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Chamomile has long been a key ingredient in soothing skin care regimens. Even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians applied crushed chamomile flowers to their skin to treat weather-related redness and dryness.

Hundreds of years later, scientific research has found that the compounds in chamomile likely do make it a powerful skin multitasker.

Here are a few of chamomile’s potential benefits for skin, along with how to incorporate it into your skin care routine.

Studies on chamomile are limited, and many are in animals.

However, dermatologists say there’s good reason to think this common flower has benefits for the skin — from wound healing to anti-aging.

“Chamomile’s wonderful soothing, healing, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a popular ingredient in skin care,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City.

Chamomile may provide benefits for:

Wound healing

Essential oils extracted from chamomile reportedly have antimicrobial properties to protect against certain types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

A 2018 study in rats found that ointment with Roman chamomile extract significantly improved the healing and antibacterial activity in an infected wound compared with tetracycline ointment and placebo.

In fact, the German Commission E, a group of scientists, doctors, pharmacologists, and toxicologists who determine if drugs are safe for use in Germany, approved the use of chamomile for bacterial skin diseases.

Inflammation

Chamomile is often used to help tame skin inflammation from sunburn and rashes. The German Commission E also approved chamomile for treating skin inflammation.

“Chamomile contains the anti-oxidant apigenin, which aids in lowering inflammation by inhibiting the release of inflammation-causing chemicals,” Engelman explains.

Redness

The ancient Greeks were on to something when they applied crushed chamomile to red, irritated skin. That’s because chamomile seems to curb inflammation, an underlying cause for skin redness.

“Chamomile deeply but gently penetrates the skin to alleviate inflammation,” Engelman explains.

Soothing sensitive skin

Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory and healing properties appear to be especially soothing for sensitive skin types.

Bisoprolol, chamazulene, and apigenin are three compounds found in chamomile that give it soothing and healing benefits that are [great] for sensitive skin,” says Engelman.

Some research in animals suggests that skin creams containing chamomile may even be beneficial for those with skin conditions, like eczema. A 2010 study found that applying German chamomile oil to the skin of mice effectively lowered allergy markers.

Hyperpigmentation and skin lightening

Hyperpigmentation is when areas of skin are darker than surrounding skin due to overproduction of the hormone melanin. It’s usually caused by injury or inflammation to the skin, and it’s commonly linked to sun damage, acne, or hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Skin-lightening products with chamomile that treat hyperpigmentation may help.

“Chamomile has astringent and brightening properties that, in addition to tightening pores and softening the skin, can fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation when used regularly,” Engelman says.

Acne

The same anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-oxidant properties that make chamomile an effective treatment for redness and inflammation may also address acne.

“It can be used as a mild astringent, which causes body tissue to contract,” Engelman notes. “It gently kills bacteria, helps fade hyperpigmentation or red spots, and speeds up cell regeneration, which helps clear the skin.”

Anti-aging

Anti-oxidants fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are the natural result of everyday metabolic processes and inflammation. Oxidative stress is linked to fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and other signs of aging.

Chamomile contains powerful anti-oxidants including polyphenols and phytochemicals. When applied to the skin, it may help reduce signs of aging by protecting the skin from free radical damage.

“It accelerates cell and tissue renewal, reducing the appearance of fine lines and giving skin a youthful glow,” Engelman says.

There are two main types of chamomile:

  • German chamomile (Maricaria recutita)
  • Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

Engelman says there are also three main chemical compounds that give chamomile its skin and health benefits:

  • chamazulene
  • matricin
  • bisabolol

“German chamomile contains higher levels of chamazulene and bisabolol [than Roman chamomile], so it’s generally considered the more efficacious form of chamomile and is more widely used in skin care products,” she says.

Another ingredient you might see on skin care labels is blue chamomile, which is actually extracted German chamomile oil.

You won’t find chamazulene in the fresh flower itself, since it’s formed during the distillation process. The oil’s hue is based on the amount of chamazulene present and how it was extracted.

Blue tansy is a related plant, but it’s not exactly the same as blue chamomile.

While you can find yellow and green German chamomile oils, blue chamomile oil has a significantly higher concentration of chamazulene.

There are three ways you can add chamomile to your skin care routine:

Wear it

Your best bet is to use a skin care product that has chamomile extract or chamomile oil, which contains the powerful anti-oxidant compound chamazulene.

If you’re concerned about acne or hyperpigmentation, Engelman recommends using a peel or a serum that contains chamomile.

“It can help alleviate unwanted blemishes while soothing the skin,” she says.

Try the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant or M-61 PowerGlow Peel 1 Minute 1 Step Exfoliating Facial Peel.

If you have dry, red, or irritated skin, a moisturizer with chamomile can help soothe and alleviate redness and inflammation.

Try the Aspen Kay Naturals Glow Face Oil, Beplain Chamomile pH-Balanced Lotion, or evanhealy Blue Chamomile Day Moisturizer.

You can find chamomile in almost any type of skin care product, including facial sprays, oils, serums, lotions, and peels.

Some of Engelman’s favorite products with chamomile are:

If you’re using chamomile essential oil, dilute it with a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil, to prevent irritation. You can add about 5 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Drink it

You can get skin and health benefits from drinking chamomile tea, too.

“Drinking chamomile tea can help boost your skin’s health from the inside out with its soothing anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties,” Engelman says.

“It can provide support by brightening the complexion, reducing acne breakouts, and fading dark spots. However, you’ll likely still need targeted topical treatments to really see results.”

Looking for a DIY option? Try these at-home chamomile skin care recipes.

Healing face mask

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Add the tea bag and hot water to a cup and let it steep.
  2. Add the aloe vera and honey to a bowl.
  3. While still warm, add spoonfuls of tea to the bowl until you reach a paste-like consistency.
  4. Spread the mask on your clean, dry skin.
  5. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Rinse with warm water, and pat dry.

Anti-oxidant face mask and scrub

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Add the tea bag and hot water to a cup and let it steep.
  2. Add the mashed banana, honey, and oatmeal to a bowl.
  3. While still warm, add spoonfuls of tea to the bowl until you reach a paste-like consistency.
  4. Spread the mask on your clean, dry skin.
  5. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Rinse with warm water, exfoliating as you wash, and pat dry.

Soothing face mask

Ingredients

  • 1 chamomile tea bag
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. rose water
  • hot water

Directions

  1. Add the tea bag and hot water to a cup and let it steep.
  2. Add the honey and rosewater to a bowl.
  3. While still warm, add spoonfuls of tea to the bowl until you reach a paste-like consistency.
  4. Spread the mask on your clean, dry skin.
  5. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Rinse with warm water, and pat dry.

Most people can safely use chamomile on their skin.

“It’s known to be very safe for most skin types to use topically. In fact, it’s considered especially beneficial for sensitive skin,” Engelman says.

However, you should use caution when trying any new skin care product.

“In very rare cases, it can cause an allergic reaction in individuals with specific allergies,” she says.

If you have sensitive skin, dermatologists say you shouldn’t immediately slather a new skin care product all over your face or body. Instead, test a small amount of the product on your forearm for a week and monitor for reactions.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as a cure for dry, irritated, sensitive skin.

While there’s not much research into the specific benefits of chamomile for skin, science suggests the flower contains several chemical compounds that have anti-oxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

When applied to the skin, chamomile oil and extracts may help address redness, hyperpigmentation, and acne. Chamomile may also aid in wound healing and soothe sensitive skin.

Look for Roman chamomile extract or oil in serums, sprays, lotions, and peels.


Colleen de Bellefonds is a Paris-based health and wellness journalist with over a decade of experience regularly writing and editing for publications including WhatToExpect.com, Women’s Health, WebMD, Healthgrades.com, and CleanPlates.com. Find her on Twitter.