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3 Reasons Why Calendula Is a Key Kiehl’s Ingredient

Calendula has been a Kiehl’s signature ingredient since the 1960s. Ahead, discover 3 calendula benefits for skin and learn how to use it in your routine.

Whether you’re a longtime Kiehl’s fan or a skincare newbie, there’s a good chance you’ve heard us gush about calendula at one point or another. This powerful plant is a signature Kiehl’s ingredient and has been a mainstay in our repertoire for more than half a century. We started our love affair with the calendula flower when we first formulated the cult-classic Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner nearly 60 years ago. Calendula, with its known benefits to help address an array of skin concerns, has remained a staple in our science-backed skincare products ever since.

Ahead, we’ll let you in on why (and how) we came to love calendula so much. You’ll learn what, exactly, calendula is, a bit about its history, and discover three calendula benefits for skin. We’ll also provide recommendations on the best Kiehl’s products with calendula to add to your daily skincare routine. Read on to learn why calendula should be a key part of your plan for getting radiant, healthy-looking skin.

What Is Calendula?

Calendula officinalis, also known as pot marigold, is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. Its bright, sunny flowers and pleasantly herbaceous aroma make calendula a popular decorative plant in home gardens. It’s also sometimes used in food—particularly as a coloring agent in place of the similarly-colored (but far more expensive) saffron.

Calendula extract is also commonly used in cosmetics and is known for its numerous benefits in addressing skin concerns, including acne and irritation. It is widely considered safe to use and is recognized by the World Health Organization for its properties. As such, you’ll often find it in skincare products formulated for sensitive skin.

Kiehl’s And Calendula

Before we dive into the benefits of calendula, we thought it would be prudent to briefly review Kiehl’s history with this special plant ingredient. We launched our first product with calendula, the aforementioned Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, in the early 1960s. This iconic toner is now featured in the Smithsonian Institute’s Cosmetics and Personal Care Products collection, on permanent exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History.

For our formulations, we use whole calendula petals that are hand-picked between January and March. The petals are then left to air-dry to preserve the plant’s unique properties. Once dried, the petals are mixed into our formulations whole or steeped and crushed to release the maximum amount of calendula’s skin-soothing compounds. After harvesting, the flower’s unused parts are composted by the growers, and the process repeats itself, each cycle taking approximately ten months from planting to harvesting.

3 Calendula Benefits For Skin

Now that you’re caught up on Kiehl’s history with calendula, we can discuss the ingredient’s biggest beauty benefits. Keep reading to discover three skin benefits of calendula, plus how to use it in your skincare routine.

Calendula Benefit #1: It Helps Reduce Sensitivity And Soothe Irritation

A well-known benefit of calendula extract is its ability to help reduce irritation, particularly for those with already sensitive skin. Calendula’s skin-soothing benefits can likely be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to limit trans-epidermal water loss, which in turn strengthens the skin’s defenses against potential irritants. It has been shown to reduce both the visible symptoms and feel of skin irritation and discomfort.

Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

To keep your skin clean and comfortable, we recommend cleansing daily with a face wash formulated with calendula, such as Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. Our best-selling cleanser is formulated with calendula extract and glycerin and gently lifts away dirt, excess oil, and other impurities without stripping the skin. The effective formula is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily to refresh and revitalize the skin.

After cleansing, soothe your skin with the cult-classic Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner. This Kiehl’s staple was first formulated in the 1960s and has been a customer favorite ever since, with one bottle selling every 20 seconds globally. It contains calendula extract and whole calendula petals and helps cleanse and refresh skin without over-drying.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation, we also recommend incorporating Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask into your regular skincare routine. This deeply hydrating mask with calendula petals and aloe vera moisturizes skin and helps soothe the visible signs of distress. The refreshing formula immediately cools the skin with lightweight hydration and helps to restore skin’s healthy appearance with continued use. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week to promote softer, smoother-looking skin.

Calendula Benefit #2: Calendula Is Rich In Natural Antioxidants

One of calendula’s most notable benefits in terms of skincare is its ability to help protect the skin from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a catch-all term to describe the damage that occurs when the skin is exposed to free radicals, or reactive oxygen species. These damaging compounds form after exposure to a stressor, like UV radiation or pollution, and accumulate on the skin. Without intervention, free radicals can alter cellular DNA, ultimately resulting in damage to necessary structural compounds like collagen and elastin.

That’s where calendula comes in. Calendula flowers are rich in antioxidant compounds, including flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, limiting the effect they can have on the skin. In practice, this means calendula helps protect the skin from stressors, which keeps it functioning optimally and looking its best.

Calendula Benefit #3: Calendula Extract May Help Keep Skin Hydrated

In addition to antioxidants, studies show that calendula flower extract is rich in various skin-friendly oils. Though the exact quantities of these compounds vary depending on where the flowers were grown, when they were harvested, and how the extract was made, research indicates that calendula seeds typically include a high concentration of linoleic and calendic acid. Linoleic acid is the most abundant fatty acid in the skin’s natural moisture barrier and is involved in maintaining the skin barrier’s proper functioning. Evidence suggests that using topical skincare products containing linoleic acid—like those made with calendula extract—may help promote a more hydrated, healthy skin moisture barrier.

Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream

For soft, nourished skin, we recommend reaching for moisturizers that contain calendula extract along with other hydrating ingredients. Our best-selling Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream is formulated with calendula extract and flowers, as well as glycerin, a popular humectant ingredient with powerful moisturizing properties. This lightweight gel-cream softens skin with lasting, 24-hour hydration and helps diminish the appearance of dullness and dry fine lines. Within just one week of use, it helps even the skin tone, while continued use helps visibly reduce redness and improve the appearance of uneven skin texture. The weightless formula is suitable for all skin types and can be used morning and night to promote fresher, more radiant-looking skin.

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