Yay it’s spring! It’s time to get back to the “how to use your garden plants” series. Do you like gardening? Then let me convince you to grow calendula this year.
I’ll explain quickly why calendula is a great choice for your garden and why it’s THE plant to have in your skincare stash. Don’t fret if you don’t have any garden (I don’t have any either), we’ll see that it’s super easy to get calendula without gardening.
WHY SHOULD YOU GROW CALENDULA?
Because it’s such a pretty flower! It’s not as sophisticated as a rose but it’s bright and cheerful and easy. Growing calendula flowers is like growing flower beds of little suns. We call calendula souci in French. It comes from the Latine name solsequier, which means “the one who follows the sun”. It’s because the flower opens in the first morning rays. I find that pretty…
The calendula we’re interested in is the calendula officinalis. It’s an aromatic herbaceous perennial but it rarely survives to harsh winters or very hot summers. The wind often sows its seeds in unexpected places and you may have pretty sunny surprise gifts the next year. You like surprise gifts, don’t you?!
The seeds are sown in spring – in March or later in April for the colder climates. See? We’re on time! The calendula is a generous plant and it will flower several times until November. That’s great because you’re going to cut the flowers before they wilt.
Cut the flower heads and make them dry away from the sun on a drying screen or a bed sheet. Christophe Bernard from the Althea Provence site recommends crushing a few flower heads with your fingers to check if they’re fully dried before stocking them. Your flowers might go rotten otherwise or the oil might become mouldy when you make a macerate.
Why should I harvest the flowers?
Because calendula is the number one skincare plant and a must-have in natural cosmetic on top of being easy to grow and pretty. It’s composed of a long list of complicated names that are good for the skin :
- carotenoids among which lycopène, calendulin and carotene
- an essential oil
You’ll be able to extract some of them (faradiol, flavonoids, phytosterols, carotenoids) with a maceration of the flowers in a carrier oil and you’ll use this macerate in oil serums, balms and salves. Nature goodness, from your garden to your skin!
Warning: Don’t use calendula if you are allergic to any of the Asteraceae family of plants.
THE BENEFITS OF USING CALENDULA
You’ll get quickly why it’s a must-have!
- It has an action against inflammations and will soothe burns, insect bites, irritations, rashes and wounds.
- It has an antimicrobial action.
- It helps to heal and stimulates cellular regeneration.
- It has antioxidant properties.
- It seems that it helps preserve collagen fibers.
- It stimulates lymph and blood circulation.
You can use calendula in almost every oil-containing formula without being wrong but I give you a few suggestions anyway. You can use it :
As an antioxidant ingredient in synergy with carrot macerate and antioxidant carrier oils.
- In after-sun oils and lotions to fight free radicals and the damage due to sun exposition.
- In evening skincare products such as oil cleansers, oils or balms to help fight oxidative stress due to the sun and the pollution.
As a soothing ingredient in synergy with chamomile, plantain or St. John’s Wort.
- In skincare for sensitized, irritated skin.
- In soothing salves.
- In balms, oils or lotions to treat and soothe eczema (in synergy with chamomille).
As a regenerating agent in synergy with argan oil, rosehip oil and lavender essential oil.
- In balms to care for healing skin (don’t apply balms or oils on an open wound).
As an ingredient to boost blood and lymph circulation in synergy with Bellis oil and tamanu oil.
- In body oils, to reduce cellulite and/or varicosity.
WHAT IF I DON’t HAVE ANY GARDEN?
Calendula flowers can grow very easily in a pot! Okay, you won’t have many flowers and the harvest will be too poor to play the witch with it but they’ll still be pretty on your balcony. I think I’ll grow calendula on mine this year – it will change from geranium!
You can also very easily buy dried flowers to make your macerate or you can buy the macerate at any store selling carrier oils. That’s a lot less fun but that’s a lot faster too!
You can buy calendula CO2 extract too. CO2 extracts are more expensive but they’re very potent and you need only a very small percentage in your formula. I bet that your first move will be to open the jar and sniff (that’s what we all do) so I’ll be a good friend and warn you: its smell is quite strong, a bit like hay. However, you need such a small percentage that it won’t affect your product. The colour is a dark brown and it will colour your oil or balm.
Now that you know everything about calendula, you only need to go sow those seeds, wait, harvest, macerate and ta-da! Your skin has a best friend.
If you don’t want to make anything whatsoever, just read the INCI list of the products you want to buy and look for calendula officinalis extract.
Do you mind sending me photos of your calendula flowers?
I’d love to see them. And your macerates too.
Les bienfaits des huiles végétales, Michel Pobeda
Antimicrobial activity of Calendula officinalis petal extracts against fungi, as well as Gram-negative and Gram-positive clinical pathogens. Efstratiou E1, Hussain AI, Nigam PS, Moore JE, Ayub MA, Rao JR – Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012 Aug;18(3):173-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Apr 25.
Protective effect of Calendula officinalis extract against UVB-induced oxidative stress in skin: evaluation of reduced glutathione levels and matrix metalloproteinase secretion. Fonseca YM1, Catini CD, Vicentini FT, Nomizo A, Gerlach RF, Fonseca MJ – J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 17;127(3):596-601. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.12.019. Epub 2009 Dec 22.
Wound Healing and Anti-Inflammatory Effect in Animal Models of Calendula officinalis. L. Growing in Brazil. Leila Maria Leal Parente, 1 Ruy de Souza Lino Júnior, 2 Leonice Manrique Faustino Tresvenzol, 1 Marina Clare Vinaud,2 ,* José Realino de Paula, 1 and Neusa Margarida Paulo 3 – Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 375671.