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Rosewater is a beauty secret of women all over the world and is used by almost every Indian household. Obtained from rose petals naturally, this clear, fragrant liquid holds the true essence of roses.

The soft and refreshing touch of rose water not only gives a sweet fragrance to the skin but also enlivens and rejuvenates all skin types. No matter if you suffer from dry or oily skin, a dab of rose water is bound to do wonders.

You know this beauty product holds great promise when history’s most beautiful queen Cleopatra kept it in her beauty kit. Europeans priced rose water and roses so much that they used it as a sort of currency to pay debts.

In Hindu mythology, rosewater and roses have a special place as a purifier and offering. Makes one wonder what all treasures this simple liquid holds in its wake. Doesn’t it?

Let’s answer your questions and delve into the scientifically evident benefits of this historical and mythical treasure.

But first, here are some basic facts about roses, the flowers that are used to make rose water.

There are about 200 rose species in the world and more than 1500 cultivated varieties. Though rose water is primarily made from damask rose, a hybrid variety of rose which is most well known for its fragrance, medicinal and ornamental use.

  • Botanical name: Rosa damascena
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Common name: Rose, damask rose. Gulab
  • Sanskrit name: Atimanjula, Shatapatrika
  • Parts used: Petals
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Rose varieties are widely spread over the tropics and subtropics. Phylogenetic evidence (genetic history) suggests that most of these varieties have been developed as a result of migration from Asia to acclimatise to the different parts of the world. Roses are grown all over America, Europe, Asia and a rose variety is also found in Africa.
  1. Rose water benefits
  2. How to make rose water at home: diy rose water recipe
  3. Rose water side effects

Rosewater is predominantly a skin care product, though it has some other benefits in the form of aromatherapy and for digestion. Without further delay, let us explore the health benefits of rose water.

  1. Rose water benefits for skin and face
  2. Rose water for hair
  3. Rose water for eyes
  4. Rose water for better digestion
  5. Rose water for brain health
  6. Other uses of rose water

Rose water benefits for skin and face

It would be wrong to talk about rose water and not put its skin benefits at the top. After all, that is usually the first thing that comes to mind when talking about rose water. Right?

Rose water is a known astringent and toner which means it reduces the size of skin pores and helps balance skin pH which is very important to maintain skin health. It hydrates the skin and we all know a well-hydrated skin looks younger and glowing.

Rose water toner

A rosewater toner can be easily made at home by the following recipe:

  • Mix ¾ cup of rose water and about ⅔ cup of witch hazel (can be bought online).
  • Add a few drops of glycerin to this mixture.
  • Pour the mixture in a clear glass bottle and keep in the refrigerator.
  • Spray or dab your face with this mixture two times a day (morning and bedtime).

Apart from toning, it helps balance pH and moisturises your skin. It is thus good for all skin types.

(Read more: Open pores home remedies)

It might interest you to know that most of the traditional skin benefits of rose water are now being confirmed by scientific evidence. Let’s have a look at them.

Antiseptic

Did you know that rose water can protect you from skin infections?

Commonly caused by microbial growth, skin infections not just take away skin glow but also deteriorate skin tissues and hamper its quality. Though there are a number of infectious bacteria that affect the skin, Staphylococcus aureus is much feared. Staph infections spread quickly through direct contact with an affected person or their belonging and appear in the form of blisters, swelling, and skin bumps that are painful. Though a normal staph infection clears away itself, it can sometimes stay and would require treatment.

Research evidence suggests that natural oils present in rose have some active chemical compounds which can inhibit the growth of common infectious bacteria like Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.  In fact, rosewater has been found to be effective in reducing the growth of antibiotic-resistant staph infections which are the woes of clinical and cosmetic pharmacologists in the modern century.

Since rosewater contains about 50% of rose oils, it inadvertently comprises all of those benefits.

Clears acne

Acne is a condition characterised by inflamed and swollen skin which is caused due to the clogging of skin pores with oil and/or dead skin. It can affect anybody but teens and preteens most commonly affected by this problem. Fortunately, rosewater can help you get rid of those zits naturally.

Studies indicate that rosewater possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties which are helpful in reducing swelling, redness and pain associated with acne. Additionally, the antibacterial properties of rosewater inhibit the growth and spread of acne-causing bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes.

Also, as an astringent and moisturiser, rosewater clears off extra debris from your skin and closes pores so there is a lesser chance of future infection.

Clean your skin twice a day with rose water or mix rose water in your skin care packs to help remove pimples and get a smoother looking skin.

Anti ageing

Apart from clearing away acne and pimples, rosewater can also assist in reducing skin ageing. Yes, it can help to remove all blemishes and skin spots. This is because of the presence of antioxidants in rose plants. These antioxidant compounds fight free radical damage and slow down the process of skin ageing. And the best part is that it does not have any side effects. You can spray rose water on the skin in the morning and evening to achieve that younger and supple looking skin.

An anti-ageing mask can be made at home by adding rose water to some Multani mitti, yoghurt and sandalwood.

(Read more: Antioxidant food sources)

Rose water for hair

The soothing and moisturising benefits of rosewater are as effective for scalp and hair as for the face. It hydrates your scalp and removes debris and waste, giving a natural lustre to your hair. Being an anti-inflammatory, it is useful in remedying scalp inflammation and eczema.

Furthermore, rosewater supplies your scalp with antioxidants which assist in slowing down hair greying and excessive hair fall.

To get the maximum benefits from rosewater, it can be mixed with olive oil and amla to be used in the form of a hair pack. Apply the pack for 15-10 minutes and wash it with warm water.

Alternatively, vitamin E or almond oil can be used with rosewater to get rid of dry and damaged hair and to promote hair growth.

For getting rid of frizzy hair, you can mix rosewater with some aloe gel and gently apply it to your scalp.

Rose water for eyes

The benefits of rose water to the eyes is second only to its skin benefits. Rose water is traditionally well known for relieving various eyes conditions including conjunctivitis and dry eyes. In fact, rose water eye drops are one of the most common remedies to relieve puffy and dry eyes. This is mainly attributed to the multifaceted function of rose water, which includes its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions. In other words, it soothes inflammation and burning and inhibits bacterial infections in eyes along with slowing down age-related degeneration of eyes.

Rose water is an excellent remedy for dark circles. Its inherently cooling effect would reduce excessive blood flow to the undereye tissues, improve skin tone and reduce puffiness in the eyes.

Just use some cotton and gently put a layer of rosewater under your eyes and then wait for some magic.

Though it will wipe off circulation related dark circles, do not expect miracles on reducing inflammation or infection.

Rose water for better digestion

Rose water is famous for its topical uses but it has some positive effects when taken orally. Rosewater is known as a cooling drink and is a digestive aid in Ayurveda and traditional medicine. It pacifies digestive fire (agni) thus reducing acidity. Rosewater further hydrates the digestive tract and helps soften stools. It also facilitates the easy passage of waste from the intestines, making it the perfect laxative. Additionally, it helps in flushing out excess toxins from the body and may increase our body’s antioxidant capacity. More antioxidants mean better functioning organs.

Here is an easy recipe to make rose water tea:

  • Boil a cup of water in a pan.
  • Take some rose petals in a cup and pour boiled water in the cup.
  • Cover the cup with a lid and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Strain and drink.
  • You can also cool it in a fridge and drink it later.

Honey and lemon can be put into the rose water tea to improve its health benefits and enhance its taste.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Rose water for brain health

Rosewater has a soothing and relaxing fragrance that calms the nerves. It is used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety, headache and improve mood.

Preclinical studies agree to these claims, adding that rosewater has certain flavonoids which act as anti-depressants and anxiolytic.

It has been demonstrated to be hypnotic, which means it can induce sleep when taken orally. In vivo (animal-based) studies indicate that rose water in a dose of 1000mg/kg is effective in inducing sleep.

Rose water may also be helpful in preventing seizures and epilepsy, as per a recent study. Though more research is needed to confirm this benefit in humans.

Rosewater was a traditional drug used in Iranian medicine for coping with dementia and memory loss. Though methanolic extracts of rose have been found to exhibit such properties, studies are currently lacking to evident these effects of rosewater.

(Read more: How to increase brain power)

Other uses of rose water

  • Rose water is known to relieve cough and sore throat and it has been demonstrated to possess antitussive effects (cough-relieving) in animal-based studies.
  • Lab studies indicate that rose water may have some inhibitory effects on the growth and spread of HIV virus by reducing the maturation of new viruses.
  • Rose water is believed to reduce hot flashes and menopausal symptoms, though no scientific research backs this claim so far.

Rose water is fairly easy to make at home whether you are using fresh rose petals, dried petals or rose essential oil.

Here's how:

  • Take a cup of fresh rose petals or about ¼ to ½ cup of dried rose petals.
  • Wash the fresh rose petals with clean and potable water (dry ones don’t need boiling).
  • Put the rose petals in a clean and dry glass jar. Clean your hands before touching them to avoid bacterial growth in your rose water.
  • Boil about 2 cups of water in a pan.
  • Pour the water into the container/jar when it is lukewarm.
  • Let it steep for a while (5-10 minutes).
  • Strain into another clean and dry container and seal.

It is easier to note the steeping time in fresh flowers since they start to lose their colour.

The best way to use fresh rose petal is by heating them in water till they lose colour but the flame has to be kept lower than a simmer. Rosewater made by this method would also have a darker shade of red.

To make rosewater from essential oil you simply have to put 2-3 drops of rose essential oil in a jar of boiled/sterilised or distilled water  (depending on your preference). Then just shake it enough to let it mix evenly and put in the refrigerator to be used within a week.

Rose water does not have any side effects and is thus completely safe to be used topically (on skin) or orally (ingesting). However, some people may be allergic to roses. It is best to take a patch test before using rose water.

For topical use, it can be done by putting a small amount of rose water on your wrist. If it shows redness, inflammation or any signs of allergy, do not use it.

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References

  1. Integrated pest management. Rose: A Brief History. University of Missouri
  2. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(4):295-307. PMID: 23493250.
  3. Flowers of India. Damask Rose . National portal of India
  4. Fougère-Danezan M, Joly S, Bruneau A, Gao XF, Zhang LB. Phylogeny and biogeography of wild roses with specific attention to polyploids. 2015 Feb;115(2):275-91. PMID: 25550144
  5. Lissa Bell. The Care and Keeping of Sensitive Skin: A Practical Guide to Holistic Skin Care. 2012; USA
  6. Dr. K. M. Nadkarni. Indian materia medica. 1996 ; Volume 1
  7. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Staph infection
  8. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Acne
  9. Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mohammad Naser Shafei, Zahra Saberi, and Somayeh Amini. Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena. 2011 Jul-Aug; 14(4): 295–307. PMID: 23493250
  10. Esfandiary E, Karimipour M, Mardani M, Ghanadian M, Alaei HA, Mohammadnejad D, Esmaeili A. Neuroprotective effects of Rosa damascena extract on learning and memory in a rat model of amyloid-β-induced Alzheimer's disease. 2015 Jul 27;4:131. PMID: 26322279
  11. Mohammad Nasser Shafei , Hassan Rakhshandah , Mohammad Hossain Boskabady Antitussive Effect of Rosa damascena in Guinea pigs. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2003) 231-234; September 2003
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