For many, roses evoke romance, sensuality, and luxury. Known in Latin as Rosa damascena, the sweet aroma of roses is arguably one of the most recognizable in the world.
This type of rose is widely popular in the beauty and wellness industries, used in everything from face creams to perfumes.
Rose water, a liquid made from water infused with rose petals, is one of the many ways roses can be used for health, beauty, and even food and drink.
The use of rose water may have
From room spray to a sweetly-scented bath, rose water is a versatile part of a self-care routine. Read on to learn about the benefits of rose water and how to make it yourself.
It’s been shown to be beneficial for:
- skin health
- eye health
- sore throat
- brain health
When it comes to the skin, rose water can help:
- protect the cells against damage
- soothe irritation
- calm redness
- ease symptoms of skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea
It does this by inhibiting harmful enzymes known as elastase and collagenase.
According to aromatherapy expert Kannank Laseeta, natural rose water without any chemicals can be used on a daily basis. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used directly on the skin.
This makes it an ideal addition to your beauty routine.
Still, if you’ve never used it before it’s always a good idea to do a patch test first. It’s possible to be allergic to rose.
There are a few methods of preparing rose water, including:
- using essential oils
Unless you’re using the essential oil method, you’ll start with collecting the petals.
You can ask your local farmer, florist, or grocer for food-grade quality roses.
It’s best to get organic petals if you can, but any healthy flowers will do. Just be sure the roses you select aren’t sprayed with pesticides or chemicals.
The number of petals you’ll need depends on how much rose water you want to make.
How much do you need?
As a general rule, 2 or 3 flowers is enough for 1 cup of fresh petals or 1/4 cup dried petals.
Next, separate the petals from the flower and gently wash them with water to get rid of dust and any traces of foreign material.
Then you’re ready to move on to your next step: simmering or distilling.
- 2–3 cups of fresh rose petals, rinsed and cleaned
- a wide pot or saucepan
- glass spray bottle or jar
- 1/2 gallon distilled water
- Add your clean rose petals to your pot or saucepan.
- Add enough distilled water to just cover the petals. Don’t add too much water, or you’ll dilute your rose water!
- Place the pot on the stove on low heat.
- Cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 30–45 minutes.
- Simmer until the petals lose their color.
- Leave your rose water to cool completely.
- Strain the water into a spray bottle or jar.
- Refrigerate and use for up to a month.
In the distillation method, the rose water collects on the underside of the lid as condensation and drips into the bowl. This method gives you the most concentrated rose water but takes a few extra steps.
- 2–3 cups fresh rose petals, rinsed and cleaned
- wide pot or saucepan
- small heat-proof bowl, like metal or ceramic
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1/2 gallon distilled water
- Place a small heat-resistant bowl in the center of a wide pot.
- Add the washed petals to the pot, careful they don’t get stuck under the bowl.
- Add distilled water to the pot until the petals are just submerged.
- Place the lid upside down on the pot, and place the ice cubes in the lid.
- Bring to a boil.
- Continue adding ice cubes as needed.
- Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30–45 minutes.
- Carefully remove the lid with tongs to check the color of the petals. Once they’ve lost their color, you’re done!
- Allow the rose water to cool completely.
- Once cool, transfer the rose water from the bowl to a spray bottle.
- Refrigerate and use for up to 6 months.
The water in the pot can also be strained and used as in the simmering method so none of your rose petals go to waste!
The essential oil method is arguably the easiest way to go and keeps for longer.
Its downsides are that you can’t ingest (read: eat) the rose water, and it requires the use of rose essential oil, which is generally fairly expensive.
Still, if you’re short on time, it does the job.
- 12 drops of rose essential oil
- 1 tablespoon carrier oil of choice, like coconut, almond, or jojoba
- 1 cup distilled water
- glass spray bottle or jar
- Mix essential oils and carrier oil together, then add water.
- Pour the mixture into a glass bottle or jar.
- This method doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Do not ingest rose water made with essential oils.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils.
It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils. Be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
It’s ideal to store rose water in the refrigerator or in a cool and dry place to maintain its potency and preserve it for as long as possible.
Like all other products, rose water has a shelf life that depends on the method used to prepare it. With time, rose water loses its potency.
Rose water made using the distillation method can last for up to 6 months in the fridge if stored in a sterilized, sealed glass container, while rose water made from the simmering method lasts only a month or so.
If the scent or color of your rose water changes after you store it, it’s best to discard it.
Adding a preservative
To keep your rose water for longer, you may want to add a preservative, like vodka.
- Add one teaspoon of vodka for every 2 cups of water during the distillation or simmering process.
- Follow the instructions of your chosen method for all other steps.
- Cool and store in the refrigerator to keep your rose water even longer.
Rose water toner is an excellent alternative to pricey facial toners, especially those with alcohol that tend to dry out the skin.
Using rose water as a toner helps remove excess oil and dirt and aids in maintaining the pH balance of the skin.
Rose water body spray is a refreshing way to perk up, cool down, or simply get a blast of floral scent.
Spritz it on the face to keep the skin hydrated and maintain balance. Spray it on your body immediately after a shower followed by a body moisturizer to feel fresh and rejuvenated all day.
You can also spray it on rashes and sunburn to heal and cool the skin.
Want your house to smell like roses? Spritz some rose water as a natural air freshener.
Spray it on furniture, curtains, and pillows to release a gentle scent. Rose water is a great alternative to chemical scent-releasers and is generally considered safe for those who are sensitive to scents.
Rose water can be spritzed on your hair to tame frizzy and wavy hair or to refresh a sweaty or itchy scalp.
You can also rinse your hair with rose water after shampooing. This acts as a mild conditioner and keeps hair shiny and sweet-smelling.
Spritzing a bit of rose water on the hair before going out acts as a natural hair perfume, leaving a subtle fragrance.
Rose water can be used to refresh your clothes while ironing. Just pour some rose water into your steam iron instead of normal water.
Cocktails and mocktails
You can mix some sweet, floral cocktails and mocktails using rose water. Just add a few tablespoons to your favorite concoction (as long as you haven’t used the essential oil method to make your rose water).
Cotton pads dipped in rose water can be used to cover tired eyes and reduce the look of fatigue and puffiness.
Using rose water is generally considered safe and mild. Still, it’s possible to have an allergy to roses. Always do a patch test before using to ensure there’s no reaction.
Also be sure that the rose water you buy doesn’t have any harmful additives.
Many rose water products available online are artificial or synthetic, which means they have no therapeutic benefits at all. They may also contain other additives and chemicals.
Rose water is a simple, natural way to add a little bit of floral sweetness to your wellness and beauty routine.
From skin benefits to improving mood, rose has been shown to have a number of benefits, and making rose water at home is a relatively simple process.
Just be sure to keep it refrigerated and discard when the scent or color changes.
Kavitha Yarlagadda is an independent writer based in Hyderabad, India. She has by-lines in publications like Al Jazeera, Women’s Media Center, South China Morning Post, Whetstone Magazine, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, and also writes for other technology and social platforms. Read more at her website and follow her on Twitter.