Rosewater For Beauty and Healing

Part IV in a series of 4 on eating and healing with roses.

Rosewater is the fragrant liquid left after steaming has extracted roses’ essential oils. Rose essential oil is most expensive – sometimes more costly by weight than gold. Thankfully, rosewater’s price is affordable even to ordinary budgets. Rosewater has been a resource in Middle Eastern women’s beauty regimes for centuries, as its skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory properties help restore moisture to dry skin and reduce irritation from rosacea, acne, all kinds of dermatitis and sunburn.

In this post, I discuss two kinds of rosewater: one that comes in large glass or plastic bottles and is less strong. It’s used by the tablespoon. Another kind is sold in tiny, clear glass bottles and is oily and more concentrated – but still not essential oil. It’s measured out in drops.

Rosewater’s fragrance won’t last long on the skin or hair, but its effects linger.  For skin care, as a toner or soothing anti-inflammatory rinse, dilute one tablespoon in a cup of water – one drop of the oily concentrated kind will do. Splash or pat it on. Allow it to dry naturally if you have the time. Or mix a few drops with your skin lotion or moisturizer and apply as usual. Some claim that rose water strengthens skin tissue and helps to heal scars.

For an oily skin astringent, blend 1/4 cup rosewater with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Pat on the skin with cotton pads and allow to dry naturally. Keep any unused astringent in the refrigerator, covered, up to 24 hours.

Treat a dry, dandruff-troubled scalp with a rosewater rinse. Mix a cup of warm water with two tablespoons of rosewater and massage it into the scalp after your normal shampoo and conditioner routine. You’ll smell lovely, and the tormenting itch will go away.

Is the world getting too much for you? Rosewater soothes jangled nerves and anxiety. Think of the last time you took the time to smell roses. You inhaled and said “ah!” as the divine perfume struck your senses, and you probably came away smiling. How wise our forefathers were to condense fresh roses’ properties in oils and water solutions, and how lucky we are to benefit from that wisdom. A simple rinse of rosewater diluted in warm or cool water, splashed or patted onto your face and arms, and you’ll find your mind more settled, ready to take on whatever was stressing you before. It won’t wake you up like coffee, but it will smooth away anxiety that prevents clear thinking.

Try a rosewater bath at the end of a stressful day. Drop three or four tablespoons of rosewater in the tub of hot water, and let roses work their white magic on the tensions that cramp your muscles and mind. Again, if you’re using  oily concentrated rosewater, use only five or six drops.

To ensure a relaxed state of mind that lets you drift off easily, make a rose linen spray. All you need is a spray misting bottle and rosewater, straight from the bottle (or, as always, only 1-2  drops of concentrated rosewater in a half-cup of water). Spray your sheets and pillow cases lightly  and let it dry before you climb into bed. Sweet dreams.

Take a small spray bottle of diluted rosewater with you when travelling, for a refreshing spritz whenever you feel hot under the collar. Imagine all the world’s drivers squirting a little spray of rosewater on themselves. Everyone would feel calm. Road rage would go down. And the world would, for a little while, look…well…rosier.

Photo of dewy rose by Abhishek Gaurav

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