Calendula for Skin: Benefits and How to Use It

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Main Benefits: Soothes and calms skin, can potentially help speed up wound healing

Who Should Use It: All skin types, but those who have redness, acne, or sensitive skin might see more benefit from using it

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How often can you use it: As long as you don't have a reaction to products with this ingredient, it can be used daily, advises Friedler.

Works well with: Other anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, says Friedler

Dont use with: No known ingredients that it shouldn't be used with

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Snehal Amin, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology in New York City.
  • Dr. Suzanne Friedler, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC.
  • Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.

What is Calendula?

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Calendula is a flower that belongs in the marigold family that's been used for centuries. "Calendula is a plant/flower that's native to northern Mediterranean countries," explains Friedler. "Its been used since the 12th century for medicinal purposes."

"They are very bright and mildly fragrant and have been used by early Romans and Christians as 'Marys Gold' and in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of alternative medicine," adds Amin.

Benefits of Calendula for Skin

While there are not many scientific studies about the benefits of calendula for skin, there are a lot of anecdotal and potential benefits, including:

  • Has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties: "Calendula oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that might make it useful in healing wounds, soothing eczema, and relieving diaper rash," says Amin. "The strongest compound in the flower is likely a triterpenoid called faradol that has a significant anti-inflammatory effect similar to the medicine indomethacin, a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug."
  • Can heal wounds: There have been studies that show calendula can speed up wound healing in animals. Garshick points out that, in another study, calendula was used to treat c-section scars with great success.
  • Can potentially increase collagen production: There are also studies that show calendula can potentially increase collagen production, but it hasn't been widely studied extensively in humans, notes Friedler.
  • Improve radiation dermatitis: Friedler also notes that calendula can potentially help heal the skin of people who are undergoing radiation.
  • Hydrating: Due to its natural oils, Friedler says that calendula can be hydrating on the skin. "It can help to moisturize the skin as calendula oil is rich in fatty acids that help to nourish the skin," adds Garshick.
  • Can protect skin from damaging free radicals: As an antioxidant ingredient, calendula can neutralize free radicals, thanks to its high flavonoid content, Friedler explains. As a result, calendula can help decrease dullness, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Side Effects of Calendula

Calendula is a great option for all skin types, but as always, if you're concerned about any potential breakouts or adverse side effects, it's a great idea to do a patch test before using any product.

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Both Garshick and Friedler note that there is a chance of allergic contact dermatitis to calendula if you have an allergy to ragweed, daisies, and chrysanthemums. If you're allergic to these plants (or any in the Asteraceae family) you might want to do a patch test to make sure that calendula is safe for you. Amin and Garshick also note that people who are pregnant, trying to conceive, or currently breastfeeding should avoid using this ingredient.

How to Use It

According to Garshick, "Calendula is often used in skincare as an oil which is extracted and can be applied as an oil, serum, cream, lotions, and more." So, it's really up to you to determine how you'd like to use it in your skincare routine. It is safe to use up to two times a day, so you can use it in both your day and nighttime routine.

If you're a DIY kind of person, you can make your own body butter, oil, or even lip balm. But calendula shouldn't be applied to the skin without a carrier oil or butter to avoid any potential irritation. "Calendula can be mixed with substances such as beeswax, petrolatum, shea butter, or jojoba oil," Amin says. "Most people add another fragrant oil to the mix because calendula itself is not very aromatic. The beeswax preparation is great to use as a lip balm. Always use less than a 1: 10 dilution for these types of DIYs."

Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask with Aloe Vera

Amin recommends this soothing face mask. It's lightweight and has a noticeably soothing effect on the skin, thanks to calendula, aloe, and chamomile. To use, apply after cleansing and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream

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This rich cream comes recommended by Friedler. It's formulated with calendula, aloe vera, borage seed oil, and Rosa Damascena essential oil and is ideal for those with irritated, dry, and sensitive skin. Use as the final step in your skincare routine at night, or right before SPF during the day.

Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream

Remember the time every single it-girl raved about the Weleda Skin Food Ultra Rich Cream? Well, it's for good reason. It's made with a blend of soothing ingredientscalendula, pansy, chamomile, and beeswaxto nourish and soothe ultra dry skin. Be warned, it is quite thick, so a little goes a very long way. It's great for hands too!

According to Amin, there are reports that calendula can decrease melanin formation in the skin, therefore, brightening the skin. However, this has not been studied extensively, so there isn't a 100 percent, conclusive answer.

On the comedogenic scale, with 10 being the worst for pores and 1 being the best, calendula is a 1.

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Givol O, Kornhaber R, Visentin D, Cleary M, Haik J, Harats M. A systematic review of Calendula officinalis extract for wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. 2019;27(5): 548-561.

Jahdi F, Khabbaz AH, Kashian M, Taghizadeh M, Haghani H. The impact of calendula ointment on cesarean wound healing: A randomized controlled clinical trial. J Family Med Prim Care. 2018;7(5): 893-897.

Kang CH, Rhie SJ, Kim YC. Antioxidant and skin anti-aging effects of marigold methanol extract. Toxicol Res. 2018;34(1): 31-39.

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