What Is Blue Tansy?
Blue tansy is an ingredient used in skincare as it helps to soothe irritated or inflamed skin as well as supporting healing.
Blue tansy is a small flower from the Tanacetum annuum plant that is native to the Mediterranean region, often harvested in Morocco. The use of blue tansy in skincare formulations has increased in popularity over the last few years. It has been used in products designed to help soothe acne and improve the appearance of aging skin. While aromatherapists have sung the praises of blue tansy for some time, its use in commercial skincare products is relatively new.
Blue tansy is used as an essential oil, added to creams and oils. The essential oil is created using steam distillation of the flowers. The essential oil is used in some concentrations and is diluted in carrier oils or creams.
the good: Helps to soothe irritated or inflamed skin as well as supporting healing.
the not so good: Like any skincare ingredient, particularly naturally-occurring ingredients like blue tansy, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people. However, this reaction is rare, especially when using a product that has been formulated professionally, rather than DIY.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.
Keep an eye on: Nothing to keep an eye on here.
What Are The Benefits of Blue Tansy?
As is often the case with many naturally-occurring ingredients, there is not a whole lot of systematic clinical studies that have been conducted on the benefits of blue tansy. However, there has been some research into its anti-inflammatory, calming, and healing benefits.
While the research is somewhat limited on whether blue tansy is beneficial for calming irritated skin there are some small studies that have looked into specific benefits. For example, one such study reviewed the use of blue tansy diluted in water to support the healing of burns caused by radiation therapy in cancer patients.
The majority of the research that has been conducted into the benefits of blue tansy focus on the anti-inflammatory benefits of the ingredient. As is the case with many naturally-occurring ingredients such as blue tansy they are not just one ingredient they are a combination of a number of different compounds. This is why naturally-occurring ingredients are often more complex to study. This is the case with blue tansy.
The potential anti-inflammatory benefits of blue tansy are believed to be associated with two compounds that are found in blu tansy. The first is sabinene which is a primary component of blue tansy oil. Sabinene has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. Interestingly it is also being studied as adjuvant therapy for multi-drug resistant infections such as Salmonella typhimurium.
The other component of blue tansy that may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory benefits is camphor. Camphor is probably an ingredient you remember from your childhood, with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, camphor was often slathered on just about any wound or injury and was often used to help with a chesty cough. Camphor has been studied for its use in allergic skin inflammatory responses, helping to soothe and calm the skin.
Interestingly, the compound responsible for the blue color of blue tansy, chamazulene, may also be a mild anti-inflammatory agent.
Camphor, in the concentration found in blue tansy, has been found to be helpful in supporting skin healing and repairing damaged skin. This is potentially beneficial for those who have healing blemishes, or barrier irritation. Given camphor’s natural antibacterial and antifungal benefits it is no surprise that it may help to reduce infection as well.
In one study, conducted with mice, camphor improved UV-damaged skin. It is important to remember here that one study, particularly on mice does not indicate a new use it only provides us with a new avenue of investigation that may or may not prove to be beneficial.
If you’re interested in history, camphor was also used as a fumigant during the Black Death, to disinfect the air in plagued homes. It was also a sort-after wood in Ancient Egypt, used for its scent.
In traditional Chinese medicine, blue tansy is used as an antihistamine reducing allergic nasal congestion. This use has been supported by some research that looked at the antihistamine effects of the ingredient, a promising area of study.
Why Is Blue Tansy Blue?
Blue tansy oil is steam-distilled from the stems and flowers of the Tanacetum annuum plant. While the flowers themselves are actually yellow in color the distillation process releases the chemical chamazulene. When heated chamazulene turns a deep blue, almost indigo color, leaving behind a richly colored oil.
What Does Blue Tansy Smell Like?
Blue tansy has a unique and distinct smell that is not to everyone’s liking. The oil has a sweet, herbal smell due to the high camphor content. The scent of blue tansy is often reported to be stress relieving with many in the aromatherapy community using it for this benefit.
Blue Tansy vs. Tansy Oil
There is a difference between blue tansy essential oil and tansy essential oil. While their names may indicate similarity in benefits, they are actually quite different. To avoid confusion blue tansy oil comes from Tanacetum annuum and common tansy oil comes from Tanacetum vulgare.
Is Blue Tansy Safe?
As is the case with many plant-derived ingredients, blue tansy oil is a complex compound with many different molecules contained within it. This complexity can often be a problem for identifying safety and sensitivity issues as there are many moving parts, unlike a single pure synthetically produced ingredient. For example, the number of different compounds in the oil will vary based on the type of plant and conditions in which it is grown.
Generally, blue tansy oil is considered to be safe for its indicated uses in skincare and cosmetic formulations. If you have sensitive skin, be mindful of slowly introducing this product to identify any sensitivity to it.
Like most essential oils, blue tansy should not be ingested and it shouldn’t be applied to the skin without proper dilution into a carrier oil. This is why it is best to use products that have been formulated by a professional.
Doctors at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology caution those with asthma to avoid essential oil diffusion and inhalers due to the risk of worsening their symptoms.
Strappen, I, et al. 2021. ‘Blue Tansy Essential Oil: Chemical Composition, Repellent Activity Against Aedes aegypti and Attractant Activity for Ceratitis capitata’, Natural Product Communications.