Rose water is a worldwide beauty favorite with long-lasting appeal.
And with good reason.
It can help to protect your skin from aging and infections, soothe skin conditions and irritation, and has found popular use as a toner and cleanser.
Roses have been used for their medicinal and beauty properties since ancient times, with the historical beauty queen Cleopatra herself supposedly bathing in rose water to condition her skin.
And it’s long been used in the Middle East as a topical treatment for eczema and dermatitis.
Not only that, but its famous scent can help to relieve anxiety and stress and put you in a cheerful mood.
Are you convinced that you want to try it yet?
Let’s take a deeper look at the uses and benefits of rose water for skin.
What Is Rose Water?
Rose water can be made in a few different ways.
The highest quality, often described as rose distillate, is produced as a by-product of the hydrodistillation of rose petals from the plant Rosa damascena in the production of rose oil.
In this process:
The water that is left over, the rose hydrosol (sometimes referred to as hydrolat), is often redistilled to further extract the essential oil.
The water that is collected after this process still contains some of the phytochemicals that were present in the oil and can be sold as rose water.
It’s worth being aware that some of the rose water that’s available to buy is just created by adding a small amount of rose oil to water.
This isn’t true rose water as there is a difference in the phytochemicals that are left behind in the water after distillation compared to those found in the oil.
Because of this, these products are not described as hydrosols. and are usually cheaper.
The best quality rose water is generally considered to come from an area in Bulgaria known as the ‘Rose Valley’. This area has the ideal climate and soil for growing Rosa damascena.
But, other regions of the world also produce rose water from a number of common species of rose including Rosa gallica, Rosa centifolia, and Rosa moschata.
As mentioned above, rose water contains some of the compounds that are found in rose essential oil, but not all of them.
This is because many of the smaller constituents of rose oil are not soluble in water.
However, rose water does contain the same major compounds citronellol, nerol, and geraniol. It also contains phenylethyl alcohol (1).
The amount and variety of phytochemicals present varies with the source, but other compounds commonly found include nonadecane, linalool, and pentacosane (2).
Is Rose Water Good For Skin?
Most of the benefits of rose water for skin care stem from the properties of the rose oil constituents it contains.
There’s a lack of clinical studies into rose water and its effects. So what we do know of its possible benefits are derived from studies that have looked at rose essential oil or the specific compounds that they both contain.
But, it’s worth realizing that the common constituents they share are not present in the same concentration in the water.
And consequently, its therapeutic effects might not be as noticeable.
Nonetheless, rose water remains a very popular beauty product and there are many anecdotal reports of its effectiveness for improving the condition of the skin.
Benefits & Uses
The regular application of rose water to your skin could help to keep it looking more youthful and beautiful.
The major phenolic compounds in rose water, geraniol, nerol, and citronellol are all antioxidants that could help to protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals generated in your skin by toxins in your environment and UV radiation from the sun.
Their ability to scavenge and neutralize these charged particles could protect against the appearance of age-related damage, including wrinkles.
In addition, rose extract has been shown in studies to have anti-collagenase and anti-elastase activity.
By inhibiting these enzymes it could help to protect the important structural proteins in the skin, collagen and elastin (3):
Six extracts had inhibitory activity against both enzymes. These included white tea and rose tincture which were found to have very high phenolic contents and had good scavenging activity in the TEAC assay and against superoxide radicals.
The pH balance of your skin refers to how alkaline or acidic the surface of your skin is. The pH scale runs from 1 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline) with 7 being a neutral pH.
There is a thin layer on the surface of your skin known as the acid mantle that is made up fatty acids secreted by the skin, mixed with lactic acid and amino acids from your sweat. This layer provides protection to the skin and has a slightly acidic pH of approximately 5.5.
A number of things can contribute towards breaking down the acid mantle on your skin, including environmental toxins, facial cleansers, soaps, and other beauty products.
This changes the pH balance of your skin which can lead to skin problems.
Rose water also has a pH of around 5.5 and can help to restore the pH balance of your skin and protect the acid mantle.
By maintaining the pH balance of your skin rose water helps to protect against colonization by the acne bacteria P. acnes.
And the phenolic compounds that it contains have antiseptic properties and might help to prevent bacterial growth on the skin.
However, the results on this are a bit mixed.
Studies that have looked into the antibacterial properties of rose oil have shown that it’s strongly antibacterial and can kill the acne bacteria.
In one study that compared the ability of ten different essential oils at killing P.acnes (4) it was found that:
Time-kill dynamic procedures showed that thyme, cinnamon, rose, and lavender essential oils exhibited the strongest bactericidal activities at a concentration of 0.25% (v/v), and P. acnes was completely killed after 5 minutes.
Other studies have confirmed that the major compounds that are present in rose water geraniol, citronellol, and nerol are all individually potent antibacterials (5).
However, in one study that examined the antibacterial activity of rose essential oil, rose absolute, and rose hydrosol, no significant antibacterial activity was detected for rose hydrosol against any of the bacteria used (1).
But, this study did not look at its effects on P. acnes.
Rose water also has anti-inflammatory properties which could be of use in preventing and treating inflammatory conditions such as acne.
Despite some of the mixed supporting evidence, there’s no denying that there are a lot of anecdotal reports from people who use rose water as part of their anti-acne regimen and claim that it has a significant effect (6).
We await controlled studies to examine its full impact on this troublesome skin condition.
If you suffer from sensitive skin, pure rose water has a good reputation for being easily tolerated by this skin type.
It has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the skin and reduce irritation and redness.
This is due to the phenolic compounds it contains.
That anti-inflammatory ability also makes it a potential candidate for treating other inflammatory skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.
Anecdotal reports suggest that it helps some people. And scientific studies into rose oil have indicated that it might be useful for helping to control the texture and differentiation of skin cells in skin diseases, improving the barrier function (7).
The fact that it’s so in balance with your skin goes some way towards explaining why rose water is such a popular toner.
It easily removes dirt, bacteria, and excess sebum from the pores and surface of your skin.
And it does this in an all-natural way without the use of any synthetic chemicals.
This means that rose water toners have become one of the go-to choices for the natural skin care enthusiast.
Because rose water is a mild astringent it helps to contract the skin temporarily.
This can help to improve its appearance, making it look smoother and tighter, and minimizing the appearance of pores and puffy eyes.
Cool water always helps to take some of the sting away when you’re experiencing sunburn, but rose water can go one better.
The anti-inflammatory properties it possesses help to soothe the pain and itchiness.
Rose water can be used as part of an all natural makeup remover.
You can use it on its own or you can make it more effective by adding it to a small amount of coconut oil.
After you’ve applied the rose water to a cotton pad, add a few drops of coconut oil and gently rub it over your face to remove the makeup and any dirt from your skin.
Anecdotal reports have suggested for years that rose water can help to lighten the skin.
And while studies to gauge its effectiveness have not been conducted, there is some scientific evidence to support these claims.
One study looked at the ability of rose water to affect the enzyme tyrosinase.
Tyrosinase plays an important role in the synthesis of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.
Tyrosinase inhibitors are valuable to the cosmetic industry and appear in products for skin whitening and the reduction of hyperpigmentation.
The study showed that the polyphenols in rose water have the ability to inhibit tyrosinase (8):
RODW [rose oil distillation water] was found to be a potent tyrosinase inhibitor. This value-added product could be used as an active ingredient in cosmetic products related to hyperpigmentation.
How To Use Rose Water
Rose water is very versatile, and there’s a number of ways you can use it on your skin.
It can be applied using a spray bottle to create a hydrating face mist that will leave you feeling refreshed at any time of the day.
The spray can also be used to help set make up before you go out.
And by applying it to a cotton pad you can use it to cleanse your face, wiping away sweat, dirt, and bacteria and freshen up your complexion.
It can also be combined with other natural ingredients to make a range of facial treatments and home remedies.
Here are a few of our favorite rose water recipes for you to consider:
Honey & Rose Water Face Mask
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and a healthy dose of skin-protecting antioxidants. It also helps to gently exfoliate the skin leaving it fresh and glowing, removing fine lines and helping with wrinkles.
Mix 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of rose water together in a bowl.
Apply to your face and leave on the skin for 15-20 minutes.
Wash off and pat your face dry.
Aloe Vera & Rose Water
Aloe vera helps to moisturize the skin. It can also soothe inflammatory skin condition such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Mix together 1 tablespoon of Aloe vera with 2 tablespoons of rose water.
Rub the mixture into your skin and leave on your face for 20 minutes.
Wash the rose water and gel mixture off with water. It can be left on your face if it has absorbed well, it depends on your comfort.
Witch Hazel & Rose Water Toner
Witch hazel has astringent properties that help to shrink pores, and it contains antioxidants.
Mix together ¼ cup of rose water with ¼ cup of witch hazel for combination or oily skin.
If you have dry skin, then try using 3 parts rose water to 1 part instead.
You can also add several drops of your favorite essential oil at this point if you wish.
Use a cotton ball or pad to wipe the toner over your face.
Side Effects & Precautions
Can rose water clog pores?
No, it’s non-comedogenic. It consists of water and a small amount of the phytochemicals that are found in rose petals and can be used safely to cleanse your skin.
Does rose water help dark circles?
Dark circles under the eye are caused by a number of different factors including tiredness, allergies, pigmentation, and changes in the fat layer underneath your skin.
So it depends on what is causing it for you.
As mentioned above, rose water has the potential to help with areas of pigmentation due to its ability to interfere with melanin synthesis.
So if this is the cause then it might help.
But not everyone will find it useful.
Can I leave rose water on my face overnight?
Yes, it can be left on your face at night without any problems.
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