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Roses are often considered the epitome of love, beauty, and all things nice. But there is much more to this sweetly aromatic flower than its ornamental appeal.
Roses have a distinctive flavor and several medicinal properties that become concentrated in the essential water produced during the steam distillation of its petals. Distillation involves selectively heating and then cooling a liquid to separate its key components.
Hydrodistillation of rose petals enables you to extract the most purified and concentrated forms of various plant compounds, and rose water is one such by-product.
When the rose petals are boiled in water, the vapors released from the mixture are subsequently cooled down, and the aqueous distillate left behind is referred to as rose water or golab. (1)
Infused with the characteristic smell of roses, this hydrosol is commonly used in the manufacture of perfumes, air fresheners, and aromatherapy agents.
Rose water is also used as a flavoring agent in home cooking and in the food industry. It is also a regular feature in a lot of religious ceremonies, particularly in Europe and Asia.
This floral water is also credited with a lot of skin-healing benefits, which explain its wide application in the beauty industry.
A lot of cosmetic products contain rose water, but the hydrosol is no less than a cosmetic product itself. It is replete with anthocyanins, polyphenols, and flavonoids, all of which exude strong antioxidant properties that help fight free radical damage and help curb skin inflammation.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage your skin cells through oxidative stress and pave the way for a lot of dermatological problems. Inflammation is also at the crux of some of the most commonly reported skin-related complaints. Rose water can help tackle two of these most common culprits of skin problems. (2)
The beauty benefits of rose water do not end there. This therapeutic potion is extremely gentle on the skin and gives off a refreshing smell that can invigorate your senses. You can directly spritz it on your skin as a face or body mist, especially during the summer, when you need to reapply the fragrance multiple times.
Even people with sensitive skin can use this natural mist as a suitable alternative to regular sprays and deodorants without worrying about adverse reactions.
Unlike regular perfumes or sprays, rose water is free of alcohol and other harsh chemicals that normally irritate your skin. By contrast, the topical application of rose water is known to cool and soothe the skin.
What’s more, this mild and fragrant liquid also works as a natural toner that can help balance the pH of your skin. The skin-enhancing virtues of rose water are not only backed by preliminary research, but are also evident in the widespread use of this ingredient in anecdotal home remedies passed down across generations.
Rose water has emerged as one of the most sought-after beauty essentials, so much so that the market is often unable to meet its demand. The main reason is the ingredient is employed by various industries for a whole range of different purposes.
The supply shortage is often compensated by introducing inferior products for the said hydrosol that have either been watered down or contain synthetic essences or essential oils of other plants.
The rejuvenating effect of rose water is much talked about but needs to be validated by more extensive research to arrive at any solid conclusions.
However, one cannot deny the sensory appeal of its fragrance, which is both stimulating and relaxing at the same time. It helps enliven your dull spirits by adding a zing of freshness and helps calm your mind at the same time. Thus, rose water also makes for revitalizing bath oil. (3)
Lastly, you can use rose water as a skin-friendly makeup remover. It will draw out the impurities from your skin pores without irritating or drying out your skin. This liquid is also known to exhibit a mild astringent effect that can help shrink your pores.
NOTE: People with a sensitive nose or those with active pollen allergies are advised to take special precautions when using rose products. If you experience any discomfort or a flare-up of your allergy symptoms after using rose water, discontinue its use immediately. Given that rose water may contain pollen particles, spraying it on your face can trigger a respiratory reaction that primarily affects the upper airways. This reaction could lead to breathing difficulty and should be tended with proper medical care.
To rule out any adverse skin or respiratory reactions, it is recommended that you patch test the product on the underside of your arm before using it anywhere else on your body, especially on your face. Those with an overactive sense of smell should also do this to see if they can tolerate the rosy aroma.
Method to Make Your Own Rose Water
- Petals from 4-5 fresh roses
- 250 ml distilled water
- 10-15 ice cubes
- A boiling pot or a deep saucepan
- A stand
- A heat-resistant bowl (to be placed inside the boiling pot for collecting the rose water)
- A bottle for storing the end product
- Wash the roses and pluck their petals off.
- Place your boiling pot on the stove and place an appropriately sized metal stand inside it.
- Drop the rose petals in the pot and push them to the sides of the pot.
- Place a bowl on the stand.
- Pour just enough water in the pot to submerge the rose petals.
- Cover the pot with its lid upside down and bring the solution to a boil.
- Keep ice cubes on top of the inverted lid and let the solution simmer on medium-low flame for 20-30 minutes.
- When the ice melts, replace it with more ice cubes to enable the condensation of the steam to form rose water, which will trickle down from the underside of the lid straight into the bowl placed on top of the stand.
- Remove the lid after 20-30 minutes to check if the rose petals have turned white, in which case you must turn off the heat, remove the bowl from the pot, and allow it to cool.
- Finally, transfer the rose water that has collected inside the bowl into a sterile bottle.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- The reason for using a metal stand to hold the liquid-collection bowl is to keep it at a distance from the pot. If the bowl with the rose water comes in contact with the heated pot, the liquid inside it will evaporate or dry up. If you do not have a metal stand handy, you can use a ceramic bowl in its place.
- The size and design of the bowl to be placed inside the pot should be such that it allows the inverted lid to cover the pot properly.
- Rinse off any dirt or grime from the petals before putting them into the utensil, or else you will end up boiling the impurities as well, which can contaminate your final product.
- The normal shelf life of homemade rose water is about 10 days, provided you store it in a cool place. Ideally, you should stick the bottle in your refrigerator to preserve the therapeutic efficacy of the rose water.
Rose water is a widely popular beauty product whose effectiveness has stood the test of time. Be it your mother or your grandmother, women across generations will vouch for the skin benefits of rose water. A lot of people reduce rose water to perfumed water, but it has much more to offer than just its flowery smell.
No doubt, the fragrance is one of its primary charms, which account for its widespread use in aromatherapy. This gentle flower extract can help hydrate, soothe, and cleanse your skin without irritating or damaging it. It is completely devoid of any chemicals and relies solely on the natural healing effects of antioxidants to improve your skin condition.