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
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.
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.
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.