Did you know that there are 12,000 identified medicinal compounds created by plants? It’s true, and scientists estimate there are still about 108,000 to discover? Roses, for all their beauty and romanticism, actually falls under the medicinal plant list! It improves the metabolism, treats piles, and even relieves depression. But the slightly astringent taste of rose petals puts us off eating them outside of sweet syrups and chocolates.
Of course, there are external ways to use roses. Rose butters are popular for their scent, but the amount of rose is so small, it’s pretty much useless. Rose essential oil is highly concentrated and super effective, but can often be too strong and a few extra drops can leave your skin overexposed; those with sensitive skin can easily develop a rash or hives. It’s also super expensive. The happy middle ground, we’ve found, is rosewater.
Rosewater is created during the process of making rose essential oil. The rose petals go into a distilling pot, steeped in hot, simmering water. When the steam rises through a condenser, the pipe in the lid, and collects into a separate vessel. This concentrated essence, devoid of fatty acid, is what we call an “essential oil.” But the water those rose petals were steeping in are also now infused with the rose’s properties. That is now rosewater.
Those properties are pretty cool. It’s a mild astringent; it binds and shrinks pores, which stops dirt (and makeup) from getting inside your pores and prevents pimples from forming. It balances your skin’s pH levels, to prevent drying of the skin on one side and massive breakouts on the other. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so the pimples you do have get smaller faster. Even better, it can pull off waterproof makeup without having to worry about burning your eyes.
It’s antiseptic and antibacterial, which can treat skin infections like eczema and dermatitis. It can also clean and protect open sores and does wonders with sunburns. It sooths skin irritations, like insect bites or razor burn, so it can be used as an after-shave or kept in your first aid kit.
It’s hydrating. Considering that it’s literally water, you’d think this would be a no brainer, but water as is doesn’t take very well. Even inside your body, you can only absorb about a litre of plain water in an hour, regardless of how much you drink. You have to add something to it if you want more. The Sugars in rose water bind with the water molecules for longer lasting hydration. In Europe, it’s fairly common to see people spray it right onto their faces, especially in the dry winter months. Some fashion blogs recommend spraying it over makeup to avoid the cakey, dull look that happens when makeup settles. Because of the moisturizing qualities, it reduces wrinkles.
It also smells wonderful. Not a cloying or heavy scent, rosewater is a light, springy, and all-natural perfume with aroma therapeutic qualities; it’s naturally relaxing, combats depression and anxiety, and boosts your mood. It’s been shown to help people sleep. Best part, though, is the aphrodisiac qualities. (Wink, wink.)