Healing Minor Kitchen Burns

(Note: If a burn is severe, seek medical attention immediately.)

I love to cook and, as a result, sometimes end up reaching for something too hot, too quickly, and I burn myself. That’s why I always keep a small bottle of lavender essential oil in the kitchen, near the stove.

For a minor burn, apply ice or a cold compress immediately. Dab lavender essential oil on the skin right away, and keep the ice or compress on top until it begins to feel more comfortable. Lavender oil is amazing–it calms redness, prevents blistering and the burn disappears without a trace.

This remedy was discovered in 1920, when René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, experienced the healing properties of lavender oil when there was an explosion in his lab and he dunked his hand into a vat of lavender, thinking it was water. It not only healed his skin, but he found that the scent has a calming effect on the nervous system, decided to do further research and that led to his becoming the founder of  aromatherapy.

The Back Story

I fell in love with lavender one summer, years ago, when I took my then seven-year-old daughter to Provence. We drove past apricot groves and lavender fields, past Sablet, Segueret, and Crestet–an old village tucked into the crest of a mountain.

The road rose through a belly of hills and led us to Brantes, a tiny Shangri-La set deep in the shadow of Mount Ventoux. It was the most hauntingly beautiful place we’d ever seen. Brantes, a crumbling village evacuated by the Nazis, was repopulated by a colony of artists after the war.

But most striking, aside from its beauty, is what we discovered there. In this tiny village, where there were no cafes, no bakeries and no markets, we stumbled on a tiny sign: “Couturier.” We entered an ancient stone ruin through a heavy wooden door and found ourselves in the middle of an atelier buzzing with a claque of chic Parisian women who were trying on the most beautiful clothes we’d ever seen.

Coats, dresses, hats, blouses, all hand-sewn in exquisite gossamer silks and soft wools. A stack of cotton pillow sachets were hand-embroidered with wildflowers and whimsical birds, and stuffed with lavender picked from the mountainside. When my daughter, Sophie, cut her finger on a leaf while playing outdoors, the designer rubbed lavender oil on it to soothe the cut, and gave her a tiny purse, overflowing with lavender buds, to make her feel better.

I marveled at what had drawn us to this strange place. Apparently, the women from Paris, on holiday, come back each summer to add a piece or two to their wardrobes, which is how the couturier managed to make it through the winter in Brantes.

I’ll never forget the enveloping scent of lavender wafting through the fields as we drove back down the winding road toward the small Provencal city of Avignon. And that’s how my love affair with lavender began.

Lavender Bath Salts

Lavender has many wonderful properties: it is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, de-stressing and relaxing. It lowers your cortisol levels, calms the nerves and helps you sleep. It can also kill the bacteria that cause acne. Here is my recipe for Lavender Bath Salts from my second book, Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes (Workman).

Pour a cup of coarse-grained sea salt into a bowl. Add one cup of Epsom salts and one cup of baking soda. Add up to 15 drops of lavender essential oil (depending on how strong you like the scent) and ¼ cup of sweet almond oil. Mix thoroughly, store in a glass mason jar, and scoop into a warm bath (with a small seashell, if you like), as needed.