Rose Water and Toners have been incredibly popular for its ability to hydrate, refresh, soothe, calm, and balance all skin types. Also known for its versatile uses as, toner, refresher, eye brightening, after shave spritz, pillow mist, mood enhancer etc.
In this post, I intend on shedding some light on Rose Waters in terms of types of roses, ingredient lists, some of my personal trials and experiences with some Rose Waters and some pointers you can look out for when deciding on a Rose Water for yourself.
Most common types of roses you’d expect to see in preparation of Rose Waters is Rosa Centifolia and Damascena Rose. Centifolia roses primarily grow in France and North Africa, have various sub types of roses, such as ‘Cabbage’ (left pic) or ‘Provence’ roses. Known to have first appeared in the late sixteenth century as a hybrid. They tend to have large globular blooms of white or pink, are fragrant and extremely hardy.
Rose Damascena commonly known as Damask Rose (right pic) with two distinct types i.e. Summer Damasks and Autumn Damasks. In addition, to these being used widely in perfumery, they are also known to be edible (Turkish Delight). The roses in this category are are a light to moderate pink to light red colour.
A Note on Preservatives Used: Consistently seen, Potassium sorbate is water soluble preservative and Sodium Benzoate – water soluble sodium salt of benzoic acid, usually used as preservative.
My Trials, Experiences and Opinions (in order of my personal preference)
Steam Distilled Rose Water
This is as pure and natural as it gets. As mentioned in my Oil Extraction Post (Water & Steam Distillation Process), Floral waters are by-product of oil extraction process. This is purest form of Rose Water you could possibly lay your hands on, where the original flower properties have remained intact. The mist is wonderful and thoroughly refreshing. In terms of rose scent, it has subtle rose fragrance, think of roses in rain scent.
Water, Rose (Rose Centifolia) Oil, Polysorbate 40, Potassium Sorbate
With the least amount of ingredients, the simplest formulation and the most effective of the lot. One very important note too, the mist (mechanical pump) is damn fine! Crucial IMO. Fragrance wise, it seems to have the most subtle and “natural” rose fragrance. Fresh, Light and Nothing overpowering to make you nauseous.
Rosa Damascena Flower Water*, Aqua/Water, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract*, Glycerin, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinic, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citronellol**, Geraniol**
*Ingredients from Organic Farming – ** Natural Components of Floral Water
Second Fav, with good ingredient (Damascena, Rosehip) with boost of Glycerin for sure shot way of sealing in hydration. Other less familiar ingredient is Levulinic acid which is plant derived acid used as preservative for its anti microbial properties. Whilst Sodium Levulinic is a salt of Levulinic Acid. The aerosol based rose water, is incredibly fine and wonderful to travel with. Fragrance wise this one smells slightly more like a mature rose, not light or fresh like MV Organic. In a few seconds, it has slightly sour note (in the best way possible) may be due to my own skin composition. Having said that, it still a very nice scent.
Aqua (Water-Eau), Parfum (Rosa Centifolia)-Fragrance (Cabbage Rose (Rosa Centifolia)), Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Geraniol, Citronellol, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate (Made in Italy)
Oh dear, this is where I walk on thin line. Santa Maria Novella I love as brand, for its culture, heritage and history (and packaging, who am I Kidding!). This rose water is nice and I have repurchased too but when I glance at the inci list, I have slight cringe factor because it has Rosa Centifolia Parfum not Oil (Bloody Hell!). Latter ingredients are preservatives. Housed in solid glass bottle (not with a spritz, my ingenious addition). Upon spritzing you can immediately tell its not Rose Oil its Rose perfume, almost like slight synthetic rose note. Still very appealing even in its delicious synthetic form. Obviously not travel friendly.
Aloe Barbadensis Juice*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Distillate*, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lauric Acid, Fruit Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Soothing Complex: [Hyaluronic Acid, Magnolia Officinalis Bark, Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Leaf Cell and Boswellia Serrata (Boswellin) Extracts], Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract*, Hibiscus Sabdariffa and Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extracts*^, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) and Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oils*, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Oil
Non-GMO verified *Organic ^Fair Trade
This is where the plot thickens, this is technically a ‘Toner’ not ‘Water’. Inci list wise its great, price wise is mass appealing, housed in plastic bright fuscia pink bottle with decent mist. You cannot ask for anything more at this price point. Win.
L’occitane Rose 4 Reines Hydrating Face Mist (Discontinued)
Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sodium chloride, Butylene Glycol, Parfum, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Citronellol, Geraniol, Benzyl salicylate, Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Linalool, Eugenol
Disappointment is left for last, look at the inci list, where is the Rose?! It’s a NO from me (thankfully its discontinued). But I loved the bottle packaging and misting mechanism. Bloody, frigging, hell breaking, Excellent. Obvs retained bottle, to decant others and use (no brainer move).
So to condense it all, pointers for you to keep in mind:
- Proper, Authentic Rose Water is steam distilled or a by-product of extraction process for Rose oil.
- Check if its Rose Parfum or Oil?! Needless to mention, but Oil is the preferred option here.
- Determine type of Rose used, Rosa Centifolia or Damascena.
- No matter which rose is used, it should be a colourless fluid, any colour to the liquid indicates artificial colour added.
- There will almost always be a preservative but it should be towards the end of the listing.
- Commonly used preservatives include Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Polysorbate 40, Benzyl Benzoate.
Now, after learning tad more about formulations, if you’ve lost all faith in Rose Waters, I highly recommend looking into Caudalie Grape Water which consists of Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Water*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Nitrogen (USDA Certified Made in France).
Simple, inexpensive, effective and widely available. It lasts a while with a generous quantity packed.
Hope you’ve found this post useful and continue on your quest to find “The Rose Water”.