Why bother with an herb infusion? Because it is a great way to increase the effectiveness of a carrier oil by imparting skin-healing and nourishing benefits of the herbs onto it. And the best part, it is super easy to do. All it takes is five minutes of your time and a few weeks of the sun doing the work of infusing.
- What Is an Herb Infusion?
- Best Herbs to Infuse in Oil for Skin Health and Beauty
- Which Oils Are Best Suited for Herb Infusion?
- Methods of Infusing Oils with Herbs
- Why Calendula Infused Oil?
- Calendula Benefits for the Skin
- My Calendula Infused Oil Recipe
- Calendula Oil for Hair?
- Is Calendula Safe for Everybody?
- Final Thoughts
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What Is an Herb Infusion?
When it comes to making herbal oils, herb infusion involves macerating the herb in the oil of choice. Such herbal oils can be then used as ingredients in balms, salves, lotions, and soap or used neat as a body or face oil.
Best Herbs to Infuse in Oil for Skin Health and Beauty
By infusing the oils, we nourish the skin doubly. First, by the soothing and nourishing properties of the carrier oil itself. And, secondly, by the medicinal properties of the herbal ingredients.
There are numerous herbs that can be used in these herbal oils. It all depends on your skin’s specific needs. Here are a few to consider:
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is particularly useful for sensitive skin, rashes and itchiness, sunburn, and for slowly healing skin.
Plantain (Plantago spp.) is commonly used as a tissue renewing herb. I remember from my childhood in Poland, my mom or grandmother placing a plantain leaf right on the scraped knee or other small wounds. It was the best nature’s bandaid ever, and the plantain grew like weed all over the place.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) has wonderful antifungal and skin calming properties.
Comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale) is great for insect bites, minor burns, and rashes.
Which Oils Are Best Suited for Herb Infusion?
I wrote here about choosing the best carrier oil for your skin type. For me personally, having normal, maturing skin, these are my choices:
- Rosehip Seed or Hemp Seed oil for the face
- Grapeseed or Camelia oil for the body
When choosing the oil to infuse, it also makes sense to take the oil’s shelf life into consideration and then infuse the amount that can be used within that time frame.
Methods of Infusing Oils with Herbs
First distinction: folk method or ratio method?
The folk method basically involves eyeballing the amounts of herb matter vs. oil. This is my preferred method and it never failed me. I will write about this one in my recipe below.
The ratio method involves using the ratio of 1 to 10 (1 ounce dried herbs with 10 ounces oil).
Second distinction: cold vs. heat method?
The cold method takes longer, between 4 to 6 weeks, and is my preferred method during the winter months.
It involves covering the herbs with oil in a jar and infusing in a dark place for 4-6 weeks, rolling the jar and turning it upside down every other day or so. This ensures equal distribution of the herb matter in the oil.
The heat method is faster but requires an external heath source. Here, there are two options.
Solar method for herb infusion
This is my favorite way to infuse oils. There is something magical about seeing that jar of oil with herbal goodness shimmer in the sun for a few weeks. When it is ready after 1-3 weeks, it is as if Mother Nature itself added its energy to the oil.
Some people suggest placing a paper bag over the jar to avoid the UV light hitting the jar directly but I am not of that opinion. First of all the sun is not hitting the oil directly. There is a thick glass in the way.
And, secondly, I believe in the power of the sun and its glorious energy.
I will write about this method in my DIY recipe below.
Double-boiler or crockpot infusion
This is the quickest method, and so best if you’re in a pinch to make your herbal oil fast. It takes anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.
However, it is crucial to keep an eye on the process because it is very easy to burn the oil and lose the entire batch this way. (Happened to me once and therefore I’d rather stay away from this method)
When infusing oils with herbs via this method, place your jar with the oil and herbs in the vessel of the crockpot ¼ filled with water. Keep the temperature of the water at a constant 125-140 F to prevent burning.
Why Calendula Infused Oil?
Calendula oil is my go-to for so many things. Calendula benefits for skin are widely known and it is little wonder that some people call a calendula infused oil “liquid gold”.
You can use it for a gentle eye balm, for a rich gardener’s salve, or for a baby diaper rash balm.
Possibilities are endless, given the healing properties of this herb.
Medicinal properties of C. officinalis have been mentioned in Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicine indicating that leaves and flowers are antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antiepileptic and antimicrobial.A review on phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological aspects of genus Calendula
Calendula Benefits for the Skin
This unassuming yellow or orange-colored flower packs a punch when it comes to medicinal and beautifying benefits:
- Healing (for rashes, minor cuts, and infections)
- Anti-inflammatory (for acne, dermatitis, and sunburn)
- Soothing (for wounds, insect bites, and irritated skin)
- Nourishing (for chapped lips and cold sores)
Extract from this plant have been used for traditional medicinal uses and suggested for many therapeutic uses such as: anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor-promoting, and cytotoxic activitiesPeriocular Erythema and Eczema after Local Application of Calendula Officinalis
The healing benefits of calendula are particularly well-researched since the herb has been used so often in folk medicine over millennia. Check out this amazing result from a clinical study about calendula and wound healing:
The percentage of wound closure was 90.0% in the (calendula) extract-treated group, whereas the control group showed only 51.1% on the eighth day of wounding. (…) The data indicate potent wound healing activity of C. officinalis extract.Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula offlcinalis
My Calendula Infused Oil Recipe
I’ve been infusing oils with calendula for years. The resulting oil has a wonderful yellow hue and a faint aroma of the calendula.
Dried calendula flowers
1-quart glass jar with a clean lid
One can use fresh flowers as well, but there is a chance of mold being present in the fresh material. Therefore, I prefer to get my calendula dried and from the most reputable source that I know – Mountain Rose Herbs.
Another good purveyor of organic herbs is Starwest Botanicals. Depending on how much you’re buying and what are the shipping costs, one option might be better than the other.
Organic Calendula Flowers Whole – $10.58
4 oz of Organic Calendula Flowers Whole
Organic Calendula Flowers Whole – $28.33
1 lb of Whole Organic Calendula Flowers
As for the oil, I mentioned already, it is entirely up to you which one you use. For a more nourishing, richer salve, you could go with a richer oil such as avocado or sweet almond.
For a face cream or body lotion, a lighter oil might be better such as camelia or grapeseed.
Method (folk or eyeballing, solar-infusion method):
- Clean the jar and lid thoroughly and let dry completely.
- Fill the dry jar with calendula flowers about one-half full.
- Fill the remaining space in the jar with your oil.
- Ensure that the herbs are covered with at least one inch of oil.
- Place the lid, cap the jar, and shake it well.
- Place it on a sunny windowsill or a sunny spot in your garden.
- Shake it well every day or every other day.
- After 2-3 weeks, strain the oil using a sieve and cheesecloth into another jar.
- Pour into bottles if your wish.
- Make sure to label so that you will know what is in the bottles and when it was made.
- Use for up to a year from the straining date.
Calendula Oil for Hair?
Yes, you can use calendula oil in hair care preparations too. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, calendula helps to condition the scalp and strengthen hair follicles.
To achieve faster hair growth and strengthening, it is recommended to massage calendula-infused oil into the scalp, wait at least an hour and then wash with a gentle shampoo as usual.
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Is Calendula Safe for Everybody?
Calendula is considered safe to use on your skin.
However, use caution when using for the first time, if you are allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula. At the first sign of a rash, seek medical attention.
There you have it. Calendula herb infusion is easy and effective. Try it for yourself and let me know how it went. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in DIY recipes, check out this download: