How amazingly pretty are these little orange flowers? The sunny good looks of these edible calendula flowers belie their very serious benefits for dry, damaged skin. When you combine these benefits with those of a super nourishing oil, you tell your troubled skin, “I mean business.”
Benefits of calendula for the skin
Calendula, an annual flower sometimes called pot marigold, has been used by many cultures for centuries for its medicinal properties. Calendula has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and has been shown to help increase circulation where it is applied. For these reasons, calendula can help speed up healing for skin lesions like cuts, scrapes, bug bites and burns.
For skin, the benefits may be even greater. Calendula is reported to have antioxidant properties, too. Using it on the skin can help smooth fine wrinkles and reduce the visibility of scars old and new.
How to use calendula
A great way to reap the benefits of these amazing little flowers is to infuse them in oil that can be used on the face, on skin abrasions and even for massaging sore muscles to help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
Most recipes I’ve seen for DIY calendula oil suggest infusing olive oil with the dried flowers. For me, however, olive oil isn’t the best choice because my skin, especially my face, doesn’t like it. But you can certainly use it if you wish. I use kukui nut oil because it is so nourishing for the skin, it’s light and seems to absorb readily. Other good choices include apricot kernel oil and sweet almond oil.
You can buy dried calendula flowers from one of my favorite online shops, Mountain Rose Herbs. I decided this year to grow my own calendula in my herb garden and dry the harvested flowers myself. As it turns out, they are very easy to grow. I started the seeds indoors in late winter, but now I think I could have just direct sowed them in spring. They produced lots of flowers and the blooming plants looked beautiful in my garden.
If you’re growing calendula, harvest the flowers in the morning. Harvest often because the more you harvest, the more the plants will produce. I found it difficult to cut off those first few lovely flowers, but more soon followed! Cut off the stems and dry the flowers in a single layer in a cool dry place for several days. Too much moisture in the flowers can turn your oil rancid.
You’ll know the flowers are sufficiently dry when the petals easily crush and fall off the flowers when you handle them. Fill a jar half to two-thirds of the way full with dried calendula flowers and then pour in the oil to completely cover them.
Gently warm the oil every day by placing the jar outside in the sun or on your warmest sunny windowsill. Give the jar a gentle shake every couple of days.
Once the oil has infused for four to six weeks, strain out the flowers using a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Press on the flowers in the sieve with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much oil as possible.
Funnel the oil into amber glass jars, label and store somewhere cool, dark and dry. Either use the oil straight or as an ingredient in lip balms, healing salves made with beeswax or massage oils combined with your favorite essential oils. I also think this DIY calendula oil would be a welcomed gift for a like-minded friend. Enjoy!