Chamomile: Floral For People Who Don’t Like Flowers

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Roses are everywhere, and they seem to be a dealmaker or breaker—either you envelop yourself in Jo Malone Red Roses every morning in a haze of girlish celebration, or you've deemed them too sickly sweet (or reminiscent of your grandmother) to be enjoyable, so you quickly navigate away from any e-comm link that might mention them. Feelings are often less strong when it comes to chamomile, the daisy-shaped flower that offers similar qualities without the sugariness, but with a mild, almost woody scent. Soothing, herbal, de-caffeinated things often have that effect.

Like rose, chamomile is calming and has anti-inflammatory elements. It enhances golden tones in hair and is gentle on skin (enough so for those with eczema)—back in ancient Egypt, chamomile oil was used in skincare. Later, it became one of the ingredients of the Nine Herbs Charm, a 10th century English medley of herbs used to treat poison and infection. Centuries of effective treatment is worth something, but we're dealing with lighter stuff here: skin-soothing and hair-blonding, all through a floral that’s not really a floral. No need to feel typecast either way here.

For Hair: While using Aveda's chamomile shampoo followed with Klorane's vinegar-like rinse, my hair lightened up enough that people were asking what I'd had done: highlights? Balayage? Chamomile. Golden color aside, this combo really dried me out, making conditioner all the more important. It's also worth mentioning that chamomile is good for getting rid of dandruff and soothing the scalp if you're not willing to take the step towards a more medicinal treatment.

For The Face: Fresh's luxurious Creme Ancienne and Anastasia's brow gel both mix chamomile into their formulas, which surprised more than one around the office. The gel holds brows in place while keeping those little hairs moisturized (more important than you might think when it comes to brows). And both versions of Fresh's Ancienne (it comes in hard and soft variations, not unlike La Mer's moisture dichotomy) are notable, but the original thicker version is built for winter. It's sort of like lip balm for your face in that it incorporates chamomile wax that targets dry patches and leaves you almost too moisturized, but not oily. The Mario Badescu Cleansing Lotion tones, reduces redness, and works for acne-prone skin, while Sundari's Eye Oil absorbs rapidly and comes with a slight scent that's relaxing.

For The Body: And if it's body oil you're after, this Malin and Goetz formula shares a lot of Sundari's qualities, but it's better suited for rubbing on calves and elbows—especially good after dry brushing or pre- or post-shave to quell any redness. Where most of these options are ultimately intended to calm, Lush Dream Cream is a bit more intense with a complex mix of lavender, chamomile, and rose water (meaning it not only works, but it smells great, too). And finally, for bar soap, there's nothing better than Lafco's formula. Keep calm and hand wash on—it is flu season after all.

—Claire Knebl

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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