Monday, November 23, 2009

Calendula oil!

Calendula oil is made up of about 2% palmitic acid (C16), 2% stearic acid (C18), 3.1% oleic acid (C18:1), 27.5% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 64% conjugated linolenic acid (C18:3). It's high in tocopherols at 1,937 ppm!

With all this conjugated linolenic acid (or CLnA), calendula oil is effective at reducing inflammation and improving epidermal differentiation. With all those double bonds, though, it is going to be more prone to oxidation, so make sure you add some Vitamin E when using calendula oil. (And yes, there is a ton in there naturally, but a little more won't be a bad thing!)

Calendic acid is considered an omega-6 fatty acid (meaning the first double bond is 6 from the end or omega) and is a known drying agent, so it's an astringent or dry oil.

It contains 0.3% to 0.8% flavonoids, which work as anti-oxidizing agents in the oil. The tocopherols offer skin softening and moisturizing as well as anti-oxidizing properties. Calendula oil contains carotenoids, the pre-cursors to Vitamin A. Carotenoids are free radical scavengers and behave as anti-oxidants on our skin. (The carotenoid gives calendula oil its yellow colour!)

Calendula oil offers anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and possible wound healing qualities. It can soothe inflamed and irritated skin, and helps regenerate new skin cells. It may also be anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, but it's not enough to preserve your products. There are some studies showing the CLnA in calendula oil may help with visible effects of photo-aging, but these are still preliminary studies.

If you're someone who has problems with red skin or acne, calendula may be a good choice for you. It's also a good choice for anyone wanting to increase the anti-oxidants in a product - the tocopherol level is very high and the carotenoids offer free radical scavenging - as well as the skin softening benefits of Vitamin E.

As calendula oil is made from infusing the petals of the flower into a carrier oil, the shelf life will vary. Those made with longer shelf life oils - like sweet almond oil - may have a shelf life up to 1 year. Those made with shorter shelf life oils - like sunflower oil - will have shelf lives as short as 6 months. Ask your supplier for their recommended shelf life.

Join me tomorrow for fun with camellia oil!


Yali said...

This is an amazing site!
Thank you Susan for doing all this research and sharing it with us.
This is so important, as women are brainwashed into buying harmful lotions that cost an arm and a leg.
I do have a question though - with all these "natural oils" being sold in health stores - How do you figure out which is good quality oil?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Yali. That's a really hard question because it's hard to figure out what "good quality" really means. There are certain standards by which oils must adhere as per Health Canada or the FDA for food quality oils and there are cosmetic standards. But I guess the question I should ask is what do you mean by good quality? That would make answering the question easier...

A.L. said...

Hi Susan,

Thank you very much for all this amazing info you share....

I am just a bit confused regarding the calendula oil info that you provide on this post: you mention its Fatty Acid composition, but towards the end you say that the shelf life will vary as it's distilled onto a carrier oil.

I have googled around a bit, and as I understand it, there is on one hand calendula-infused oil (you can choose, as you say, which oil, whether it be sunflower, sweet almond, etc), and on the other hand a calendula oil per se, which is distilled from the flower tops of the calendula flower.

Am I complementely missing the point here, or are they two different products?

Thanks so much!

Alex, from South Africa

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI A.L. Calendula oil is always diluted with another oil because it's just so expensive. There are CO2 extracts, oil soluble extracts, and water soluble extracts that will have different make-ups. If you're getting the stuff that is the flower infused in oil, you won't be getting the fatty acids, but you will get the polyphenols and possibly phytosterols.

Anonymous said...

Hello there! Thanks in advance for your reply... I tried searching your site for a possible answer to my question, but is it better to use infused oils instead of essential oils? Or does it depend on the plant? I recently bought a distiller to make essential oils, but historically I've only used infused oils in my products.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Please update or re-write your post with a name attached or I'll have to delete it. The answer depends on the plant. You'll have to read up on the plants you want to use to see what ends up in the essential oil and what ends up in the oil when you infuse it.