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Jack of all trades or myth: is rose water good for the skin?

Posted by Xeno Team on

How well tolerated is rose water for the skin? Is it also suitable for sensitive skin, such as rosacea?

Article last edited on 03/19/2022

Today we're going to take a look at rose water: a flower hydrosol that's quite trendy at the moment. Wherever rose water is mentioned, great effects or even healing are promised. It is said that rose water moisturizes the skin, can soothe the skin, has an anti-inflammatory effect and reduces redness. Rose water should also be suitable for sensitive skin or rosacea , among other things. And a multitude of other good things are promised that rose water should be able to do.

So an all-rounder? What's up with the rosewater trend?

You know it for sure: some trends are complete nonsense. However, there is something good about some trends.

What is rose water?

A hydrolate is created from rose petals by distillation. The result is a rose hydrolate, which is also known as rose water. It smells pleasantly of rose - if you like the scent of roses. The INCI name of rose water that you can find on products is Rosa Damascena Flower Water .

Rose water is water with natural fragrances from rose blossoms in it. It contains a fragrant alcohol that occurs naturally in rose hydrolate. If you want to know exactly: 2-phenylethanol . The INCI name for 2-phenylethanol is Phenethyl Alcohol . However, phenethyl alcohol in rose water does not have to be specified because it is a natural component. Some cosmetic brands therefore claim that their rose water contains no alcohol and no fragrances.

This alcohol is also what makes rose water smell so lovely of roses. That is why it is also said that rose water does not contain any preservatives. No wonder: the drying alcohol takes care of that.

The fragrance can irritate your skin and cause contact allergies. When fragrances break down in contact with light and air, it can actually irritate your skin into producing more oil. This is anything but nice, especially for sensitive skin that is prone to inflammation and pimples.
Tip: Don't confuse rose water with wild rose oil. This is the oil from the seeds or pulp of the rosehip. It is also known as rosehip oil or rosehip oil .

What is rose water good for?

But does rose water also have a positive effect on the skin? Here you can find out what rose water is good for - and what not.

Does rose water moisturize?

And if you're currently using rosewater to moisturize your skin, you might be a little disappointed. Unfortunately, pure rose water does not contain any real moisturizers. It only contains small amounts of sugar, which may provide some moisture. Water cannot be retained in the skin without an additional moisturizer. On the contrary: water can even dry out your skin.

And unfortunately, the fragrant alcohol in rose water also belongs to the group of drying alcohols. That way, if you put rosewater on your skin, you would be removing even more moisture from your skin instead of adding it.

Rose Water for Rosacea: Does Rose Water Reduce Redness?

And what about redness? Can rose water mitigate these, as is so often advertised? Rose water and rosacea - sounds like they belong together. If you're prone to redness or have rosacea, it would be great if rose water could reduce redness. Unfortunately, scented water is not able to do this. Rather the opposite will be the case: If you react directly to the fragrances, it can fuel redness. If the rosewater is for spraying, it could also irritate your respiratory system. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics in particular should always be careful with scented sprays.

Can rose water regulate the pH of the skin?

Rose water is said to be able to regulate the pH value. We can only answer this with a clear yes. Our skin has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 on average. This protective acid mantle can be shifted if basic/alkaline products with a pH above 7 are applied to the skin. Soaps in particular are therefore problematic for the skin. When the protective acid mantle has been shifted, the skin is less protected for some time.
What is the pH of rose water?
In the past, toners made from rose water were used to bring the pH back into its original direction. The pH of rose water does not match the pH of the skin. It is scented water and has a neutral pH of 7, just like regular tap water. Since there used to be only soaps for cleaning the face, which are always very alkaline , the rose water with its neutral pH value was able to mitigate the irritating effect of the soaps a bit. Water would have done just as well. It probably wouldn't have sold that well though.

Today, however, water or rose water is no longer the ideal solution to adjust pH. There are now mild skin-friendly cleansers and syndets that are adjusted to the pH of the skin. Fortunately, we no longer have to attack our skin with soaps. If you were to put rose water on your skin, the effect would be exactly the wrong way around. The pH value would shift upwards towards 7. And if you still want to regulate your pH back, for example after showering or because you have washed your face with soap, then there are now more suitable products to bring your skin's pH back to its natural state bring.

Toners or toners with a pH between 5-6 and moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid or natural glycerine are much more suitable and milder for your skin. Unfortunately, caution is also required here, since the pH value of many toners and facial tonics is not adjusted. In addition, natural toners often contain rose water, other flower hydrosols or fragrances. An article about natural moisturizers is already in the works.

Can rose water shrink pores?

Rose water is also said to have an astringent effect, which means it can shrink pores and thus contribute to a more even complexion. Oh well. There is actually something to this: Alcohol can actually give the optical impression that pores are contracting. However, this effect is short-lived. So have we found a positive effect of rose water after all? Looks like. But why does this effect occur at all? The skin contracts to protect itself from the harmful stimulus. This creates the impression of smaller pores. So nothing for healthy skin.
Of course there are differences in the quality of rose water. There is organic rose water and conventional rose water. Then there are still differences in the production: "Real" rose water, which was obtained by distillation from the real natural rose, and rose water, which consists of water and the added rose fragrance, 2-phenylethanol.

With many ingredients , it makes a difference whether organic or not. Whether rose water is organic or not, it does contain fragrance and alcohol and therefore unfortunately has all of the negative properties listed above on our skin.

It stays the same: rose water is a water or bio-hydrolate that just smells nice and unfortunately won't give your skin what it needs right now. So be skeptical if skin care smells too floral. Don't irritate your skin with such scented products. Soothe them and moisturize your skin with an appropriate moisturizer that suits your skin type. So your skin always gets exactly what it is asking for.

Rose water alternative

Looking for a toner or lightweight mist made from natural ingredients that's suitable for sensitive skin? There are many good botanicals that can soothe skin, but rosewater isn't one of them. What are alternatives to rose water?

You can look out for low-irritant hydrolates. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that hydrolates from flowers are usually not very suitable. Either you use products without plant hydrosols, such as thermal water. This can feel pleasant on the skin and also provides a little moisture. Or you might be looking for a skin care product that specifically contains soothing and moisturizing ingredients.

Tip: Bright Head - serum spray for sensitive skin

Xeno's Bright Head Serum Spray has a base of aloe vera and cucumber water. It is very moisturizing and soothing, so it can even reduce slight redness. With a slightly acidic pH of 5.5, you can also use the serum spray as a toner to balance your skin's pH.

  • without fragrances
  • without essential oils
  • without flower hydrosols
  • without irritating alcohols
  • allergy friendly
  • pH value 5.5 (skin neutral)
View Serum Spray

Summarized for you

  • Rose water is just water with scented alcohol that occurs naturally in the rose
  • The fragrant alcohol can trigger contact allergies and dry out the skin
  • When fragrances break down, the skin becomes greasy faster and more impurities can develop on the irritated skin.
  • Rose water does not moisturize
  • Rose water cannot regulate your skin's pH to its natural state
  • The astringent effect is a warning signal for your skin
Sorry: Unfortunately, rose water is not a good idea for your skin, especially if your skin is sensitive. We just couldn't find any positive benefit. Except for the scent, which some simply find beautiful. And that's okay too: so here's our suggestion:

Better find your favorite scent - maybe it's rose - and get a natural perfume. It is best to spray it on your clothes or in your hair. Avoid inhaling the fragrances while spraying. Because fragrances can sometimes irritate the respiratory tract. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics in particular react more quickly here. Scented hair products in the form of gels or balms are even more suitable. Your skin will thank you.

However, you can also put a few beautiful flowers in your apartment, preferably with a pot and roots. Not only do you give your apartment flair: it smells nice and the air gets even better.

Maybe this article hurt you a bit. However, we wanted to address the issue and be honest with you. Would you like us to highlight more beauty and especially skin care trends here in the future? What is your experience with rose water?
Lara Schimweg

about the author

Lara Schimweg is the founder of Xeno . She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health worker. Lara has rosacea and very sensitive skin.

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1 comment

  • Ramona on

    Vielen Dank für die gut zusammengetragenen und aufbereiteten Infos! Da es leider nicht viele Artikel von dieser Sorte gibt, hätte ich meiner Mutter beinahe Rosenwasser für ihre Rosacea-geplagte Haut geschenkt… man muss tatsächlich enorm suchen, um fundierte Infos über dieses Produkt zu finden.
    LG Ramona

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