A Recipe for Calendula Lotion


 

[W]ell, I never intended to write a series on Calendula, but that’s what seemed to flow this week and I’m glad it happened! We’ve talked about growing, harvesting, preserving, and infusing this soothing medicinal flower…and I think it’s only appropriate that we conclude with a list of Calendula’s beneficial properties and a recipe.

Benefits of Calendula

Calendula is beneficial for a multitude of ailments. When taken internally — as a tea or tincture — it has the ability to reduce the inflammation of the digestive system. When applied topically — as a lotion, salve, ointment, herbal bath, or compress — it is one of the best herbs for treating skin issues like burns, inflammation, cuts, scrapes, bruises, bee stings, minor wounds, diaper rashes, conjunctivitis, eczema, athlete’s foot, and acne. It works just like any anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory would.

As powerful as it is aganist these ailments, it is also gentle enough to use on babies, children, or animals.

Lotion Making

Including Calendula in your herbal preparations only adds to the healing properties of the final product. One of my favorite ways to use Calendula-infused oil is in a homemade lotion.

My first experience with making Calendula lotion was about three years ago, soon after the birth of our third child. I found it so moisturizing, healing, and cost-effective that I swore I’d never go back to store bought! And we haven’t…

There is a bit of detail and timing that goes into making lotion — especially if you make it without artificial preservatives and emulsifiers — but basically, all creams and lotions are referred to as emulsions (a.k.a.the combination of an oil and a water), because they use of an emulsifier to bind the oil and water together.

Tip: Think of it in the same way you’d think about making homemade mayonnaise.

The parts to making lotion include:  

  • a water (i.e. pure distilled water, floral hydrosols, or herbal infusions)
  • an oil (i.e. olive, grapeseed, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot, avocado, coconut, cocoa butter, shea butter)
  • an emulsifier (I’ve always just used beeswax)
  • natural preservatives (i.e. benzoin essential oils, vitamin E oil, grapefruit seed extract or rosemary oil extract), optional 
  • natural additives (color, fragrances, essential oils), optional

Supplies needed:

  • kitchen scale (in order to accurately weigh your ingredients)
  • electric stick blender
  • mixing bowls and pots (glass or stainless steal only, do not use aluminum or Teflon)
  • spatula
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • storage containers for the lotion (this is the perfect opportunity to repurpose those glass jars from the kitchen)
  • wide-mouth glass mason jars
  • fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth

Calendula Lotion ~ The Recipe

Ingredients
A version of this recipe.

-4 ounces Calendula-infused oil
-2-4 ounces Calendula-infused distilled water
-0.5 ounces beeswax
-0.5 ounces vegetable glycerin
-o.5 ounces witch hazel
-1/4 teaspoon grapefruit seed extract, optional 
-15 drops essential oils of lavender, optional

Method

1. Sterilize all of your equipment and jars by putting it all in a big pot of boiling water then draining. It’s not vital that you do this, but it will help ward off bacterial growth…possibly extending the life of your lotion.

2. Prepare Calendula-infused distilled water by pouring boiling distilled water over fresh or dried Calendula flowers and steeping until it’s room temperature. Strain. Reserve 4 ounces of the “tea.” Note: You may simply use plain distilled water, I just like to add an additional Calendula punch. And yes, distilled or pure water should be used to prevent bacteria from growing.

3. Measure out the oils and beeswax by weighing them on a kitchen scale. Add them to a wide-mouth pint sized glass mason jar. Using a makeshift double boiler method, place a washcloth on the bottom of a pot filled with water, then place the jar in the pot. Melt oils and beeswax over low heat, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove the jar of melted oils and beeswax from the pot and allow them to cool on the counter. Note: This is the most important step! I can’t stress enough the importance of the oils, beeswax, water, vegetable glycerin and witch hazel all becoming room temperature prior to mixing. This must happen in order for the lotion to bind.    

5. Throughout the cooling process, blend the oil mixture with a stick blender in order to produce a smooth texture. Once room temperature, begin slowing adding vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, and herbal infused water (and essential oils if using) in a slow steady stream while blending. Note: Add infused water, between 2-4 ounces, until you have reached desired thickness. As the lotion cools further, it will thicken.

6. Pour into storage containers. This recipe will produce approximately 6-8 ounces of high-quality lotion. I’ve kept it on my bathroom counter for 4 months without ever having an issue. For longer storage, keep in the refrigerator.

Get ready to bathe your family in Calendula goodness! 

Be sure not to miss a post, click this link to receive my free eBook and Frugally Sustainable tips by email.

Looking for products mentioned in this post? Mountain Rose Herbs is my go-to for all my oil, witch hazel, herbal, and essential oil needs! Find beeswax here.

Not up for another DIY? Please check out the listings for this Handmade Calendula Lotion and my amazing Green Goddess Herbal Lotion (perfect for the face and body) on Etsy.

Mountain Rose Herbs

Comments

  1. Rhea Van Breda says:

    Where does one get distilled water? Can I use boiled water? This looks really interesting, and I will definitely be giving this a try! Thank you!

    • Rhea,
      Look in any store that sells water.It is right by the gallons of spring water and drinking water. I also use it in my iron to keep mineral deposits from building up. Darlene

    • Hi Rhea! Darlene’s right…I find it in the grocery store, in the aisle with all the other bottled waters. And yes, you can use boiled water (which would be perfect if you were doing an herbal infusion too), especially if you are making this lotion for personal use. There have been plenty of times that I have made lotion with boiled tap water and have had no issues.

      • GrammaBear says:

        The problem I see with using tap water is that it is full of all kinds of things that you would really rather not have in your infusions, lotions and decoctions, like fluoride for one. Distilled water has this chemical and lots of others removed, so your remedies are ‘clean’.
        Just my .02 worth.

        • Isn’t distilled water just boiled water? From my understanding, boiling water for 60+ seconds is the process of distillation.

          • Pam Keller says:

            You have to collect the water that was distilled, or the steam. So, you would boil water in a pot with a lid. Every so often, you would pour the water that has collected in the lid, into a clean container. That is the distilled water.

  2. Andrea – I am SO glad I stumbled upon your website those many months ago, but I must say you have me addicted and my husband is laughing at what calls “all the experiments” now brewing in the kitchen. This recipe looks great and I have some seeds on order from Baker Creek and can’t wait to start my Calendula patch! Btw, I had emailed you a couple weeks ago with some questions regarding the Master Tonic and your Cough and Cold Syrup and am thinking that for some reason it didn’t get through to you…so I may try sending it to you again. Thanks again for all the info and your willingness to share your knowledge!

    • That’s so awesome Alyssa! It’s so empowering isn’t it! And so sorry about your email, please resend it. I’m finding out that several of the contact emails from the blog are being delivered to my junk folder. I’ll be on the look out for yours :)

  3. I’m so glad your post has expanded into this series!! I have learned so much and will be planting my seeds as soon as I can in my area. I am one who is afraid of picking too much,so I harvest very little.But your letting me know to “pick,pick,pick” has got through my thick head and I will “go to town” when the calendula is flowering! Thanks again!! Darlene

  4. THANK YOU! I’m off to order seeds!

  5. Just wanted to say…excellent post on the Calendula Lotion. I just wanted to clarify a couple parts of your formula: There are two types of formula “hydrous” and anhydrous” with or without water. Hydrous formulas need a preservative, and Anhydrous formulas need an antioxidant to prevent the oils from oxidation. Unfortunately, (i.e. benzoin essential oils, vitamin E oil, grapefruit seed extract or rosemary oil extract) are not natural preservatives. Vitamin E and Rosemary Extract are excellent antioxidants. Since you are making small batches, store any unused lotion in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks. I would not recommend larger batches without a preservative. Use an anhydrous formula if you want to make larger batches that can be stored safely based on the carrier oils (and the antioxidant) used. Anhydrous formulas typically cost more because you are not using “water” which is approximately 50% of your formula listed above, however, they are generally richer and you need less. Hope this helps!

    • Thanks for that clarification! Do you maybe have any advice on what sort of (non-toxic, obviously) preservative we can add to make it last longer? An amount based on the offered recipe would be helpful also!
      Best,
      Katrina

    • Actually those are great natural preservatives according to lotionsecrets.com and a few other sites I forgot to bookmark. Vitamin c and Vitamin E double as both preservatives and great antioxidants. EHow even lists them as both.

    • Excellent tip Paula – even with “all natural”, there are rules that need to be followed in order to not create something unhealthy in the long run.

  6. I, for one, am glad you ended up doing a series on calendula. I was able to link to your posts in a recent post of my own:

    http://embracingimperfection.typepad.com/embracing-imperfection/2012/03/spring-planning.html.

    Not sure if it will show up as a hyperlink or not?! Anyways, thanks for the great information.

  7. Christy Ireland says:

    I am so, so, so excited that I came upon your website!!! I will be growing some calendula and making lotion!!! Thank you so much for sharing, in such detail, your knowledge!!!

  8. Okay Andrea – Sent an email your way yesterday…..hopefully you will get this one! :-)

  9. I just did a little post of my own and linked to you, thank you SO much!

    http://08melissab.blogspot.com/2012/03/garden-dreaming-ssfe-weekend-blog-hop.html

  10. Okay, 2 things: How do you infuse the oil? Second, the guy up top talked about preservatives vs no-preservatives. What was that all about? If we’re making for gifts, should we put something in it to preserve it and if so what? I want it to be as organic as possible and I have a lot of allergies. Thanks!

  11. Just what I’ve been wanting to try! I hope to add calendula to my herb garden soon since I know it’s great for the skin (and other things too). I can’t wait to give your recipe a try – it looks really nice! ;)

  12. I had to save this to my bookmarks. Can’t wait to try it! I want to start working more with herbs this year!

  13. I made this and couldn’t get it to emulsify completely. I still use it and it still works, I just find little pockets of water in my lotion. Thoughts? I read somewhere that beeswax isn’t an emulsifier?

    • Okay let’s see…did you allow the oil/beeswax mixture to cool prior to mixing in the liquids?

      • Yep, everything was room temperature. The only thing I can think of is maybe I poured my water too fast? I started with a slow stream, then kind of poured the rest in all at once. Is the water necessary? Is it just to thin the lotion?

        Ps- I hope my first comment didn’t sound rude! I wanted to say thank you so much for posting this recipe! It is helping my very dry hands! I just want to figure out what I did wrong. =]

        • I didn’t take you comment as rude :) I love working through the issues! So, yes, the water should be poured in slowly and then mixed well (I usually blend for a few minutes). The water is used to thin the lotion, and combined with the vegetable glycerin and witch hazel, it gives the lotion it’s creamy texture. If you didn’t use it, the mixture would end up looking more like a ointment/balm/salve consistency.

          • That makes sense. I used olive oil to infuse my calendula this time, but the more I read about jojoba the more I want to use it next time! Thanks again!

          • Thank you Andrea for your incredible recipes and all that you do! I am so inspired by everything you make! Keep up your awesome work. Thanks so much!

    • Hi!

      I have been wanting to post the same problem! I made a batch a couple months ago.. I LOVED the lotion; however about half of my tins, when I would open them had little “sweat beads” on top. It looked like it separated. Then the other half did not have these. I was just curious, if Melissa tried the lotion again by pouring water really slow like Andrea said, if your batch ended up without the little beads at the top of the lotion?

  14. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. I planted some calendula for the first time last summer and the flowers are just gorgeous. I ended up drying some of the flowers, but did not know what to do with them.
    Could you tell me how many dried flowers are needed for the recipe above?
    Thanks again – love your site.

  15. I just finished making this lotion and I’m so excited. It actually turned out right!! Yippee!!!!

    • That’s SO great Cynthia! I’m so excited for you :) You’re going to love what this lotion does for your skin!

  16. I think your blog is great! I wanted to ask if I can make this lotion recipe with a regular blender? I don’t have a stick blender

  17. Yeah! I made my very first lotion! I wanted to make this as soon as I saw this recipe. I have been enjoying your blog. It’s one of my favorites!

  18. Alexandra says:

    I just made this and the first time I used olive oil and it was greasy. This time I used grape seed oil and sunk right into my skin no greasy feeling at all.

  19. Matt Buis says:

    I think you should make and sell this. I would buy.

  20. Is there a substitute for glycerin?

  21. can you use a vegan substitute for the beeswax? If so, what vegan substitute can be used

    • Susan Meeker-Lowry says:

      There are different waxes, carnauba wax for example, but it has a higher melting point than beeswax, and I’ve never worked with it. Mtn. Rose Herbs also sells an “emulsifying wax” that they say is a vegetable base wax, but it doesn’t say exactly what’s in it.

      • Vegetable Emulsifying wax is a combination of Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150, Stearate, Steareth-20. It’s not natural as many says.

  22. What a great site Andrea and this recipe looks great. Can I share a really easy calendula body butter recipe, which doesn’t have water so is a different texture – more like a salve as you mentioned in one of your posts Andrea.

    This only makes a small quantity so I tend to double or triple at least…

    3 tablespoons calendula oil (I tend to use calendula macerated in sunflower oil, or sunflower oil with about 2% calendula extract in it)
    4 teaspoons almond oil
    4 teaspoons grapeseed oil
    1 tablespoon melted beeswax
    You can add to this up to 40 drops of essential oils of your choice – I like one or more of high alp lavender, clary sage, sandalwood, rose, or some calendula extract. Avoid citrus oils if you are putting onto skin which will be exposed to sun.

    Just warm the oils and wax in a bain marie until all melted, and then add your essential oils as it cools. Pour into a sterilised jar and that’s it! It will set pretty quickly.

    Sorry to working in tablespoon and teaspoons – maybe a very British way to do it!

  23. I love love love this cream! I haven’t been brave enough to make it myself, so I buy it on Andrea’s lovely Etsy shop. Fantastic stuff!

  24. Jennifer Milner says:

    Is calendula safe to use on newborns? I’m making a butt balm for a newborn and can’t find a definitive answer; I thought it was, and see it in so many baby products, but “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” doesn’t list Calendula oil as safe until 6 months and I wondered if it’s the same for a calendula-infused oil.

    Thanks!

  25. I love this! But I’m allergic to witch hazel. Is there an alternative that can be used for that ingredient?

  26. Cool, I didn’t realize calendula had all those benefits. It really makes a great lotion!

  27. Hi Andrea – So good of you to share this formula. One very important note, now that I read you are selling this, Paula Cattano gave you some very important information regarding preservatives. Not aware if you know – you could be legally liable if someone buys your cream and it becomes contaminated (easily done by the consumer). The items you listed are NOT natural preservatives, they are antioxidents which means they help slow down your oils from becoming rancid but are of no value in protecting from bacteria that will happily contaminate the water (even if you are SUPER careful). Even if you don’t see anything growing in your cream, it will be teaming with creepies. There are labs that will test for you, if you’d like. It’s a serious eyeopener. Take it from a long time maker (and seller) of creams, lotions, soaps etc. Otherwise – I love calendula creams myself and heartily recommend them!

  28. Sue Reynolds says:

    Can you make the calendula oil from dried flowers? I am looking into ordering some soon & would really like to make this.

  29. Andrea, Since I have to buy an oil , do you have a preference of the ones you listed in the recipe?

  30. Most people I don’t think would have a distilled water unit in there home so simply boiling the water for 5 minutes will sterilize it. Why go to the expense of buying distilled water in a plastic bottle that has been shipped using extra fuel. I personally also use a house water filter and a pitcher filter for drinking this is much more economical an Eco friendly than bottled water.

  31. Just to reiterate one needs to use distilled water, and a preservative as the other items are antioxidents. People need to do their own research. Water is a perfect environment for all kinds of germs, bacteria, and yuckies . Better to ere on the side of caution.

  32. I’ve been trying several natural hand lotions. But I always run into one same problem: they are WAY too oily and they don’t get absorbed in the skin very well. My uncle who works with bees told me it’s because of the beeswax which creates a coating on the skin and clogs pores so the oils don’t get in.
    BUT, your lotion looks so creamy and light. I was wondering if you could tell me, is it very oily, or does it get absorbed quickly into the skin? I would like to try it. It also seems that you have a very small amount of beeswax. Or maybe I wasn’t doing them correctly and didn’t blend them the correct amount of time?

    Thanks for your help!

    • I don’t like tanning beds eiehtr. I’m a fan of tanning lotions. I’m pretty pale so I use Jergens tanning lotion. It gives me color, and doesn’t make me turn orange.References :

  33. I had been looking at renting an aerator for
    my yard, then I looked on ebay and realised it was possible to almost
    purchase one for the exact same price

  34. Cynthia Koons says:

    Yes, calendula is perfectly safe for infants from birth onward, it’s also particularly effective for their mother’s nipples. Apply sparingly when each nursing is completed, it will soak in, no need to wipe off prior to next nursing event. Candalilia wax is a vegan substitute for beeswax.

  35. Just came across your website while looking for a calendula cream recipe. The above conversations along with your recipe have been quite helpful. Thanks! When I first started using beeswax for my creams I had concerns about clogged pores but I’m happy to say that I’ve had no problems using it on my face or body. I have a fairly dry skin so this formula should work well for me.

  36. Since calendula has antibiotic properties, wouldn’t that be enough to keep bacteria from growing in this lotion?

  37. Susan Meeker-Lowry says:

    My little business is Gaia’s Garden Herbals and I make and sell herbal skin care products, many made using herbs, flowers, resins, etc. that I grow or wildharvest. One of my best selling creams is Calendula Body Butter. For the waters in my creams (which I think this recipe actually is, a lotion, to me, is a thinner product that can be pumped out, like a hand lotion), I use distilled water, aloe vera, witch hazel, and various hydrosols. I was making creams for several years before I started selling them, and experimented with various liquids, including herbal teas made with dried herbs and distilled water. Invariably those creams grew moldy after a couple of months, despite Vit. E. So I don’t use teas as the liquid in any of my creams. And, no, despite calendula’s antibiotic qualities, that isn’t enough to keep bacteria from growing. Also there is now a controversy regarding grapefruit seed extract, whether it really has the perservative qualities, whether it is “natural” given how processed it is, and even that there may be toxic chemicals in it, basically contaminants from processing. I still have a bit of the “good stuff” that has been tested to not be contaminated, but since I’m almost out of it, I am phasing it out of the creams I had been using it in. There are some essential oils that help creams stay fresh, and the thing to do is research b/c you want to make sure that what you put in the creams is nourishing and healing for the skin. There are EOs that do that as well as protect the cream, at least for a reasonable amount of time.

  38. can I make my own Witch Hazel ? I found it online and its kinda pricey, I have a tight spending limit on stuff? can I order the bark online and find a way to make it into powder?

    let me know, thank you :)

    – Devon

  39. Brenda Hafer says:

    I just made this yesterday and it turned out perfectly! I used sweet almond oil as the menstrum, and the lotion turned out so rich and creamy and luxurious….it is a little oily going on, but it quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving it soft and moisturized with no oiliness. I also used jasmine EO instead of lavender and it smells heavenly!

  40. Rhonda Harms says:

    Have you thought about replacing some of the beeswax with coconut oil? I am thinking of trying it next time I make this lotion.
    This is the best lotion ever. I have not had an eczema outbreak all winter. Thank you for the recipe.

  41. Angelina says:

    I had problems I didn’t wait long enough to my beeswax to cool so I reheated it all and added some Shea butter to make it blend better

  42. Hi–How do you make the calendula infused oil???
    Thanks!!

  43. I made this and it had mold on it after one week. You really should use a preservative.

  44. River11 says:

    I have looked at my local health food store for witch hazel, and the only one that I see is “Dr. ____’s” (can’t remember the actual name) and it’s already got other things mixed in with it.
    I am wondering what is meant my witch hazel in this recipe… I am guessing that it must be a pure wh extract?

  45. Do you think it would work to add some shea butter to this recipe, in place of some of the infused oill? I love shea butter and it is SO good for the skin!

  46. Jean Marie says:

    I just started using this product about one month ago and I absolutely LOVE it!
    http://www.karmamist.com

  47. Is calendula safe to use during pregnancy? I’m thinking due to its amazing qualities it would be excellent for stretchmark prevention right?

  48. why doesnt this make sense to me

  49. Calendula is my favorite herb! So medicinal and healing. I’m currently having trouble with the consistency of the lotion. Overnight the water separates from the oils. What am I doing wrong?

  50. trudy bell says:

    what kind of witch hazel should I be using the distilled kind or the extract

  51. Myrna Forte says:

    I would like to know how to make a lotion or butter using calendula oil I’ve purchased? What are the measurements? Thanks

  52. Can you use something different than a stick blender? I can see why you are using one, but I do not want to go buy a stick blender & hoping could use what I have.

  53. hello i was wonder what can i used to replace with hazel thanks

  54. Is it possible to put Calendula infused water in soap? Thanks for the post!

  55. Andrea can I use this Calendula Lotion on my face for healing?

  56. Thomas, says:

    I am wondering if electric beaters could be used instead of a stick blender, as I don’t own one. After looking at comments, I think the witch hazel would act as a preservative.

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