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If you’ve ever spotted the word “bisabolol” on the back of a beauty product, you probably thought it was either a) some weird chemical you’ve never heard of or b) straight-up gibberish. While bisabolol may sound like a made-up word, it’s actually a wildly beneficial, naturally occurring skincare ingredient that can help with everything from redness to damaged skin.

Just what is this magical substance, and why have you never heard of it before? Let’s dig in.

What Is Bisabolol?

Technically, there are two types of bisabolol: alpha and beta. Alpha-bisabolol is the one we’ll be talking about here—and is usually what people are referring to when they use the term.

Though you wouldn’t know it from the name, bisabolol comes from a pretty commonplace herb: chamomile. (Yep, the same stuff you drink before bed.) Chamomile has been used in medicine for centuries, but researchers recently discovered that bisabolol—a thick, floral-scented liquid found in the essential oil of German chamomile—is to thank for many of the plant’s anti-inflammatory and antibiotic benefits. 

Chamomile isn’t the only place you can find the oily substance. It’s also present in the bark of the Myoporum crassifolium and Candeia trees. Most bisabolol is sourced from the latter, but in order to prevent deforestation, scientists have begun making a synthetic version as well.

The Skin Benefits of Alpha Bisabolol 

The reason bisabolol has started popping up in so many skincare and cosmetic products is because it’s been shown to be pretty darn awesome for our skin. Here’s how:

  • Bisabolol is super soothing. Studies show it reduces inflammation and irritation, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin or conditions such as acne, rosacea, or psoriasis.
  • Bisabolol may speed up healing. Chamomile has long been used to treat wounds, and some research suggests bisabolol may play a role in the herb’s ability to stimulate healing. 
  • Bisabolol may fade hyperpigmentation.
  • Bisabolol may help other beneficial ingredients like antioxidants penetrate the skin.
  • Bisabolol may help protect against free radicals and environmental damage, thanks to its antibacterial properties.
  • Bisabolol may help treat dry or damaged skin and restore suppleness. 
  • Bisabolol may protect against some harmful bacteria.

Is Bisabolol Safe to Use?

Most research indicates bisabolol is safe to use topically. However, some people (mostly children with eczema) have experienced an allergic reaction after using it.

As with all new skincare ingredients and products, you’ll want to patch test before going whole hog and pay close attention to any reactions you might have.

How to Use Bisabolol

Ready to try bisabolol? There’s no one way to reap the benefits of this skin-calming ingredient. Bisabolol can be found in tons of different products, from moisturizers and eye creams to serums and lipgloss, making it easy to incorporate it into your existing routine however you see fit.

Next Up: Cloudberry Oil