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You probably love flowers planted in your garden, housed in a cool vintage vase, even braided into your hair—but did you know that flowers can be just as amazing for your skin? Yes, really. The pretty plants house a ton of beneficial properties that can soothe, hydrate, tighten, or protect your skin. Calendula, a.k.a. pot marigold, can do all of the above, plus some. So how does the vibrant flower do it? Keep reading to find out.
First, what is calendula exactly?
Fun fact: Calendula (pronounced kuh-len-juh-luh) gets its name from the Latin word kalendae, which means new moon or the first day of every month. That’s because the bright yellow and orange perennial is believed to only bloom on the first of the month. Its extract, which comes from the leaves, petals, and seeds, is traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine, but it’s also used in Western medicine to internally treat ulcers, prevent muscle spasms, reduce fevers, and more. Calendula’s benefits don’t stop there. Topically, it’s just as healing for your skin.
So what are the skin benefits of calendula?
1. It’s anti-inflammatory.
It might sound dramatic, but it’s true that inflammation is the root of a lot of skin evil. You can blame inflammation for your breakouts, rosacea, eczema, sensitivity, even a breakdown of collagen. All these inflammatory skin conditions can benefit from calendula’s soothing effects.
The anti-inflammatory properties are thanks to calendula flower’s potent dose of flavonoid, saponins, and triterpenoids. These give calendula the ability to prevent your body’s release of histamines, which can cause redness, pain, allergies, and inflammation. And when it comes to treating breakouts, calendula’s gentle nature means it won’t dry your skin out and is safe to use with other anti-acne ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
2. It’s really moisturizing.
You’ve probably heard about the nourishing benefits of a diet rich in essential fatty acids. Well, those same essential fatty acids, like the linoleic acid in calendula oil or extract, can also nourish your skin from the outside. They give your skin cells the ability to absorb nutrients and hold onto water longer (great for those with perpetually dry skin). On the surface, this will look like more supple, nourished, smoother skin.
3. It can protect your skin from external aggressors.
The same flavonoids that give calendula the ability to soothe skin also make it a top-notch protector. Flavonoids function as a powerful antioxidant, which helps protect your skin against free radical damage. If you need a reminder: “Free radicals are highly destructive molecules that can wreak havoc on your skin,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, an NYC-based dermatologist. “They are unstable and in search of a missing electron. When free radicals steal an electron from other molecules, it leaves them unstable in return.” Antioxidants, like the flavonoids in calendula extract, pair with those free radicals, essentially neutralizing them before they can do damage that leads to premature aging (increased fine lines and wrinkles), hyperpigmentation, and dullness.
4. It keeps your skin healthy.
For hundreds of years, calendula has been a go-to ingredient for wound healing. In fact, one study even found that calendula significantly decreased the healing time for C-section scars. The women treated with calendula ointment reported their incisions were less swollen and red than those receiving standard hospital treatment.
The healing properties come from calendula’s ability to increase blood flow and oxygen to the skin. This increased blood flow to your skin means more nutrition, which helps your skin function at its healthiest and therefore look its best.
5. It can firm your skin.
In the short term, the nourishing benefits of calendula help to plump the surface of your skin to give you tighter, more supple skin almost instantly. In the long term, both the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help to protect your precious collagen and elastin supply.