Chamomile & Elder Sensitive Skin Lotion Recipe

Gentle Chamomile & Elder Lotion Recipe for Sensitive Skin

This gentle unscented lotion is perfect for those with sensitive skin.

I chose avocado oil and avocado butter for this recipe because of how useful they can be for smoothing rough skin. Avocado oil contains essential fatty acids and vitamins A and E, has been studied in a cream for psoriasis (source) and is also a great choice for those with tree nut allergies.

If you don’t have the oil and/or butter on hand, or prefer something different, you can substitute another oil (like sunflower, olive, sweet almond or apricot kernel) and butter (like shea or mango).

For the herbal infusion, I chose three herbs that are traditionally used to soothe inflammation and irritation: chamomileelder flowers and marshmallow root.

In this recipe, I used emulsifying wax NF, instead of the beeswax used in some of my other recipes. Some versions out there are made from petroleum products or have sketchy additives, which is why I like to only use vegetable-derived Emulsifying Wax NF from Mountain Rose Herbs in my lotion recipes. (<- Links to Mountain Rose Herbs in this article are affiliate links.) The “NF” means it’s National Formulary approved, and made to a standardized formula, so any type of “NF” emulsifying wax that you find, should work in a comparable way.

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If you don’t want to use emulsifying wax, you can still adapt the same idea of infusing oil and incorporating it into an existing beeswax-based cream recipe (like THIS ONE or THIS ONE), but don’t try to directly substitute beeswax for the emulsifying wax in this particular recipe. It won’t work, because beeswax requires a much higher oil to water ratio to prevent separation issues, which is why beeswax-based lotions and creams are richer and heavier.


chamomile marshmallow and elder for infusing

Herbal Infused Oil

To make this lotion, you’ll first need to create an infused oil.

Combine 1 teaspoon (or a pinch) each of dried chamomile flowers, elder flowers and marshmallow root in a small canning or other heatproof jar.

I use herbs grown from my garden or purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Pour around 1/4 cup (60 ml) avocado oil over the herbs. If needed, add a little more, to make sure that the herbs are fully covered with oil.

At this point, you can infuse the slow way (my favorite method), or if you’re in a hurry, the quicker way.

To infuse the slow way, just put a lid on your jar of herbs and oils and tuck them away in a cabinet for at least four weeks.

Alternatively, you can keep the jar uncovered, set it down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water and let this heat over a low burner for around two hours. Remove from heat and use a portion of it right away for the recipe. Then top the jar off with fresh oil, cover it with a lid and let it infuse the slow way for a few weeks longer, for use in future projects.

Once the oil is infused to your satisfaction, it can be strained and stored for around 9 months to a year, or until you’re ready to use it.


Ingredients for Chamomile Elder Lotion

Chamomile & Elder Sensitive Skin Lotion Recipe

A scale works best for lotion making, so that every batch is consistent and without surprises, but I realize not everyone owns one, so developed this recipe so it can be measured in tablespoons as well.

  • 1 tablespoon (10 g) infused avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) avocado butter
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) emulsifying wax NF
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) distilled water
  • nature-derived preservative (see note*)


Around 4 ounces (120 grams)

Supply Sources:

I bought my avocado oil and butter from Bramble Berry and emulsifying wax NF from Mountain Rose Herbs. My local grocery store carries distilled water for less than $1.00 per gallon.

Step 1:

Combine the oil, butter and emulsifying wax in a heat proof container or small canning jar.

Measure the water in a separate jar.

Step 2:

Set both jars down into a saucepan containing an inch or two of water that has been placed over a medium-low burner. Heat the jars and their contents via this indirect heat for around 10 minutes. Turn off the burner and remove the pan from it.

Step 3:

Pour the melted oil/butter/wax mixture and distilled water together. The combination should immediately turn milky white as the emulsification process begins.

Stir for around 30 seconds, then set aside to cool for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you’d like to speed up the thickening process, you can set the jar of lotion down into a bowl of ice water while you stir.

Keep stirring occasionally as the lotion cools. It may take several hours for your lotion to fully set up.

Step 4:

*If adding a preservative, do so while the lotion is cooling down. Recommended temperatures vary, depending on type. (Look on LotionCrafter’s site for a wide variety of preservative options to choose from.) I’m currently a fan of Leucidal Liquid SF, a probiotic-based preservative created by the fermentation of Lactobacillus, which is added once lotion temperature drops below 104°F (40°C).

Leucidal Liquid SF is used at a rate of 2 to 4%. That means for every 100 grams of ingredients in your recipe, you’d use 2 to 4 grams of Leucidal Liquid SF. This recipe weighs 120 g so I add 5 grams of preservative.

I’m still learning the shelf life of nature-derived preservatives, but lotion I made 4 months ago with Leucidal Liquid SF is still in excellent condition with no signs of spoilage (visible or via microbial test kits).

If you don’t wish to use any type of preservative, keep your lotion in the refrigerator and use it up within one to two weeks.

learn more about natural preservatives


Finishing Up

Spoon your lotion into a jar or other storage container and you’re done!

Apply it as needed on hands, face and body. Because of the properties of homemade lotion, you may find that you don’t need to apply as much at one time as you would store-bought lotions.


If you enjoyed this tutorial on making chamomile and elder sensitive skin lotion, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get my best herbal projects, soap ideas, and DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox, about once or twice per month. (No spam ever, unsubscribe at any time.)

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Chamomile Lip Balm | DIY Herbal Deodorant | Chamomile Bath Salts

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Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Barbara says:

    I love the blog and all the info and recipes but…how on earth does the avg reader stock ingredients?! I don’t mean that in a complainey pants way, I swear! It just seems like unless you are planning on making/selling the extra the cost and storage is maybe not feasible. I spent almost $100 on supplies for a few of my favorites and now I’m worried my remaining ingredients will go bad before I manage to use them all up. I have made many extras for family and friends as well. I’d like to make this recipe but I feel like this is another load of ingredients that will cost me $$ and then I’ll need to store the remainder or be be overloaded on just this recipie. Am I doing/thinking about this all wrong? I feel like I must be. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hi Barbara! I know exactly how you feel, because I was in the same boat for a long time. I could only buy supplies once a year, and that was IF nothing else was clamoring for our tax return that year. So, no, you’re not thinking wrong at all – it can feel discouraging at times! The way I can afford ingredients for my projects now, is that I sell some of them and I also earn money via my blog through affiliate links, which I sink back into more materials. I think that’s why a lot of people do go into selling their products, in order to recoup the costs of what otherwise might become an expensive hobby.

      What kind of supplies do you have on hand that you want to use up? If you write up a list here, I’ll help you brainstorm some recipes! We might be able to make an adaptation of this lotion recipe as well with what you have available.

  • Becca says:

    Hi, thankyou for your recipe it sounds delightful! I was just wondering if you have to strain the infused oil or not when it’s finished infusing to use in the product? Or do bits of the marshmallow root etc go into the lotion?

    • Hi Becca! Yes, you’re exactly right – you do want to strain the infused oil so you don’t get scratchy bits in your lotion.

      • Becca says:

        Thankyou! I’ve started slow infusing, is there a temperature it should be kept at? It started off in the kitchen but soon moved it to a cabinet in the living room as our kitchen is about as cold as outside! Just taken a quick peek and it seems to be very thick and cold still (don’t know if it is right?! Can infusing go wrong?!) So I’ve now transferred it to a bedroom cupboard in the hope it’s a bit warmer!

        • Hi Becca! I would try to keep it in your warmest room, if you can. Whatever temperature is comfortable for you, should work great. It won’t hurt it to get cold, but the warmth will really help the infusing process move along better. If you have a sunny windowsill – you can put it there for a few days if you’d like too. (Some people infuse in a sunny windowsill for weeks, but I like days instead so the sun won’t fade the herbs.) It’s freezing here too – stay warm! :)

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  • Deanna says:

    Would like to try this recipe but I have an allergic type reaction to chamomile tea (more than one brand). I have read that folks who have hay fever have a good chance of allergies to it. Do you suppose applying it to my skin would affect me adversely?

    • Hi Deanna! If you have an allergic reaction to chamomile tea, I’d definitely avoid using it on your skin. You could just leave the chamomile out or you could substitute it with another herb like calendula or lavender. It’s a very flexible recipe! :)

  • Beth says:

    Hello Jan
    I’d love to make this as I already use chamomile & elder on my skin through waters and infused oils.
    I’m in Australia and I have been unable to find Leucidal Liquid here. Can you suggest another preservative? Would Vitamin E oil work just as well?
    Thank you and please keep your alchemy going – I just love it all

  • Casey says:

    How do you test with lab kit for microbial growth?

  • Tammie says:

    I have made this recipe twice today. The first batch I pitched because it was like water. The second batch is a bit thicker but not at all close to cream. I followed your recipe exact and I used a digital scale. Any thoughts on what I could possibly be doing wrong?

    • Hi Tammie, I’m so sorry to hear that! My first suspicion is the emulsifying wax. I’ve used some kinds before that took a day or two before the lotion fully thickened and set up. Did you use the kind from Mountain Rose Herbs or another brand?
      If another brand, you may need to increase the amount of emulsifying wax by another gram or two. How does your lotion look today, after it’s been sitting for a day? Has it thickened up further?

  • Melanie says:

    Hi Jan,

    Can I use calendula tea instead of distilled water and sub beeswax for the emulsifying wax? Thanks in advance! :)

    • Melanie says:

      Can you also add honey to this? :)

      • Hi Melanie! Yes, you sure can! Even though pure honey is antibacterial when applied to wounds and burns, when there’s just a little bit in lotions/creams, it can spoil more easily, so that’s another factor to consider when choosing a nature derived preservative for your lotion. (I currently really like Leucidal SF Complete.)

    • Hi Melanie! Yes, you can use a tea, only keep in mind it spoils in lotion more easily, so definitely consider a nature derived preservative of some sort. Beeswax works in a completely different manner than emulsifying wax and can’t support a high amount of water, so unfortunately it won’t interchange at all. You could find a beeswax based lotion recipe that you like and just adjust the herbs to create your own lotion though! :)

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  • Robin says:

    Hi Jan,
    This recipe looks amazing, thank you. You mention that at the time of writing you had made the lotion 4 months before and with Leucidal Liquid SF as a preservative it hadn’t yet spoiled. Can you tell me what it’s shelf life ended up being?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Robin! I ended up using that one a short time later, but have more lotion/preservative combos testing now. The test lotion with Leucidal Liquid SF is at 5 months old & no visible signs of mold yet! I plan to use a microbial kit on it at 6 months though. Stay tuned for more updated preservative info later this year! :)

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