It’s no secret that I am obsessed with roses, I’ve written about my love for roses and using roses for skincare many times, and I also named rose as my favorite plant during my Herbal Skincare Summit talk. And I wasn’t alone, because MANY of the other Herbal Skincare Summit teachers and attendees also named rose as their favorite.
Today I’m not going to tell you why I like using roses for skincare in general because I wrote an Ingredient Spotlight about rose several years ago, which you can read HERE, though I will add that the petals absolutely do have soothing and astringent skin benefits, in addition to their signature aromatic and aromatherapeutic properties. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance also wrote a Carrier Oil Close-Up of rosehip seed oil which you can check out HERE.
Instead, I want to answer a question that many people have asked me over the years and emailed in about during the Herbal Skincare Summit–what’s the best way to use roses for skincare? I don’t think there’s really a “best” way to use roses for skincare, because they all have value–different extraction methods and solvents extract different properties from the plant; but I definitely wanted to tell you some of my favorites. Here we go!
My favorite ways to use roses for skincare:
Rose glycerite is a type of rose extract that uses glycerine as the solvent, rather than alcohol or something synthetic. Glycerine is a water soluble, natural byproduct of the soapmaking process in case you didn’t know. The glycerine is able to extract the water soluble properties of the rose petals and/or hips (depending on which parts you use in your glycerite), including rose’s cooling, soothing (rose is a natural anti-inflammatory), astringent properties, tannins, and B vitamins; and the majority of the vitamin C found in the hips. The glycerine is also able to capture the aroma of the rose petals, and is gentler than extracts made from stronger solvents. I use rose glycerite in the water phase of many of my lotion cleansers and creams, as part of the base to my gels, and also add it to some toners.
This is not the same as rose essential oil or rosehip oil–what this is is a carrier oil (I usually use jojoba for this) that has been infused with rose petals and rosehips for 4-6 weeks in the hot summer sun–or, if it’s winter, I use my Magical Butter (affiliate link) machine. Since this oil is not steam distilled and has not been cold pressed from the seeds, it will not have all of the essential fatty acids or antioxidant profile of rosehip seed oil (unless you use rosehip seed oil itself as the base). However the combination of the jojoba oil plus the gentle heat will gently extract any oil soluble properties from the rose parts, including its fatty oils, organic acids, flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants (carotenoid antioxidants are precursors to Vitamin A), and Vitamins D and E.
Rose and rosehips infusion.
There’s no simpler way to use roses for skincare than making a cup of tea! Making tea with rose petals and rosehips brings out the water soluble constituents of the rose similar to how rose glycerite does, with the addition of boiling water, which in some cases may bring out more properties, or conversely, may kill off others. Rose infusion is a versatile ingredient because you can take it internally to help build healthy skin from within–rose tea is known to deliver strong amounts of Vitamin C (especially if rose hips are used), and also help support healthy digestion which is crucial for healthy skin. Topically, though, rose tea is a lovely addition to any water phase, or may be used as a toner or to reconstitute a dry clay mask.
Rosewater or hydrosol.
The term “rosewater” is a fairly loose one. It can refer to a rose infusion, or a rose flower essence (rose petals soaked in spring water overnight under the full moon), or water that has been scented with rose essential oil, where the oil soluble components have been broken down into tiny droplets, which have been suspended into the water. It’s also possible that it’s a water that has been artificially scented with synthetic rose fragrance, or even with the natural phenyl ethyl alcohol derivative of rose petals, which is a known perfume fixative, though it’s naturally derived. Rose hydrosol, on the other hand, is one of the byproducts of the steam distillation process used to make rose essential oil. It retains rose’s beautiful aroma, and the water soluble benefits obtained from the distillation process, while the volatile compounds are what go into the essential oil. Rose hydrosol is an excellent way to get many of the benefits of rose essential oil, in a less concentrated and safer way. I use rosewater and rose hydrosol as toner, replacement for distilled water in my water phase for lotions and creams, as a cooling compress, and to reconstitute masks.
Rose C02 extract.
Supercritical C02 extraction is a newer way to extract phytochemicals and aromatic compounds from plants in a form that is concentrated like essential oils. It does not use heat, so it is able to extract some of the constituents that are normally harmed by the high heat needed for steam distillation, and the aroma is often closer to that of the actual plant. While it does not extract all of the same compounds as steam distillation, because of the lack of heat, it is a more sustainable way to obtain a concentrated oil soluble form of the plant, as it uses much less plant matter than is required for steam distillation. While rose C02 still should be diluted, it is often considered a safer topical application than steam distilled rose essential oil, and comes at a lower price. Unlike rose absolutes, waxes, and concretes, it contains no potentially harmful chemical solvent residues. I use rose C02 extract to add more natural rose scent to my herbal skincare products and soaps.
Want to learn how to make even more herbal preparations to use for skincare, and choose the right herbs for your skin specifically? I teach it in my Create Your Skincare online courses! Check them out HERE.
Rose is just one of the many amazing plants nature has provided to help us maintain healthy, clear, gorgeous skin. What’s your favorite way to use roses for skincare?
Please tell me in the comments below! And by the way, I offer a fabulous herbal skincare recipe that uses roses in different ways in the Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book, which you can get along with all the Herbal Skincare Summit videos, audios, and bonuses when you purchase the Herbal Skincare Summit Kit. Get yours HERE!
*This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclaimer here.