How to use calendula flowers for skin and healing skincare. Shown to have powerful skin healing properties, calendula’s compounds can be easily extracted and made into homemade ointments, balms, creams, lotions, and soap.
Calendula officinalis is a cheerful garden plant that can bloom all year round with yellow to orange flowers. It’s also probably the most useful garden flower you can grow since they’re edible, medicinal, and ornamental. Sprinkle the petals on salads, cakes, and desserts for color and a slightly peppery taste. The yellow-orange of their petals can also naturally color food and fibers, such as wool and silk. However, the most exciting use for calendula flowers is in skincare.
The whole flower heads have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. When used on minor cuts, abrasions, rashes, and burns, calendula can help speed up the healing. These properties make it a great ingredient for soothing, natural skincare, especially if you have eczema or inflamed skin. This piece, along with my additional resources, will help you learn more about calendula and tips on how to grow, harvest, and use it in natural skincare.
Calendula skincare uses
- Helps clear acne and pimples
- Promotes healing of minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds
- Soothes eczema and irritated skin
- Speeds up the healing of sunburns and other minor burns
- Treats chapped skin, lips, and cold sores
- Sensitive astringent
- Naturally colors handmade soap
Calendula promotes skin healing
On a scientific level, calendula flowers contain polysaccharides, flavonoids, triterpenes, resins, carotenes, and other compounds. These compounds help to heal damaged and inflamed skin including minor cuts, rashes, eczema, and acne. In one study, calendula sped up the healing of wounds in animals by nearly double
Calendula most likely works by helping wounds to quickly form granulation tissue. This moist red to pink tissue closes the wound, protects the inner tissues from infection, and begins the healing process. Aside from cuts and wounds, calendula helps soothe and heal burns and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain and swelling. There is also a promising study that shows that calendula can reduce the growth of tumors.
Is calendula safe for everyone?
Calendula is typically safe to use, meaning that you can use calendula flowers for skin complaints in toddlers up to seniors. However, calendula is part of the Asteraceae family and some people can be allergic. If you’re sensitive to ragweed/ragwort, chrysanthemums, or daisies then please be cautious. Some sources also consider calendula unsafe if you’re pregnant or breast feeding.
Get calendula flowers
The quickest way to get calendula flowers is to buy them. I’ve seen them sold fresh a few times at farmers’ markets but usually, you’ll find them offered dried. If you’re buying them online make sure that they’re coming from a reputable source and that they’ve been grown organically. One way to know if they’re safe for skincare is by asking the retailer to supply you with an MSDS (material safety data sheet). If they don’t have one, then the calendula they use might not be high enough grade for use in skincare and medicine. Small scale local producers won’t usually have this datasheet, but that’s fine. It’s the big bulk herbal suppliers that you need to be warier of.
On packaging calendula is usually identified as ‘Calendula officinalis’. There are about 100 cultivars though and the varieties that are best for skincare are types higher in resins. Erfurter Orangefarbige and Resina are excellent choices but it can be difficult to get this information. If you’re lucky you might be able to get the cultivar’s name from the supplier, but this information is usually only available if buying calendula direct from the grower.
Grow calendula flowers
If you’d like to ensure that you’re using a medicinal variety then it might be better to grow it yourself. Growing calendula is very easy, but it does need an outdoor situation. That could be a window box, container, flower bed, or in the garden. Not only can you harvest their golden petals from spring until early winter (and in milder climates, year-round) but they add decorative color and cheer. Get started by reading this guide to growing calendula flowers.
Calendula at a glance
- Perennial in mild climates, hardy annual in cooler zones
- Orange to yellow flowers
- Around 100 cultivars
- Used by herbalists as a vulnerary (wound healer)
- Effective in treating eczema and acne
- Also called marigolds or pot marigolds
One of the best ways to prepare and preserve calendula is in oil. When you seep the dried flowers into light oils, such as grapeseed or sweet almond, the petals release their healing compounds into the liquid.
To make calendula oil, fill a glass jar with dried calendula flower heads and/or petals. Then fill the jar with your choice of liquid carrier oil until the flowers are submerged. Seal and place in a warm place for 2-4 weeks and remember to give the jar a shake every couple of days. Place the jar inside a brown paper bag will protect the oil from UV light and is important if you want to infuse the oil in a window. UV light can affect the oil, and cause it to go rancid.
When the time is up, strain the oil from the flowers — the dried flowers will have absorbed a lot of oil so make sure to squeeze it to get every last drop. Bottle into dark glass jars and store in a cool and dim place. Calendula oil is good for up to a year, or the best-by date of the carrier oil. You can use it to make skin cream, handmade soap, salves, or to use as a skin serum.
This piece on how to use calendula flowers for skin is part of a series on growing, harvesting, and using calendula flowers. To discover more, check out some of these other pieces, and for much more in-depth information and skincare recipes, get the calendula ebook.
- How to Grow Calendula
- Calendula Uses in Skincare
- Ebook: Calendula: a Guide to Growing, Harvesting, and Using it in Skincare
- Browse Calendula ideas and recipes
 Triterpene saponins (oleanolic acid glycosides), triterpene alcohols (α-, β-amyrins, faradiol), and flavonoids (quercetin and isorhamnetin) The National Center for Biotechnology Information
 Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology
 Calendula officinalis and Wound Healing: A Systematic Review. Wounds: a compendium of clinical research and practice. Leach, Matthew. (2015). 20. 236-43.
 Baranov A. Calendula: How effective is it on burns and scalds. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung. 1999;139:61–6. [Google Scholar]
 Ukiya M, Akihisa T, Yasukawa K, Tokuda H, Suzuki T, et al. (2006) Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor-promoting, and cytotoxic activities of constituents of marigold (Calendula officinalis) flowers. J Nat Prod 69: 1692-1696
 WebMD, Side effects of Calendula
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