I’d like to address the deluge of gimmicky Valentine’s Day-themed marketing campaigns you’ll find touting the benefits of rose fragranced skincare.
The truth is, rose-scented products can be a mixed bag. Rose hip oil is a pretty awesome emollient, antioxidant oil. Rose oil, rose flower oil, rose essential oil, rose fragrance oil and rose hydrosol have both pros and cons for skin. Some people love the scent of roses (and indeed, smelling lovely things can relax you and lower your blood pressure) but I’m one of those people that believes aromatherapy isn’t skincare.
The chemicals (and there are many of them) that make a rose smell like a rose can irritate your skin and give you contact dermatitis. Sometimes denatured alcohol is used to distill these rose-based ingredients, and that can dry your skin out. On the other hand, the petals (of rosa damascena, in particular) have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but so do many other plants.
The following studies are sometimes sourced when recommending rose scented skincare:
Dermocosmetics for dry skin: a new role for botanical extracts. – this was an animal study – next.
Anti-inflammatory properties of rose oxide. – another animal study – next.
Enhancement of keratinocyte differentiation by rose absolute oil. – An interesting study, but again, this was done on mouse skin, which I can’t take seriously.
Effect of “rose essential oil” inhalation on stress-induced skin-barrier disruption in rats and humans. – Actually, the abstract makes rose essential oil look pretty good for dry skin.
Tocopherol, carotene, phenolic contents and antibacterial properties of rose essential oil, hydrosol and absolute. – Proof that rose essential oil, hydrosol and absolute are strong antibacterials. But they also contain over 55% of irritating citrenellol and geraniol.
Like I said, a mixed bag. Additionally, one of the most beloved rose-scented skincare products is Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner – which is basically comprised of water, aloe, glycerin and witch hazel – and it’s got mixed reviews as well. Some people love it and find it more moisturizing than the non-rose version of the toner and others find it irritates their skin.
If you’re going to buy rose-scented skincare, please patch test it first. And anyway, isn’t it better to use a product containing great ingredients that don’t have the potential to irritate your skin? That’s my take on rose, anyway.