Calendula – often called pot marigold or by its Latin name, Calendula officinalis – is a plant that’s been used, historically, to treat a wide variety of skin ailments, infections, and fungus, including diaper rash, yeast infections, wounds, and eczema. The plant has also been used to reduce inflammation and to treat pain.
How to Use Calendula Oil
Like most plants and plant extracts, calendula oil can be incorporated into nearly every step of your beauty routine.
Creams and lotions – Many companies have taken this step for you, working to add calendula oil to hand creams, body lotions, facial moisturizers, and a host of other skin products.
Tinctures ‒ Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts made by soaking parts of plants (in this case, the petals of the calendula flower) in vinegar or alcohol. These mixtures can then be combined with other skin-care products or applied directly.
Facial mask – Facial masks are a super-popular skin-care option; you can make DIY versions with things you probably have in your kitchen right now. Next time you have a self-care day, try incorporating calendula oil into your facial-mask recipe if you have dry or blemished skin.
Essential oils ‒ Like other essential oils, calendula oil is the plant’s extract, and it’s made by infusing the flowers into a carrier oil, like coconut or olive oil. This oil is then integrated into the product applied to the skin. Using oils with certain facial exercises and facial-sculpting tools like gua sha can reduce friction and improve the results of these techniques.
Four Benefits of Calendula Oil for Skin
Although there’s not as much research surrounding calendula’s medicinal properties, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved calendula for use as a spice. Calendula is also commonly used in cosmetic products like soaps, shampoos, and lotions, but cosmetic products and their ingredients do not need FDA approval.
Globally, calendula has not only been added to foods and made into tea but also used as a dye. It’s also employed in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a treatment for ulcers, muscle spasms, and fevers.
Hydrates and Moisturizes
Fatty acids are an important part of a well-rounded diet and are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the foods we eat. The same essential fatty acids we need in our diet – specifically, linoleic acid – are found in calendula extract. These fatty acids help your skin cells improve their ability to retain moisture and nutrients for longer periods of time, resulting in smoother, more nourished skin.
Inflammation is often the cause of many skin issues, including acne, rosacea, eczema, and skin sensitivity. Flavonoids, saponins, and triterpenes are responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties found in calendula flowers. These compounds prevent the release of histamines, which can cause pain, allergic reactions, redness, and inflammation.
Acts as Sunscreen
One study found that in specific formulations, calendula oil had SPF properties. However, more evidence is needed to support calendula cream as a possible sunscreen. Until more research is conducted, try sticking to a sunscreen that’s been proven to work and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
Improves Wound Healing
In one 2018 study, calendula ointment was used on cesarean section scars. Results found that “using calendula ointment considerably increases the speed of cesarean wound healing, so it can be used for quickening the cesarean healing.” While one study does not warrant a blanket statement for wound healing, the results are definitely promising.
Five Calendula Skin-Care Products
Calendula has made its way into a host of skin-care products, and some have garnered a cult following.*
*IIN has not been compensated for mentioning any specific brands in this blog post, nor will it receive compensation if you purchase products through the provided links.
Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner – Kiehl's
Starting at $24
This alcohol-, paraben-, and fragrance-free toner is infused with calendula petals and claims to “visibly reduce redness, oiliness and improve skin’s texture in just three days.”
Everyday Gentle Face + Body Lotion – The Honest Company
Gentle and hydrating, this lotion is good for your skin, from head to toe. Made with a blend of jojoba, shea and safflower oils, both the Purely Sensitive (fragrance-free) and Truly Calming (lavender) options contain calendula oil.
Calendula Essential Hydrating Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen – Naturopathica
Starting at $26
This nourishing lotion features calming calendula, to deliver “instant, soothing hydration for soft, supple skin.” The zinc in this mineral sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB rays, premature aging, and the skin-cancer risk associated with sun exposure.
Calendula 10% PHA + AHA Resurfacing Serum – April Skin
This leave-on exfoliant helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes, improve sun-damaged skin, even out skin tone, and minimize fine lines. The PHA and AHA work to minimize the look of pores by dissolving sebum plugs in the skin that cause enlarged pores.
Vegan Ceramide Hydration Fill Undereye & Smile Line Jelly Patches – Pacifica
Fragrance-free and ultra-hydrating, these biocellulose under-eye and smile-line jelly patches are made with vegan ceramides to support your skin’s barrier. With soothing calendula and marshmallow root extract, these patches help smooth, soothe, and calm skin.
The Bottom Line
Skin-care companies like Kiehl’s have been using calendula for decades, boasting about the plant’s many uses in skin-care products, but there’s not much scientific research behind the claims. While topical formulas can improve your skin, skin health is ultimately about what you put inside your body. Keeping hydrated and eating a well-rounded diet with whole foods can do a lot for your skin without the need to buy potentially expensive care products.
If you’re allergic to ragweed or marigolds, you’re probably allergic to calendula. Always talk to your doctor and/or dermatologist before using any untested cosmetic product, especially if you’re using it on broken skin. Performing a patch test can also help alert you to how your body reacts to calendula oil.