Experts explain why the skincare ingredient is worth your time—and a spot in your routine.

By Elizabeth Swanson
October 29, 2019

Go ahead and add calendula—a pot marigold that's native to the Mediterranean and grows prolifically year-round—to the long list of trending skincare ingredients. Beyond sounding spa-like (the word rolls of the tongue!), calendula boasts a slew of healing properties, so it's easy to see why it has become such a popular addition to skincare. "Calendula is calming, which is great for inflammation, redness, and puffiness," says celebrity facialist Cecilia Wong of just a few of its benefits.

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Don't confuse calendula, however, with the better-known oil, chamomile; though both are both anti-inflammatory and soothing, they are actually extracted from two different plants—chamomile is a product of the daisy family, not marigold. "In skincare, where they most differ is in formulation," says Julie Clark, owner of Province Apothecary. "While calendula is infused into a carrier oil, chamomile is often made into an essential oil." (Essential oils are more often used for aromatherapy, while carrier oils are used to dilute and hydrate.) To make calendula easy to apply on the skin, the flowers and leaves are often infused into a carrier oil like jojoba, adds Clark.

These hydrating properties often make calendula beneficial for those with sensitive skin (and eczema sufferers, since it contains anti-fungal agents)—but it can be a lifesaver for just about any and every skin type come winter. Notes Clark, it gently protects and alleviates chapping, cracking, and roughness that results from harsh climates. The ingredient, however, isn't only for those in need of skin-soothing ingredients. If you have acne, it's also an effective, non-drying alternative to conventional blemish-fighting workhorses. It's antiseptic, which will help prevent and eradicate the bacteria that causes acne, Wong says; plus, it's an anti-inflammatory that can heal and minimize the appearance of existing acne marks and scars.

Related: Skincare Glossary: Decoding Five Popular Ingredients

As if that weren't enough, calendula also works against the clock. "Studies have shown that calendula can stimulate and increase collagen production," Wong explains. "It protects from oxidative stress and damage caused by UVB light. In addition, the bright orange color in calendula comes from vitamin A, a natural form of retinol that helps reduce wrinkles, increase cell turnover, and stimulate collagen production. Calendula has also been found to protect collagen by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down its fibers." Not to mention the fact that it can also decrease melanin in the skin to reduce age spots and brighten the complexion, she adds.

So basically everyone—regardless of their skin type—can benefit from calendula. Just make sure you aren't allergic to the Asteraceae, or daisy, family; those who are may also experience an allergic reaction to calendula, Clark says. "Always patch test on a small area, like your neck or behind your ear, if you are unsure," she says. Here, a few favorite calendula products to get you started.

Best of all, the buzzword ingredient has been formulated into plenty of products across the entire skincare spectrum. Begin your routine with the Pangea Organics Facial Cleanser ($28, follain.com) (a must for those with dry and sensitive skin types!), shrink and eradicate pesky pimples and flaky skin with Province Apothecary Clear Skin Advanced Spot Concentrate ($28, provinceapothecary.com) (starring anti-inflammatory turmeric root oil and calendula), and seal it all in with Cecilia Wong Skincare Face Moisturizer ($68, celiawongskincare.com), a lotion rich with the superstar ingredient—as well as lavender, chamomile, and a myriad of additional hydrators.

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