Ever since Napoleon's Josephine considered rose water a love potion and cultivated 250 different types of roses for her daily toilette, the rose has held special allure. Today the essence of rose is used in beauty products that are not only fragrant but also nourishing and toning to the skin.
"Rose water is nature's finest beauty tonic," says Ann Robinson, CEO of Caswell-Massey. "It is perfect after a facial or cleansing. Imagine a supervitamin for all types of skin that soothes and protects. If you rinse your hair in rose water, it gives it a natural shine by closing the cuticle."
As one of today's most versatile beauty buys, rose water can be purchased in products ranging from toners and cleansers to conditioners and masks. "People are very sentimental about roses," says Elizabeth Kent of Floris, the oldest perfumer in England. "The classic rose-geranium scent is clean-cut and classic, and earthier than what we perceive as the classic rose scent. Winston Churchill even bathed with the scent's soap for years." Floris' new line, China Rose, uses rose essence combined with jasmine, violet and hyacinth for an exotic, sweet fragrance. Ella Bache's Rosee du Matin line uses wild rose buds in its masks, toners and cleansers.
Rose water combined with glycerin is one of the world's most widely used hand lotions. Caswell-Massey's is a popular choice. Jo Malone of London uses tuberoses in fragrant body creams. Phytotherathrie uses the essence of the Abissinia tea rose, said to restore hair's luster, in its Phytherose revitalizing hair conditioner. L'Occitane's rose neroli fragrance combines rose with oils from the orange blossom in its perfumes, bath products and body milks.
Create a pure, undiluted rose fragrance by making your own rose water. Simmer freshly picked, unsprayed rose petals in just enough water so the petals are covered. Cool, then strain and bottle. Use three parts rose water to one part rubbing alcohol to make an astringent, or substitute glycerin for a hair conditioner. You can even sprinkle rose petals in the bath while you soak, leaving the skin supple and soft.