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.
This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Calendula Soap Recipe
- Healing Herbal Salve Recipe
- Herbal Lip Balm Recipe
- Calendula Skincare Ebook (many calendula recipes)
Calendula Lotion Recipe
- 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
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.
- 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.