I always associated rosewater with little old ladies and chewy Turkish delight sweets. Little did I know that it’s actually great for your skin, hair and even your mood.
Now, rosewater has been used for centuries, even Cleopatra used it in her famous baths and the Romans put rose petals in their wine to get closer to the love goddess Venus.
Rosewater is made through the distillation of Damask rose petals (Rosa Damascena) for the production of rose oil. Damask roses and the distillation process to produce rose oil originated in the middle east, more specifically Iran, Persia at that time.
Rosewater is used to flavour foods like baklava, nougat, ice-cream, tea and several savoury dishes in the middle east. In India, it is used to make the fruity yoghurt drink lassi and in Malaysia, it is added to milk to make Bandung. Even marzipan is flavoured with rosewater.
Why is rosewater so good for you?
DANGER! “Sciency” bit: Rosewater contains Aldehydes, Esters and alcohols (not the kind you drink) that give it antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The Esters found in rosewater are antifungal, anti-inflammatory, calming and balancing. The alcohols are antibacterial, antiviral, stimulating and decongestant. </END SCIENCY BIT>
What does all that mean for your skin:
- Rosewater Balances PH:
The surface of your skin is slightly acidic. Its PH should be around 5.5 to keep it healthy. All this means is that there is a layer called the acidic mantle on the surface of your skin that keeps moisture in and nasties like pollution, dirt and bacteria out. If your PH is off it can cause breakouts, red and inflamed skin, sensitivity and wrinkles. Rosewater has a PH very close to 5.5. So, using rosewater when you have spots and angry skin could help to restore your acidic mantle and calm redness, sensitivity and breakouts.Keep some rosewater in a spray bottle in your fridge. Mist your face a few times during the day to refresh your skin, reduce redness and provide light moisture.
- Rosewater Cleanses:
Harsh facial cleansers strip our skin of moisture, disrupt our PH levels and are sometimes difficult to wash away properly. If you ever have a breakout of little whiteheads around your hairline or chin that you can’t explain, it’s probably because you didn’t rinse your face wash away properly.
Rosewater and coconut oil cleanser:
1 teaspoon coconut oil – vitamin E for moisture & to lift makeup
1 teaspoon organic rosewater – balances PH and kills bacteria
1 drop rose essential oil
Rosewater will help to maintain your PH levels while the coconut oil dissolves your makeup.
You can make a larger batch and keep it in a little jar if you like but this should do to remove your makeup and cleanse again to make sure you got it all. Simply mix the ingredients together and use it to gently lift your makeup off the skin. Rinse with warm water and repeat. Leave the mixture on just a little bit longer this time to give the rosewater time to work.
For a deep cleansing mask:
2-3 tablespoons rosewater
5 tablespoons bentonite clay – absorbs impurities and excess oil
1 teaspoon turmeric – antibacterial
1 teaspoon honey – antibacterial
Mix all the ingredients together and apply to your skin. Leave it on for 20 minutes but wash it off before it dries completely. Clay should not be allowed to dry completely because it starts to pull moisture out of your skin.
- Rosewater Moisturises:
Rosewater contains Vitamin E that helps to moisturise and protect skin. If you struggle with dry skin, you can use a rosewater mist during the day to lightly moisturise and refresh your skin.
You can keep rosewater in a small spray bottle and mist your face during the day to add some moisture and revive tired looking skin and makeup.You can also make a richer moisturising mist:
150ml (half a cup) of rosewater
1-2 tablespoons glycerin/grapeseed oil/castor oil or jojoba oil
Just mix it all together in your spray bottle and spritz your skin when it feels dry to get the dewy look! You can use more or less oil depending on how dry your skin is.
- Rosewater Tones:You can use rosewater as a toner to restore the skin’s natural PH, add a little moisture and prepare the skin to receive your serums and moisturisers.You can just use rosewater on a cotton pad to tone your skin or you can make a richer toner by mixing the following:
10 saffron strands – brightening & anti-aging
1/2 cup rosewater – astringent & calming
1/2 cup water
Bring half a cup of water to the boil. Remove from heat and add 10 strands of saffron. Leave the mixture to cool while the saffron infuses. When the water is at room temperature add the rosewater. Put the mixture in a glass bottle and use as a toner after cleansing.
You can also mix a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and a teaspoon of rosewater in a little bottle and use it as a moisturising and destressing toner.
For puffy under eyes:
If you struggle with puffy eyes in the morning when you wake up, cut a cotton pad in half and soak the pieces in rosewater. Pop them in the fridge overnight. When you wake up, cleanse your skin, spray your face with a little rosewater and apply the cotton pads under your eyes. Leave them there to work for a few minutes and remove. They will moisturise your under eyes without making the “bags” worse and they will help the excess fluid drain away.
- Rosewater helps to clear acne and breakouts:
Rosewater has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. When the acid mantle on our skin is disrupted, it is more vulnerable to infection which is one of the reasons why we get acne. Rosewater limits the growth of the acne causing bacteria by keeping the skin’s PH at around 5.5.The anti-inflammatory properties of rosewater help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with spots. This not only makes them look better while they heal, but it also helps them to heal faster. Inflammation can cause scarring, so by healing the inflammation, it helps to prevent acne scars.
How to make a spot treatment for acne:
1 tablespoon rosewater – kills bacteria and soothes inflammation
1 tablespoon lemon juice – helps to remove dead skin cells and excess oil
1 drop tea tree oil – kills infections
Mix the ingredients together in a small container. Use a cotton pad or a cotton bud to apply the mixture to your spots. You can leave it to work for 15 – 20 minutes and rinse it off. I tend to just leave it on but if you have a more sensitive skin you would want to wash it off after 15 – 20 minutes.
- Rosewater helps to calm inflamed skin:The Esters in rosewater have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. It reduces swelling, redness and cools the skin to reduce itching and irritation.Rosewater can be used to treat eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and sunburn. There is some debate on whether or not it works for Rosacea. Some people are convinced that it reduces redness while others say that it makes it worse. I don’t have the condition myself but it seems as though it works differently depending on the individual. You will have to try it to find out.
You can spray your face with 100% organic rosewater or put it on a cotton pad to apply it to the affected area.
We’ve all struggled with an angry, bumpy bikini area or underarms after shaving at some point. Put a little rosewater on a cotton pad and apply it to the affected area. It will gently take away the redness and calm the inflammation so you can wear your swimsuit without shorts to hide the razor bumps.
- Rosewater helps fight the signs of ageing:
Rosewater is full of antioxidants that help to fight and repair cell damage. Rose petals contain high levels of vitamins C and E which are both powerful antioxidants.Rosewater fights the signs of ageing by preventing cell damage due to free radicals and by reducing inflammation caused by sun exposure, toxins and cell damage.You can add a few drops of rosewater to your moisturiser every day or apply it as a toner.
- Rosewater gives you shiny, dandruff free hair
All those lovely antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties help to treat dandruff.Dandruff is an overgrowth of skin cells on the scalp or a result of medical conditions like a fungal infection, eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. It has nothing to do with personal hygiene.
Using rosewater as a rinse after washing your hair will help to moisturise the scalp, soothe irritation and get rid of the fungal infection.For a more intensive treatment:
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds – anti-fungal
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup rosewater – anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal
Soak a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in a cup of hot water until the water reaches room temperature. Remove the seeds and add half a cup of rosewater to the solution. Discard the seeds. Apply to the mixture to your scalp after shampooing as a final rinse. You don’t have to wash it out. Your hair will smell lovely.
- Rosewater lifts your mood and helps you sleep
Mood enhancing: There is a 2011 study that suggests that drinking rosewater has anxiety and depression soothing results. A glass of water with a little organic rosewater and honey will calm the nervous system and enhance your mood.Helps you relax after a long day: Simply add some rosewater to your bath and relax. Your skin will be soft and your mind will be calm. Win WIN!
Helps you sleep: The same study found that rosewater contains compounds with a “hypnotic” effect and flavonoids that reduce anxiety. You can either drink your rosewater by adding a teaspoon full to a cup of warm milk before bed or spray it on your pillows and bedding as aromatherapy.
Other ways to use Rosewater:
Mouth Wash for Ulcers: Rosewater has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe mouth ulcers.
Ironing: You can add rosewater to the water in your iron to soften clothes while giving them a fresh scent.
Cocktails: For something girly and a little different, add a few drops of rosewater to your gin and tonic instead of lemon. You can do the same with a vodka tonic as well! If you add a drop of natural red food colouring as well, you really will have a rosy pink drink.
Lingerie scent: Spray rosewater in your lingerie drawer or on your underwear before you put it on. It’s a treat for you when you put them on and you will smell fresh all day!
When buying rosewater, make sure that it is organic or pure rosewater some of it is food grade rosewater. Some of the names include Rosa Damascena or Steam Distilled Rosewater. Check that there is no added alcohol or chemicals. You do get rosewater perfumes but they are not pure rosewater. If you buy rosewater with added ingredients, please don’t consume it. Make sure that it is for skincare use and not just a scent or perfumed spray. Read your labels.
Weleda has a wonderful rose moisturiser and deep moisturising mask. I use the mask overnight and it does wonders for tired skin.
Rosewater isn’t just for old ladies! It sounds like an old-fashioned ingredient but it seems to be making a comeback. Let me know if you try it.