Why it’s a skincare all-star: “All around, calendula is an incredibly healing herb,” enthuses Kim Manley, herbalist and founder of KM Herbals. “It’s very soothing, and really helps with bruising, scarring, hyperpigmentation or any other strain on the skin.” The industry pro often turns the blooms into post-treatment herbal salves and balms. Calendula is helpful for easing sunburn or calming bug bites, and because it’s so gentle, Manley also formulates all of her brand’s baby products with the flower.
The plant is an antiseptic, and has been shown to help heal abrasions and wounds thanks to its antiviral properties. Its high levels of flavonoids are thought to restore capillary function and benefit blood flow, make it ideal for increasing circulation and relaxing muscles. Calendula is also hydrating and firming; it leaves skin soft, rejuvenated and glowing, which is why it’s frequently included in facial mists and cleanser formulas.
In the treatment room: At Skin Care Plus, a day spa in Grand Rapids, Michigan, owner and licensed esthetician Kathy Poel brews organic calendula tea to create herbal compresses, which she uses to remove masks during facials. “My clients absolutely love the compresses because they affect virtually all of their senses—they’re smelling, feeling and almost tasting the calendula,” she says. “I put the dried flowers directly into a filter in my coffee maker and the hot water strains right through them; I keep it in the treatment room as I’m working, so I’m continually using a fresh pot of tea.” For clients with acne or rosacea, Poel frequently employs Elina Organics products that contain calendula, as the plant’s natural antioxidants make these formulas especially healing and reviving.
Estheticians at Nature’s Spa By Jurlique at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego use several of the brand’s calendula-infused products in the customizable Jurlique Signature Facial (30-90 min./$95-$185). “If a guest has redness or sensitivity, calendula is great for calming their complexion,” says spa director Gwen McGuire. “We’re able to rehydrate, soften, cool and soothe the skin, leaving the client with a nice, healthy glow instead of a bright red face.” Her team also opts for the calendula products following pumpkin peels or the use of glycolic, lactic or salicylic acids. “Resurfacing treatments can be a bit harsh but the Calendula Redness Rescue Restorative Treatment Serum calms skin within minutes; the guest doesn’t feel like they’ve had a chemical peel—just a nice exfoliation without the downtime,” she says.
McGuire also reports that having the Calendula Redness Rescue line on hand has been helpful for her team. “When a guest expresses concern about their sensitive skin, we can actually promise them that after their treatment they’ll have a healthy, glowing complexion,” she enthuses. “They’re always amazed—and completely comfortable—walking out of the spa without makeup on!”
- Calendula blooms should be harvested in the summer, on hot days when resins are high and dew has evaporated.
- To maintain its bright color, calendula is dried carefully at low temperatures.
- In Medieval Europe, calendula was “poor man’s saffron.” Today, it’s used as a spice and natural coloring in icings, custards, rice and other foods.
- The flowering herb grows quickly and reseeds itself, making it easy to cultivate in pots or a garden.