For centuries, roses have been a symbol of love. A bouquet of roses along with a heart-shaped box of chocolates has become synonymous with Valentine's Day, no matter what you think of the holiday. Similarly, the fragrance of roses is hypnotic. Something about it is both calming and sensual. But roses aren't just pretty. The oil and water extracted from roses has numerous skincare benefits.
Bulgaria, Turkey, and Morocco are among the top producers of rose essential oil in the world. Their communities have used roses in the name of beauty and self-care for centuries. Here we'll share which roses produce water and oil along with a few recipes to try the next time you're in the mood for a DIY beauty remedy.
Which Roses Produce Rose Oil and Rose Water
There are four varieties of roses used for the production of rose oil and rose water: rosa damascena, rosa centifolia, rosa gallica, and rosa moschata. Rosa damascena is mentioned the most frequently, because it is both the most fragrant and yields the highest oil content.
Rosa damascena is said to have originated in Iran, where bottles of rose water were given as gifts and even used as tributary payments to the treasury in Baghdad. Iran is also known for its rosebud tea and Faloode, which is a cold dessert made of rice noodles mixed with semi-frozen rose water.
Different Beneficial Forms of Rose
Rose Water: Frequently used in religious ceremonies, rose water is a by-product of distilling rose petals and water to make rose oil. It's used in mosques during funeral ceremonies to calm the mourners since the aroma is said to relieve anxiety and promote emotional well-being.
Rose Oil: Known as "otto" and "attar" of roses, rose oil is extracted through distillation. Rose oil has emollient properties and helps reduce inflammation.
Rosehip Seed Oil: Rosehip seed oil doesn't come from petals but from the fruit of the rose plant (the small bulb that is left when the rose petals fall off the stem). Rosehip is ideal for mature and photo-damaged skin, along with skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
Rose Petals: Rose petals are as beautiful as they are fragrant, which may explain why the Ancient Greeks and Romans used them in perfume baths. Egyptian queen Cleopatra sprinkled her love of rose petals on the floors of banquet halls and in her bathing and beauty rituals as well. If you want to channel your inner goddess and indulge in a rose petal milk bath, you only need a few things: Epsom salt, a few drops of rose essential oil, dried rose petals, and powdered coconut milk.
Bath Mix to Hydrate and Soothe
- ½ cup of rose petals
- a handful of mint
- 2 Tbsp of lemon juice
Directions: Mix a ½ cup of rose petals with a handful of mint and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This bath helps remove excess oil. If you find lemon juice irritating, you can substitute the citrusy fruit with white vinegar.
Anti-Inflammatory Rose and Sandalwood Face Mask
- 1/4 cup of mashed rose petals
- 1 Tbsp of honey
- 2 Tbsp of sandalwood powder
- 4 Tbsp of rosewater
- 1 tsp of turmeric (optional)
Directions: Mix the mashed rose petals, sandalwood powder, rosewater, and a tablespoon of honey into a paste. Next, you'll apply the mixture to the face and neck like a mask. Leave the paste on for 15 minutes and rinse with cool water. For additional benefits, replace the honey with turmeric, as it is said to remove dead skin cells, reduce discoloration, and brighten the skin.
Rose Petal and Yogurt Mask
- 1/4 cup of mashed rose petals
- 2Tbsp of yogurt
- 1 Tbsp of gram or chickpea flour
- 2 Tbsp of rosewater
Directions: Mix the rose petals with gram or chickpea flour, yogurt, and rose water to make a thick paste. Apply to the face. Then, let the mask dry and rinse with milk, followed by cold water.
Soothing Rose Facial Cleanser
- 8 - 10 rose petals
- 3 - 4 Tbsp of distilled or filtered water
- 2 Tbsp honey
Directions: Soak 8 to 10 petals in 3 to 4 tablespoons of distilled or filtered water for three hours. Mash the petals into the water and then add 2 tablespoons of honey. Mix and apply to the face. Leave on for 20 minutes, and then rinse with cool water.
Honey Rose Mask
- 6 - 8 rose petals
- 1 Tbsp of plain yogurt
- 1 Tbsp of raw honey
Directions: Soak rose petals for an hour and crush them in a bowl or mortar. Next, mix the plain yogurt and raw honey with the rose petals, and apply the mixture to your face. Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes, and then rinse. If you have oily skin, you can add a little bit of lemon juice to the mix.
Gentle Rose Petal and Oat Scrub
- 1/4 cup rose petals
- 1/4 cup of oats
- 1 tsp of water
- 1 tsp of milk (oat, almond, or regular)
Directions: Add rose petals and organic oats to your blender and mix the duo until they reach a fine, gentle texture. Next, place the mixture in a bowl and add, water, or milk (or both) until the mixture is gentle enough for your skin. You want to avoid a texture that is too grainy. Lastly, gently scrub this mixture onto your face and neck using circular motions and rinse.
Caution: Do not use any ingredients that you are allergic to. Be sure to test masks on the inner part of your elbow to make sure that the ingredients will not cause irritation or a reaction. If you have any severe skin problems, consult a dermatologist before trying any natural skincare recipes.
How to Make Rosewater at Home
- Organic rose petals
Divya Viswanathan, founder of Taza Ayurveda, says her mother often makes this rosewater recipe. Her mother sometimes uses the rosewater to make ice cubes that she applies to her face to stay cool in the Mumbai heat.
Directions: Collect rose flowers, preferably organic, smaller roses as they tend to be more fragrant. Separate the petals and rinse them in cold water to remove any debris. Add the roses to a pot and cover them with water (Not too much or you will dilute the rose water). Simmer the roses for 20-30 minutes on medium to low heat until the roses lose color. Cool and strain. The rosewater can be stored in the fridge for a week or poured over an ice cube tray and frozen.