Originally from the Latin word "lavare" that means, "to wash", ancient cultures had many uses for this fragrant plant. During epidemics the Persians, Greeks and Romans burned the aromatic lavender branches to protect themselves from "bad emanations" in the sick rooms. At the beginning of the century in France, "lavandières" (washerwomen) used it in washtubs. They placed lavender in the laundry baskets and cupboards to perfume their linens and to repel insects.
Lavender comes in many varieties. They all belong to the botanical family of "Lamiaceae". Fine or True Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) and Butterfly Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas) are used by L'OCCITANE. Wild or cultivated, it gives an excellent essential oil recognized the world over and used in perfumery, chemist’s and aromatherapy.
Angustifolia means "with narrow leaves." This narrow leaf plant grows in small clumps and has thin, short, light blue floral stems that do not bear secondary clusters.
Since 1981, "lavendiculteurs" (lavender producers) from Haute-Provence have obtained an AOC (Apellation d'Origine Controlee) quality label for their lavender essential oil in order to fight the competition of Bulgarian essence. This label identifies a very high quality production. L'OCCITANE sources its essential oil from farmers' cooperatives from Sault and the surrounding area and purchases almost 20% of the total production of A.O.C. lavender in Haute-Provence. L'OCCITANE only uses AOC Lavender essential oil. To obtain the AOC label, essential oil must come up to very strict standards.
This quality label must be earned every year by meeting strict criteria:
· Plantations must be in a determined area, at a minimum altitude of 800 above sea level.
· Production is geographically limited to 284 villages of the Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes Alpes, Drôme and Vaucluse.
· Oil is produced by water distillation (not with solvents) of the flower tops only of Fine Lavender.
· Production requires obligatory government certificate of approval. Samples must be
submitted for olfactive and analytical tests.
· The maximum yield in essential oil is limited at 25 kg per hectare.
· The essential oil must be virgin - no substance or products may be added to the essential oil.
The fine lavender harvest lasts from the middle of July to the end of August, when the flower is richest in essential oil. The specific times of each harvest depends on the variety, the altitude, and climatic conditions. Altitude is a major factor in obtaining excellent quality essential oil; the higher the altitude the finer the fragrance of the plants.
Fine Lavender's Cosmetic Properties
Lavender essential oil is probably the most commonly used essential oil. Calming, relaxing, sedative to the nervous system, it is superior anti-stress oil and a good night sleep aide. With its strong aromatic fragrance, it is recognised for its disinfectant power. Also heals small wounds. By inhaling, it helps fight sore throat and bronchitis. Lavenders baths are also well known, particularly to fight rheumatism. It is also purifying, antiseptic, and can soothe sensitive, irritated and inflamed skins.
Oliver Baussan Reminisces
"Where I grew up, when the lavender is in bloom the earth looks as if it is mirroring the deep blueness of the sky. It is a time to reflect on the glory of summer as the Contadour Mountain is covered with blossoming fields. If I close my eyes, I can smell the sweet, heady scent of the flowers that even the bees can’t resist. Where I grew up in Haute Provence, people harvest the flowers on their knees, as if in homage to their goodness."
Discover the Lavender collection