The Still

Distilling Lavender Oil is one of my favourite things in the world! It is a very complex process but the result is like bottle of healing and fragrant, liquid gold! 

The Crop

It starts with our organic lavender. When its time for the harvest the first thing you notice is the fragrance, the second thing is the intense colour and the third is the buzzing of hundreds of bees and butterflies. The plants are ready when one third of the buds is closed, one third is in bloom and one third slightly dry and overripe. If you have a lavender bush in your garden, check your blossoms for those signs to cut them at the right time. And if you are thinking "I don't have any plans of making lavender essential oil, but I'll remember when I get there", then stay tuned!! There is so much you can do with lavender, so it is always worth harvesting and drying it in small amounts. 

The Harvest

We harvest the lavender by hand. I do a lot of it myself but I sometimes am lucky enough to have one of the gardeners Geoff and Matt help and during high season, when the still runs 18h a day I have an angel called Esther help me with the picking and distilling. One bush at a time has to be cut and about for to six bushes of flower heads will fit into the beautiful copper still. Once the still is packed with flowers it has to filled with water. We are lucky enough to have a well on the estate and we can use the most mineral rich and pure well water to distill our oil. 

The Distillation

The still has to be heated up slowly and carefully. The heat inside the body breaks open the pores of the plant, the steam transports the plant essence to the top and is collected in a funnel and cooled in a condenser. In the condenser the steam turns liquid and the flow of aromatic liquid that runs out is called distillate. The distillate consists of hydrosol and essential oil. After four hours of distilling the distillate needs to cool down before the oil can be collected with a pipette. Only forty millilitres of oil are produced this way. By using a different variety and a stainless steel still at high temperatures the yield could be tripled, once you have smelled the incredible and unique aroma of this oil you will fall in love with the fragrance and never return to any other kind of lavender oil. Interestingly the plant smells different at every stage of the process. On the field, cut, distilling, as essential oil and even in the finished products. 

The oil is stored in blue glass bottles in the basement for one year before we use it in the products. It is like a good wine, it needs to age and settle. 

If you want to learn what happens with the oil next please read our moisturiser.

If you want to learn about the benefits of lavender in skincare read lavender essential oil.

If you want to experience the aroma of these plants you can try our products here.

If you have any questions about our products, natural skincare or an organic lifestyle I would love to hear from you. My name is Sophia and you can e-mail me at sophia@newhalllavender.co.uk.

Ingredients Matter

Making skin care products is like cooking: the ingredients you use are the most important part. Especially if you are not planning to use chemicals like flavour enhancers in cooking or silicones in skincare, you really have to get the highest quality to create an outstanding product. But the end result is the difference between a ready meal and a gourmet restaurant experience. 

The most important things to consider are freshness, origin, how it is grown and how is it extracted. For every component of my products I have tested at least five different alternatives and for every product I create I make at least six different prototypes to see what the ingredients do together, how people experience them together and what it does to the skin. 

Organic Oils

Since producing my own ingredients I have completely changed the way I see and source my base oils. I have been making organic products for a long time but it took me a while to appreciate the quality of a fresh, cold pressed, organic oil. When you compare different suppliers you notice how they can either be a palette rich in fragrance, viscosity and all shades of yellows, reds, greens and even browns or a selection of liquids that all look and smell pale, even if they are organic. 

You really need to spend the time building trust with the suppliers, quiz them on the details of how they grow and produce and how they store the oils and how long for. That is why some of the oils are marked as either “organic” or “certified organic”. A lot of the time smaller producers like ourselves could never get the certification for organic farming but actually have the highest integrity and incredible quality. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils are not fragrance and they are not essential fatty acids. They are concentrated plant essence full of fragrance and medicinal properties. Depending on what the producer focuses on different varieties and extraction methods are used. If you were making soap and you wanted a lot of fragrance you’d go for a cheaper oil with higher yield for example. It won’t stay on the skin anyway and using an expensive, medicinal oil would be wasted when washed down the sink. 

For our essential oils, lavender, sage, rosemary, chamomile and a few more, we focus on the medicinal qualities and have a smaller amount of a very complex and well rounded fragrance. If you have tried our products you will notice how the lavender is quite mild and friendly. We extract it in copper, at low heat and over a long period of time. There is a long article on the oil production here.

We really want to emphasise that besides being an incredible fragrance, lavender is a total allrounder when it comes to skin care! It is one of the most active essential oils out there, with incredible anti-ageing properties. Full of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients fighting free radicals and effects of sun damage. It is also antibacterial and even better -  a skin probiotic, helping your skin cultivate a healthy balance of microorganisms working to restore and replenish your skin. In a really gently and inside out kind of way :) 

Preservatives 

Preservatives have come into focus in natural health products in recent years and there is so much confusion and fear around parabens and co. Did you know for example that Japanese Honeysuckle is a natural paraben? It is natural and still an endocrine disruptor so natural doesn’t equate to safe every time. 

You might know that every product containing water has to have preservatives while some companies claim to not use any preservatives. They are both true: every product has to be preserved but you don’t have to use ingredients classed as preservatives in order to preserve them. As long as you can pass the challenge testing, as a formulator you can play around with organic extracts until you find the right combination for your product. It is better to do research in advance though, the testing is costly and takes time. 

For me the best combination is a mixture of basil leaf and aniseed extract. The shelf life is comparably short but for me it is the safest solution both in terms of health and irritation potential. 

 

Additives

In terms of active ingredient additives I always chose the natural version over the synthetic one. Willow bark extract over salicylic acid is a great example. Both are incredible exfoliators, willow bark is naturally occurring salicylic acid and I find it much gentler on the skin compared to the synthetic version. 

In order to make a cream you have to add more than oil and water together. They have to stick together and stay together. This is achieved with emulsifiers and stabilisers. A lot of the consistency will be determined by those. Every product on the market has to go through testing to prove that your personal creation is safe and effective. 

A natural and organic solution is our highest priority for safe and toxin free cosmetics. We also really care about the consistency and I personally got so fed up with sticky and greasy creams that just don’t feel nice and are not compatible with make up. So I tried and tested dozens of different natural versions until I found a combination that feels right, works effectively and doesn’t compromise on the health side. I use a combination of olive wax and xanthan gum which is often found in organic food products as well as skin care. 

 

If you have any questions about our ingredients, please get in touch. I am more than happy to help.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils in aroma therapy and you will struggle to find anyone who does't have a range of positive associations with this miracle plant. You might be thinking of your grandmother, your holidays to France in the summer and you may think of the incredible blue and purple mounds filled with buzzing bees and butterflies. You may be thinking about the uses of lavender helping with sleep, relieving anxiety and helping with burns.

A new wave of research however discovers a whole new list of beneficial properties of lavender essential oil. Especially when it is extracted in the right way. 

New Hall Lavender (9 of 99).jpg

1) Lavender is a skin prebiotic

Probiotics are increasingly popular and I am sure you have heard about these little helpers who help restore balance of bacteria in your gut. Instead of wiping out your microbiom we try to cultivate a healthy balance to let the bacteria do their job. The same thing happens on our skin! We need to be gentle and kind and find natural ways to support our kin doing exactly that! Lavender essential oil provides prebiotics for your skin, prebiotics are the food for the probiotic bacteria. Therefor lavender oil is amazingly beneficial for supporting the natural function of your skin. 

2) Lavender helps prevent sun damage and ageing

Lavender essential oil is one of the most active essential oils in terms of reducing oxidative stress. A Japanese research team found, that regularly applying lavender on your skin inhibited the generation of singlet oxygen, which causes the most damage in response to UVA/UVB radiation. Sun exposure is one of the main sources of oxidative stress and lavender is proven inhibit this strain on your skin. 

3) Lavender is a superfood for the skin

Lavender has over 30 medicinal plant constituents and phytonutrients. Lavender in your skincare is the equivalent of eating kale but for your face. It provides all the building blocks to fight free radicals, to rebuild skin elasticity and a radiant glow.

New Hall Lavender (85 of 99).jpg

How to make the best use of lavender for your skin?

Find a source of really great lavender skin care. Make sure the supplier grows the lavender organically and extracts the lavender slowly and at low temperatures, ideally in a copper still. When maximum yield is the goal of the distillation the lavender is often extracted to fast and too hot and not all the valuable plant components make it into the oil.

To learn more about lavender or to buy natural and organic lavender skincare products please click the link below.

SHOP

 

 

 

New Hall Lavender Stories

Hello Lavender Friends,

I am Sophia from New Hall Lavender. I am part of the New Hall Lavender community and mainly in charge of making the products, researching natural beauty and writing down all the wonderful stories of this place.

We experience incredible beauty, we pursue a natural life style and we have so much fun living and working alongside each other. We want to share our experiences with you and help you live life to the fullest. 

We invite you to join the lavender tribe and learn more about a natural and organic lifestyle, about lavender and all the fun things we can do with it and about life in community surrounded by beauty.

Thank you for reading this, please comment if you have any questions or e-mail me at sophia@newhalllavender.co.uk.  

Bq6Xq.jpeg