By Betsy Aaron
My love of lavender began with the start of what I’d thought was a dream job in London. I spent my first week fogged by jetlag, frazzled by dislocation. I was staying in the Covent Garden area so that I could walk to work without getting lost and I’d discovered a spa that offered aromatherapy treatments. The massage therapist anointed me top to toe in the transcendent aroma of English lavender and I entered a trance state from which I emerged de-stressed, deeply relaxed, profoundly restored.
During this period, in which the dream job revealed itself to be the living nightmare, I also fell in love with that archetype of parental scorn, the starving artist. In addition to learning the textbook definition of narcissism – I found him irresistibly attractive and so did he– I discovered Neal’s Yard, a haven of essential oils, texts on aromatherapy and balms for the broken-hearted. Since then, I have never lived without essential oil of lavender in my medicine chest, by my bedside and in my carry-on. It is the only essential oil that can be applied to the skin undiluted. It is anti-inflammatory, sedative, a cure for crankiness and sublime in the bath. In short, I do not recommend living without it.
For this lavender review, I began quite fittingly with Kimberly Sayer of London Organic Lavender Toner, Gentle Face Cleanser and Antioxidant Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF25. The simple system of cleverly packaged products is certified organic and infused with the quintessence of lavender – at once floral/herbaceous/earthy/warm/evergreen. On contact, these products improve the quality of life. The moisturizer with sunscreen does the work of two products, a real benefit. The toner can be used on laundry and would be nice to have on hand at the office for an afternoon spritz. The cleanser removes eye makeup making the nightly ritual a one-step operation. Extra points for clear packaging that allows you to see how much is left of this effective, everyday lavender luxury. You will not want to risk running out.
Available: Whole Foods Markets and http://www.kimberlysayer.com
Melvita Eau florale de Lavande is generous in size, certified organic and richly aromatic. The label says it can be used to remove makeup and when one product does the work of two, that’s always a plus. Your face will be happy but don’t stop there – it’s lovely on linens too. I especially like it to mist on my scarves, throws, pillows, anything with which I come into daily contact for an instant, intimate uplift.
I am vain about my hands and therefore addicted to hand creams. I need one on hand in every room plus one for my makeup bag. Crabtree & Evelyn’s new Hand Therapy Collection in lavender is just what the hand therapist ordered. The Hand Recovery, Age Defying Hand Remedy, Creamy Cleanser and perfectly purse-sized Antibacterial Hand Gel are fresh in fragrance, rich in texture and feel cool and soothing. From exfoliation to restoration, they do their job and then readily vanish to leave your paws soft and silky without gooey residue. You will want to perform heinous household chores for this reward.
In my quest to experience innovative products, I unearthed Nena Natural Oceanic Clay Firming & Soothing Lavender Facial Mask. It is made by Ironwood Clay Company, which also supplies Boots and Avalon Organics. I had the pleasure to speak with the company’s President who explained patiently and in great detail that the clay comes from ocean bed, is highly charged, colloidal, osmotic and is therefore no mere superficial cosmetic. The product is a lovely purple pudding, softly infused with aromatic lavender extract and essential oil of lavender. It is cooling and I felt so relaxed that I actually fell asleep. The product does not dry hard and tight like other clay masks. It left my face thoroughly cleansed, fine-pored, firm, soft and aglow. This mask is also a superior and gentle exfoliant and products that multi-task have my love and loyalty.
Some of my happiest moments have been spent deep in seawater so I finished my lavender deep-dive with Shu Uemura Deepsea Water Lavender Mist. This product produces a fine mist that instantly refreshes and softens. It’s great before moisturizer or anytime your face needs a thirst quencher. It would be nice to travel with–your seatmate won’t get soaked– and the essential oil of lavender scent is subtle.
With the help of a little lavender in your daily life, you’ll be amazed at how much more of the day you can seize.