An Introduction to Roses
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 purely pretty: the oil and water extracted from roses has numerous skin care benefits. Several ancient civilizations used roses, rose oil and rose water for medicine, in rituals, and even in cuisine.
There are four varieties of rose 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 the Middle East in Iran, where bottles of rose water were given as gifts. They were even used as tributary payment to the treasury in Baghdad.
Different Beneficial Forms of Rose
Rose Water: Frequently used in religious ceremonies, rose water is a by-product from distilling rose petals and water to make rose oil. It's used in mosques during funeral ceremonies to calm the mourners; so naturally, the aroma is calming, relieves anxiety, and promotes emotional well-being.
Rose Oil: Also 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: Instead of being from the petals, rosehip seed oil is actually from the fruit of the rose plant (the small bulb that is left when the rose petals fall off the stem.) Rosehip is good for mature and photo-damaged skin, along with skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
Rose Petals: Rose petals alone are not only beautiful and fragrant, but were used by Ancient Greeks and Romans to perfume baths. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra was known for her love of rose petals, as not only were they sprinkled onto the floors of her banquet halls, but she included them in her bathing and beauty rituals as well.
To Deal With Oily Skin
Bath Mix to Help Get Oily Skin Under Control: Mix ½ cup of rose petals with a handful of mint and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This bath helps remove excess oil and prevent blemishes. (If you find lemon juice irritating, as some people do, you can substitute it with white vinegar).
Anti-Blemish Face Mask: Mix mashed rose petals with sandalwood powder, adding a little rosewater and a tablespoon of honey so it can be combined into a paste. Then apply it to the face and neck, treating it like a mask. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes, and rinse with cool water. You can also replace the honey with turmeric if you want the mask to help remove dead skin cells, reduce discoloration, and brighten the skin.
To Hydrate Skin
Rose Petal & Yogurt Mask: Mix the rose petals with besan, also known as gram flour or chickpea flour, yogurt, and rose water to make a thick paste. Like all other masks, apply to the face. Then, let dry and rinse with milk, following the milk with cold water.
Soothing Rose Facial Cleanser: Soak 8 – 10 petals in 3 – 4 tablespoons of distilled or filtered water for 3 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: Soak 6-8 rose petals for an hour, then crush the rose petals in a bowl or mortar. Mix 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon of raw honey with the rose petals, and then apply them 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.
For a Gentle Scrub
Soak rose petals in water for 30 minutes, and then crush the petals and mix them with ground oats. Gently scrub this mixture onto your face and neck using circular motions. For extra exfoliation, you can wash off the scrub with a mixture of water and milk. After you exfoliate, put a little bit of rose water on cotton balls, and apply it to the face and neck. Rinse it off with cold water.
Caution: Do not use any ingredients that you are allergic 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 skin care recipes.