CALENDULA HAS A VERY LONG HISTORY AS A HEALING HERB—it’s a staple in herbal gardens, not just for its usefulness but also for its sunny disposition. Easy to grow and self-sowing, it also helps repel garden pests, making it a beautiful plant for novice and expert gardeners alike. As a healing herb, use is varied and plentiful, but it is perhaps best known for its skin healing and soothing properties which are why you will often see it incorporated in healing salves and balms.
This particular DIY is inspired by Ashley’s ever-growing third-trimester belly. Despite the magic of the experience, the sensation within that is akin to nothing else, the reality is that housing a growing baby comes with, shall we say, some discomfort. While it’s all too easy to focus on that discomfort, it has been my approach to everything I can to naturally and holistically soothe those symptoms, framing them in my mind in such a way that simply the daily practice of soothing them morphs the discomfort into a form of self-care. It’s as though our bodies remind us to slow down and take care.
As the skin across pregnant bellies stretches tighter and tighter, the accompanying itch and skin irritation is hard to ignore. Always a fan of making things myself from scratch and enjoying the benefits of organic, simple ingredients, I set out to perfect a belly balm that does it’s best to soothe (and hopefully prevent stretch marks—calendula is also known for helping scars and stretch marks to heal and fade). The result is a soft balm that I rely on morning and night to help ease the insatiable itch and (so far) keeps stretch marks away, allowing me to focus more fully on the pleasant side of pregnancy like those gentle kicks and nudges! Simply warm by rubbing between your hands and massage onto your belly (and breasts)—take a moment here to marvel at how your body has changed, it truly is a miracle (if even a sometimes uncomfortable one—most transformational life experiences are in some way or another!).
Not pregnant? Make this balm anyway to soothe dry, chapped skin, other minor skin irritations, or as a gardener’s hand balm. It also makes a lovely, thoughtful gift!
- 1/4 cup organic shea butter
- 1.5-2 Tbs grated beeswax
- 1/8 cup organic, raw coconut oil
- 1/8 cup calendula infused organic olive oil*
- 1 tsp vitamin E oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
In a heat-poof glass spouted measuring cup, combine the shea butter, beeswax, olive and coconut oil, and calendula infused oil.
Fill a small saucepan with warm water and place the glass jar in the water, ensuring that the water level stays below the lip of the jar (a 3/4 immersion is good—you don’t want water getting into your balm as it can spoil the batch or cause separation issues).
Heat on the stove on medium heat ensuring the water stays at or below a gentle simmer. (You don’t want to overheat the oils as this can alter the molecular structure of the oils.) Stirring occasionally with a spoon or popsicle stick, continue heating the oils until they are completely melted. Remove from heat and remove measuring cup from water (you may need tongs or a towel to do this, be careful not to burn yourself!). Stir in the vitamin E and lavender essential oil. Pour into a 4 oz jar and allow to set either at room temperature on in the fridge for a faster set.
After testing the texture, you can either soften or harden the mix by reheating the balm and adding either more beeswax or more oil. This recipe can be multiplied or divided to yield smaller or larger batches depending on your needs and intended use.
To clean up: while the balm is still melted, wipe out all utensils and tools used with a paper towel, after which everything can be easily washed. Skipping this step or allowing the balm to harden results in a very difficult to clean the mess!
*To infuse calendula oil: the slow way is to fill a small, 4 oz jar loosely with calendula petals and fill with oil until completely covered. Place on a sunny sill and shake jar daily for 4-6 weeks. The fast way is to again fill the jar with petals and oil, and then place in a slow-cooker immersed in water for 12-24 hours. When infusion is complete, strain the petals out of the oil, squeezing to get all the good stuff and compost. Your oil is now finished!
A NOTE ABOUT LAVENDER—Inclusion of lavender in this recipe is optional but the purpose is more than because it simply smells nice (although I don’t particularly care for the smell of pure shea butter). According to Nadine Artemis, a true visionary, and expert in her field, lavender is extremely effective at calming anxiety, enhancing relaxation and promoting an increased sense of well-being, happiness, and peacefulness. Be intentional about applying this balm, rubbing your belly slowly to ensure absorption and taking a few moments to simply be with the baby.