Chamomile might be your favorite tea, but this magnificent herb is so much more than that. Chamomile can be used for the skin and hair, for digestive problems, stress relief, and of course, a good night’s sleep. It seems like there’s nothing chamomile can’t do, which is quite understandable given that its uses are documented as far back as the ancient Egyptian times.
In folk culture, chamomile is associated with purification and protection which is why it’s usually used in incenses for sleep and meditation.
In today’s modern world with its scientifically driven medical and cosmetic industries, chamomile finds its place as a disease-fighting, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory ingredient.
But, let’s start from the beginning, see what makes chamomile so special and explore its benefits and uses for the skin more in-depth.
We know that chamomile has anti-inflammatory, deodorant, bacteriostatic, antimicrobial, sedative, and antiseptic properties. In skincare it’s used for wound healing, as pain relief, against skin irritation, dermatitis, eczema, and cracked skin.
Chamomile plants are a member of the Asteraceae family. There are two types of chamomile herbs commonly used in skincare.
The Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) are both aromatic herbs often used interchangeably. But, if you google the benefits of using chamomile for skin, you’ll probably get products, essential oils, and homemade recipes branded as “german chamomile” or “roman chamomile”. Here are the fundamental differences between them, although they’re both used in cosmetics and you shouldn’t overthink it.
Both types of herbs are grown and commercially sold as “chamomile” because they have similar, if not the same properties. They have anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. They’re used in medicine as mild tranquilizers or sedatives.
Most differences between the plants can be found in their morphology and chemical composition.
Chamomile contains a lot of active ingredients that act on the skin and help it heal.
Bisabolol is natural monocyclic sesquiterpene alcohol. It’s the compound that helps the plant protect itself from fungal attacks. It’s really an amazing little compound. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-irritant, anti-fungal, and non-allergenic properties. It promotes tissue regeneration and has the ability to increase the absorption of other products on the skin. Because of this, bisabolol is recommended in cosmetic preparations.
Bisabolol is found in both types of chamomile, although it’s more concentrated in the German plant.
Chamazulene provides an additional anti-inflammatory property to chamomile herbs. It’s found in both German and Roman chamomile essential oils, and it’s responsible for their blue color.
Apigenin is a flavonoid compound that’s also found in both types of chamomile flowers, but as opposed to chamazulene, it’s not present in the essential oils. It’s a highly potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that is building a reputation as the mighty cancer-fighting agent. In a lot of scientific studies, apigenin has shown effectiveness against a wide range of cancer types, without showing toxicity.
In a scientific review from 2010, the authors concluded that there is considerable potential for apigenin to be developed as a cancer chemo-preventive agent.
Also in a more recent study from 2017, published in the journal Cell&Bioscience, it was again proved that apigenin is a promising reagent for cancer therapy.
All three of the main active ingredients in chamomile (bisabolol, chamazulene, apigenin) have potent antioxidative power. This means that chamomile can balance free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
Our body generates free radicals every time it’s exposed to some kind of damage. Free radicals can alter lipids, proteins, DNA, and trigger many diseases. When the body can’t control free radicals and they overwhelm it, a state called oxidative stress occurs. This is why a balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for the optimal physiological functioning of our body. And, sometimes an external source of antioxidants is needed to help the body and skin heal. Here’s where chamomile helps a lot.
To better understand how antioxidants promote skin health, where you can find them, what are the benefits, and how to use them, check our article, where we go into more detail.
The high levels of phenolic contents, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities in chamomile were proved in a study published in the journal of Industrial Crops and Products.
Additionally, another study from the same journal in 1993, compared the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of Mediterranean aromatic plants. The results showed that the Roman chamomile oil exhibited the highest antioxidant activity.
In 2015 in the Journal of Chromatography A, yet another study compared the antioxidant activity in calendula, feverfew, and German chamomile extracts. The authors found that extracts from chamomile flower heads and leaves have the most prominent antioxidant activity, with bisabolol and chamazulene being the most effective antioxidants.
With this highly antioxidative potential, it’s only natural that we see chamomile as a part of so many skincare products, creams, body lotions, toners, gels, and even baby wipes. Chamomile is so gentle that’s considered safe for baby skin and sensitive skin types.
As natural ingredients are the backbone of Misumi’s products, you can find chamomile extracts in many of their products, the gentle skin perfecting cleanser being the perfect example.
Although there’s not much research on chamomile to explore its benefits in-depth, the anti-inflammatory properties of this herb are well-known and documented.
Inflammation is an immune system reaction to fight infection and it’s believed that chamomile contains chemical compounds that may reduce inflammation.
A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea, published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research in 2006, found that animal studies indicate potent anti-inflammatory action, some antimutagenic and cholesterol‐lowering activities, as well as antispasmodic and anxiolytic effects.
Drinking chamomile tea can lower the inflammation in the body and improve your overall health, while applying chamomile topically can lower the inflammation in the skin, and reduce blemishes, aggravated pimples, and other skin irritations.
I’ve heard people say that chamomile is like an herbal aspirin (just don’t use it with a real aspirin, it can cause side-effects) so don’t be surprised if you find chamomile in many homemade recipes for soothing the skin and relieving pain.
One 2018 study from the official Journal of The Italian Neurological Society evaluated the effect of using chamomile topically as pain relief in migraine without aura. The results from the study showed that pain, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia significantly decreased only 30 minutes after applying chamomile on the patients. The researchers concluded that this study supports the efficacy of chamomile oleogel as pain relief in migraine without aura.
The soothing and calming effects chamomile has on the skin can be really beneficial for helping inflamed pimples and frequent acne breakouts heal faster.
Since chamomile is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be a good natural and gentle ingredient to add in your anti-acne agents.
The antioxidants scavenge free radicals and protect from oxidative damage, while the anti-inflammatory properties reduce irritation, redness, and swelling, making the pimples less visible.
Have in mind that chamomile is really gentle and mild. It would be an amazing addition to your stronger and more aggressive anti-acne skincare routine. It can also be beneficial to soothe sensitive skin after using anti-acne products.
That being said, don’t expect your acne to go away by using chamomile tea on your face.
Topical application of chamomile extracts has shown to be an effective treatment for atopic eczema. One study discovered that it’s about 60% as effective as 0.25% hydrocortisone cream. According to the findings of the study, Roman chamomile of the Manzana type (Kamillosan (R)) may ease the discomfort associated with eczema when applied as a cream containing chamomile extract. Nevertheless, the authors warn that further research is needed to evaluate the usefulness of topical chamomile in managing eczema.
Another aspect where the topical use of chamomile can be really beneficial is in the process of wound healing.
The efficacy of topical use of chamomile to enhance wound healing was evaluated in a double-blind trial on 14 patients who underwent dermabrasion of tattoos. The results showed that chamomile is significantly effective in producing wound drying and in speeding epithelialization.
One animal study on rats, published in the Journal of Wound Care, also evaluated the wound healing activity of M. Recutita (chamomile) extract. According to the results, the increased rate of wound contraction, together with the increased wound-breaking strength, hydroxyproline content and histological observations, support the use of M. Recutita in wound management.
But, maybe the most impressive results come from an in-vitro and in-vivo comparative analysis of chamomile and corticosteroids for treating ulcers. The study was done on male rats where it was observed that all animals of the chamomile group exhibited complete wound healing 9 days before the other groups. Completely repaired lesions were observed after 5 days of treatment only in the chamomile group. The researchers concluded that chamomile in comparison to corticosteroids promotes faster wound healing process.
Chamomile extract can help in relieving pain, swelling, redness, and itchiness from a nasty sunburn. The powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties can calm the skin, prevent further inflammation, and help the wounds heal faster. Nonetheless, try not to get to the point where you'll need chamomile for sunburned skin. Invest in a high-quality sunscreen and protect the skin from damage and premature aging.
Other scientifically-supported benefits of using chamomile:
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified the oil and extract of German and Roman chamomiles as Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) substances. Nevertheless, there are a few precautions when using chamomile.
You shouldn’t use chamomile along with analgesic drugs like aspirin and other non-salicylate NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), because there might be a herb-drug interaction.
One study from 2002, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy And Therapeutics, reviewed the potential adverse interactions of the commonly used herbal supplements, including chamomile and analgesic drugs. The researchers warn against the use of aspirin and other NSAIDs with herbal supplements that possess antiplatelet activity, coumarin (chamomile and several others), or tamarind because there might be an increased risk of bleeding.
Additionally, an interaction between chamomile and cyclosporine, as well as warfarin has also been reported. Cyclosporine is a drug that prevents the rejection of organ transplants, while warfarin is a blood thinner drug.
Talk to your doctor before using chamomile, because these interactions might cause complications.
Chamomile is considered a very gentle plant, nevertheless, allergic reactions have been reported. If you’re allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies you may also be allergic to chamomile.
Just like with any other products, before using chamomile or products containing chamomile, do a patch test. Don’t risk it.
Avoid chamomile during pregnancy. It’s believed that the plant can cause uterine contractions which can provoke a miscarriage. Although research is very thin and not much is known about this effect, it’s best if you stay away from it during this vulnerable time.
Talk to your health care provider or gynecologist before using chamomile during pregnancy.
Adding chamomile in your bath is a popular way to soothe the skin, calm irritations, rashes or redness on the skin, and even fight off vaginal infections. And, why rub chamomile on your skin when you can soak in chamomile water and relax?
Some sources claim that soaking in a chamomile bath every day for about eight weeks can help you reduce anxiety, maybe even more than by taking medications.
It’s actually really simple. Take one bottle, add the ingredients and shake them well. After this just pour them in the water and you’ve made yourself a chamomile bath!. Depending on how big your bath is, feel free to double the quantities of the ingredients.
If you feel like your skin needs that extra moist to really glow, be soft, and amazing, then run to your local supermarket and get the ingredients you need to make an all-natural, homemade mask for dry skin.
Mix the ingredients in one small bowl and stir until you get a smooth paste-like consistency. You can start by adding only a portion of the oatmeal and then slowly add the rest, as to have better control over the consistency of the paste. After everything is nicely blended, clean your hands and apply it gently over the face. Cover your whole face, but avoid the area around the eyes. Let the mask sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
Always finish the routine with a moisturizer.
If you’re using dry chamomile then pour hot water over the herbs and wait for 20 minutes to infuse. After this filter the herbs from the water. In a small container, add all the ingredients along with 2-3 tbsp of the chamomile water you made. If you want the mask to be more gentle you can add more chamomile water. Anyway, after blending the ingredients and getting a smooth paste, apply the mask on a clean face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. In the end, wash your face with warm water and apply a moisturizer.
Mix the chamomile water with the clay until you get a smooth paste. If you need, add more chamomile to adjust the consistency. Then, add the honey and aloe vera gel and mix again. When the paste is well blended you can apply it directly on your face. Make sure you cleanse first. Your face needs to be clean. Leave the mask on to act for about 15 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water.
If you’re feeling under stress, haven’t slept right, or maybe you partied too hard the other night and now you’re faced with big dark circles that make you look like a zombie, chamomile will come to the rescue.
Make a tea and drink it. It will help you from the inside out and improve your overall health. In the meantime, don’t throw away the tea bags you used to make the tea with. Instead, let them dry a little and come to room temperature. When you feel they’ve reached room temperature and it’s pleasing to place them over the skin, you can apply them over your eyes and fest for 10 to 20 minutes.
The chamomile will help your skin fight off oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.