Natural Calendula Lotion Recipe

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Use natural ingredients to make this step-by-step calendula lotion recipe. This natural skin cream has skin-soothing properties from calendula flowers, nourishing honey, and sweet-scented rose hydrosol. The recipe includes full instructions and a DIY video, along with explanations of each ingredient.

If there’s one skincare plant that I can recommend for all skin types, it’s calendula. Many people grow it as a companion plant, edible flower, or to use in medicinal preparations, but it’s also amazing for your skin. Especially in this simple calendula lotion recipe. The resins in the petals and entire flower heads are rich in compounds that promote healing, soothe discomfort, and infuse your skin with antioxidants. It’s the perfect ingredient to add to a nourishing and soothing daily skin lotion. One that you can smooth over your entire body and that helps treat rough patches and calm inflammation.

Making this calendula skin cream recipe begins with organic calendula flowers. You first infuse them in a carrier oil, then blend the oil with other ingredients to create a true and stable emulsion. It’s a medium-thick skin cream that’s wonderful for dry skin and ideal for hands and body. At the average beauty counter, you’ll pay a hefty premium for calendula lotion, but it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to make yourself.

Calendula Lotion Recipe: Use natural ingredients to make this step-by-step calendula lotion recipe. This natural skin cream has skin-soothing properties from calendula flowers, nourishing honey, and sweet-scented rose hydrosol. The recipe includes full instructions and a DIY video #naturalskincare #diyskincare #lotionrecipe

Calendula Lotion Ingredients

I’ve chosen the ingredients in this calendula skin cream recipe to soothe irritated skin, moisturize, and promote healing. Calendula is an incredible skin herb that speeds up skin healing and soothes irritation. It’s also used in salves and ointments as a remedy for scrapes, bruises, and even bug bites.

The oil used to make calendula oil will have different properties based on the particular oil you use. Regardless, the oil will add conditioning, vitamins, and nourishment. I prefer working with lighter oils when making general-purpose skin cream recipes, just because it feels better on my skin and absorbs quicker. I recommend sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, or apricot kernel oil for this recipe, though you could use another. For a thicker cream, I recommend avocado oil, olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, or jojoba oil.

Calendula Lotion Recipe: Use natural ingredients to make this step-by-step calendula lotion recipe. This natural skin cream has skin-soothing properties from calendula flowers, nourishing honey, and sweet-scented rose hydrosol. The recipe includes full instructions and a DIY video #naturalskincare #diyskincare #lotionrecipe
The light golden color of the lotion is from calendula-infused oil.

Rose Hydrosol and Honey

Lotions and creams are a mixture mainly made up of water or a water-based liquid mixed with oil and other ingredients. It’s the water in lotions that hydrates your skin, be that in the form of distilled water, aloe vera juice, herbal teas, or floral waters. The water-based liquid in this calendula lotion recipe is rose hydrosol. It’s a rose-scented natural ingredient made by distilling rose petals. Not only does it smell beautiful, but it calms inflammation, firms the skin, and promotes hydration. Most I’ve included in the water phase, but there’s about a teaspoon of it added in the cool-down phase, too. This compensates for any lost to evaporation during heating.

Rose hydrosol being measured into a jar on a small digital scale.
Rose hydrosol is a naturally clear rose-scented liquid.

For even more moisture, I’ve added a natural humectant – honey. It draws moisture to your skin and locks it in. Honey also has additional skin healing properties, and don’t worry, the skin cream won’t be sticky. If you’re Vegan, you can substitute it with vegetable glycerine, which has similar properties. You can also leave this ingredient category out if you don’t want to use either honey or vegetable glycerine. I don’t consider it an optional ingredient, but the formulation will still work if it’s not included.

A 1/4 teaspoon of dark runny honey being measured into a ramekin.
Honey acts as a humectant and pulls moisture from the air to your skin.

Homemade Calendula Infused Oil

The foundation of this calendula lotion recipe is a simple carrier oil infused with dried calendula flowers. The oil part of calendula oil will act as the emollient or conditioning agent in your lotion, but it also extracts and carries the active ingredients from calendula flowers. Though you can buy calendula oil ready-made, it’s very easy to make it, and you can do it at any time of the year! There’s a quick method that you can use that gives you homemade calendula oil in hours or a traditional method that takes several weeks.

A jar of calendula flowers and oil being heated in a slow cooker.
Make calendula oil in just hours by using low heat.

Most of the time, you’ll never know which variety of calendula flower you get when you buy calendula. Not once have I ever seen this information listed. However, if you grow calendula, you’ll know exactly which type it is and how it was grown. For skincare recipes, I recommend growing medicinal-grade calendula flowers such as Erfurter Orangefarbige or Resina, then harvesting and fully drying them out. Dried flowers make powerful calendula oil that’s great for formulations treating everything from wounds and eczema to diaper rashes.

Light streaming through deep yellow and orange calendula oil.
Make calendula oil in advance of making calendula lotion.

Using Fresh Calendula Flowers

Inevitably, I get a question from someone about making calendula oil with fresh flowers. I don’t recommend it because fresh flowers contain quite a bit of moisture. That tiny amount can contribute towards causing early rancidity (oxidization) in the finished calendula oil, leading to an off-putting scent and much-reduced shelf life. Fresh flowers also mold over if they’re allowed to float to the surface of the oil, and calendula oil made with fresh flowers is not safe for lip products. However small the chance, it is possible that botulism can grow in oil infused with fresh flowers or herbs.

Homemade calendula cream spooned from a mason jar into a dark brown cosmetics jar.
The oil and water in this recipe are held together with an emulsifier.

Emulsifier for Calendula Lotion

When you scroll further down, you’ll notice that there’s a good amount of water and oil included in the recipe. As anyone who’s made salad dressing can attest, oil and water don’t mix together very well at all! They instantly separate. To hold them together in calendula lotion, we use a skincare ingredient called emulsifying wax. The type included is called emulsifying wax BP, but you can use the NF version interchangeably. This ingredient is stable and reliable and helps to create emulsions that you can depend on.

A teaspoon of white bead-like emulsifying wax pastilles
Emulsifying wax often comes in pastilles like this.

Though there are a great many lotion recipes online that call for beeswax as an emulsifier, please be aware that it can fail. Beeswax used to be mixed with borax in the past to create stable emulsions, but borax has since been deemed unsafe for the skin. On its own, beeswax is not an emulsifier, and though it can mimic one initially, the emulsion may separate, especially if there’s a fluctuation in temperature. You also need a high-shear mechanism, such as an immersion blender, to bind it to water at all.

I’m a natural soapmaker and prefer using natural ingredients in skincare, too, but in this case, I’m an advocate for formulated emulsifiers. Though beeswax is completely natural, I don’t trust it to keep my lotions and creams held together. In formulations, you can use it as a thickener and stabilizer, though.

Looking down at a Mason jar filled with a dairy cream looking liquid. It's the lotion in its first stages of emulsification.
Emulsifying wax helps oil and water form strong bonds by simple stirring.

Lotion Preservatives

Any preparation that has water in it, especially with fats and nutrients in it, will spoil quickly. That includes food like yogurt or cooked meals. Once we open the container, we can keep it in the refrigerator for a few days, a week maybe, but inevitably, it begins to grow mold and bacteria. The same thing happens with skin creams.

Mixing powdered preservative into a small amount of water in a glass ramekin.
Geogard Ultra lotion preservative dispersed in rose hydrosol.

Without a preservative, homemade calendula lotion lasts a day at room temperature and, at most, a week in the refrigerator. That’s why I include a broad-spectrum preservative in the ingredients list. I use a product called Geogard Ultra for all of my skin creams, and I recommend it to you, too. It’s certified for organic skincare and works well. Add it to your recipe, and you can enjoy a safe room-temperature shelf-life of up to eighteen months. Geogard Ultra and a few other preservatives are made from naturally derived ingredients. I would not classify it as a “natural preservative,” though.

A clump of big orange calendula flowers with vibrant green foliage.
Calendula flowers have skin-healing and soothing properties.

I’ve yet to come across “natural preservatives” that actually work in skin creams. Some that are touted as preservatives, such as grapefruit seed extract and vitamin E oil, do not kill microbes or pathogens in any way. They are weak antioxidants that have traditionally been added to skincare recipes and soap to help stop oils from going rancid too early. They don’t usually work in that capacity, either. Essential oils, lemon juice, and citric acid in lotions have no preservation powers either.

Looking down at a tin of calendula salve surrounded by dried calendula flowers.
Use leftover calendula oil to make calendula salve.

More Calendula Recipes

We’ll only need a small amount of calendula oil in this calendula lotion recipe. However, it’s worth making quite a large batch at a time, especially if you choose to infuse it without heat. That’s because it takes weeks to make, and it can have quite a long shelf life. It all comes down to the freshness of ingredients, though. If the carrier oil you use to make calendula oil has a long shelf life, then your finished calendula oil will have the same best-by date. So make a decent-sized batch to make calendula lotion and other homemade skincare products. I offer a printable guide to making calendula skincare, including soap, facial cleansers, lip balm, bath salts, salve, and lotion.

Get printable skincare recipes in the Calendula ebook.

Calendula Lotion Recipe

Tanya Anderson
Instructions for making a simple calendula lotion with calendula-infused oil. The texture is thick and creamy but feels light and absorbs quickly. It's ideal for hands and body and for those who have dry and irritated skin. Makes one 100ml pot but can be scaled up for larger batches.
5 from 4 votes
Author Tanya Anderson
Cost $5

Equipment

Materials
  

Water Phase

  • 80 g Rose hydrosol 2.82 oz or ¼ cup + 1 TBSP + 2 tsp – can use distilled water instead
  • 1 g Honey ¼ tsp – or vegetable glycerine as a Vegan alternative

Oil Phase

  • 7 g Emulsifying wax BP or NF 0.25 oz / 2.5 tsp pastilles
  • 20 g Calendula-infused oil 0.71 oz / 1 TBSP + 1 tsp

Cooling Phase

Instructions
 

Make the Calendula Infused Oil

  • Before making calendula lotion, you must first make calendula oil. There are several ways to make it, and you can use a liquid carrier oil of your choice. I use sweet almond oil, but others that I recommend include grapeseed oil and apricot kernel oil. For a heavier, more conditioning lotion, you could use avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil. Here are the instructions for how to make calendula oil.

Prepare the Oil & Water Phases

  • Measure the ingredients of the oil phase into one heat-proof glass jar. Measure the water phase ingredients in a second jar.
  • Next, create a double boiler. Place a potholder or folded-up kitchen towel at the bottom of a saucepan. Set the two jars on top of it, then fill the pan with hot water from the tap to the level of the jars' contents. Any more than that, and the jars can float.
  • Bring the water in the pan to a boil on the hob, then reduce the heat to a simmer. You're ready for the next step after the oil phase ingredients are fully melted. It helps to stir or swirl the jars to speed this step up. It should only take a few minutes after the water in the pan comes to a boil.
  • Once the oil phase is melted, remove the jars from the pan and set them on the kitchen counter. Stir both phases with a spoon to make sure they're fully incorporated.
  • Next, carefully pour the water-phase ingredients into the oil-phase jar. The contents will turn an opaque, creamy color but still be liquid.
  • Using a kitchen spoon, stir the ingredients together. I use a quick stirring motion and hold the jar in my other hand. It usually takes just a minute or two for a small batch to thicken up to the consistency of mayonnaise. When you reach this thickness, set the calendula lotion to one side to cool.

Cooling Phase

  • As the lotion cools, prepare the cooling phase ingredients. Some broad-spectrum preservatives, such as my favorite Geogard Ultra, come as a powder. Mix this powder (1.5 g or ½ tsp) with the rose hydrosol until it's well dispersed. Other preservatives come pre-dissolved in a liquid carrier. If your is, it can be added directly to the lotion, but please follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • When the lotion is 43°C (110°F) or cooler, add the preservative, rose hydrosol, and optional essential oil. Stir well.
  • Every time I've made this recipe, the pH is fine and does not need adjusting. However, it's always best to test your batch by following the instructions in the notes field. Skin lotion pH must be 4.5 to 5.5, and many preservatives are only effective at particular pHs.
  • Spoon the calendula lotion into a clean and dry container, using a spatula to scrape every last bit. Allow it to cool to room temperature before sealing it with a lid. If you've used the Geogard Ultra preservative, the product has a shelf-life of up to eighteen months and must be used within six months of opening.

Video

Notes

Testing for pH
Skin creams and lotions should be pH 4.5 to 5.5 to feel comfortable on your skin. If they’re more acidic or alkaline, they can sting or cause dryness. To work out your batch of lotion’s pH, stir a half teaspoon of lotion into 1-2 tsp distilled water. Dip a pH paper into the liquid and then compare the color to the ones on the pack. 
You can make the lotion more acidic (lower the pH) by adding tiny amounts of lactic acid or citric acid dissolved in a small amount of warm, distilled water. Make it more alkaline (increase the pH) with triethanolamine or by dissolving a small amount of L-Arginine or bicarbonate (baking soda) in water and adding it. Pass it through the sieve and into the lotion. Take the pH reading again and adjust again if needed.
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Recipe Rating




39 Comments

  1. Patti Austin says:

    Dear Tanya,
    Thank you so much for the recipe for calendula cream! I am also grateful for all of your sage gardening advice!
    The lotion looks lovely, but what if I would like to make more? It seems like a lot of effort for one jar? Can I just double or triple this recipe?
    Thank you for all that you do,
    Patti

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made calendula oil before but I’m looking forward to making this as well. It’s so useful for healing!!

    1. It really is :) And once you make calendula oil, it has so many uses! This calendula lotion, of course, but salves, body oil, bath oil, bath bombs, and other skin cream recipes.

  3. April H. Häxa says:

    5 stars
    I was just saying that I needed to use up last year’s calendula oil in some lotion! I love your recipes. Thanks

    1. This is a wonderful way to use it! Let me know if you have any questions on making it, but do have a look at the DIY video at the end of the recipe instructions, too :)

  4. Hi
    Is the consistency of this lotion suitable for a pump bottle would you say . Can could you add and extra infused oil if halving the amount of calendula thanks Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle, it’s a little thick for most pump bottles, I’d say, but it may be possible. To get a thinner consistency, add more distilled water or rose hydrosol. Thinner lotions are about 90% water-based.

  5. It could be that you’ve just finished making it and you’ve not given it enough time to firm up?

    1. Hi Valeria, I’ve updated the recipe to remove all of the volume measurements, as they’re really not very accurate. I always weigh my ingredients but for older recipes, I still include tsp, cups, etc. To thicken your lotion, I recommend using xanthan gum. Per 100ml of lotion, mix ing 1/4 xantham gum. The best way to do it is to put the xanthan gum in a small bowl then add about half a teaspoon of lotion. Mix into a paste, then add another half teaspoon. Keep doing this until the consistency of the mixture is like a thick gravy and not sticky or clumpy. Add this into the rest of the lotion and stir.

  6. Sue Gilmore says:

    How much of the calendula flowers do you use to make the calendula infused oil?

    1. Hi Sue, to make a small batch of calendula oil, half-fill a pint jar with dried calendula flowers, then fill the rest up with the carrier oil. Here are full instructions on how to make calendula oil.

  7. Hi :-D
    Isn’t vitamin E considered a preservative. I use it a lot in my homemade face creams and have had no problems with the creams getting rancid. Just wondering. Love your recipes so much! :-D

    Chandice

    1. It’s a common misunderstanding but no, Vitamin E is not a preservative. It will unfortunately not protect your lotions and creams from being colonized with microbes.

      1. 5 stars
        Sorry. In my comment response about bacterial growth, I said ‘irradiation ‘, but that was supposed to say, ‘already’.

    2. 5 stars
      To add to what was said,
      I used to think vitamin e and c were sufficient as preservatives. I thought it was great that my products lasted 3 months or so before I saw black or green fungi. BUT I learned that loooong before you see anything, there is growth of bacteria that you can’t see. So, why would I spend good money on challenging my skin barrier with bacteria. I ended up getting a rash, from bacteria in my cream, I’m sure. Using preservatives (as close to natural as you can get) preserves your skin much better than a slow growing bacteria that you cannot see… irradiation within a week of making the product. Note that 100 percent oil products may last longer but creams with water based products in them DO NOT :).
      Have fun!

  8. Avery Morrison says:

    Thanks to share information about hand made body care products

    1. One 100 ml pot of calendula lotion. There’s a toggle in the recipe where you can scale the recipe up to 2x or 3x, though.

      1. Patti Austin says:

        Ohhhh, Thank you for this comment Tanya! You have already answered my question about more lotion💖💕💖

  9. Hi Tanya, have spent the past 2 days browsing your website – so beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for being so generous in sharing your knowledge and creativity. Just wanted to ask if I could use natural beeswax as emulsifier here? And if the preservatives you mention are natural? Thank you.

    1. Hello, and I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the ideas! Beeswax on its own isn’t an emulsifier, unfortunately. If you use a high-shear device, like a blender, you can get the semblance of emulsion, but it’s not a stable one. I have a little more information on this in the piece.

      1. Hello Tanya. I love your beautiful site and so appreciate your generosity with recipes and ideas. I have been wanting to make this lotion but am having difficulty finding Geogard ultra in the USA. Do you have a link other than Amazon.

        1. Hi Meredith and thank you for your kind words. Geogard Ultra is a brand name for a skincare preservative that’s made from gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate. It’s stocked by the Soap Kitchen and The Soapery in the UK. In the USA, you can find it at Essential+labs and Mille Vertus in Canada. A similar US preservative is called NeoDefend and is stocked by Lotion Crafter.

          1. 🙏 thank you so much. You are awesome!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Tanya, I absolutely love all of your lotions and potions!! Could you tell me where to find Geogard Ultra please. I am Irish and am having trouble getting it.
    Thanks, Jackie

    1. Hi Jackie, you can get it from a couple of UK suppliers now, but I’m not sure about Ireland. Try to see if the Soap Kitchen can post to you?

  11. It's optional in the way the food doesn't need a preservative if refrigerated and used within a certain timeframe. For this cream you probably want to use it within a week before it begins to spoil. It should also be refrigerated during that time :)

      1. Hi, I’ve been trying to buy geogard ultra but only find it in American sites. Can you buy it in Europe?

  12. Love the frothing technique. I only ever made salves and oils. Calendula works great on my skin. love it!

  13. Tanya, You make everything easy…Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes…Now to collect the things to make it…:)

    1. Some things you'll already have in your cupboard or garden Judy…Calendula and oatmeal for sure and probably honey too! I should also mention that extra virgin olive oil is another good liquid oil to use in this cream but it is a bit heavier than sweet almond or grapeseed oils.