Mini Grant Winner: Calendula Cream- Vertical Farm!


New skin care routine, Made in Brooklyn edition!

This blog post has been prepared by Fariha Mahjabin, winner of the MakerSpace Mini grant for the month of September, 2019.
Fariha is an undergraduate student pursuing Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

The bright yellow Calendula that you see when you walk by the Vertical Farm downstairs at the makerspace, are not just pretty to look at. They have amazing wound healing properties, and have been used for thousands of years for wounds and burns. This project aims to incorporate the medicinal properties of Calendula with day to day skin care and apply the concepts of cosmetic engineering to make a face cream that uses natural and sustainable ingredients (or ingredients grown right here in the makerpace!)

The motivation for this project was to explore different ways the raw material grown in Vertical Farm can be used. Traditionally, the Farm has been used to grow food and do various experiments surrounding the practice of growing food. In order to make the most use of things that we are growing in the farm and to apply my field (Chemical Engineering), I decided to experiment with cosmetic development.

In order to make this cream, I first started with infusing the Calendula with the oil phase. I hand picked the flowers from the farm, carefully choosing the ones in full bloom. After, the petals were separated, weighed, and added to jojoba oil. The mixture was left to infuse for a few days. After the infusion, the petals were filtered out. The oil was then heated up to 70 C, and emulsifying wax was added to the oil and melted. The water phase was then added, and the mixture was emulsified using a medium shear rate. After the mixture cooled down (to around 40 C), a natural preservative was added and mixed, and the cream was then moved to a contained to chill. 

Handpicked flowers

The cream took a few trials to get to the right consistency, and one issue that I faced was the cream either being to viscous or separating from the water phase. In order to combat that, I used different kinds of oils to infused the Calendula with, and found the oil(Jojoba!) that lead to the best consistency. 

trial 1 (a little too oily!)
Trial 6 (Just right!)

Going forward, I am collaborating with the NYU Physics department, to use a holographic microscopy to look at the oil droplets infused with Calendula, in order to characterize the oil droplets binding to the active ingredients in Calendula (triterpene alcohols). Ideally, this would allow me to find the best oil to infuse the Calendula.