Beauty Ingredient 101: Lavender

I'll admit it, I play favorites when it comes to natural ingredients. And lavender gets really, really preferential treatment. But can you blame me? Lavender, in sight and scent, just casts a spell over me. But it wasn't always that way.

As a teenager, I thought that lavender stunk. In my mind, it smelled too masculine (no surprise there, given the tooth-hurtingly sweet 'body splashes' that I doused myself in daily). And I'm not alone. I found out the reason while researching a natural perfume article last year: our olfactory systems mature and develop just as our bodies do. Younger girls love sweet, fruity scents while women are more likely to fall in love with an earthy, herbal scent like lavender. So if you like lavender, you're probably not a teen any more (am I right?).

I'm so into lavender that I had my bridesmaids carry fresh bunches of it when I got married this June. And yes, I used it as a last-second anxiety-reliever, sticking my nose into my maid of honor's lavender bouquet for a nice, calming whiff moments before I made my entrance.

And I'll continue to gush: lavender, like the very best natural beauty ingredients, has a ton of benefits. It's not only soothing to your mind (brides, take note), it's used to relieve insomnia, depression, head and stomach aches- even scalp itchiness and hair loss. Put it in your bath (it supports damaged, stressed or irritated skin as you soak) or find a natural lavender body oil or lotion.

A few of my favorite natural lavender products:

And if you still don't enjoy the scent of lavender, just take a look at the sight. Wouldn't you just love to be here?