7. Spotlight Ingredient: German Chamomile

7. Spotlight Ingredient: German Chamomile

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita): A Gentle Herb for Skincare


Chamomile is one of the most well-known herbs worldwide. You’ve likely come across it in your tea or your skincare, and there’s a good reason. It’s an amazing herbal ally!

Chamomile is a gentle herb that can be used for all ages, even for babies, but we must not confuse gentle with weak. This little flower has some powerful therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.

There are several flowers which go by the common name “Chamomile”, but for this article we’ll be focusing on German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita; previously known as Matricaria recutita).

Join me as we dive into this month’s spotlight ingredient.



History (Traditional Use)

When researching an ingredient, it’s important to look at the history of its use to begin to understand how we can use it in our skincare products. Before modern medicines and cosmetics, all our ancestors had were plants, and we can learn a lot from their experiences.

Chamomile is one of the oldest herbs still in use today, and one of the most well-documented. It’s included in several nation’s pharmacopeia, and records show it was being used thousands of years ago by ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks, Chinese, and Egyptians.


Traditionally, Chamomile has been used both internally…

  • digestive problems (nausea, diarrhea)
  • nervous system disorders (anxiety, insomnia)
  • musculoskeletal conditions (joint pain)

and externally…

  • skin and mucosal membranes (rashes, wounds, burns)


When we look at these traditional uses, we see that many of these issues are often the result of stress and inflammation. So, this is our first clue to how Chamomile can be beneficial in our skincare.

But this is only one piece of the puzzle, to gain a more complete understanding of this herb and how it can support the health of our skin, we must dig a little deeper.



How Chamomile Supports the Skin


In addition to looking at HOW our ancient ancestors would use an herb, we can also look at WHY they chose that herb. Ancient civilizations didn’t have the option of doing scientific studies on the herbs they had around them…

So, how did they know which herbs were beneficial for which problems?

Our ancestors looked at a plant’s energetics to understand how that herb would influence the body. We, too, can gain a more in-depth understanding of how Chamomile works by looking at its energetics.


Chamomile’s energetics are…

  • cooling
  • drying
  • relaxing




Considering these qualities, we can begin to understand why our ancestors chose Chamomile for the stress related and inflammatory issues mentioned above, and we can better understand how Chamomile can be of benefit to the health of our skin.


For example...

Chamomile could be used in a diaper rash cream to cool and soothe the warm, moist, inflamed skin.


There’s also been an extensive amount of clinical research done on Chamomile in recent years. Not only does this research validate what our ancestors knew about how Chamomile acts on the body, it reveals many of the plant compounds (phytochemicals) that are responsible for these actions. We can add this information to what we’ve already learned about Chamomile to gain an even deeper understanding of when and how to use Chamomile in our skincare products.

Over 120 plant compounds (phytochemicals) have been identified in Chamomile, and these offer various health benefits for humans.


Some of these phytochemicals include …

  • Polysaccharides
  • Tannins
  • Volatile oils (isobutyl angelate)
  • Terpenoids – such as terpenes (a-bisabolol)
  • Flavonoids (quercetin, apigenin)
  • Coumarins
  • Other Phenolic compounds


While many of these can be found in the essential oil, not all carry over during steam distillation, and some even change into other beneficial phytochemicals during distillation.

One specific phytochemical that is found in the flower, but NOT the essential oil is matricin. Matricin is a sesquiterpene lactone that converts to chamazulene during distillation. Chamazulene is the compound which gives the essential oil its characteristic blue color.


**NOTE: The blue color of the essential oil signifies Chamomile’s cooling effect, and this is further validated through studies on chamazulene which show it to have anti-inflammatory, or inflammation modulating, activity (in other words, a cooling effect on hot inflammation).**


Understanding the effects of these phytochemicals helps us to better understand how Chamomile’s energetics manifest as actions on the body.

I've included a couple of examples below.


The cooling energetic comes from the inflammation modulating effects of phytochemicals like

  • Apigenin
  • α-bisabolol (in the essential oil)
  • Matricin (in the flower) / Chamazulene (in the essential oil)

*Note: Inflammation is important for the healing process, but often gets out of control, so these compounds modulate (or fine-tune) the inflammatory process.


One way the drying energetic is shown is in the wound healing action of Chamomile. Chamomile was found to be effective in wound drying. This can be attributed to…   

  • Tannins


As we can see, there are often multiple phytochemicals working together to produce certain actions on the body. This is why using an herbal extract is often more effective than using a single extracted phytochemical.


Additionally, many of a plant’s phytochemicals can have multiple benefits.

Some examples in Chamomile include…

Apigenin: has inflammation modulating and antioxidant properties AND plays a role in Chamomile’s relaxing effect.

Tannins: have been found to be both toning and antibacterial in research aimed at studying Chamomile’s wound-healing properties.



Now that we understand more about how Chamomile affects the skin, let’s consider for which skin problems we might formulate with Chamomile, and compare the different types of extracts and some of their pros and cons.



How to Use Chamomile

Based on our understanding of how Chamomile affects the skin, we can determine that it’s beneficial for hot, moist skin problems where bacteria often thrive and where inflammation has gotten out of control. Also, in situations where stress is a major concern.

A few examples would include…

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Rashes (especially diaper rash since Chamomile is gentle enough for children)
  • Burns
  • Infections
  • Wounds


So, now that you’ve determined that German Chamomile is the right herb for your skincare product, how do you decide which type of extract to use?

  • German Chamomile Powdered Extract
  • German Chamomile Extract (in Glycerin)
  • German Chamomile Extract (in oil)
  • German Chamomile Hydrosol
  • German Chamomile Essential Oil
  • German Chamomile CO2 Extract


There are different benefits to each extract and which you choose will largely depend on the type of product you’re making and who’s going to be using it. You may also want to use more than one type of extract in a product.


Example #1:

You’re formulating an emulsion, a facial moisturizer, for a mom in her 30’s who’s been dealing with a lot of stress at home and is looking for something that will help with her acne.

You could choose

  • German Chamomile Hydrosol
  • German Chamomile Extract (in oil)
  • German Chamomile Essential Oil


Example #2:

You’re formulating an anhydrous balm for both a breastfeeding mom and her baby who are dealing with cracked nipples and diaper rash respectively …

You could choose…

  • German Chamomile Extract (in oil) – purchased or a homemade infused oil

and you may want to avoid

  • German Chamomile Essential Oil – due to the sensitive areas they will be applied


The aromatics in Chamomile carry over into many of the extractions (homemade infused oils, hydrosols, etc.) so when we use Chamomile in our skincare formulations, it’s not only our skin that benefits, but our mental and emotional well-being too.

You can even use the whole dried flowers in a bath to support mind and body.

When you incorporate this herb into skincare and bath products it makes it so much easier for us to experience all the benefits this herb can offer us.





Chamomile’s sweet scent, combined with its many benefits for the skin, it’s no surprise that it’s been used by both ancient and modern peoples alike.

Chamomile is a true ally for these stressful times we live in, supporting mind, body, and soul.




As a little bonus, I’ve included a sample monograph of German Chamomile below.


German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Common Species:

  • Matricaria chamomilla L. (previously Matricaria recutita) aka Chamomilla recutita


Botanical Family:

  • Asteraceae or Compositae—the daisy family


Common Names:

  • German Chamomile
  • True Chamomile
  • English Chamomile
  • Manzanilla
  • Camomilla




Part(s) Used:

Whole Flower

Best Time to Harvest:

Mid-morning, During Summer

Dry or Fresh?

Dry (essential oils continue to accumulate during drying)

Sustainability Concerns:

no known concerns



  • Vulnerary
  • Inflammation Modulator
  • Nervine Sedative
  • Antibacterial
  • Antioxidant


Safety Concerns:

  • The FDA has classified the oil and extracts of German Chamomile to be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).

HOWEVER, those allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family (which includes Ragweed) may have adverse reactions to Chamomile.




Singh O, Khanam Z, Misra N, Srivastava MK. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan;5(9):82-95. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.79103. PMID: 22096322; PMCID: PMC3210003.



Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010 Nov 1;3(6):895-901. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2010.377. PMID: 21132119; PMCID: PMC2995283.



Dai, L., Li, Y., Wang, Q., Niu, J., Li, W., Wang, Y., Wang, J., Zhou, Z., & Gao, N. (2023). Chamomile: A Review of Its Traditional Uses, Chemical Constituents, Pharmacological Activities and Quality Control Studies. Molecules, 28(1).



Sepp J, Koshovyi O, Jakstas V, Žvikas V, Botsula I, Kireyev I, Tsemenko K, Kukhtenko O, Kogermann K, Heinämäki J, et al. Phytochemical, Technological, and Pharmacological Study on the Galenic Dry Extracts Prepared from German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) Flowers. Plants. 2024; 13(3):350.



Niknam S, Tofighi Z, Faramarzi MA, Abdollahifar MA, Sajadi E, Dinarvand R, Toliyat T. Polyherbal combination for wound healing: Matricaria chamomilla L. and Punica granatum L. Daru. 2021 Jun;29(1):133-145. doi: 10.1007/s40199-021-00392-x. Epub 2021 May 9. PMID: 33966255; PMCID: PMC8149548.




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