The Lavender Companion: Lavender and Wellness 

Lavender is prized for its cleansing and calming properties—relax and unwind with Terry Barlin Vesci’s soothing Sugar Scrub recipe. 

The science on lavender and its health benefits is surprisingly abundant, especially compared to that of other plants. Clinical trials conducted by medical research facilities, such as the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, and the division of life sciences at Kagoshima University in Japan (among many others), indicate that lavender contains powerful ­antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. 

Book photo by Kimberly Thompson Panay © Storey Publishing.

Lavender contains polyphenols and flavonoids, plus aromatics and the anxiety-relieving components linalool and linalyl acetate. Like sage and rosemary, lavender also contains the terpenes cineole and camphor. These components work together to provide lavender’s health-boosting power. Studies show that using the herb can help ease anxiety, induce sleep, relieve pain from headaches, soothe stomachaches, heal minor skin wounds, reduce stress, boost mood, and improve memory. 

There are three principal ways to derive the unique health benefits of lavender. Topical, applying it to the skin for absorption; olfactory, breathing it in to stimulate olfactory neurons; and ingestion, through foods or drinks containing lavender. 

Sugar Scrub photo © Tosca Radigonda.

Lavender can be used as a fresh or dried herb. It is also widely used as an essential oil. Lavender essential oil is an antibacterial, antimicrobial essential oil that is great for skin. When used topically, it’s been shown to treat acne and other superficial skin conditions and may even fade age spots. In a sugar scrub, it offers exfoliating and skin-conditioning properties. 

Relax, unwind, and breathe deep with this fragrant Sugar Scrub recipe from The Lavender Companion by Terry Barlin Vesci and Jessica Dunham. 

Sugar Scrub

Sugar is one of the best natural ingredients for skin exfoliation, and this scrub is sure to keep you feeling radiant. You can use this lavender sugar scrub on your face, hands, and feet, or any part of your body that you want to feel silky and soft. 

Although coconut oil is a popular DIY sugar scrub ingredient, it’s highly comedogenic, which means it can clog skin pores and cause breakouts. High-quality grapeseed oil is a gentler choice. We like to add tea tree essential oil to this recipe; it’s antibacterial and is great for cleansing, but you can leave it out. 

Makes approximately 1 cup. 


  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar (or sugar of your choice) 
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil 
  • 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin 
  • ½ teaspoon vitamin E oil 
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil 
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil (optional) 


  • Measure each ingredient into a medium bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Spoon into glass or plastic jars with tight-­fitting lids.  
  • Massage a handful onto wet skin and exfoliate in circular motions. Rinse off with warm water and pat skin dry. 

Use within 6 months. 

Excerpted from The Lavender Companion © Terry Barlin Vesci and Jessica Dunham. 

Terry Barlin Vesci

About the Author

Terry Vesci is the co-owner of Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm in Pine, Arizona, which welcomes 60,000-100,000 visitors each year and includes a successful online business. Vesci leads the Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm Cooking and Baking School (sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill), where she teaches hands-on classes about cooking with lavender.

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author Jessica dunham

Jessica Dunham

About the Author

Jessica Dunham lives in Phoenix with her husband and two spunky dogs, but inherited a family summer home on Lake Champlain in Vermont. This seemed heavenly to her, until she tried to imagine getting there from halfway across the country. Then it required some effort and a little imagination. The only way to transport the herd from one place to another was to pile into a Jeep and drive. That's is how she came to know and love the Mother Road, and became an expert on the ins and outs of Route 66. 

She's since driven from Phoenix to Vermont and back again six times, traversed the Southwest portion of Route 66 hundreds of times, napped in leafy parks, slept in a wigwam and at a Best Western, camped in tents, dined at mom-and-pop eateries, met strangers, and made friends in almost every town dotting the famed highway. She's seen the sun rise over Illinois cornfields and watched it set over the Pacific Ocean. After all this, she considers the beating heart of blacktop from Chicago to Santa Monica home.

Formerly a travel guide editor at Madden Media, Jessica is now a freelance travel writer. Her writing has been featured in PHOENIX magazine, Valley Guide, Phoenix Travel Guide, Arizona Visitor's Guide, Midwest Living, Phoenix New Times, Modern Luxury, Annapolis Visitors Guide, Connecticut Visitors Guide, Runner's World, Jane, Discover South Carolina, and more. Jessica is also the author of The Open Road: 50 Best Road Trips in the USA.

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