Everybody has been talking about rose water or rose hydrosol (often used interchangeably). Mostly because it smells pretty and feels good, this water-based mister has become very popular as a part of women’s beauty regimens. Rose water is said to be able to prevent wrinkles because it keeps your skin nice and moist.
We know that the moist skin thing is something that Korean women have mastered for centuries, keeping their skin young and healthy long into old age. Now rose water is being promoted as the latest thing women must have to stave off old age and wrinkly skin.
So we wanted to see if that was true. What we found out is that although rose hydrosol and rose water are often used interchangeably, there are big differences – huge – between the two. They are similar but certainly not the same.
If you are getting into rose water because you believe it will have this Benjamin Button effect on you, you need to know the difference between rose hydrosol vs. rose water. Does it have a rejuvenating effect other than smelling good and feeling good? This is what we found out.
What is Rose Hydrosol?
If you want rose water to prevent wrinkles and make your skin healthy, what you are looking for is not actually rose water. It is rose hydrosol. Each involve separating essential oils from roses but there is much more to the way that hydrosols are made.
You’ll find a number of terms used to mean the same thing. Rose water and rose hydrosol are sometimes grouped under an umbrella of “floral water” but they are not all floral waters per se. They each differ in the way that they are made; how the essential oils are extracted and how pure the final product is.
Hydrosols before now were considered waste water when making rose essential oils. As water is distilled using steam heat, the whole plant is used in hydrosols and what remains at the bottom of the vat is the extract from the rose stems, the petals, the leaves – everything.
The water contains the essential oils that create that pretty rose smell in rose water. That used to be the main product you were creating. Once the distilled water is cooled, what’s left is the by-product of the rose. The residue, the minerals and compounds left behind, are the star of the show in rose hydrosol.
Picture it this way; when the rose is thoroughly distilled through the water, what’s floating on top is what is used to make essential oils for rose water. What accumulates at the bottom is the stuff used to make rose hydrosol.
Although it is full of stems and leaves, it is considered the purest form of rose water. The purity is part of what separates rose hydrosol from rose water. All of the microbes are basically boiled out of the plant. This method goes back hundreds of years actually.
That’s because the byproduct is where the most potent contents gather. In ancient times those contents were used to make skin care potions and to cook. These days, those uses are coming back even if the main reason to buy a rose hydrosol is for beauty and skin care.
Pros of Rose Hydrosol
There are several benefits that you get from rose hydrosol that you don’t get from rose water. Some of those benefits include:
- Acts as a moisturizing sprits on your skin,
- Cools you down in the heat,
- Useful as a toner in place of chemical-based products,
- Tastes good in water and salad dressing,
- Smells lovely and makes your skin softer,
- And helps to prevent wrinkles
Cons of Rose Hydrosol
You get quite a bit of bang for your buck out of rose hydrosol. Still, there are some cons when it comes to rose hydrosol. Those include:
- The rose scent is very light and loses potency quickly,
- It is not as readily available in stores as rose water,
- And rose hydrosol is more expensive than rose water.
What is Rose Water?
Rose water is quite different than rose hydrosol beyond the distillation process. Rose water is made from the stuff on top of the water – the essential oils. The essentials are skimmed off of the top and added to water to create rose water.
Usually rose water will also have additives in it that rose hydrosol will not. Rose water is used more as aromatherapy for its scent. It may go through additional distillation to add in parabens and alcohol which increase the potency of the aroma. Some manufacturers of rose water even create it from rose scents instead of distilling real roses but they call it rose water nonetheless.
Technically it would qualify as a rose water even if totally artificial as long as it blends water with rose essential oil. It is considered a much less quality rose water if it is artificial because you don’t get the true value from actual rose petals that are supposed to be included in rose water.
Pros of Rose Water
Depending on what you are looking for – a good skin care product or a nice smelling mister – there are mainly two pros of rose water. Rose water’s aroma lasts much longer than a rose hydrosol. The scent may even be enhanced by adding in some ingredients that change the purity of the rose water.
Equally important, rose water is quite affordable…some would say cheap! You’re going to have to come off of at least five times the amount of money to buy an authentic rose hydrosol than you will rose water. Because of that, you can find it in lots of stores, especially beauty stores.
Cons of Rose Water
There are many manufacturers that sell pure rose oil. It is made using the same distillation process as making rose water. Those manufacturers will try to squeeze as much of the essential oil as they can out of the water to resale as rose oil. As a result many rose oils have very little natural oil left in it. There are other downsides:
- Rose water is less pure because in order to make the scent last other ingredients have to be added.
- Sometimes the scent in retail rose water is synthetic and not from the actual plant.
- The process to create rose water may require several distillations that leave it overly processed.
- Color may be added to turn rose water pink for no useful reason other than to make it prettier.
- Not enough of the essential compounds and ingredients remain in rose water to make it useful for skin care.
What’s the Difference?
To boil it down, the difference is in purity and process. Even among rose hydrosols and rose waters there may be vast differences in purity and process. Labels can sometimes be misleading beyond using the two terms interchangeably. Rose waters may even use an INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name to make it seem as if it is made from real rose petals even if it is not.
More to the point, the difference between the two depends on you. What are you looking to get from it? If you want a fresh smelling rose mister to sprits on your face on a hot day and don’t really care if it gets rid of wrinkles, then you are a rose water person.
If on the other hand, you are looking for a product to add to your skin care regimen that will improve the health of your skin and perhaps prevent wrinkles, then you want to make sure the product you are buying is an actual rose hydrosol. Here are some tips for discerning the purity and process of the product you are considering:
- All true rose waters and rose hydrosols are made through distillation. Check to make sure it has been distilled.
- If it is a real rose water or hydrosol derived from roses, roses should be listed at the top of the list of ingredients – not down at the bottom of the list!
- Additionally, the more ingredients in it, the less pure it is and more than likely it may be a synthetic rose water as opposed to a rose hydrosol.
- Hydrosols will not be marketed for their scent but rose waters will be. If you want rose water, it will be marketed for its aroma instead of any skin care benefits.
Are They both Safe and Effective?
Both are relatively safe. However, if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to flowers like roses, you may have an allergic reaction to either rose hydrosol or rose water. You can add rose water to salad dressing or as a taste enhancer for sweet treats.
Also, despite the fact that rose water is considered to be much less potent than rose hydrosol, it can be used as a facial moisturizer. It feels good and smells good on a hot sweaty day – but don’t expect much more from rose water.
Hydrosols on the other hand, besides skin care, turns a regular bottle of shampoo into an aroma-therapeutic shampoo that can add body and a pretty fragrance to your hair. You don’t however want to put a rose hydrosol on food since it is made up of much stronger compounds than rose water.
The Results: Rose Hydrosol vs. Rose Water
Now that you know the nitty-gritty about rose hydrosol vs. rose water, we’ve come down on one side of the debate. While both offer desirable results – whether you want to smell good or look good – we feel that one has an edge over the other and that is rose hydrosol.
Why rose hydrosol? One, it is the purer of the two. When you start adding chemicals to a product labeled as a rose product, you expect there to be real roses in it. With rose water you are taking your chances on whether or not it is actually made of rose parts.
Another point is the skin care aspect. We are all about beauty and finding tips that help us keep our skin and face looking young and fresh. Rose hydrosol has been helping to keep Korean women’s skin youthful and glowing for decades. We think that’s a good sign that it actually does work!
Lastly, even though rose hydrosol doesn’t hold its scent very long compared to rose water, the scent is not the appeal of a hydrosol. If you want to smell like roses, there are plenty of perfumes and rose waters out there that you can get that from.
If you want a product that can make you look better and your skin more youthful, we’ve concluded that you can get things from rose hydrosol that you can’t get from rose water. Where do you come down on the two? We’d love to hear what you think!