Thursday, 5 July 2012

Rose Water - A Natural Cosmetic

Source for this image here.

I am going to share with you today a discovery that I made recently which I am really pleased about!  I've written before about how I don't like to use too many cosmetics, and how I try to keep the cost of them down by having a very simple beauty routine and only a few different items to choose from.  But we were in the Chemist's (drug store) the other day and I noticed that it was possible to buy bottles of "rose water" there for just a few pounds.  I wondered what it was used for, and since Papa Bear wasn't sure either, when we got home, I did some research, and discovered that it could be used for a variety of purposes around the home.

Rose water is actually obtained during the distillation of rose petals to make rose oil, which is very expensive indeed (if you ever buy rose essential oil it is usually a carrier oil, scented with "rose absolut" which is the pure oil and far more costly to buy undiluted).  The water which is left when the oil has been distilled is much cheaper to buy as it is far less concentrated, but it still has the same beautiful scent of pure rose that the oil has.

In many countries around the world rose water is used as a flavouring in cooking, to add a very distinct but delicate taste to candies and sweetmeats.  Most of us will have tried Turkish delight at some time or another - and this is traditionally flavoured with rose water.  In England it is sometimes used as a flavouring in cakes or in the frosting on them, as is lavender, another beautiful scent from a traditional English garden flower.

But it can also be used as a cosmetic - something I didn't know, until I saw it in the Chemist's!  It is sold in bottles like medicine, and is intended to be diluted, so one bottle will go a long way.  It can be used as a skin softener and toner, and as an ointment to soothe sore areas such as sunburn or dry areas.  It can be added to other ingredients to make home-made hand cream or face moisturiser - something that I think would be fun to try - but the other ingredients are a little expensive to buy just on a whim so that may have to wait for a "rainy day"!  However, we did buy some of the rose water, and I have been using it, diluted in some water which I boiled first and then cooled, as a face toner after washing - and during this hot weather we have been experiencing, I also put some in a bottle of the same water in the fridge, and have been splashing my face and wrists with it during the day.  It's lovely!  It smells beautiful, and because it is quite gentle it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin*.  Also, during my migraine, I found the scent didn't affect my headache or nausea, so I was able to continue to use it then to cool my forehead and neck and it did seem to help with the pain.  I have also been using it to sprinkle my laundry with before I iron it, and it makes everything smell so fresh and pretty.  I even put some on our pillows and let it dry before we went to bed, and it made them smell lovely.

One wee bottle cost under £4 and I think it will go a long, long way - I have only had to use a few drops so far.  I am not sure I dare to use it in cooking just yet, but I do plan to try making home-made hand cream with it - I found a recipe here, that I intend to use.  The other ingredients, though not cheap, can be bought on Amazon.  Although it suggests using almond and coconut oil (both of which are good for the skin) you can also buy rose hip oil or you could even use lavender oil as well - all will give a beautiful scent to your produce!  There are also instructions there which explain how to make your own rose water by simmering rose petals in distilled water on your stovetop, however as this is not the same process by which true rose water is made, I am not sure how successful this would be (nor how well it would keep).  But it might be fun to try, if you are lucky enough to have many rose bushes in your garden to gather the petals from - I would guess you might need rather a lot!

*Note - if you have very sensitive skin, or have had reactions to other natural products, do test before using on a small area of skin such as on your wrist.  Rose water is a very gentle product, but it is better to be sure before putting it on your face.