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The Sweet History and Benefits of Rose Water

The scent of roses, whether emanating from the garden plant, perfume, or rose water, is enchanting stuff. We humans love the scent of roses so much that we’ve been cultivating them for roughly 5,000 years. During the 17th century, roses were in such tremendous demand, that rose water was actually used as legal tender in parts of Europe. Since ancient times, we’ve also understood that roses and rose byproducts like rose water may actually contain medicinal and cosmetic properties, which made roses all the more sought after by everyone from royals like Cleopatra to just about everyone else who could obtain them.

Today, rose water remains a traditional staple in many people’s beauty and skin health regimens. In some cultures, rose water remains so revered that it’s even sprayed to adorn wedding guests and featured in religious ceremonies. Here, we’ll delve more deeply into the history of rose water and explore its various benefits. 

Rose Water Origins

Historians believe that rose water likely originated in Persia (present-day Iran). In fact, even today, 90% of the world’s rose water comes from Iran. One of the most ancient flowers, roses likely originated in Central Asia and spread from there. Most of today’s garden roses hail from species cultivated centuries ago in China.

The beauty and scent of roses attracted many ancient royals as evidenced by tomb paintings and documents. It’s said that Cleopatra, known to love roses, filled her fountain with rose water and her bedroom chamber with rose petals in order to seduce the Roman general Mark Antony. The Persian ruler Nebuchadnezzar is known to have slept on a mattress filled with rose petals.

As for refined rose water (not simply combining rose petals with water as the ancients did), it appears to have been invented in the 10th century by a Persian chemist known as Avicenna. In fact, he was also a noted physician, thinker, and astronomer of the Islamic Golden Age. He is credited as the first person to derive attar of flowers from a distillation process. Rose water is a byproduct from this process used for producing rose oil. 

What Are the Benefits of Rose Water?

Rose water is used medicinally, cosmetically, and even added to foods. The process to make rose water has not changed markedly over the centuries. Because of its various properties, rose water is often added to perfume products and cosmetics, but it is also used on its own to produce various benefits that we’ll discuss here:

A Remedy for Skin Irritations

So soothing is rose oil to the skin that it is often used to soothe significant skin irritations such as rosacea and eczema. It’s able to reduce irritations of the skin because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidants contained in rose water help to protect skin from the effects of inflammation. Consequently, using rose water routinely may help keep the skin protected from skin damage.

Rose Water Reduces Skin Redness

Skin redness, like many skin irritations, is caused by inflammation. Some people have a complexion that’s prone to redness. Using rose water as part of a skincare routine can reduce both redness and the puffiness that often accompanies reddening skin.

Rose Water May Reduce Acne

Rose water contains natural antibacterial properties. Many people experience acne-prone skin even well into adulthood. Both teens and adults can benefit from rose water’s anti-acne action. Additionally, rose water can have a soothing effect on areas of the skin affected by acne. The rose water reduces inflammation in the area, alleviating discomfort.

Promotes Healing

Rose water may promote skin healing. Skin abrasions, cuts, scrapes, and even mild burns are commonplace occurrences. Dabbing rose water to the affected area may speed the skin’s natural healing process. Rose water contains both antibacterial and antiseptic properties so that it naturally cleanses the area just as it soothes mild irritations.

Slow the Aging Process

Rose water isn’t the fountain of youth, but it may slow the aging process thanks to its antioxidant power. Antioxidants reduce the presence of free radicals in the skin. Free radicals are caused by inflammation. Inflammation, of course, can speed up the skin’s aging process. Rose water’s antioxidants go to work, reducing these free radicals and protecting healthy skin cells from damage.

Astringent Properties

Rose water astringents have been a popular part of people’s skincare regimens around the world for centuries. Astringents are effective skin-cleansing agents. They dry up excess oil (which can cause oily skin and acne) and tighten skin pores, giving it a smoother, more youthful appearance. Many alcohol-based astringents are known to dry out the skin, but rose water is less drying for the skin, which makes it a great option for skin that’s prone to dryness or unevenness. 

Other Benefits of Rose Water

The skin isn’t the only beneficiary of rose water’s amazing benefits. Many people take rose water to soothe a sore throat. While there’s little modern scientific evidence to back up this claim, people have been using rose water for this purpose for centuries. It’s likely that the rose water’s anti-inflammatory properties have a comforting effect on an irritated throat.

Additionally, rose water may even help promote a good mood! One study demonstrated that rose water produced a calming effect on the central nervous systems of mice. People find rose water soothing for stress and tension.

Rose water can also provide fragrant flavorings to food and drinks. Rose water is the traditional flavoring for the Turkish Delights, a popular confection with historical roots. It’s regularly added to beverages like lemonade and various cocktails.

Since most people experience no side effects from rose water, it remains a popular agent worldwide. Amaki Botanical Skincare features a 100% rose water tonic in its Rose Water Hydrating Mist Toner. It offers both skin restorative and hydrating properties that can enhance the skin. Its rose fragrance, of course, simply adds to its delightful appeal.