Today we’re making a simple salve starring calendula, with a supporting cast of sea buckthorn and lavender. It’s easy to make, and the end result is a lovely warm yellow salve with a gentle, calming scent. If your nose is sore from too much blowing, or perhaps your complexion is feeling the effects of months of cold winter winds, this Calendula Sunshine Salve is just what you need.
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The star ingredient in this salve is calendula-infused olive oil. It’s very simple to make a calendula oil infusion (I’ve provided instructions in the recipe), or you can purchase one. An oil infusion is a simple way to harness the benefits and slightly nutty scent of sunny yellow calendula. Due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, calendula has a long history of use in treating skin conditions like eczema, burns, and rashes. I also felt like its cheery colour was a great pick-me-up for this time of year!
Want to improve your infusions game? Check out this book from LisaLise—it’s definitely helped me improve my infusions!
Up next, we have some sea buckthorn seed oil. While definitely orange, sea buckthorn seed oil is significantly less pigmented than sea buckthorn fruit oil and is much easer to use because of it! Sea buckthorn seed oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, making it great for irritated skin. It’s also rich in linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid.
The salve is thickened with beeswax; I chose beeswax because I like the rich, creamy thickening it offers to our products. You could try cera bellina instead, though you may have to adjust the amount. Using a c-wax like candelilla will yield a firmer, glassier salve that won’t have the same creaminess.
I also included a bit of isopropyl myristate to reduce the greasiness of the end product. Isopropyl myristate is a pretty cool ingredient—it makes anything you put it in lighter and faster absorbing. I’ve provided substitution recommendations at the end of the recipe if you don’t have it, but it is a super cool ingredient!
The cool down phase is pretty simple; a touch of vitamin E to extend the shelf life of the salve, and a wee bit of lavender essential oil for some more calming benefits. I also find the soft, herbal scent of lavender essential oil nicely compliments the herbal, nutty scent of the infused oil.
The finished salve is a soft yellow colour with an herbal, nutty scent with distinct yet subtle lavender notes. It is creamy and melts quickly, but once massaged into the skin it absorbs faster than you’d expect. It’s not a dry-touch finish, but it is lightweight—definitely not a heavy, tacky, unctuous sort of salve. I’m loving this for everything from wind-chapped cheeks to noses sore from too much blowing to just skin that needs a bit of extra love. I hope you enjoy it, too!
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Calendula Sunshine Salve
38.09g | 62.96% calendula-infused olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
5.5g | 9.09% isopropyl myristate (IPM) (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)
11g | 18.18% beeswax (USA / Canada)
5.5g | 9.09% sea buckthorn seed oil
Cool down phase
0.28g | 0.45% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.14g | 0.23% lavender essential oil
To prepare the calendula infusion: Weigh 5% dried calendula, 0.5% vitamin E, and 94.5% olive oil into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Prepare a water bath by heating about 3cm/1″ of water until warm, but definitely not simmering (we’re aiming for hot-tub type temperatures). Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath for two hours, stirring occasionally. After the infusion is complete, strain the mixture, reserving the infused oil and composting the spent plant matter.
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
Once the heated phase has melted, remove it from the heat. Stir in the cool down ingredients and quickly transfer it to a 60mL/2oz tin or jar. Leave to set up. That’s it!
To use, massage a small amount into any skin that could use some extra love.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this salve is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 60g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there!
- You can use a store bought calendula-infused oil if you prefer
- You can use a different carrier oil (sweet almond, grapeseed, sunflower seed, etc.) that your skin loves instead of olive oil as the medium for your infusion
- You can replace the isopropyl myristate with a super lightweight, fast-absorbing carrier oil, but this will still make for a greasier end product
- Please review the experiments linked on this page if you wish to replace the beeswax with a different wax. If you want to use a C wax you will need to use less wax and more liquid oil; you will also get a different end feel.
- Definitely don’t use sea buckthorn fruit oil instead of sea buckthorn seed oil, lest you dye yourself orange! Replace it with a different liquid carrier oil your skin loves if you don’t have the seed oil.
- You can use a different essential oil, or none at all—just be sure to watch the maximum usage rates.
What do you think about calendula extract in this recipe instead of calendula infused oil? Swap it out in straight percentage? Don’t do it?
I wouldn’t—extracts are more expensive, more concentrated, and typically water soluble 🙂
I was wondering the same thing. But if we use an extract -is it an oil or a water? Meaning we would have to add a preservative?
A preservative and an emulsifier—quite the bother, really. I wouldn’t 🙂
Hi! I was wondering what you thought of adding arrowroot powder to salve instead of IPM or in addition to an alternative for a less greasy feel.
You can try it, but remember that using something solid instead of something liquid will change the end product 🙂 Happy making!
If it’s an oil-soluble extract you can use it, but not to swap in straight percentage because the extract is definitely stronger than the infused oil. Check the supplier’s instructions. My CO2 Calendula extract supplier recommends adding it at 0,1-0,3% so you can just subtract that from the oil percentage and add a tiny bit of extract instead.
Bang on! Thank you, Karina 🙂
Is this good for tattoos or do you have something specific for them?
I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work for tattoos, though I would be hesitant to recommend applying anything homemade to broken skin. I don’t have anything tattoo-specific.
I would use my sous vide to infuse the oil. What would be the ideal temperature to use? Would I still use just 2 hours?
Lise recommends about 50°C 🙂 2 hours should still be fine!
Where do you get the cute little 1/16th “measuring spoons”?
Check out this post 🙂
I’m slightly disappointed at your suggestion to use isopropyl myristate and then calling it ‘a super cool ingredient’. It’s not a natural product, it’s a synthetic ingredient which has been shown to cause pore clogging and some skin irritations. I understand you may wish to use it in your recipes but they will then lose that ‘natural’ label and I think you should be flagging this up at some point.
Thanks for the feedback! As far as I know there is nothing about the term “super cool” that can only be applied to natural ingredients 🙂 I haven’t called this salve natural anywhere in this post, and I have provided both substitution alternatives and a lot more information about isopropyl myristate in my encyclopedia, which is also mentioned in the substitutions list. I feel like that’s more that enough information for anyone who is willing to put in even a small amount of work to learn more 🙂 You might also be interested in this recent post and video from LabMuffin.
For the infusion instructions – 5% + 0.5% + 89..5% = 95%. What am I missing?
D’oh! I’ve fixed it. Thanks for catching that mistake!
Marie, you might wish to double check your ingredient percentages, I wouldn’t have noticed except I wanted to make it for a 2 oz jar. I used WSP’s percentage calculator to correct the %ages but I don’t know how many people check or would use WSP calculators.
Would this salve be helpful for lips? My poor chapped lips need help and this sounds great!
Ah, YIKES! Thank you so much for running that up the flag pole, it’s been fixed. It looks like a row that was added in my spreadsheet escaped notice from a formula calculating the “QS” value, so 10% of the recipe wasn’t accounted for. Derp!
I personally prefer more wax in lip things; for a lip thing I’d use an oil instead of the IPM (I find the drier touch finish can feel drying on the mouth) and probably increase the beeswax by 10% or so 🙂
How long do herb infused oils last? I would want to make up a bit while I’m at it, but if the infusion is a year old can I still make product to use for another year?
This is an “it depends”. It will vary with how fresh your base oil was when you started, which base oil you’ve used, and how long/hot you infused it. I’d recommend adding 0.5% vitamin E post-infusion and post-straining, and from there I’d guess you’d get 6 months to a year before rancidity starts to set in—longer if you keep it in the fridge 🙂
I have also bought herb infused olive oil from Mnt. Rose herbs…sounds like that should not be used past a year then? Could get expensive if this stuff would only last a year. thanks
The estimate I provided is just for DIY ones–check with your supplier for the estimated shelf lives for their products 🙂
I made my own Calendula salve two years ago, combining Calendula infused olive oil, Hemp seed oil beeswax, Shea butter and Lavender essential oil.
Fantastic for skin boo boos and insect bites.
Beautiful! I feel like calendula and shea butter are soul sisters for dry, unhappy skin.
What can I use as a substitution to the isopropyl myristate? Is arrowroot an option please?
Don’t forget to check out the encyclopaedia when you are keen to make a substitution! Short answer is no, arrowroot is not an option, a silicone would be a more likely swap!
Was getting ready to make this today with arnica infused oil. note to self, before making anything “read the comments…” OMGosh Marie I almost added calendula extract and then something inside said to read the comments. anywho, I put everything in a container and I don’t have the isopropyl ugh.. I could have sworn i did… so sealed it until the iso comes in lol… another note, make sure you have all ingredients before starting to pour
D’oh! I’ve definitely been stalled out mid-project before, too—always a bit of a face-palm moment hahaha.
Sorry to comment again but to be more clear about my previous question can I add arrowroot powder in the thoughts that it will create a less greasy end product? Or is it better used in a formulation/recipe without beeswax?
You should watch this 🙂
Hi Marie, this might be coming late. I really want to say a big THANK YOU for the great work you’re doing. I’ve learnt so much from you. I really want to make these cooling herbal infusions, but where I am, I can’t get calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, or their extracts. But I have access to hibiscus, curry leaf, lemongrass, scent leaf, neem leaf, moringa leaf. Is there anyway I can use these leaves to get a herbal infusions great for dry, itchy eczema skin. Love you
Could I use calendula oil from Voyageur instead of making my own?