When we think about skin care products, most of us probably reflect on time spent browsing the shelves of department stores trying to decipher the differences between the hundreds of brands out there, before selecting a product and parting with our hard earned cash. If you’re a greenie like me, then the thought of lathering your skin with chemical-filled products in the name of beauty, likely doesn’t bring a smile to your face. But fear not, dear friends, you can finally say goodbye to those over-priced products and hello to home-grown, natural skin care cream straight from your very own garden!
Calendula officinalis, or Marigold as it is more commonly known, is one of my favourite herbs. Not only are its flowers beautiful, bringing vibrant colour to your garden, but it is also incredibly useful for all sorts of herbal remedies, including skin care creams. The medicinal actions of Calendula include reducing swelling and inflammation, reducing oiliness, promoting healing, stopping the growth of fungi and bacteria, and stimulating blood flow.
Calendula is also able to stimulate white blood cells to give your immune system a boost when fighting microbial invaders. It is a very powerful antiseptic, promoting granulation and healing in wounds, and it’s great antiseptic properties make for excellent use in first aid. Calendula cream is great for use as an everyday moisturizer but is also particularly good as a healing cream for acne, eczema, and other skin concerns, including minor first aid requirements.
The process from harvesting your flowers to applying the cream onto your skin does involve a few steps. The first step in making your home-grown cream is, of course, growing your calendula!
As quite a hardy plant, calendula does not require much maintenance. Your beautiful orange Marigolds will grow easily in pots, garden beds or out in your backyard, so whether you live in a city apartment or a suburban house, you will be able to grow the key ingredient for your skin care cream yourself!
You can purchase calendula seedlings from your local nursery, many of which will already be in flower. This means you can take them home, transfer your floral friends to their new home and you can begin collecting the petals within a week or two. The quantity of cream you are hoping to make will determine how many weeks you need to spend harvesting petals. My recommendation is to make a medium sized jar of cream, which should last you a few months.
To collect enough petals to make the cream, you will need to harvest the flowers every three to four days until you have approximately 20-25 grams of calendula petals. After you have harvested your petals and left them to dry – usually laying petals on a window sill to dry in the sun works fine – you will need to make an infused oil.
Making Infused Oil
Grind 20 grams of dried calendula flowers in a mortar and pestle.
Place in a 500ml jar.
Add one cup of organic olive oil to the flowers and place the lid on the jar.
Put the jar in a brown paper bag, to protect it from the light. Shake two or three times a day for two weeks.
Strain the oil through a piece of muslin, then wrap the remaining solid pieces of herb in the muslin and squeeze with your hands until all the remaining oil comes out.
Now you have your infused oil! Pour into an amber glass bottle or jar, and store in a cool dark place.
Making Calendula Cream
To make the cream itself, you will need 50ml of Calendula infused oil, 15 grams of vegetable-based emulsifying wax and six tablespoons of distilled water.
Melt the emulsifying wax in infused oil over a heated water bath
Heat the distilled water to the same temperature as the oil and wax
Slowly drizzle water into oil and wax while vigorously stirring to maintain the emulsion. Once all of the water is in the oil and wax mixture, you will need to continue stirring for at least five minutes, to ensure the substance turns into a cream texture.
Pour the cream into an amber jar, but don’t put the lid on until the cream has cooled down!
Store in a cool, dry place.
And there you have it, your very own skin care cream! At last you can stop having to worry about what is in your skin care products because you can rest assured knowing it has been made with love by Mother Earth … and you!
Lead image source: Flickr