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Roses are Red by Jessica La Grassa

February is a conflicted month for me. Always has been. On the one hand, as it contains my birthday and Valentine’s Day I’m celebrating more than usual. But on the other hand, winter is never quite over and polar vortexes threaten at any moment. In addition, my vitamin D levels are particularly low this time of year and I desperately want to escape to warmer and sunnier places (please take me with you on your holiday down south!). However, one silver lining is that roses are everywhere (thank you to whoever equated roses with love) and they can help us get through this in-between month.

There are two types of roses, out of the many, that are usually used by the perfume and aromatherapy industries. The first being Rosa centifolia, also known as the cabbage rose as its petals look like a cabbage. It’s believed to have originated in Persia and is now cultivated in Morocco and France. Most know this version as rose de mail or Rose Maroc. The other, with the Latin name Rosa damascene and known as the damask rose, is probably native to China but is now primarily cultivated in Bulgaria. Otto of rose or Turkish rose are its common names. Both types of roses have similar therapeutic properties and are part of the Roseceae botantical family, but rose damascene is more widely used today.

The steam distillation process to create pure rose essential oil is one of the most expensive and labour-intensive. It takes between 50-100 blooms to create one drop. That’s right. ONE. DROP. Hence its price tag. Using rose absolute or pure rose essential oil diluted in jojoba oil (usually at 10% or less) is an affordable and effective alternative. To create the absolute, solvents are used to dissolve the aromatic compounds of the delicate petals, it’s then further refined to remove any remaining chemicals.

The pure essential oil is clear and pale yellow in colour while the absolute is a dark yellow or orange. Both have a deep rich and sweet smell of floral and are low in toxicity making it one of the safest essential oils to use. They blend well with bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender and patchouli.

Roses and their essential oils have been used medicinally since antiquity. In the 10th century the great Persian alchemist Avicenna discovered the method for distilling rose oil and it’s been used ever since. No wonder, as the effects are profound on the body and mind. It tones and rejuvenates all skin types, eases premenstrual and menopausal symptoms, is considered an aphrodisiac, is an antidepressant and helps release feelings of grief and separation.

After Valentine’s Day, when they won’t be as expensive, pick up a dozen or so roses and make yourself some rosewater. Rosewater makes a heavenly face toner that’s perfect for combating winter’s dry skin. Any rose type is fine; just make sure the bouquet is fresh and organic. Once you have them home, gently clean the roses and remove the petals, discarding the stem and leaves. Place the petals in a pot (enamel is best if you have it) and pour distilled water over them until they’re just covered. Turn on the heat and let the mixture simmer, not boil, for approx. an hour. Then strain and squeeze out any moisture from the petals into a spray bottle. You can use the rosewater alone or add 4 drops of frankincense and 4 drops of geranium for every 30 ml of rosewater. If you’ve added essential oils make sure to shake the bottle before applying it to your face. For best results, use it on a clean face and apply a face oil or moisturizer afterwards.

If you’re feeling a bit blue, try 2 drops of rose essential oil and 3 drops of orange essential oil in a bath with 1 cup of Epsom salt. If you’ve made the rosewater already you can use 2 tablespoons of that instead of the 2 drops of essential oil.

For premenstrual and menopausal symptoms add 4 drops of rose essential oil, 3 drops of neroli essential oil and 3 drops of mandarin essential oil to 20ml of carrier oil (any will do) in a bottle. Gently shake to blend the mixture then massage a small (pea size) amount onto your body, focusing on areas (such as the stomach or lower back) that hurt.

How do you use rose essential oil in your life? Share your experiences with us using #RitualFlowerPower

Jessica La Grassa is a transplant Hamiltonian and a certified Aromatologist who enjoys sharing her knowledge and green living recipes with others.

Have any questions about this article or an essential oil you’d like me to discuss? Email: or on social media @jessicalagrassa