Lavender and spa are practically synonymous. Whether you’ve used the plant’s essential oil in treatment protocols or hung bouquets in your reception area, you’re familiar with its purple buds and distinct, calming scent. But lavender, a cousin to mint, is so much more than its floral perfume. It has powerful skincare benefits that range from nourishing stressed skin to fighting acne—plus, it boasts impressive antioxidant properties on par with your favorite serum. Here’s a primer on this well-loved herbal ingredient, and tips for incorporating it into your spa services.
Why it’s a skincare all-star: Lavender is a multitasker that can aid almost any skin type. It’s an anti-inflammatory that contains antioxidants, so it’s perfect for soothing irritation, whether your client is sunburned, reacting adversely to a new product or simply has stressed out skin. The herb also boasts antiseptic properties, which can help kill acne-causing bacteria. Plus, its calming scent—clinically proven to normalize heart rates and lower blood pressure—can transform even the simplest service into a relaxing treat.
In the treatment room: At A to Zen Massage in Greensboro, North Carolina, owner Felicia Brown appreciates lavender for its powerful antibacterial properties, which make it an ideal component of her Ion Cleanse Foot Bath (45 min./$40) and Aromatherapy Foot Scrub add-on ($15). During the latter, she uses Bon Vital’s Lavender & Rosemary Salt Glow. “Guests like the way their skin feels afterwards—it’s very smooth and silky,” she says. The formula is so beloved she keeps it in the spa bathroom and offers it as a free gift when people sign up for a spa membership. The scent, she explains, is part of why it’s so popular: “Clients have an ‘ahhhh’ sort of response,” Brown says. “The combination of rosemary and lavender is so refreshing and relaxing. As soon as people get a whiff, they’re blown away!”
Agnes Gilson, owner of Silver Spring, Maryland’s Waxing with Aggy, agrees that lavender’s comforting scent makes it a powerful tool in the treatment room. “It’s calming, and makes services a lot less painful,” she says of Lycon’s Lycojet Lavender Hot Wax, which she uses in her Brazilian Wax (15 min./$65). Lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an ideal choice for these and other potentially painful services. “Once I switched over to the lavender, I received a lot of feedback that the process is virtually painless. It’s probably the only wax I would use on myself. Anything else, I’d have to be out of my mind!” she adds with a laugh.
“Lavender is a super ingredient,” enthuses Christie Lavigne, director of skin care for New York City’ Oasis Day Spas. “It doesn’t just smell good—it has all of these medicinal qualities and amazing benefits. Almost all the skincare products we use contain lavender.” She’s a fan of Éminence’s Lavender Age Corrective Night Concentrate, which pairs the plant with hydrating ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil and shea butter. The spa chain employs it in its Éminence Organic Customized Facial (60 min./$140), which targets mature complexions. “When we start massaging it into the skin, the heat from the massage helps the product penetrate so we see immediate, noticeable results,” she says. “It’s an amazing antiaging formula.”
–by Shelby Pope