Perhaps you know calendula under another name, as pot marigold or marigold. Most people encounter this cheerful flower as a garden plant that can bloom all year. The golden to orange flower opens in the morning and closes when the sun goes down. Its scientific name is Calendula Officinalis. The name calendula comes from the Latin word “kalendae” which means “little calendar” or “the first day of every month”.

Calendula or marigold, photo by Oksana Gogu

Traditionally, it was used in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine both internally and externally. It’s a highly useful garden flower you can grow since you can use it for decorations, as an ingredient in medicine, and even eat it (it has a slightly peppery taste). You can also use the brightly-coloured petals as a substation for saffron to colour food as well as dye wool and silk. But it doesn’t stop here.

Calendula is also a rock star in the beauty industry. In recent years, it has cropped up in all kinds of skincare products such as toners, serums, moisturiser, you name it and it has calendula as a primary ingredient. The parts used are primarily the flower head and petals. These are then pressed to extract oil or infused in a liquid to make a toner or calendula infused oil.

What does calendula do for your skin?

Calendula was mainly known as a healing plant because of its soothing and discomfort-reducing abilities. Hence, originally, it was mainly used in products to soothe and calm sensitive and irritated skin. But it’s an all-purpose plant not only in traditional medicine but also in skincare.


You may think we’re exaggerating, but inflammation is indeed the source of all kinds of skin troubles. It’s the cause of your zits, rosacea, eczema, irritated or sensitive skin, dark spots left behind after your zits have cleared up, and even degrading collagen. Calendula alleviates all these different skin concerns as it reduces redness in the skin and decreases swelling. It can also help with itching no matter if it’s an allergic reaction, or from an insect bite.

The discomfort-reducing compounds are flavonoids, saponins, quercetin, and triterpenoids. They help your body prevent your body’s release of histamines, which can lead to inflammation, redness, pain, and allergies.

With its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, calendula doubles as an acne treatment and even helps prevent breakouts. Not only is it so gentle that it won’t dry your skin and you can use it as frequently as two to three times a day but you can combine it with other blemish-busting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

You can also use calendula for healing minor wounds such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and blisters. It’s also effective to speed up the healing of sunburns and other minor burns. It’s often used to speed up healing skin that is tender, red, or inflamed as it increases blood flow to the affected area, stimulates skin tissue, promotes collagen generation, and encourages new cell growth.

Hydrating, Moisturising, And Nourishing

Products with calendula are known its nourishing and moisturising qualities. You most likely have heard of how healthy it is to eat essential fatty acids. The same applies to skin health. Calendula contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, that will nourish your skin. The fatty acids give your skin cells the ability to absorb nutrients and hold onto water longer. As a result, your skin can restore its water balance and improve moisture retention. Your complexion will appear more supple, plumper, and smoother.


Calendula works in 2 major ways to fight signs of ageing. The first is that it boosts collagen production and encourages new cell growth and in doing so strengthens your skin.

The second way is long term. Calendula is choke-full with antioxidants. Remember how the calendula flower is brightly yellow-orange?. This bright colour is brought about by vitamin A related compounds known as carotenoids. And, vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants present can help prevent free radical damage to the cells of the skin. Oxidative stress is a major ageing factor but both the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities help to protect your precious collagen and elastin supply.


The carotenoids that are responsible for the bright golden to orange colour have another benefit in that it can even out blotchy skin tones.

Reduces scarring

As calendula was used externally to treat wounds, people have discovered that it can reduce scarring. The same properties that promote wound healing are also beneficial in the scarring process. Calendula increases blood flow to the injured and keeping it clean while encouraging healthy new tissue to grow. This makes it an interesting ingredient if you’re interested in treating and managing stretch marks.

Is it safe?

In general, calendula is safe to use for everyone from a baby (think of diaper rashes) to seniors. Though if you are allergic to chrysanthemums, ragweed, daisies, marigold, or flowers in the Asteraceae family – as calendula is, then you could be allergic. If you’re not sure, it’s best to patch-test.

How do you get its benefits?

Look out for products where calendula is listed as a primary ingredient on the product label.

If you’re more into DYI, you could make your own calendula infused oil or toner or buy a calendula essential oil or tincture. Let us know in the comments if you want to know how to make your own calendula infusion or calendula skincare product recipes.

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