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

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Rosenwasser und Rosenblüten

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

INCI: Rosa Damascena Flower Water

Effect: low antioxidant

Tolerability: poor

Article last edited on December 12, 2023

Today we're taking a look at rose water : a flower hydrosol that's pretty trendy right now. 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 is said to be suitable for sensitive skin or rosacea , among other things. And there are many more good things promised that rose water can do.

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

What is rose water?

A hydrolate is created from rose petals through distillation. The result is a rose hydrosol, which is also known as rose water. It smells pleasantly of roses - 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 containing natural fragrances from the rose blossom. It contains a fragrant alcohol that occurs naturally in rose hydrosol. If you want to know exactly: 2-phenylethanol . The INCI name for 2-phenylethanol is Phenethyl Alcohol . However, phenethyl alcohol does not need to be specified separately in rose water because it is a natural ingredient. Some cosmetic brands therefore claim that their rose water does not contain alcohol or fragrances.

This alcohol also makes rose water smell so lovely like roses. That's why it is 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 trigger contact allergies. When fragrances break down in contact with light and air, it can actually irritate your skin and cause it to produce more oil. This is anything but nice, especially for sensitive skin that is prone to inflammation and pimples. Tip: Do not confuse rose water with wild rose oil . This is the oil from the seeds or pulp of the rose hip. It is also called rosehip oil or rosehip oil .

Don't let yourself be misted: seductively scented cosmetics with essential oils will harm your skin

What is rose water good for?

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

Does rose water moisturize?

And if you're currently using rose water to hydrate your skin, this might be a bit disappointing for you. Unfortunately, pure rose water does not contain any real moisturizers. It only contains small amounts of sugar, which may provide a little moisture. Water cannot be retained in the skin without additional moisturizers. 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. So if you put rose water on your skin, you would be depriving your skin of even more moisture instead of giving it some.

There are many good moisturizers that really help:

Beta Glucan can be made from oats Beta-glucan provides long-lasting moisture
Betaines are obtained from beets Betaine: Moisturizer with a secret superpower
Pentylene Glycol Pentylene Glycol: mild preservation for sensitive skin

Rose water for rosacea: Does rose water reduce redness?

And what about redness? Can rose water alleviate this, as it is so often advertised? Rose water and rosacea - it sounds like they belong together. If you are prone to redness or have rosacea, it would be great if rose water could reduce the redness. Unfortunately, scented water is not able to do this. The opposite will be the case: if you react directly to the fragrances, it can cause redness. If the rose water is for spraying, it could also irritate your respiratory tract. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics in particular should always be careful with scented sprays. How to find the right skin care for rosacea.

Woman with rosacea: Extensive redness on the cheeks and eyelids What is rosacea or couperose: treatment and experiences
Rosacea is a skin condition that presents with redness

Rosacea care: No more redness - finally inflammation-free skin

Can rose water regulate skin pH?

Rose water is said to be able to regulate pH. We can only answer this with a clear yes. Our skin has a slightly acidic pH value of 5.5 on average. This protective acid mantle can shift if basic/alkaline products with a pH value above 7 are applied to the skin. Soaps in particular are problematic for the skin. If the acid mantle has been displaced, the skin will be less protected for some time.

What pH value does rose water have?

In the past, toners made from rose water were used to adjust the pH value back to its original direction. The pH of rose water does not correspond to the pH of the skin. It is scented water and therefore has a neutral pH value of 7, like normal tap water. Since in the past there were only soaps available for facial cleansing that were always very alkaline , the rose water with its neutral pH value was able to mitigate the irritating effect of the soaps a little. Water would have done just as well. However, that probably wouldn't have sold that well.

Today, however, water or rose water is no longer the ideal solution for adjusting the pH value. There are now mild, skin-friendly cleansers and syndets that are adjusted to the pH value of the skin. Fortunately, we no longer have to attack our skin with soaps . Now 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 value back, for example after a shower or because you have washed your face with soap, then there are now more suitable products to restore the pH value of your skin to its natural state bring.

Facial toner or toner with a pH between 5-6 and moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid or natural glycerin are much more suitable and milder for your skin. Unfortunately, caution is advised here too, as the pH value of many toners and facial toners is not adjusted. Natural toners also often contain rose water, other flower hydrosols or fragrances.

Can rose water shrink pores?

Rose water is also said to have an astringent effect, meaning that it can shrink pores and thus contribute to a more even complexion. Oh well. There's actually something to it here: alcohol can actually give the visual impression that pores are tightening. However, this effect is short-lived. So have we found a positive effect of rose water after all? Looks like this. 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 differences in production: “Real” rose water, which was obtained by distillation from the real natural rose, and rose water, which consists of water and added rose fragrance, 2-phenylethanol.

For many ingredients , it makes a difference whether they are organic or not. Whether rose water is organic or not, it contains fragrances and alcohol and therefore unfortunately has all of the negative properties listed above on our skin.

The fact remains: Rose water is a water or organic hydrosol that simply smells nice and unfortunately won't give your skin what it needs. So be skeptical if skin care smells too floral. Don't irritate your skin with such scented products. Soothe it and moisturize your skin with a suitable moisturizer that suits your skin type. This means your skin always gets exactly what it needs.

Rose water alternatives

Are you looking for a toner or a light spray made from natural ingredients that is suitable for sensitive skin? There are many good herbal ingredients that can soothe the skin - but unfortunately rose water is not one of them. What are alternatives to rose water?

Tolerable hydrosols

Green tea Green tea: The most studied antioxidant

Rice as a skin care ingredient: Oryza Sativa Rice Extract

Black tea Black tea: Why you should also use it in skin care
White tea White tea: Lots of antioxidants for the skin

You can look for low-irritant hydrolates such as cucumber water , rice water , green tea , black tea , white tea or aloe vera . As a rule of thumb, you can assume that hydrosols made from flowers are usually not that 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 can look for a skin care product that contains targeted soothing and moisturizing ingredients.

Cucumbers Cucumis Sativus: More than cucumber slices for skin care
Aloe vera Aloe Vera: A true evergreen for the skin

Tip: Product alternatives for rose water

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

  • without fragrances
  • without essential oils
  • without flower hydrolates
  • without irritating alcohols
  • allergy friendly
  • pH value 5.5 (skin neutral)

Tea Break consists of pure organic black tea. This inhibits itching and is very suitable for flushing or in a zero therapy for perioral dermatitis. Tea Break also has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5.

  • without fragrances
  • without essential oils
  • without flower hydrolates
  • without irritating alcohols
  • allergy friendly
  • pH value 5.5 (skin neutral)

Summarized for you

  • Rose water is just water with fragrant 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 more quickly and more impurities can appear on the irritated skin.
  • Rose water does not moisturize
  • Rose water cannot regulate the pH of your skin 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 use. Except the scent, which some people just find beautiful. And that's okay too: so here's our suggestion:

Instead, choose your favorite scent - maybe it's rose - and get a natural perfume. It's best to spray it on your clothes or in your hair. Do not inhale the fragrances while spraying. Fragrances can also irritate the respiratory tract. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics in particular react faster here. Scented hair products in the form of gel or balm 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. This way you not only give your apartment flair: it smells nice and the air becomes even better.

Maybe this article hurt you a bit. However, we wanted to address the topic and be honest with you. Would you like us to highlight more beauty and, above all, skin care trends here in the future? What experiences have you had with rose water?

Lara Schimweg

Lara Schimweg

Lara is the founder of Xeno and develops the skin care products. She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health and nursing nurse. Lara mixed her first cream 20 years ago and is involved in skin care and ingredients . 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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