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Rosewater, An Ancient Beauty Secret

A bouquet of red roses is the most common gift — besides a box of chocolates — given on Valentine’s Day. A truly fairy tale-like surprise for a loved one might involve strewing the floor with hundreds of rose petals, like it was straight out of a Hollywood romantic comedy.

Roses have long been associated with love and romance, but those are not the only things roses are useful for. Since ancient times, roses have been used to produce rosewater to be used in creating medicinal treatments, perfumes, as well as beauty remedies. Curious to know more about rosewater and its various uses? Read on to find out.  


The Versatility of Rosewater

Rosewater is made by steeping rose petals in simmering water until the petals lose their colour. The water is then filtered to separate the petals, thereby leaving the resultant rosewater behind. The rosewater is then used in several ways, including in:


It is probably not at all surprising that rosewater is used to create perfumes. Its fragrant smell is often used as a base in perfumes, and layered with other scents, to produce a sweet, floral aroma with a subtle woody note. Pure rosewater can also be used as a perfume by itself, although the scent will not be as long-lasting as a rose-scented perfume.


We are all familiar with a rose-flavoured drink called bandung in this part of the world, but we are probably less acquainted with rose-flavoured food. In some international cuisine however, the use of rosewater as an ingredient is prevalent due to its strong, intense flavour, which lends a unique taste to different types of food. For instance, rosewater can be found in much of Middle Eastern cuisine. In sweet treats such as baklava, kanafeh and awwameh, rosewater syrup is drizzled all over while they are still hot to coat the treats in a rosy, sugary goodness. In Indian cuisine, rosewater is added into rice pudding and biryani, as well as dairy-based beverages such as lassi. Rosewater was also once a popular baking ingredient in Europe and America, but it lost its floral crown when vanilla flavouring began to sweep both nations in the nineteenth century.  


Cleopatra, the ruler of Ancient Egypt, was well-known to have used rosewater as part of her skincare. She was claimed to have used rosewater in her bath to keep her face and body soft and moisturised. And if Cleopatra, a ruler whose beauty secrets and routine have lasted through the centuries, used rosewater as part of her beauty routine religiously, it is only right for us to do the same. You can use rosewater in several ways including calming redness on the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles on the face, as well as keeping your skin smooth and hydrated. Of course, Cleopatra had the luxury of using pure rosewater during her time, something that is less commonly available in the modern day. One hundred percent, pure rosewater of truly high quality can usually only be found in certain countries such as Iran and Morocco.


The moisturising property of rosewater is not only limited to your skin, but also your hair. Including rosewater as part of your haircare will help to keep your hair soft and smooth. You can either spray some rosewater onto the lengths of your hair to keep frizz at bay, or focus on just the ends of your hair to keep them moisturised. Another way is to add a few drops of rosewater into your shampoo and conditioner, and apply them onto your hair like you would normally.


The anti-inflammatory characteristic of rosewater makes it a coveted ingredient in creating medicinal ointments. It is sometimes used to treat mild skin issues such as eczema and rosacea. In addition, rosewater has the ability to aid in healing, which makes it a popular product to treat cuts and wounds. If you have mild to moderate acne and have not been able to find any product that is able to get rid of it, or you prefer curing your acne the natural way, consider applying rosewater on the affected areas. Start off with a small area first in case your skin has an adverse reaction to the rosewater.


The smell of commercial scented detergents can sometimes be too overpowering, especially for those with a sensitive nose. Some of them leave a more artificial, almost chemical smell as well, which is frankly not too appealing. For a natural way to scent your clothes, how about using rosewater? If you want your clothes to smell oh-so-fresh and floral, add a bit of rosewater to unscented detergent when washing your laundry. For a longer-lasting scent, add a few drops of rosewater into your iron to scent your clothes even more while you are ironing them.