Rose Water: How to Prepare it, Ways to Use it, and WHERE to get Organic Roses
As I was standing in an extremely disorganized line at Trader Joe’s, a woman to my right said “How beautiful! You picked out a good bunch of roses, those ones in your hand are as beautiful as they come.”
I thanked her, and refrained from mentioning that I thought they all looked the same. As a result of the fact that I was buying them to pull the petals off the stems and throw them in a pot to make home made rose water, I didn’t pay much attention to their appearance.
“Are they for someone special?” the woman asked. I slightly surprised her a bit when I said “No, these aren’t a gift. They will actually be thrown into a pot of boiling water when I get home, because I’m about to make rose water for my daily skincare routine.” She laughed, and then mentioned something about being “unable to keep up with what young people do these days”. Our short conversation caught the attention of the cashier, who appeared to be much closer to my age and expressed her interest as she did her job at the register.
First, it is important to use organic roses when preparing home made rose water to prevent coming into contact with the many pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals used on cut roses. Dried rose petals are always an option if you prefer, and are sold at most health food stores. Also, some cut flowers are imported from other countries that have different regulations, and there are also health risks associated with the pesticides…. but the good news is you don’t need to pull up Google to start searching for the nearing florist that sells a dozen roses for $50 (seriously, I can get a small bottle of designer perfume for that price…. and I’m not counting the ones I can get for free at Sephora by using my points).
VeriFlora is a reputable company which adheres to certain agricultural regulations, and you can even buy organic roses at supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. Just check and make sure they have this logo on it:
Hopefully it isn’t too difficult to see/read, since I placed the cellophane on a dark surface in this photo. If so, you can always visit the VeriFlora website here for a better view. Anyways, preparing rose water is relatively easy.
You will need organic roses… I used 7 because the bunch I bought came with 8, and I put one aside for a picture. You can use as many as you like, and adjust your measurements accordingly. I used about 6 and a half cups of distilled water. Yes, it has to be distilled….. I don’t even know the difference, but I know that it’s necessary for any beauty products you make for sanitary reasons (something I was told during a spa trip a few years ago).
Remove the petals, rinse them with water, and then put them in a pot. Add the water so that it just slightly covers the top of the petals. Simmer on medium-low heat for around 20 minutes, or until the petals are very light pink. If you choose to buy pink roses then the petals should be colorless.
The light pink petals in the second photo remind me of The Nutcracker Suite’s Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy (in which case I’ll come back to it later for winter 2017 inspiration).
Next, you will want to use a strainer, nut milk bag, piece of gauze or piece of tulle fabric to strain the petals as you pour the water into a glass jar. Unexpectedly, I ended up filling 3 mason jars and 4 small spray bottles with rose water.
There are many uses, the most common is facial toner. You can also add witch hazel, as it functions as a natural astringent, works well with dry skin and helps provide a longer shelf life. Another common use is to spray linens so they stay fresh. Personally, I have not done this yet since my sheets are white and I used red roses. I noticed that it leaves a slightly pinkish texture on the cotton disc after I spray my face with the toner. For linen spritzing I would recommend using pink or white roses just to err on the side of caution.
Considering the fact that I prepared so much, I started researching various methods of using rose water (I was prepared for facial toner for a few weeks). Here are some suggestions, based on a number of things I have tried in the past couple of days, what I have learned and what I intend to do with the remainder of my rosewater:
Drink it: Yes, that may sound weird, but it actually has many health benefits such as hydrating your skin, anti-aging, reducing inflammation and bloating (I wish I knew about this during my nightmare pregnancy), improves your overall mood, reduces depression and anxiety. I actually drank it plain with a small squeeze of lemon, but I’m pretty daring and what I like may not be what someone else likes. A few suggestions: make tea out of it, and add a drop of honey, mix it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and use as salad dressing, mix with natural fruit juice, dilute it with spring water and take it to the gym, and finally… experiment on your own. You can also gargle rose water to aid a sore throat (even if it sounds gross…. but head colds are gross in general, so there isn’t much to lose).
You can also add it to plain yogurt, dessert recipe, fruit salad, or your favorite summer cocktail.
Add it to other beauty products: I mixed it with pure castile liquid soap along with a few drops of essential rose oil for a home made shower gel. For this, I use Dr. Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap (which is sold at most retailers), and Rose Otto essential oil by Aura Cacia (I bought this at Whole Foods Market- it was not $100 there as shown on the website).
Save the petals: Mix with some rose water and place the petals over your eyes to remove dark circles (slightly similar to the common cucumber-over-your-eyes routine). Mix it in with your face mask or face wash, add to your body lotion, or add a small amount to your shampoo and conditioner.
Mix a small amount with a squeeze of lemon juice as a natural spot remover.
Make your own perfume: Add witch hazel and a few drops of essential oil of your choice. I have not tried this yet due to the fact that I have over 10 different types of perfume on my bureau. You can prepare a different type of floral water (such as hibiscus or lavender) or herbal water (such as peppermint, basil, rosemary, etc.) and combine them. You also have the option to buy rosewater. For those who prefer the latter method, here are a few favorites.
3. Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner (which is available at pretty much any retailer)
5. Rosy Cheeks Fresh Face Mask by LUSH Cosmetics (you will need to refrigerate this, I have tried every face mask that LUSH sells at least once, and their products are outstanding)
6. Infusion de Rose by Laura Mercier. I grabbed this in the form of a gift set on black Friday at Blue Mercury in Westport CT…. many thanks to the amazing staff working there, who convinced me to try it out, I absolutely love it, and no longer refer to rose infused moisturizers as “old lady cream”.