How to make rosewater (at home!)

After my post on the beauty benefits of rosewater, a lot of you have written in to ask whether it’s possible to make this fragrant multi-tasker at home. Yes, it’s definitely possible to make rosewater at home – and it’s easy enough. In fact, growing up, I always looked forward to visiting my grandmother in her pretty summer cottage, which was steeped in the fragrance of meltingly luxurious rose creams and fluffy rose-dusted powder puffs. While these sweet smelling lotions and potions are no longer within reach, these DIY rosewater recipes bring back those wonderful memories of playing dress-up in her bedroom. I hope you love them too!

rosewater-1The old fashioned rosewater recipe

  • Fill the bottom 3-4 inches of an enamel pot with rose petals. Pour distilled water over them until they are just covered.
  • Heat the water till it starts steaming but do not let it come to a boil. Simmer until the petals lose their colour. At this point, the water will have taken on the colour of the petals and you will see oil on the surface. This will take approximately 60 minutes.
  • Strain the water and squeeze out the liquid from the petals. This is your rosewater.

The quick & easy rosewater recipe

  • Place 1 firmly packed cup of rose petals in a glass jar.
  • Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the petals. Cover and steep until the liquid is cool.
  • Strain, squeeze out the liquid from the petals, and refrigerate the liquid in a sterilised jar.

The oven-method rosewater recipe

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Line a heat-proof enamelware roaster a few inches deep with rose petals.
  • Add distilled water until the petals are just covered.
  • Place the roaster (uncovered) in the oven and bring to a boil.
  • As soon as it starts boiling, turn off the heat and cover the roaster. Leave in the oven until the water is cool (several hours).
  • Once cool, strain and squeeze all the petals to remove the liquid. Refrigerate the liquid.

The distilled rosewater recipe

  • Fill the bottom of an enamel canning or stock pot with 4 quarts of rose petals.
  • Pour distilled water over them until they are just covered. The rim should be at least a couple inches higher than the water. If you have a canning rack, you can set the bowl on top of that so it doesn’t sit directly over the heat; else a pyrex loaf dish underneath the bowl would do the trick.
  • Cover the pot with its lid, but position the lid upside down so that you have a dipped “container” to hold the ice on top (to be added later). Now turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Once it starts boiling, fill the top of the inverted pot lid with ice cubes. Turn the heat down and keep at a bare simmer for about two hours.
  • Top up the ice as needed and check occasionally to see that the petals don’t boil dry.
  • This process will enable condensation to form on the top inside of the pot lid. The condensation will drip down into the bowl inside the pot – the liquid inside the bowl is your rose water.

rosewater-3Notes on preparation

  • The best roses for making rosewater are the Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia and Rosa gallica. All three of these rose species is edible, so you can also use them in teas and flavourings.
  • Rose petals must be freshly picked and be completely free of pesticides or other chemicals. If you don’t grow your own, ask at the local florist or farmers market for organic ones.
  • Pick the flowers just after the morning dew has evaporated – around 2-3 hours after sunrise.
  • Use only the rose petals, not the stems, stamen (the “male” part at the centre of the rose, where you find the pollen) or leaves.
  • Wash thoroughly to remove any bugs or dirt and immediately process with one of the methods above.
  • After preparing your recipe of choice, refrigerate in a sealed, sterilised glass jar.
  • Add 1 part rubbing alcohol or vodka or witch hazel to 10 parts rosewater to use as a facial astringent or toner for oily and combination skin.

Rose water – the centuries old beauty staple – has never been hotter

For the past few decades, beauty products containing even the merest hint of rose have been seen as old-fashioned. But that is all changing as science proves what the Romans and Indians knew more than a 1,000 years back: rose water is packed with skin soothing and complexion perfecting ingredients, like Vitamin C and polyphenols, which can erase fine lines, boost collagen and promote healthier hair. Among a host of other beauty benefits. As Geraldine Howard, co-founder of Aromatherapy Associates, puts it: “It may not be the new, whizzy ingredient, but it is one steeped in heritage and really does deliver results on so many levels.”

And while every brand worth its “natural” creds is calling upon rose water for everything from moisturisers and lip balms to foundations and powders, one of the most potent beauty benefits of this wonder ingredient lies in its very simplicity. And sometimes a bottle of pure rose water and some cotton puffs are just enough.

rose-waterRosewater for acne-prone skin

Rose water is well known for its soothing, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. It is also naturally clarifying and reduces redness – all of which make it terrific for acne sufferers. Additionally, its toning properties help balance skin and clear blocked pores. To use, moisten a cotton ball with rose water and swipe over clean skin before moisturising.

Rosewater for dry & sensitive skin

Pure rose water can reduce inflammation, soften the complexion and hydrate cell tissues, making it ideal for dry or sensitive skin. It can also soothe dermatitis, eczema, bruises, heat rash and burns. According to dermatologists, regular use has even been shown to strengthen vein walls and heal tiny spider capillaries. Use as above!

Rosewater for clear skin

Mix 2 tablespoons of rose water with 3-4 drops of rose essential oil to create a solution that is a rich source of collagen-boosting Vitamin A, soothing Vitamin E and the essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic (omega 3) and linoleic (omega 6) to lighten sun spots and hydrate the skin. Pour a small amount on a cotton ball and swipe over entire face after cleansing.


Rosewater for ageing skin

Rose hip seeds – especially that of the rosa canina species – are 8 times higher in Vitamin C than oranges, making rose water a potent antioxidant. Besides this, it increases elasticity so is ideal for fending off wrinkles, while deeply nourishing the skin, leaving the complexion hydrated and radiant.

Rosewater for refreshed eyes

Rose water is anti-inflammatory and soothing – perfect for helping relax and de-stress the eyes. Banish dark circles by placing rosewater-soaked cotton balls on the under eye area for a few minutes.

Rosewater for healthy hair

Add a capful of rose water to your shampoo. Not only will this help hair growth, its antiseptic qualities also soothe an irritated scalp, getting rid of dryness and dandruff. Plus, the delicate scent will make your hair smell lovely.

Rosewater for a relaxing bath

Used by aromatherapists as an antidepressant, sedative and even an aphrodisiac, you can be sure that a rose water-infused bath will work a charm. Simply tip a few capfuls in a warm bath to lift the spirits and calm nervous tension, instability or depression.

Rosewater as a bikini Line Soother

Soak a clean cotton cloth in rose water and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Spread it over stinging skin after a Brazilian or basic wax for immediate relief.

What to do AFTER a spa treatment!

For all the admonishments we get to arrive at least 20 minutes before the appointment, switch off the cellphone, steer clear of the razor and clearly communicate any discomforts, there is surprisingly little advice dispensed at the end of spa treatments on what to do in the hours ahead! But ignorance does not make for spa-bliss – in fact, since your body is at its most vulnerable immediately after a massage or scrub, it’s important to take precautions. This will not only help avoid damage to your skin but also optimise the skincare, wellness and feel-good results you paid for (often through your nose!).

post-spa1. Stay off the alcohol and cigarettes

Most spa treatments expel toxins by releasing them into your blood stream, from where they are gradually pushed out of the body – usually over 24 hours. Drinking alcohol and smoking can dehydrate your body and further increase toxicity, so avoid these for at least a full day.

2. Turn to water

In order to flush away these toxins and replace lost hydration (which is common after spa therapies), drink lots of fluids – namely water and green tea – for 24 hours post-treatment.

3. Eat light

Avoid eating a heavy meal for a few hours after the treatment as your digestion needs all it’s power to eliminate toxins. For optimum results, have a meal made with garlic, which lowers blood pressure, boosts circulation, reduces fat, and flushes toxins from the body. Your best bet? A light, Asian-inspired dish.

4. Load up on the fruits

Swap dessert for a platter of fresh fruits: chock full with vitamins, enzymes and water, these are the best option for maintain the health effects of any spa treatment.

5. Rest, rest, rest… and then rest some more!

A massage reveals its optimal benefits over a few hours, so you need some “me-time” to fully absorb the results of any spa session. By doing anything stressful, you might lose the effects of your treatment. Plus, any strenuous, rigorous or exciting activities (including steamy sex!), which make you sweat, will cause dehydration, leading to extreme fatigue. Instead, indulge in some quiet, relaxing pursuits like getting lost in a book or zoning away to music for 24 hours after your spa visit.

6. Resist the shower

Although it may sound counter-productive, if you have any treatments that use essential oils, creams or botanicals, refraining from rinsing off will allow your skin to soak up the minerals and anti-oxidants completely.

7. Skip the steam and sauna

You’ve been cleaned and steamed… heating up the face and body is going to strip away that just paid-for glow. And that’s highly avoidable, right?

8. Go light on home products

This is especially true if you have had a peel or scrub: adding on potent at-home products after these is a surefire recipe for redness. So, give your skin a two or three day break after a treatment.

9. Stay out of the sun

After a massage, peel or scrub, you’ve got a whole new batch of vulnerable skin cells that can easily burn in the sun. Better to stay in the shade and avoid the skin damage.

10. Sleep on a soft sheet

Your skin is super-soft after a spa visit (which is good). However, this also makes it super-prone to allergies, dust and harsh fabrics that can easily cause rashes and other irritations (which is bad). To avoid, sleep on a soft sheet – preferably silk or satin (sigh!) – that won’t irritate your skin. And, yes, stay away from those rough towels as well.

The only beauty detox you will ever need

After a full week of back-to-back weddings, complete with shovelled-on makeup and ultra-late nights, every pore of my skin is crying out for mercy. Time for a hefty dose of Beauty Rx!

Step 1: Cleanse out the gunk

When an event runs from morning to night, it means multiple makeup touch-ups. Result? Skin that gets completely clogged over. And there can be no better way of scrubbing out the gunk from every pore than this simple-yet-potent natural exfoliator, which comes from a Greek buddy who has the most gorgeous skin ever!


1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 drop vanilla extract (for a soothing fragrance; recommended but not essential)


1.  Whisk together all the ingredients.

2.  Massage them into your face and neck for a couple of minutes, rubbing in circular motions.

3.  Rinse with warm water and a wash cloth (to remove the oil).

Step 2: Deep cleanse from the inside-out

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Truly beautiful skin needs to be nurtured from the inside out. And this old Russian recipe helps you do just that, upping your beauty quotient multifold.


3 cups water

1 bowl

3 tablespoons dried herb (chamomile soothes dry skin, peppermint controls excessive oiliness, while rosemary and parsley are great for congested, acne-prone skin)

1 tea infuser

1 towel


1. Pour one tablespoon of the dried herb in a tea infuser. Place the infuser in a mug and add boiling water until the mug is full. Infuse for 10 minutes.

2. Boil the remaining water; place the remaining herb in a bowl and pour in the boiling water.

3. Lean over the bowl, draping your head with a towel so that you are inhaling the vapours from the herbs. Remain as long as you can stand the heat or until the water cools.

4. Pat face dry with a clean towel, sip the tea slowly and don’t go out into the cold for at least half an hour. You’ll have a glow that comes from the inside out!

Step 3: Lay on the beauty mask

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Exhausted skin is sluggish skin and you need to rev up the circulation. Besides its circulation boosting powers, this Russian recipe also simultaneously tones, hydrates and refreshes the skin.


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon (unbleached) white flour

1/2 cup buttermilk (for later)


1. Mix all the ingredients except the buttermilk to form a paste.

2. Apply the paste to your face and neck; leave it on for 5-10 minutes. It may tingle a little as the blood starts flowing. However, never leave anything on it if it begins feeling uncomfortable.

3. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat skin dry.

4. Soak a cotton ball in buttermilk and apply it all over the skin. Rinse off after 10 minutes.

Step 4: Toner

Sweeping a slightly slightly astringent toner across newly clean skin preps the perfect canvas for applying moisturiser and completing the beauty detox. There are various type of skin fresheners but one of my favourites is still one that good old mom recommended years ago.


2 lemons

1 1/2 cups cold mineral water


Squeeze the lemons and and strain the juice into a small bottle. Add the mineral water. Use an astringent toner after any of the facial masques. Follow with your favourite moisturiser.

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