Anyone who has read my recent piece for Popsugar will know I’m a bit wary in my approach to essential oils – but there’s one I’ve never been able to fully let go of. I was never a fan of rose before working in the industry, associating anything rose-related with my 85-year-old alter ego, who – along with wearing strong rose perfume – dressed in a lavender coloured waterproof and went by the name Betty instead of Becky. But I think that was before I really learnt anything about the flower and its essence. Through having access to some of the most amazing rose products to attending fragrance workshops which seek to educate us about the origin and journey of rose, it’s become really interesting to me.
Not only has rose become way more chic, youthful and modern recently, it’s also being used in different ways and sourced from a number of places. One thing I learnt at the aforementioned perfume workshop is that ingredients like rose always smell different depending on factors like the altitude they were grown at and the country they were sourced from (for example, France, Turkey…). The quality and variety of rose has evolved so much over the past few years, and the beauty industry is fuelling its hype with an endless supply of irresistible products – think Ren’s beautiful Moroccan rose range, or By Terry’s infamous Baume De Rose, which sparked an entire line of delicate rose-scented products.
I recently bought a really interesting book that I’ve been using a lot while writing; it’s basically a dictionary of every beauty ingredient from A to Z. When you look up ‘rose’, you get pages of results – this is a summary of just some of them, which may show you just how varied this ingredient is:
Rose: French rose. Red rose. Apothecary’s rose. The use of rose petals dates back to very ancient times… The medicinal properties of rose petals are generally considered very mild. The buds and petals are astringent. Rosebuds are high in vitamin C, astringent tannins and phenolic compounds.
Rose Bengal: A bluish red fragrant liquid taken from the rose of the Bengal region of the Asian subcontinent. Used to scent perfumes and as an edible color product to make lipstick dyes.
Rose Bulgarian: True Otto Oil. Attar of roses. Rose Otto Bulgaria. One of the most widely used perfume ingredients, it is the essential oil steam-distilled from the flowers of Rosa damascena. The rose flowers are picked early in the morning, when they contain the maximum amount of perfume, and are distilled quickly after harvesting. Bulgaria is the main source of supply, but Russia, Turkey, Syria and Indo-China also grow it.
Rose Extract/Rose Flower Oil: An extract of the various species of rose, it is used in fragrances, makeup and skin conditioners.
Rose Geranium: Distilled from any of several South African herbs grown for their fragrant leaves. Used in perfumes and to scent toothpaste and dusting powders.
Rose Leaves Extract: Derived from the leaves of a species of Rosa. Used in raspberry flavourings and fragrances.
Rose Water: The watery solution of the odoriferous constituents of roses, made by distilling the fresh flowers with water or steam. Used as a perfume in emollients, eye lotions and freckle lotions.
(all descriptions from: A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients: 7th Edition, by Ruth Winter, M.S, pp. 449-450)
My rose obsession has grown hugely. There are still some derivatives of it I’m not so taken by, but the above products are my ride or dies. Special mentions must go to the incredible Byredo Burning Rose candle, which totally de-bunks rose’s overly-sweet reputation and shows it can be smoky and seductive, and the Pixi Rose Oil Blend, which is an excellent dupe for the iconic Sisley Black Rose Precious Oil (which tbf, I also love). But my favourite rose ‘moment’ in recent years has to go to the Diptyque Rosaviola range, which spanned the personal and home fragrance categories with a dreamy solid perfume and two amazing pink candles. The line was born from a Valentine’s collaboration with Olympia Le-Tan in 2016, and the packaging was just as major as the products themselves. From the look of Diptyque’s upcoming 2018 Valentine’s candle, however, the crown could totally be stolen come Feb…
Personally, I’m obsessed with rose hip oil, but I definitely would love to try other rose products.