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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

Respect for Geranium by Jessica La Grassa


Remember last month when I talked about my undying love for lavender? Well, my feelings for this month’s essential oil were quite the opposite initially. Some say it smells like roses and they wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, it’s been used to supplement or adulterate the more expensive rose oils, as it’s much cheaper, for years by the perfume industry. However, I found it too powerful, too earthy and just too much. I couldn’t see myself ever using it. That was before. As I learned more about its healing properties I developed a certain level of respect for it. Which of course was the purpose of me diving deeper into aromatherapy, so I could broaden my knowledge and use essential oils for their healing properties rather than scent alone. It goes to show you that like books, which should never be judged by their covers, you shouldn’t judge essential oils on smell alone. I’d like to introduce you to geranium, the essential oil I’ve learned to like and now can’t live without.

Geranium, with the Latin name Pelargonium graveolens, is part of the Geraniaceae botanical family and is originally from Réunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean, close to Madagascar and Mauritius. The leaves and stems are distilled, using either heat or steam, creating a pale yellow with a tint of green coloured oil. The main properties include calming, relaxing, balancing and soothing. Traditionally, it’s used to support the circulatory and nervous system as it cleanses impurities, eases inflammation and restores balance.

We also now know that geranium is very useful in treating jetlag and other imbalances brought on by travel. Here are a few of my favourites, safe for travel and plane use; just make sure to use 100ml bottles or less due to the liquids rule.

To help you sleep on either a long-haul flight or once you’ve reached your destination, try using this calming roll-on. In a 10ml roll-on bottle place 4 drops of geranium essential oil, 2 drops of lavender and 2 drops of chamomile (German or Roman) essential oil then fill will jojoba oil. Place the lid on and shake. To use, apply to your temples, wrists and the area behind your ears.

As flying can be dehydrating and exhausting, our skin gets dry and our energy levels decrease. Therefore, it’s important to drink lots of water and move around as often as possible. For an added boost, try this refreshing face toner that’ll help rejuvenate your skin’s appearance. Fill a 100ml spray bottle with equal parts distilled water and rose water (50ml each) then place 5 drops of geranium essential oil and 3 drops of rosemary essential oil. Place the lid on and shake. Note that you’ll need to shake the bottle before every use, as the oils will not bind with the water. To use, spray directly onto your face and let it dry.

How do you use geranium essential oil? 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 reach out on social media @jessicalagrassa

For the Love of Lavender by Jessica La Grassa


I have a confession to make: I adore lavender. In fact, maybe adore isn’t the right word. I LOVE it! You know how some people need to stop and say “hi” or pet a dog that they pass on the street? Well, I need to smell lavender. Every. Single. Time. I pass it. Like a magnet I gravitate towards it and don’t even realize I’m doing so until it’s too late – my head and hands are already in the shrub. I’m almost positive that if you live in Hamilton and have lavender growing in your front yard, close to the curb or sidewalk, I’ve stopped to smell it. I’ve been caught once or twice, which probably embarrasses my husband more than me, but I simply give a big a smile and holler, “it’s lovely!” I find the smell intoxicating and immediately feel calm afterwards. Why is that? Let’s explore lavender together.

Lavender has many different known species but the most widely cultivated one is Lavandula angustifolia (formerly known as Lavendula officinalis). It’s originally from France and is part of the Labiatae botanical family, which includes herbs such as basil, peppermint, thyme and rosemary. To extract the aromatic essence, the flowering tops are distilled using heat or steam. This process sees the plant cells break down and the oils release as vapour. The vapour is then cooled, so it can return to liquid form, and the oils collected.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined in 1928 by a French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé who trained as a chemical engineer and worked in his family’s perfumery business. In the 1920s he investigated the antiseptic and therapeutic properties of essential oils and re-discovered lavender (thanks in part to a chemical accident that left a burn on his hand that he was able to eventually heal with lavender essential oil)…and for that I have a lot to thank him for. You see, even though essential oils were used for centuries before (especially by the Egyptians), Gattefossé’s research helped bring a renewal and structure to the contemporary discipline and lavender was one of his favourites, writing several articles on the subject. Thanks to his research, and many others, we now know how incredible and extremely versatile lavender can be. It can have a cooling or warming effect on the body, is cleansing and detoxifying yet soothing and calming. No other essential oil can perform such contradictory functions. It’s almost as if it adapts to what the body needs and complements the benefits of almost any other essential oil in a blend. Do you see why I love it so much?

The ways in which we can use lavender in our daily lives are endless but I’d like to highlight a couple that I’ve found useful over the past years: a dry shampoo and carpet/mattress cleaner.

Lavender Dry Shampoo

For the dry shampoo use an old spice jar that’s been sterilized (either through the dishwasher or boiled), as you’ll want something with a perforated cap to help shake the mixture into your hands without releasing too much. These will usually hold 50 ml so the following is assuming this measurement; please adjust accordingly depending on your jar size. For light coloured hair mix 3 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 5 drops of lavender essential oil in a bowl. For darker coloured hair mix equal parts arrowroot powder and cocoa powder (approx. 1.5 tablespoons of each), 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 5 drops of lavender. Mix well then transfer to your spice jar. To use, just sprinkle a few shakes into your hands first or directly onto your roots and blend using your fingers, gently massaging it into the scalp. The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of lavender shine here. In conjunction with the powders, they fight the excess oils without harming the balance of your hair or the use of nasty chemicals. Perfect for post-workout drinks with friends or a little boost between washes.

Lavender Carpet/Mattress Cleaner

The carpet and mattress cleaner is quite simple but extremely effective. Simply mix 2 cups of baking soda with 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Place the mixture into a jar and sprinkle directly onto your mattress and/or carpet. Let it sit for 1-2 hours then vacuum it up (you might have to do this twice) and voila, your mattress and/or carpet are cleaned and smelling great. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer so works well here with the detoxifying properties of lavender.

In the Bath

Finally, another great and easy way to bring essential oils into your life is to add them to your bath as they have a profound effect on the body, both physiologically and psychologically. However, please note that essential oils do not naturally blend in water so you’ll need to give the water a little swish before getting in. The water shouldn’t be too hot and you should not exceed 5-7 drops for a full body bath. Here are some great combos using lavender essential oil:

  1. For cramps: Place 1 cup of Epsom salt in the tub while it’s filling up. Then, once it’s filled and the water is turned off, mix in 4 drops of lavender essential oil, 2 drops of geranium essential oil and 1 drop of cypress essential oil.

  2. For insomnia: Place 3 drops of lavender essential oil and 3 drops of chamomile (German or Roman) in a filled bath with the water turned off.

  3. For relaxation: try the Ritual Island bath soak that includes Epsom salt, lavender, ylang ylang and eucalyptus.

How do you use lavender 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 reach out on social media @jessicalagrassa