Cosmetics originated in plant extracts. Even in prehistoric times, humans used botanicals for their effects on the skin and to increase their sense of well-being. Beauty products continued to be per­fected in ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome. Natural ingre­dients are highly popular today as well. The market for natural organic products is estima­ted to be € 19.4 billion in 2024; by then, it will have increased by an average of 8.8 % per year, says Marek Münstermann, Director Global Product Management for Botanicals & Colors in the Cosmetic Ingredients Division at Symrise.

An important field of application for plant extracts is creams, which have ingredients that soothe the skin and provide it with moisture. The botanicals that Symrise uses for creams are thoroughly researched, analyzed, measured and tested. A team from Symrise Cosmetic Ingredients has worked out a six-step process that encompasses everything from raw material production to the finished product. Marek Münstermann uses chamomile, an important raw material, to illustrate the approach.


As is the case with many other natural raw materials, Symrise works closely together with farmers.

1. Expertise

“In our research, we ­analyze the materials in every imaginable way. We study the ­botanical, phytochemical, phytopharmacological and toxicological characteristics of the plants. Furthermore, we use in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo tests to examine a wide range of chamomile’s smoothing, analgesic and calming effects.”

2. Know-how

“We have to be very familiar with the processes in order to get the best products. We know how to extract substances from chamomile in the most efficient and gentle way. For instance, it makes a great difference whether the flowers are dried, ground or used fresh. The length of the transport routes also plays an important role: the fresher, the better. For this reason, we have built our own chamomile production facilities in Germany, Brazil and Singapore.”

3. Sustainability

“For our botanicals, we work with farmers around the world. We want to know where the raw materials come from and how they are cultivated. This allows us to ensure a high level of availability, and we can also trace their origins. Moreover, we help improve culti­vation methods so we can protect the environment and create better living conditions for the farmers. We also enter into close partnerships with our farmers in Germany, who work close to our headquarters in Holzminden.”

4. Competence

“Knowing what effects the plant extracts have is only one side of it. We also have to know how to incorpo­rate them in the final products. Every ingredient reacts differently when it’s used in a cream, an oil or a shampoo. We have therefore developed a broad prod­uct port­folio that our application technologists can adapt to every natural ingredient.”

5. Solutions

“If the market requires it, we can deliver the right solutions in a very short period of time; chamomile is a good example of this. In the course of the coronavirus pandemic, people have been washing their hands much more frequently and are using more disinfectant than usual. This can sometimes lead to skin irritations. During this time, we have developed a number of new products based on chamomile that have an analgesic and soothing effect. The path from the idea to the market-ready product was short.”

6. Market insight

“Our products are only good if consumers use them. We therefore follow them closely and evaluate market data, social media and trend platforms. We also learn from discussions with our customers, who are very knowledgeable about the needs of consumers.”