- Used medicinally for centuries, calendula oil is believed to be a mildly effective treatment for a variety of superficial skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
- Calendula oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and hasten the wound healing process.
- Calendula contains flavonoids believed to have antiseptic properties that inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria
- A natural product, calendula oil can be safely applied to the skin several times a day.
What Is Calendula?
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a perennial flower native to the Mediterranean, although it is grown domestically throughout the world. Calendula oil is produced by infusing marigold flowers in a carrier oil, which can then be applied on its own or used to produce topical creams, salves and ointments. It can also be processed into tinctures, tea, or put into capsule form to be consumed orally.
Used medicinally since medieval times, if not earlier, the dried leaves of the plant are rich in flavonoids; antioxidants which occur naturally in plants and protect the body from destructive free radicals. It’s leaves and flowers are reported to contain many pharmacological benefits, as they include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial activities. Calendula is believed to encourage new tissue growth in wounds and has been shown to decrease swelling in the mouth and throat.
Benefits of Calendula for Your Skin
When consumed orally, calendula, which is an herb, has a wide variety of medicinal uses, from soothing upset stomachs and ulcers to easing menstrual cramps and treating sore throats. It is further believed to reduce fever, encourage menstruation, and prevent muscle spasms.
Applied topically, calendula oil has been shown to contain SPF properties as a cream mixture and might be an alternative option to commercial creams that protect from sun damage, although more research is needed before calendula cream can be considered a valid sunscreen.
It’s speculated that calendula oil improves the general appearance of the skin, and while more research is required, studies have indicated that it promotes skin hydration and firmness. In addition to reducing inflammation, calendula is believed to be an effective treatment for some common skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Calendula oil for acne
Some people use calendula creams and soaps to treat acne vulgaris because of the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties the herb contains. It’s believed that applying calendula to acne-prone skin will prevent and/or reduce the severity of acne breakouts. The plant also contains antiseptic properties, which further work to slow the growth of acne causing bacteria. People sometimes also apply creams containing calendula to soothe the irritations other, harsher acne cleansers and exfoliants can leave on the skin, which can possibly lead to more breakouts.
While the evidence is still primarily anecdotal, many people believe calendula enhances the wound healing process. How it does so in humans largely remains unknown, but it’s understood that the plant extract increases blood flow to the wound site, by extension providing oxygen and nutrients essential to tissue regeneration.
Because calendula contains flavonoids that help to reduce inflammation, it’s believed to hasten the stages of healing. The flavonoids contained within calendula extracts are also understood to fight off bacteria, further protecting against wound infection,
Some people apply calendula ointments and tinctures to soothe irritated wounds, as it has a cooling effect while simultaneously reducing inflammation.
Some studies have shown calendula aids in collagen synthesis, the structural protein found within the skin that helps keep it taut and plump. Further, because it’s believed to promote skin tightness, day-to-day damage to the skin is reduced, while it’s alleged hydrating factors work to prevent or reduce visible signs of aging
Calendula is found in many cosmetic skin care products because it’s widely perceived to be a powerful skin regeneration and anti-aging ingredient, this because of its proven ability to stimulate the metabolism of glycoproteins, nucleoproteins and collagen during the skin’s healing process. Calendula is also rich in antioxidants, vitamin A precursors that combat free radicals which stimulate premature aging. It also contains the antioxidant tocopheris [vitamin E], which is celebrated for its apparent skin softening abilities. Further, some preliminary studies have indicated the linolenic acid in calendula oil may help reduce photodamage caused from excessive exposure to the sun.
Calendula Skin Care Products
Calendula is commonly found in many organic skin care products, often marketed as a homeopathic remedy to aid in the healing of superficial wounds, bruises, minor burns, sunburns, dry skin, acne, diaper rash and frostbite.
It’s also frequently sold as a moisturizing face cream or soap to soften, protect, and rejuvenate damaged skin.
How to Use Calendula Extract
Taken orally, the appropriate dose of calendula depends on a variety of factors, primarily the user’s age, general health, and the health condition being addressed. It’s important to bear in mind that there isn’t enough scientific information available to determine the appropriate range of doses for calendula, so it’s important to follow the relevant directions on the product’s label and consult a healthcare professional before beginning a calendula regiment.
When consumed transdermally, however, creams and other topical products containing calendula extract can be applied several times a day, typically dictated by one’s personal skin care objectives. For example, to relieve an inflammation such as diaper rash, it’s recommended to apply a small amount of calendula oil (on its own or mixed with aloe vera) to the problem area several times a day, or as needed.
To relieve acne or improve the overall appearance of the skin, applying calendula twice a day, once in the morning and later in the evening before going to bed, is typically recommended. Also, when using calendula to treat acne, applying a calendula face mask once a week is reported to be helpful
Because topical pure calendula products are so mild, they can safely be used multiple times a day and in conjunction with other personal care products, as there are no known negative interactions with the plant – although some research suggests there could be a safety issue using calendula oil during pregnancy because of its presumed effect on menstruation. Hence, if pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s recommended to speak with one’s GP before consuming calendula orally.
There is also some research to suggest calendula, when combined with sedatives, may cause excessive drowsiness in some people.
Alternatives to Calendula
There are many other natural skin care products that can be used to similar effect as calendula. These include:
- Tea tree oil
- Coconut oil
- Aloe vera
- Eucalyptus oil
- Argan oil
- Jojoba oil
- Shea butter
- Apple cider vinegar
- Almond oil
- Avocado oil
Look for products listed as noncomedogenic, meaning that they won’t clog your pores.
Calendula oil appears to work for some people, although its effects are typically mild. The medicinal benefits of calendula simply aren’t in the same league as it’s pharmacological counterparts or other cosmetic treatments to address skin issues like anti-aging or acne. That said, most of the claims made for the plant appear to be legitimate, backed by centuries of anecdotal evidence and some scientific study, although considerably more research into its medicinal attributes is still required. As part of a skin care regimen, calendula oil is a natural product that is perfectly safe and can be applied topically several times a day, or as deemed necessary, so the only harm it might possibly cause would be to your wallet should you find it ineffective for your specific skin condition.
Consumers interested in trying calendula oil would be wise to take its purported healing capabilities with a grain of salt and be sure to only buy products containing natural ingredients that are free of chemicals and preservatives. Ultimately, experimenting with calendula oil to reduce and/or prevent acne breakouts or reinvigorate aging skin is a worthwhile pursuit as it’s natural, safe, typically not expensive, and some people do report experiencing positive, noticeable results with it. Approach the claims made for calendula oil with a healthy dose of skepticism and it’s possible you could find yourself pleasantly surprised by the results.
- Faria, R. L., Cardoso, L. M., Akisue, G., Pereira, C. A., Junqueira, J. C., Jorge, A. O., & Santos Júnior, P. V. (2011). Antimicrobial activity of Calendula officinalis, Camellia sinensis and chlorhexidine against the adherence of microorganisms to sutures after extraction of unerupted third molars. Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB, 19(5), 476–482. doi:10.1590/s1678-77572011000500007
- Mishra, AK; Mishra, A; Chattopadhyay, P. (2012) Assessment of In Vitro Sun Protection Factor of Calendula officinal L. (Asteraceae) Essential Oil Formulation. Journal of Young Pharmacists, 2012; 4(1):17-21 Pharmacognosy. doi:10.4103/0975-1483.93575
- Akhtar, Naveed; Zaman, Shahiq Uz; Khan, Barkat Ali; Amir, Muhammad Naeem; Ebrahimzadeh, Muhammad Ali. (2011) Calendula Extract: Effects on Mechanical Parameters of Human Skin. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica ñ Drug Research, Vol. 68 No. 5 pp. 693ñ701, 2011. ptfarm.pl/pub/File/Acta_Poloniae/2011/5/693.pdf
- Preethi KC, Kuttan G, Kuttan R. Anti-inflammatory activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis Linn. and its possible mechanism of action. Indian J Exp Biol. 2009 Feb;47(2):113-20. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19374166
- Pereira, R. F., & Bártolo, P. J. (2016). Traditional Therapies for Skin Wound Healing. Advances in wound care, 5(5), 208–229. doi:10.1089/wound.2013.0506
- Nand, P.; Drabu, S.; Gupta R.K. (2011) Phytochemical and antimicrobial screening of medicinal plants for the treatment of acne. pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c58d/47f7afd33da429c49fe0db96ce3753b26fd9.pdf?_ga=2.110958149.1514968316.1555519332-1562480681.1555519332
- Preethi KC, Kuttan R. Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2009;20(1):73-9. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19601397
- Kang, C. H., Rhie, S. J., & Kim, Y. C. (2018). Antioxidant and Skin Anti-Aging Effects of Marigold Methanol Extract. Toxicological research, 34(1), 31–39. doi:10.5487/TR.2018.34.1.031
- Eghdampour F, Jahdie F, Kheyrkhah M, Taghizadeh M, Naghizadeh S, Hagani H. The Impact of Aloe vera and Calendula on Perineal Healing after Episiotomy in Primiparous Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Caring Sci. 2013 Nov 30;2(4):279-86. doi:10.5681/jcs.2013.033