You really owe it to yourself to try calendula.
This bright yellow, warm-smelling herb, also commonly known as “pot marigold” and by the scientific name “calendula officinalis” has a long history of cosmetic and medicinal usage. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/calendula), calendula petals have been used in herbal medicine since at least the 12th century. The medical center notes that calendula appears to fight inflammation, viruses and bacteria. It is used in cosmetic products to increase skin hydration and firmness, and has been shown to increase blood flow and oxygen to damaged skin, helping it to heal faster. The dried petals are often prepared in a solution of water or alcohol to make a tincture or toner , or can be made into an ointment for a longer-lasting skin treatment.
You can make your own calendula-infused oil by filling a glass jar about ¾ full with dried, clean calendula petals and/or calendula heads. Fill the jar to the brim with a long-lasting, cosmetic quality oil (olive oil or grapeseed oil are great choices!), making sure that all of the dried herb is submerged below the oil surface. Then close the jar securely, and put it in a dark, dry location. Take it out daily and shake it, and at the end of a couple of weeks, strain out the herb (which will be a lovely additive to a homemade soap!)
Repeat the process with more dried herb for a higher potency infused oil, or go ahead and use it in your products, or directly on your skin as a wonderful moisturizer. You can also very easily make the infused oil into an ointment by simply heating a bit of wax (beeswax or soy wax are both good), and gently stirring it into a small amount of the lightly heated infused oil.
The ratio that you want to use will vary based on the wax and oil used, in addition to the texture you are seeking to achieve. Generally, a ratio between 1 part wax to 4 parts oil and 1 part wax to 5 parts oil will give you a nice ointment/salve which is not runny (unless you leave it in a hot location!), but which has good slip and which you can easily stick your finger into and apply. You can preview the texture of your finished product while you are still making it by taking a chilled metal butter knife out of the freezer and sticking it into your salve. The mixture will instantly cool and harden on the chilled metal knife, and you can scrape a bit off for a “preview” of the finished product’s texture!
This ointment/salve is best stored in a cosmetic tin, and stored in a cool location. You can add a bit of Vitamin E/T-50 when you are finished making it to enhance shelf life. A preservative is not necessary as there is no water content, but please take care to always scoop and apply the product with clean fingers.