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Rose water for your face: Benefits with ancient roots

Everything you need to know about using this refreshing product.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 28, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Rose Water
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 28, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Rose water has long been a skincare mainstay, from ancient traditions to modern routines, winning over those who use it for its delightful aroma and skin-enhancing properties. Created predominantly from the fragrant damask rose, its infusion with water yields an elixir that offers more than meets the eye.

Here, we’ll delve into the origins of this scented liquid, its scientifically backed properties, and its role in skincare. If you’ve been curious about the buzz around rose water, this guide is for you. Dive in to discover how this ancient remedy can rejuvenate your skincare routine.

What is rose water?

Rose water, a product of high cultural, culinary, and medicinal value, traces its roots back to ancient times. It is typically made from the Rosa damascena, or Damask rose, a species celebrated for its potent fragrance.¹ Historically, rose-infused water is believed to have originated in Iran where it has become ingrained culturally, finding its way into religious traditions and culinary practices.²

The creation of rose water involves the infusion of damask rose petals into water. The resulting product contains about 10-50% rose oil, capturing the flower’s essence and transforming it into a portable, usable form.³

But there’s more to rose water than just a pleasing aroma. The Rosa damascena is laden with beneficial compounds like terpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. These constituents contribute to rose water’s health-promoting qualities, making it more than just a sensory delight.⁴

The use of rose-scented water has transcended its traditional origins and become a mainstay in modern wellness and beauty routines, reflecting its enduring value over centuries. From its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to its calming fragrance, rose water continues its ancient role as a gentle yet potent aid for well-being.

The benefits of rose water for your face

Over the centuries, rose water has been used for a multitude of medical, cosmetic, culinary, and religious purposes. Here are some of the scientifically backed benefits of using rose water on your face.

Antioxidant

Rose water is celebrated for its potential antioxidant properties.⁵ Rich in beneficial phytochemicals, a class of compounds recognized for their biological activities, rose-infused water is believed to have substantial free-radical scavenging and antioxidant effects.⁶ These properties help neutralize harmful free radicals that contribute to skin damage and aging.⁷ By incorporating rose water into your skincare routine, you could potentially harness these antioxidant benefits for your skin’s health and appearance. 

Antimicrobial

Rose water brings a host of benefits to your skin, including antimicrobial activities. Research has highlighted its effectiveness against common skin bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and fungi such as Candida albicans.⁸ Thanks to rose water's antimicrobial properties, it may be used for the treatment of various skin disorders, including acne.⁹ As such, rose infusion presents a natural, multifaceted approach to promoting healthier skin.

Anti-inflammatory

Rose water has shown to be potentially anti-inflammatory. Although primarily alcohol-based rose extracts have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties,¹⁰ one study did suggest rose water extract isn’t totally devoid of these benefits. One study revealed that rose water can suppress neutrophils, a type of white blood cell instrumental in causing inflammation. By inhibiting these cells, it may help manage skin inflammation, thus offering a soothing effect.¹¹ However, more research is needed to better understand the extent of rose-infused water's anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Stress relieving

Beyond its physical benefits, rose water may also serve as a mental salve. Studies indicate that the aroma of rose-scented water can aid in relieving stress and anxiety,¹² helping promote overall well-being. Further, since psychological stress may adversely affect your skin, exacerbating conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis, using rose water may indirectly promote healthier skin.¹³ Engaging in aromatherapy can create a more peaceful state of mind. This, in turn, may be reflected in the health and vitality of your skin, highlighting the intricate link between mind and skin health.

How to use rose water in your skincare routine

Incorporating rose water into your skincare routine can potentially bring a host of benefits, thanks to its versatile properties and pleasing fragrance. Hailed as a vital ingredient in numerous cosmetics and body creams,¹⁴ this infusion is easy to include in daily skincare practices.

One of the simplest ways to use rose water is by purchasing skin care products that already contain this beneficial ingredient. These products may range from face creams to body lotions, providing the dual advantage of targeted skincare combined with the refreshing aroma of roses. Donna McIntyre, a nurse practitioner at Curology says, “If you are looking for a hydrating face mist, I love the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater. I like to keep it in the refrigerator for a nice, cool boost, especially during the summertime!” However, if you prefer a more DIY approach, you can create your own rose-infused spray at home. 

Rose water is especially popular as a facial toner. Facial toners work to balance your skin’s pH and remove any leftover impurities post-cleansing. To use rose water in this way, simply cleanse your face as you usually would, and then spritz the scented water onto your face or apply it with a cotton pad. Let it air dry, soaking into your skin, and then proceed with your usual moisturizing routine—our favorite is Curology’s Gel Moisturizer.

Incorporating rose water into your skincare regimen may help address various skin concerns while also imparting a calming, aromatic experience. As with any new skincare product, it’s recommended to perform a patch test to ensure no adverse reactions.

Personalized skincare with proven ingredients

While Curology hasn’t been around quite as long as rose water, our licensed dermatology providers have years of experience, so they can provide plenty of expert advice on what skincare ingredients are proven to work. 

Started in 2014 by a board-certified dermatologist, Curology makes personalized skincare guidance more accessible. After a quick skin quiz and a few selfies, you’ll be paired with a licensed dermatology provider. They’ll help create a personalized skincare routine that treats your skin concerns, including acne, rosacea, dark spots, wrinkles, and clogged pores. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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If it’s appropriate, they can prescribe one of our personalized formulas (Custom FormulaRx or Future-ProofRx) that combines up to three clinically proven active ingredients. Your formula will target your specific skin concerns and can be adjusted over time.*

FAQs

Can I use rose water on my face every day?

Absolutely, rose water can be incorporated into your daily skincare routine. Thanks to its beneficial, gentle properties, it’s generally well-suited for regular use. This infused water may help address skin troubles such as redness and itchiness.¹⁵

Rose water is generally well tolerated by most skin types. However, like with any skincare product, performing a patch test first is recommended to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions. If no irritation occurs, feel free to enjoy the daily aromatic and soothing benefits of rose-infused water on your face.

What are the disadvantages of using rose water on your face?

While rose water is generally well-tolerated and offers numerous benefits, it may not suit everyone; some people with sensitive skin may experience irritation. Individual skin types and sensitivities vary greatly, so you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns about potential skin reactions.

Does rose water remove dark circles?

While rose water is renowned for its many skin benefits, including its potential anti-inflammatory¹⁶ and antioxidant properties,¹⁷ there's currently no scientific evidence directly linking its use to removing dark circles under the eyes. However, the soothing properties of rose water may help rejuvenate the skin and improve its overall appearance. For any skin concerns, including persistent dark circles, it’s advisable to consult with a licensed dermatology provider to explore appropriate treatment options.

• • •

P.S., we did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Boskabady, M.H., et al. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. (July-August 2011).

  2. Boskabady, M.H., et al. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. Ibid.

  3. Boskabady, M.H., et al. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. Ibid.

  4. Boskabady, M.H., et al. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. Ibid.

  5. Mahboubi, M. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. J Tradit Complement Med. (2015, October 30).

  6. Mileva, M., et al. Rose Flowers-A Delicate Perfume or a Natural Healer?. Biomolecules. (2021, January 19).

  7. Mileva, M., et al. Rose Flowers-A Delicate Perfume or a Natural Healer?. Biomolecules. Ibid.

  8. Maruyama, N., et al. Inhibition of Neutrophil Adhesion and Antimicrobial Activity by Diluted Hydrosol Prepared from Rosa damascena. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. (2017, February 1). 

  9. Tofighi, Z., et al. Antimicrobial Activities of Three Medicinal Plants and Investigation of Flavonoids of Tripleurospermum disciforme. Iran J Pharm Res. (Winter 2015). 

  10. Mahboubi, M. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. J Tradit Complement Med. Ibid.

  11. Maruyama, N., et al. Inhibition of Neutrophil Adhesion and Antimicrobial Activity by Diluted Hydrosol Prepared from Rosa damascena. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Ibid.

  12. Barati, F., et al. The Effect of Aromatherapy on Anxiety in Patients. Nephrourol Mon. (2016, July 31).

  13. Passeron, T., et al. Adult skin acute stress responses to short-term environmental and internal aggression from exposome factors. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. (October 2021).

  14. Fox, L., et al. Treatment Modalities for Acne. Molecules. Ibid.

  15. Maruyama, N., et al. Inhibition of Neutrophil Adhesion and Antimicrobial Activity by Diluted Hydrosol Prepared from Rosa damascena. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Ibid.

  16. Maruyama, N., et al. Inhibition of Neutrophil Adhesion and Antimicrobial Activity by Diluted Hydrosol Prepared from Rosa damascena. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Ibid.

  17. Mahboubi, M. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. J Tradit Complement Med. Ibid.

Donna McIntyre is a board-certified nurse practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA.

*Subject to medical consultation. Subscription required. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

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