Roses Have Been Enjoyed and Revered for Centuries
Throughout history, the rose has been associated with love, pleasure, luxury and royalty — as well as with sacred traditions.
The Greek poetess Sappho crowned the rose as the "Queen of Flowers" in approximately 600 BCE.1 Roses have been involved in lavish festivals, royal weddings, and sacred rituals in many different cultures since then.
While rose and rose hips are consumed internally in the form of tea, they are most commonly used topically, either as rose water, perfume and rose (essential) oil, and rose hip seed oil. Rose water and rose potpourri are also used aromatherapeutically.
Rose essential oil, traditionally known as "attar of roses" or "otto of roses," was first discovered between 1882 and 16121 CE in Northern Persia. News of its magnificent aroma spread quickly, and by the end of the 17th century, large scale distillation and manufacturing of rose water and rose essential oil had commenced. Though the manufacturing of rose perfumes and waters began in the Middle East, it quickly spread throughout Asia Minor and Europe, most notably in France and Bulgaria.
Rose essential oil is extremely expensive to produce, even using modern steam distillation methods. The reason for this is that it takes an incredible amount of rose petals to produce the oil: one pound of rose essential oil requires approximately 10,000 pounds of rose petals! In today's world of laboratory-created bio-identical synthetic ingredients, one might wonder why companies do not simply use synthetic forms of rose essential oil. In fact, some companies do use synthetic "essence of rose" or "rose essence" in their products. While these ingredients are more affordable than authentic, natural rose essential oil, according to Rose Magazine2 they have no therapeutic properties at all.
Therapeutic Benefits of Rose
While rose is still best known for its aroma and its association with romance and royalty, it has several benefits to the skin, as well as to the internal systems of the body. Though there are thousands of different species of rose, only three have been identified as having high enough levels of therapeutic properties to make into rose waters and essential oil. They are Rosa Damascena, Rosa Centifolia, and Rosa Gallica. Bulgarian Rosa Damascena is considered to have the highest level of therapeutic properties for the skin, and is therefore preferable to the other species for use in skin care, despite its high price.
Aromatically, rose is known to soothe and relax the mind and the senses, and is great for stress relief. Rose can be applied topically via skin care preparations such as rose water or moisturizers with a few drops of rose essential oil added. Rose water and rose essential oil are wonderful for all types of skin. It is great to use as a toner and moisturizer for clients with sensitive and couperose skin due to its tonic and astringent effect on capillaries. It also has naturally occurring antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties which can help improve acneic skin. Clients with acneic skin are accustomed to strong and often unpleasant-smelling skin care ingredients like tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide — an acne treatment utilizing rose water and products with a couple of drops of added rose essential oil would be a welcome improvement! Rose essential oil may also provide favorable results for clients with eczema, dry skin, scarring, fine lines and wrinkles.
Refining and Rejuvenating Rose Mask
The Advantages of Rose Hips
While the petals offer many benefits, the fruit of the rose (known as the rose hips), must not be ignored. Rose hip seed oil is rich in many nutrients that are known to benefit the skin including vitamins A, C (rose hips contain higher levels of vitamin C than citrus fruits), D, K, and E, as well as lycopene and other flavanoid antioxidants. It also contains citric and malic acids, as well as a high amount of the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acids. It can be used as a carrier oil or alone as a powerful moisturizer.
While rose hip seed oil does not have as long a history as rose essential oil and rose water, studies in the 1980s3 have shown serious anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits on dry, scarred, sun-damaged, wrinkled, and prematurely aged skin after months of daily application. It is very hydrating, soothing and protective, and absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy or oily residue. However, unlike other "dry" oils like argan and jojoba, rose hip seed oil is not indicated for use on overly oily or acneic skin. These skin types will respond more favorably to rose water and non-comedogenic moisturizers with a few drops of rose essential oil added.
From a holistic perspective, clients with inflammatory conditions might also benefit from drinking tea made from rose petals rose hips. Recent research shows that internal inflammatory conditions in the cardiovascular and digestive systems often manifest on the skin as acne, rosacea, eczema and even psoriasis.
Rose hip tea is very helpful for the digestive system4 and can also help maintain a healthy balance of friendly gut microbiota, which can help increase the immune system and prevent Candidiasis. It is also very anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. which also benefits the skin from the inside out.
Rose hip products are much less expensive than other rose ingredients, allowing more clients to experience its properties.
While some forms of rose might be costly even at wholesale prices, others are very affordable and easily accessible. Rose potpourri in the treatment room, rose essential oil or water in the steamer, or rose hip seed oil-based skin care products on the retail shelf give spa treatments and the spa's ambience itself an elegant touch that clients love.
Grieve, M. "Roses." A Modern Herbal. Botanical.com, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/roses-18.html>.
Grant, Andrea. "Therapeutic Benefits of Roses." Therapeutic Benefits of Roses - Rose Magazine. Rose Magazine Inc., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.rosemagazine.com/pages/therapeutic.asp>.
"Organic Rosehip Seed Oil Profile." Mountain Rose Herbs. Mountain Rose Herbs, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.<http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/oilprofile/rosehiporganic.php>.
Jewell, Dr. Susan. "Rose Tea Health Benefits." livestrong.com. Demand Media, Inc., 14 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/71165-rose-tea-health-benefits/>.
Rachael Pontillo is an AADP board-certified Holistic Health Practitioner, licensed aesthetician, writer, and entrepreneur. In addition to working with clients in individual and group coaching programs, she also teaches holistic skin care, nutrition and wellness classes in the Philadelphia area and has presented lectures at national conferences. She is the founder and author of the popular website and blog Holistically Haute™ at www.holisticallyhaute.com and is owner of the local skin care and wellness company Holistically Haute, LLC.