for instance, is extremely calming for sensitive skins.

  32. Ginny says:

    just another side note – unfortunately there isn’t a lot of regulation on the packaging of consumer beauty products. therefore, be careful when buying “all natural” products…

  33. Ginny says:

    just another side note – unfortunately there isn’t a lot of regulation on the packaging of consumer beauty products. therefore, be careful when buying “all natural” products…

  34. sesame says:

    I see…I do take note about tocopherol but it’s good to know that the organic and natural lavender oil is not harmful. Thanks for clarifying! I feel more at ease using them now, ?

  35. Kristy says:

    According to multiple studies, the abnormal development of breasts in boys as a result of lavender was reversed once they were no longer exposed to the lavender. Lavender use is tenuously linked to early breast growth in women. While lavender is thought to suppress male hormones and mimic female hormones, there is no evidence to suggest that it has any influence on homosexuality and does not influence gender.

  36. ah says:

    Came across this site while researching lavender. I have not made up my mind one way or the other, but all the studies I’ve found (below) show that lavender oil is not as innocent as people think. I’ve seen a few studies showing benefits to inhaled aromatherapy only.

  37. Saj says:

    Hi there, I only just noticed your post. I know most reputable pure essential oils manufacturers (including the pure essential lavender oil I bought today) state very clearly that you must never use undiluted pure lavender oil on the skin. You absolutely have to mix it in first in to a base oil. It might be an idea to look at the website – they list some of the precautions there under their aromatherapy section. Some reputable companies warn you that any product with essential oils should not be used by people with sensitive skin without first consulting their doctor (due to the risk of skin allergies). Any product with any essential oils should really never be applied on broken skin without consulting your doctor first. Hope that helps. But yes I agree with everyone who has said the smell of lavender is so lovely and theraputic, perhaps burning some lavender scented candles is a safer way of enjoying this scent?

  38. KK says:

    Yes, because gay people never have babies… (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

  39. mystwtrs says:

    if you cant injest it, why on earth would you put it on your skin?

  40. Kat says:

    Found this revealing article, taking into consideration all the troubling facts in connection to lavender oil… and refuting most of them based on research.

  41. Julie says:

    Sesame please check out this article
    It will help you get a better understanding of Paula Begoun and her articles.

  42. Sesame says:

    Hi Julie, thanks for the link. I think I’ve read that article awhile back. Will check it up again.

  43. Jsp123 says:

    I purchased Young Living brand which is supposed to be the highest in quality and even though I diluted with argan oil my daughter developed sun poisoning rash on her face. I am done using essential oils

Leave a Reply