Rose oil is one of the most expensive oils on the market. That’s because it takes around 22 pounds of rose petals to create just 0.16 oz of rose essential oil. But what an oil it is! This article will divulge exactly what makes rose essential oil so magnificent, so healing, and one of the most sought-after oils today.

How Rose Essential Oil is Made

At rose picking time, seasonal workers congregate on rose farms in various parts of the world. Damask roses are grown in abundance in Bulgaria, Syria, Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran, India, China, Pakistan, France, and a few other places. Rose heads are picked by hand first thing in the morning during a three-to-four-week time window when the petals are just right.

The rose petals are taken to the distillery and placed into large copper stills, and water is added. The still is fired for 60 to 90 minutes. Making a high-quality rose oil is a two-step process. When the water vaporizes, rose oil is collected from condensing apparatus and this comprises about 20% of the final product. Secondly, the water which condenses along with the oil is drained off and distilled again which is necessary to get the water-soluble fractions of the rose oil.

Known as cohobation, the resulting oil makes up 80% of the final oil. The two are then combined and this results in medicinal grade rose essential oil, sometimes called rose otto or attar of roses.

Other rose-derived products include rose absolute in which the rose petals are mixed with chemicals (solvent extraction) like hexane and ethanol. Rose water is created from the hydrosol portion of the distilled rose oil. These are much less expensive, but also not of a therapeutic quality.

Rose Through the Centuries

Rosa damascena (the latin name for the Damask Rose) has been the symbol of love, beauty, faith and purity since ancient times. Originating in Syria, Iran, Bulgaria, and Turkey, rose essential oil has been utilized for healing since the Dark Ages. The people of Iran refer to Rosa damascena as the “flower of the Prophet Muhammad,” so highly is it regarded there. Avicenna, a 10th century Arab physician, first distilled rose oil and wrote a book about its healing attributes. In Elizabethan England, rose was used as a food flavoring and indeed many dishes in the Middle East still contain rose water for flavoring.

Medicinal Uses for Rose Essential Oil

Rose oil is used for a great many conditions − clearing congestion, soothing inflammation, strengthening digestion, nerve calming, pain relief, and assisting with depression. It has been said to have a balancing effect on female hormones. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, ease menstrual cramps, help with premenstrual tension, as well as easing menopause symptoms.

Rose soothes and comforts the itching and burning of eczema and psoriasis and other dermatitis problems due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is wonderful as a skin tonic for scarring, wrinkles, broken capillaries, and acne. Rose helps to restore the moisture balance of skin, so is very helpful for mature, dry or damaged skin. Sensitive and normal skin can benefit from rose too.

The Healing Phytochemicals in Rose Oil

The key phytochemicals (plant based natural chemicals) in rose essential oil are citronellol (34-44%) and geraniol (12-28%). These two components are largely responsible for the pharmacological activities of rose. Other minor phytochemicals include nerol, nonadecane, phenyl ethyl alcohol, and a few others. The phytochemical content of rose varies depending upon where in the world the plant is grown and even the time of year that the petals are harvested.

Research into the Healing Benefits of Rose Oil

Much of the most recent research on rose essential oil comes from Iran, where the plant is much revered for its healing properties. Research confirms that rose oil has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and antidepressant properties.

Acne – A 2010 study reported in the journal Molecules found that Rosa damascena (along with a few other essential oils) had potent activity against Propionibacterium acne bacteria which cause acne.

Antimicrobial, Anti-fungal – A multitude of studies have clearly shown that Rosa damascena has potent antimicrobial and antifungal activity. One of the most exciting studies, reported in 2010 in the journal Molecules, found that it was active against Salmonella typhimurium and Bacillus cereus. The study also found it to be active against Candida albicans and MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a particularly virulent strain of bacteria that is overcoming most modern antibiotic drugs.

Antiviral A 1996 British study reported in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications reported that extracts from Rosa damascena had moderate anti-HIV activity.

Anti-cancer 1997 American research reported in the journal Lipids found that geraniol (one of the phytochemicals in rose oil) inhibited the growth of pancreatic tumor cells.

One of the researchers in that 1997 study was part of subsequent research reported in 2007 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics which elucidated exactly how geraniol worked against malignant pancreatic cells.

A French study reported in 2001 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that geraniol inhibited the growth of human colon cancer cells.

2011 Iranian research published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found Rosa damascena to have toxic effects against cervical cancer cells. Researchers stated it could be “a promising chemotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment in future.”

A study reported in 2013 in Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench, again from Iranian researchers, found that rose oil in small quantities had anticancer effects against human colon cancer cells. In high quantities, however, it had the opposite effect! Thus disproving the old adage that more is better.

2014 Indian research reported in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine found that Rosa damascena petals, combined with biocompatible silver nanoparticles, had potent activity against human lung adenocarcinoma cells.

Antidepressant, Relaxant A 2015 review of research on Rosa damascena published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine discussed several studies which found that rose extracts had an antidepressant effect in animals.

Does it work for humans? It appears so. A small 2012 American research study reported in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice followed a group of 28 women suffering from postnatal depression. The women were separated into two groups. One group was treated with 15-minute aromatherapy sessions of a 2% solution of rose and lavender essential oil twice per week for four weeks. The control group used inhalation only. Researchers discovered that the women in the aromatherapy group experienced not only a significant decrease in postnatal depression, they also reported improvement in general anxiety.

Japanese research reported in Complementary Therapies In Medicine in 2014 found rose oil to have relaxing benefits for 20 university students who took part in the study.

Pain Relief – A 2016 Iranian study published in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that rose oil was effective for pregnant women with low back pain. The study was a randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted on 120 women with low back pain related to pregnancy. Patients were put into one of three groups. One group received topical rose oil in a carrier of almond oil, one group received a placebo (carrier oil only), and one group received no intervention. All groups were followed for 4 weeks. The group receiving the rose oil had “significant decrease in pain intensity” and functional ability compared with the other two groups. Researchers noted “Rose oil reduced pregnancy-related low back pain intensity without any significant adverse effect.”

A 2016 study reported in Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research on 50 patients with second-and third-degree burns found that simple inhalation of rose oil significantly eased pain intensity for the burns patients, compared with placebo.

A 2016 Turkish research study appearing in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice on 100 patients with dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps) found that rose essential oil to be beneficial for pain relief.

Surgical Adhesions – An animal study reported in May 2016 in the journal Wounds – A Compendium of Clinical Research and Practice had some interesting results. They found that for rats undergoing laparotomy surgery, an application of 1% rose oil in an ethanol base resulted in “a remarkable decrease of intra-abdominal adhesions after laparotomy in rats.” Researchers noted that a 5% solution of rose oil and ethanol resulted in the death of the rats, so again, less is more. Heavily diluting rose oil is recommended by most aromatherapists. And one can’t help but wonder whether the ethanol (an alcohol) had a role to play in the death of the rats.

Neuroprotective An interesting Japanese study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015 examined the pharmacological effects of several different essential oils, including rose oil. Researchers evaluated the effects of these essential oils on certain nerve cells damaged by hydrogen peroxide, aluminum, zinc, or tamoxifen. Hydrogen peroxide-induced neuronal death was “attenuated” by rose (and a few others) and rose was found to have protective effects against zinc-induced neurotoxicity. This is important because excess zinc secreted during times of ischemia (an inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body) causes neuronal death and plays a central role in the onset of vascular-type senile dementia.

How to Make Your Own Rose Water

While creating your own rose essential oil might be an expensive and laborious process (and best left to the experts), you can make your own rose water with some simple household supplies. You will need about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of fresh rose petals (make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides), 3 cups (700 ml) filtered water, a large pan with a lid, some cheesecloth or a nut bag, a large glass measuring cup with a pour spout, and a clean, dark glass bottle (about 500 ml capacity as some of the water will evaporate.)

Place the rose petals into the pan. Pour the filtered water on top of the rose petals, cover, and bring to a boil. Then immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting − but still allow water to simmer gently. Check after about 5 minutes − you just want to simmer the petals until the color of the petals fade, somewhere between 5-10 minutes.

Remove lid from pan and cool mixture to room temperature. Place the cheesecloth or nut bag over the glass measuring cup and strain the liquid into the glass measuring cup. Then pour the rose water into the dark glass bottle you wish to use. This will not have a long shelf life, so must be stored in the refrigerator. It should keep for several weeks if chilled, but only for a week or so unrefrigerated.

Uses for your rose water: As a light, summery perfume, for homemade body products like shampoo, makeup remover, hair treatments, after shave. Great for misting your bed sheets before you climb in, to lift the mood, and for flavoring foods (think Turkish delight, gelato, herbal teas). Enjoy!

Some Final Notes on Rose Essential Oil

If you wish to use rose essential oil therapeutically, please carefully source your oil. It is important that your rose oil supplier knows how to properly distill rose, without the use of chemical solvents. Only buy from a trusted source who uses organic farming methods for their roses. 

Rose essential oil is extremely condensed. Practice caution when using rose oil on or near the face. Never apply essential oils anywhere near the eyes and never into the ear canal (outside is fine). Dilute with an organic carrier oil if you have sensitive skin.

If rose essential oil is out of your budget, consider geranium essential oil which has many similar benefits. A combination of rose and geranium oil is also an excellent alternative to pure rose oil.

Women around the world have been using beauty products for generations. From foundations and blush to lipstick and mascara, these cosmetics have become a staple for the modern woman. But what if the very products designed to help you look and feel your best are actually killing you?

That’s the takeaway from new research out of Notre Dame, which found that over half of all makeup sold in the U.S. and Canada contain high levels of dangerous toxins.

One of these poisonous compounds has been associated with serious health conditions like cancer and reduced birth weight: They’re called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

The researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained fluorine — an indicator of PFAS. These so-called “forever chemicals” are commonly used in nonstick frying pans, rugs, and countless other consumer products.

Some of the highest PFAS levels were found in waterproof mascara (82%) and long-lasting lipstick (62%), according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Twenty-nine products with higher fluorine concentrations were tested further and found to contain between four and thirteen specific PFAS chemicals, the study found. Surprisingly, only one item listed PFAS as an ingredient on the label.

According to the EPA, the group of man-made chemicals are “very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.” That explains why they’re used in cosmetics, says Notre Dame study lead Graham Peaslee, despite only a fraction of the tested products listing a perfluorinated chemical on the label.

They’re used basically to impart a water-resistance or a long-lasting effect, and that’s why we know that some of it’s intentional. If you look at regular mascara and you look at waterproof mascara, guess which ones have all the fluorine in it? It’s the waterproof ones,” Peaslee says. To that point, 47% of all the mascaras they tested had PFAS in them, compared to 82% of waterproof mascaras. It was a similar story with liquid lipstick, where 62% of them had PFAS, versus 55% of all lip products tested.

As Peaslee notes, previous studies have found that the average lipstick wearer eats anywhere from 4 to 7 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime. That’s worrisome, because even the CDC says that exposure to high levels of some PFAS can lead to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, changes in liver enzymes, decreased infant birth weights, increased risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, increased cholesterol, and a decreased vaccine response in children.

A fact sheet posted on the FDA website says that, “As the science on PFAS in cosmetics continues to advance, the FDA will continue to monitor″ voluntary data submitted by industry as well as published research. (Likely with the same vigor as they “monitored” the opioid epidemic?)

But PFAS chemicals are an issue of increasing concern for lawmakers who are working to regulate their use in consumer products. The study results were announced as a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to ban the use of PFAS in cosmetics and other beauty products.

The move to ban PFAS comes as Congress considers wide-ranging legislation to set a national drinking water standard for certain PFAS chemicals and clean up contaminated sites across the country, including military bases where high rates of PFAS have been discovered.

There is nothing safe and nothing good about PFAS,″ said Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who introduced the cosmetics bill with Senator Susan Collins of Maine. “These chemicals are a menace hidden in plain sight that people literally display on their faces every day.

Elsie M. Sunderland, a Harvard professor of environmental science and engineering in the department of environmental health, says that – outside of the ingestion pathway – how well PFAS penetrate the skin isn’t well understood. Lohmann says that drinking water contaminated by PFAS or inhaling them is much worse than having Teflon particles in your eyeshadow, but per Peaslee, that doesn’t absolve manufacturers using PFAS in cosmetics. Because once a mascara with the ingredients goes into a landfill, for instance, the contents will wash out and enter the drinking water supply.

Inhalation is also a concern when it comes to aerosol sprays from brands like Living Proof, which uses a perfluorinated ingredient, OFPMA, in a majority of its products. While the brand claims that “OFPMA is thoroughly researched and regulators around the world confirm that it is safe to use — for you and for the environment,” Peaslee is less certain.

Are they all toxic? Pretty much. Every one we’ve tested has been toxic, or bioaccumulative and persistent at least,” he says. “So we maintain a pretty strong line that we’ve never met a good PFAS yet.” Lohmann concurs: “Even compounds like OFPMA can cause problems once released. OFPMA will break down to smaller, very long-lived PFAS that will persist in the environment for hundreds of years.”

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who has sponsored several PFAS-related bills in the House, said she has looked for PFAS in her own makeup and lipstick, but could not see if they were present because the products were not properly labeled.

And that’s one of the biggest problems with today’s cosmetic options.

Putting aside the fact that manufacturers like Sephora and Ulta have been knowingly selling toxic product to women around the world, these companies have failed to women with any way of finding out.

According to one study, nearly 60% of women in the U.S. now scan their cosmetics for potentially harmful ingredients before heading to the checkout. But if the toxic ingredients aren’t listed in the first place, these consumers are shopping blind.

Because these chemicals don’t break down, it can be tricky to avoid them. When it comes to your makeup, however, there are a few red flags for which you should keep an eye out. One trick is to avoid products that claim to be “waterproof” or “stain resistant.” Research shows that these products are far more likely to contain PFAS than their standard counterparts.

Another way to protect yourself is to choose brands with a commitment to clean products and the track record to prove it. Below is a list of 9 other harmful toxins that should show up on the label. If you see any of these ingredients on the bottle, it’s best to avoid that brand altogether.

1 | Ormaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

2 | Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde.

3 | Methylene glycol, a type of formaldehyde.

4 | Quaternium 15, which releases formaldehyde.

5 | Mercury, which can damage the kidneys and nervous system.

6 | Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, which disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system.

7 | Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.

8 | The long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer.

9 | M- and o-phenylenediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA and can cause cancer.

As a woman (and the mother of 3 gorgeous daughters), this issue is near and dear to my heart. That’s why I set out on a mission to create a luxury, toxic free skincare line for women who care about their health and beauty. I launched my new line at TTAC LIVE! 2021 last month, and hope you’ll take a look! These products were carefully developed to ensure that there are ZERO harmful or toxic chemicals to be found.

According to the ToxicFree Foundation, a “Toxic Free” product “has been created without the use of any potentially toxic, carcinogenic, or poisonous ingredients that could be questionable in safety.” ToxicFree certified products are guaranteed to be completely free from harmful chemicals, contain only ingredients that are 100% natural and from the earth, and manufactured sustainably and are safe for the environment.

Beauty is more than skin deep. We want you to love your skin, and the CHARLÍS line of luxury skin care products will help you feel confident in your healthy, beautiful, radiant skin. For information on how to order the best skin care products on the market, please visit