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Rose Water

Niche, natural rose-infused beauty products, curated and delivered quarterly


Rose Water, Rose Water Benefits, Rose Water Uses in Skincare, Rose Water Properties Uses Benefits

Rose Water - Benefits, Properties, Uses (Part I)

by Mariana N., February 27, 2018

Rose water is a skincare staple that's been known for centuries for its soothing, cleansing and hydrating properties. This gentle natural ingredient is suitable for all skin types but said to be especially beneficial for sensitive, irritated and acne-prone skin for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and gentle astringent properties. It’s an ingredient I have loved and used daily over the years, and one that has done wonders for my sensitive and combination-type skin - it helps in keeping it cleansed, balanced and well hydrated. I've done a ton of reading and research on the benefits and uses of rose water, as it's one of my absolute favorite beauty staples.

To honor this natural ingredient that's been loved for centuries, we’ll be sharing a series of posts, covering various aspects on the topic - from rose water properties and its method of production, to its benefits and uses in skincare, beauty, and as a food ingredient. This first part will focus on how rose water is made, its characteristics and how one can identify pure, quality rose water when choosing toners and mists.*

What is Rose Water and How is It Produced?

Rose water is the aromatic liquid - a.k.a. Rose Flower Distillate or Rose Hydrosol or Hydrolat (French) - produced through the steam distillation of fresh rose petals. The petals of Rosa Damascena and Rosa Centifolia roses (the two major varieties of oil-bearing rose) are most widely used in the production of rose water for its use in beauty and skincare.  According to experts in the industry, real rose hydrosol is produced by steam (hydro) distillation of fresh rose petals exclusively for the purpose of it being rose water in a special cohobation process (repeated distillation) and not a by-product from essential oil distillation.

There is an important distinction between pure steam-distilled rose water and rose water produced simply by mixing regular water and rose essential oil or extract, or one that is the by-product of rose oil distillation.  The steam-distilled rose water is produced under a special process and technology, and contains components of both the rose oil and the beneficial water-soluble elements of the plant material, mixed in a uniform mass.

What are the Characteristics of Rose Water? 

Now that we know how rose water is made, let’s take a look at its key characteristics and properties, and what are some ways to tell you are getting a pure, quality ingredient.

Color: Pure steam-distilled rose water is clear and colorless. While some rose water-based products may have a light pink /pink color, this is due to other ingredients or colorants, and not due to the color of natural rose water.

Composition: It's said that rose water has an essential rose oil content of about 0.03-0.09%. According to various studies, the main components of rose water are geraniol, citronellol, phenyl ethyl alcohol and nerol. The geographic and climatic conditions in which the roses have been grown, as well as the distillation method used, determine the specific proportions of these components. 

Scent: Pure, therapeutic-grade rose water has a light floral scent with noticeable green, herbal undertones, reminiscent of the scent of a real rose (but certainly not as strong). The scent will vary depending on the variety of rose that was used - Damascena (damask), Centifolia (cabbage or Rose de Mai), or Alba (white) - as well as the climate in which the roses have been grown and harvested. Real, natural rose water does not and should not have a heady and strong rose scent, as may be the case with some artificially rose-scented products.

How to Identify Rose Water on the Ingredient List?

Not all rose water toners are created equal. To ensure you select authentic, quality rose water and rose water-based products, pay close attention to the full ingredient list on the back of the sprays, toners and mists you choose. The fact that is says ‘rose water’ on the front label does not mean you should ignore the ingredient list on the back - this is where you will find the whole story. Pure rose water should be described as one ingredient. The following names are typically used to identify it on the ingredient list:

  • Rose Distillate, Rose Hydrosol/Hydrolat, Rose Flower Water (with explicit mention of steam distillation), Rosa Damascena Flower Distillate, Rosa Damascena Hydrosol, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Rosa Centifolia Flower Distillate...

If you are looking for 100% natural, pure, undiluted rose water, then you should look for products that list any of the ingredient names above. Also, as we've mentioned before - the more specificity provided (e.g. about the variety / species of rose, the origin and / or method of farming), the better. Some brands may choose to include the individual components of rose water such as geraniol, citronellol, etc. on the ingredient list, with the indication that these are naturally occurring in rose oil and rose water. 

As a reminder, ingredients are usually listed in order of magnitude, starting with the top ones first. If you see 'aqua / water' as the first ingredient in a product, advertised as 'pure undiluted rose flower distillate', that tells you that 'water' is indeed the first ingredient. Choosing smart all goes back to learning a bit about the ingredient and reading the individual ingredients on the products we select.

Favorite Rose Water Toners

I always use pure, undiluted rose water as a toner and spraying mist daily. I've researched and used many brands and the ones that I love right now are the Rosa Pretiosa Organic Rose Water by Natural Cosmetic and the Organic Bulgarian White Rose Water by Alteya - both organic, fragrant, the real thing. In addition, I like to incorporate toners where rose water is used in combination with other flower waters and botanicals, because of the variety and the enhanced benefits they provide. I love rose water in combination with jasmine; with astringents such as witch hazel and conditioning ingredients such as aloe vera - as in the Awake Rose Toning Mist featured in our Fall '17 box.  In choosing rose water-based toners, I avoid the ones that have alcohol, artificial fragrances and colors in them, because even though rose water has a myriad of benefits, those benefits  are greatly diminished by the presence of drying alcohols and fragrances.

*More on the benefits and uses of rose water in beauty and skin care coming soon


Rose Water Uses, Benefits in Skincare
Rose Water Uses Benefits Skincare
Rose Water Benefits Uses in Skincare

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