The rose has traditionally been called the Queen of Flowers and in aromatherapy, rose is often thought of as the queen among essential oils.
Besides the gorgeous smell, what I love most about the rose plant is that it gives us so many beautiful and nourishing by-products: the essential oil & absolute from the blossoms, the hydrosol from the distillation process, and a plant oil from the fruit (rosehips).
Rose essential oil & absolute
I love to use Rosa damascena in my skin care formulations. It is available as an essential oil and an absolute.
Rose “otto” essential oil is steam distilled from the blossoms. The rose petals are placed in a container with pure water and then slowly heated. The warm water causes the flowers to release their essential oil. The steam and essential oil pass through a cooling unit and then travel to a container where the cooled essential oil floats on the surface of the cooled water. The essential oil is collected and sold as Rose Otto. The water that remains is called rose hydrosol.
Rose absolute is created through a solvent extraction process. This process produces a greater yield than distillation which is why Rose absolute tends to be less expensive than Rose otto.
While distilled rose essential oil is clear to very pale yellow, the absolute is a beautiful orange-reddish color and has a gorgeous sweet, fresh smell. My Rose absolute comes from Bulgaria’s Rose Valley, which is one of the largest producers of rose oil.
It takes 60,000 roses to produce one ounce of Rosa damascena absolute – making it incredibly precious and expensive.
Aromatherapists love to use Rose absolute in skin care products because it is wonderful for all skin types, especially dry, mature, and sensitive skin. Scientific research has shown that topical application of Rose absolute improved skin texture and reduced the appearance of atopic dermatitis.
But what I love best about Rose absolute is that the gentle and warm scent reduces anxiety and instills a sense of calm and well-being.
This 2012 study showed that the inhalation of rose essential oil actually reduces cortisol levels (a stress-reducing hormone) and decreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL), an index of the disruption of skin-barrier function.
This 2016 study concluded that inhalation aromatherapy using Rosa damascena could be an effective complementary therapy in burn patients for pain relief.
As mentioned above, rose hydrosol is created during the distillation of rose essential oil.
I love to mist my face with rose hydrosol every evening before applying my face serum. You can even saturate a cotton ball and apply topically as a facial toner. The aroma is beautiful and helps reduce anxiety and promote feelings of self love. A perfect addition to your green beauty ritual!
Rosehip Seed Oil
This beautifully nourishing oil comes from the hips (or fruit) of the rose bush. It is very high in vitamin C (about 20 times more than oranges).
It is a highly regenerative plant oil and rich in linoleic acid.
Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid that is important in building the membrane that surround every skin cell. It helps to strengthen the protective lipid barrier that lies beneath the surface of the skin and guards against moisture loss (Shutes, 2016).
Rosehip seed oil also has an exceptional effect in reducing the hyperpigmentation of scars and healing damaged skin.
It is quickly absorbed into the skin, and it is one of my absolute favourite oils to include in my bespoke face oils and serums that I create for my clients.
Want to learn more?
Stay tuned for an upcoming spring workshop on creating your own green beauty rituals with rose.