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The types of roses that are most important for the production of essential oil are Provence rose or cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia), Damask rose (Rosa damascena) and Gallic rose (Rosa gallica). The leading producers are Bulgaria and Turkey, where the tradition of growing Damask rose has been preserved since the 15th century. This type of rose is also called Bulgarian or Turkish rose.


Botany and origin:

Roses belong to the family Rosaceae.

The genus of roses, or more precisely rosehips, comprises hundreds of species and cultivars (varieties), which are grown today for ornamental and medicinal purposes and for the needs of the cosmetics and perfumery industry. Damask rose is a shrub up to two metres tall. It has bright pink flowers with many petals that smell very pleasant.


Rose cultivation developed from the 10th to the 17th century in the Persian Gulf in the area of ​​present-day Iran, then spread throughout the Balkans. Since the end of the 17th century, the roses have been commercially sourced for the production of rose oil in Bulgaria. The most prized is the oil of the Bulgarian Damask rose, which grows in the Valley of Roses in the province of Kozanlik. The conditions there are ideal for the growth of roses that need a lot of moisture and love dew. The other main producers are France, Morocco, Turkey, Italy and China.

The main products obtained from roses are essential oil and absolute. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation and the absolute by extraction with organic solvents. The absolute is more chemically similar to a fresh plant, while the essential oil also contains many ingredients that are not found in nature and are the product of distillation.

May and June are the optimal months for picking roses and distilling essential oil. The flowers are picked by hand in the early morning hours, between five and ten o’clock. This is the period when the flowers open, the leaves are still covered with dew, the oil content is highest. They have to distil it the same day, so rose distilleries are close to the fields.


Fresh rose petals are soaked in water, because otherwise they would stick into the inseparable mixture in contact with steam. Water with roses is carefully heated and condensate is collected, leaving only a small proportion of the final amount of essential oil during the first distillation. The hydrosol is distilled again. They then combine the products of all cohobations, as re-distillations of recycled hydrosol are called.


The cohobation process is required to obtain phenylethylethanol, which is a key compound in the essential oil. They need at least 3,000 kilograms of rose petals for a litre of essential oil, and even 5,000 kilograms in a rainy year. Therefore, this oil is one of the most expensive, which is also the reason for counterfeiting. Other essential oils are added to the rose essential oil, which are cheaper but have a similar scent, e.g. palmarosa or geranium.


Characteristics of the absolute and ethereal scent:

The absolute of the damask is dark yellow to orange or even yellow-brown. Its scent is warm, herbal-floral and richly honey.

The characteristic properties of the essential oil of Damask are light yellow or green-yellow colour, it smells like an absolute, only slightly less honeyed. Rose essential oil is dense due to the content of plant paraffins and hardens at room temperature. It crystallises at a temperature of 20˚ C. As soon as it is heated in the hand, the oil liquefies again.



There is no flower that the history of mankind celebrates as much as the rose flower. It symbolises beauty, love, youth, perfection, life and eternity. All of this is also personified by its perfect scent.

The history of roses and its intoxicating scent are most closely associated with the ancient Romans. With rose flowers sprinkled inside their homes and on the streets, they celebrated holidays and military victories. The healing properties of roses have been valued since ancient times. The famous Arab medical scholar Avicenna dedicated the entire book to the rose. In the 10th century he made the first preparation of rose water. In it, he saw a symbol of perfection. He claimed that its fragrance increases the ability of the brain and the speed of thinking. Even today, rose oil and hydrosol are used as a fragrance component in skin preparations, perfumes, soaps…


Chemical composition:

Rose oil is one of the most complex essential oils. It contains more than three hundred compounds, many of which have not yet been identified.

The absolute contains:

  • aromatic alcohols: 2-phenylethanol (78%),
  • monoterpene alcohols: citronellol (9.9%), geraniol (3.7%), nerol (1.4%)…

The essential oil contains

  • citronellol (36%),
  • geraniol (19%),
  • nerol (7.2%),
  • 2-phenylethanol (2.9%)…

Rose essential oil also contains methyleugenol (1.3%), a compound labelled as carcinogenic. As a result, the limit of rose essential oil in the final product according to IFRI is 0.012%.

Absolute does not contain this compound, nor does it contain hydrosol. Nevertheless, rose essential oil is one of the safest essential oils if used diluted and if not forged.

Therapeutic use of essential oil and indications:

Antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral action, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericide, choleretic, cicatrisant, emenagogue, hemostatic, hepatic, laxative, sedative, stomachic, tonic (heart, liver, stomach, uterus).


The oil has many different therapeutic properties and effects on all levels of life – on the soul, mind and body:

Nervous system

Rose essential oil is a powerful antidepressant and sedative. It will help us with insomnia, irritability and increased heart rate. It helps to release anger, despair and frustration. It also relieves emotional pain during love problems, depression, sadness and disappointment, and opens the door to love, friendship and empathy.

For relaxation, anxiety, insomnia, rose essential oil is combined with lavender, sweet orange, Roman chamomile, patchouli, laurel, nardo, labdanum…

For a harmonious or balanced mood we combine it with ylang-ylang, coriander, boswellia, sandalwood, labdanum, vanilla…

For depression and bad mood, combine it with bergamot, nutmeg, sage, rosemary, geranium, sweet fennel, black pepper…


Recipe – Perfume for a better mood (with 5% concentration of essential oils (EO)):

  • 10 ml jojoba oil
  • 4 drops of rose absolute,
  • 4 drops of EO bergamot,
  • 3 drops of EO geranium,
  • 2 drops of EO nutmeg,
  • 2 drops of EO sweet fennel.

Mix all the essential oils into the jojoba oil and mix well with a glass rod. Then pour the perfume into a disinfected dropper bottle. Apply to pulse points…

The rose is a friendly helper to women in difficult life periods, as it has a remarkable effect on our reproductive system. It increases blood circulation and uterine tonus and helps with menstrual irregularities such as pain, irregular cycle and severe bleeding. It is also recommended for infertility, through massage it stimulates the functioning of the gonads in both sexes, but it is also a valuable aphrodisiac and raises libido by treating emotions. The essential oil is also indispensable in menopause, as it has a cooling effect.

Skin care


Absolute and essential oil are suitable for all skin types. Best for dry, sensitive and mature skin. They have an astringent and tonic effect, reduce redness and alleviate problems with ruptured capillaries. They have also proven antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They also alleviate various forms of inflammation on the skin (rosacea, acne). Aromatic rose water is also very popular for skin care, as it has a calming, regenerative and slightly astringent effect. It is a nourishing and tonic ingredient in the aqueous phase of emulsion systems such as creams, serums, lotions and skin and scalp care tonics.


For inflammation, allergies EO roses are combined with German chamomile, yarrow, geranium, immortelle, sandalwood, lavender…


For acne, EO roses are combined with nutmeg, sage, petitgrain, lemongrass…


For regeneration, it is combined with jasmine, myrrh, immortelle… and regenerative carrier oils.


  1. Musculoskeletal system

For relieving muscle pain and various inflammations, a rose absolute containing more phenylethyl ethanol, which acts as a narcotic and a local anaesthetic, is more suitable.


  1. Respiratory system

Relieves cough, bronchitis, inflammation, asthma…

Effect on your emotions:


EO roses heal or are able to heal emotional wounds. When we lose love for ourselves, EO can restore it to us. Rose oil is the main oil for the heart chakra, where the centre of love is, whether it is love for a person or universal love. It helps the heart chakra to open when grief has closed it. The rose will help us when we feel unloved and lonely.


The rose is also associated with the sacral chakra, which is the center of creativity and sex.


Application methods:


Local application

Application to pulse points, massages, compresses, baths, cosmetics.



Directly, via diffuser.



It is important to make sure before buying that the rose water is the original hydrosol. Only in this way is it suitable for therapeutic use and ingestion. Rose hydrosol is widely used for many diseases and in the kitchen. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and bactericidal action and invigorates the spirit. It works on the skin by soothing, moisturising, regenerating and healing wounds. It is an excellent care for dry, sensitive and mature skin. It also has a mild astringent effect and tones the skin. The scent is gentle but luxurious, floral, reminiscent of the scent of a fresh rose.



-Generally as a room spray, instead of synthetic fresheners with the scent of roses, which can only bring us a headache.

-Spray for space and bedding for a touch of romance, as the pink fragrance represents the scent of luxury, love and eroticism.

-Hydrosol can be used when we feel affected or when we are overwhelmed by strong emotions. It refreshes our thoughts and lifts our spirits. It is best to spray it on the heart chakra.

-As a travel spray that cools and refreshes us and disinfects our hands.

-As a cooling spray for hot flushes.

-It is suitable for the regulation of hormones in menopause, PMS and mood disorders.

-For the bath (one cup, approx. 250 ml of hydrosol): lift the spirits, reduce mental strain, relieve tension and increase libido.

-For the care of normal, dry and mature skin as a toner.

-Locally soothes rashes, dermatitis, also soothes irritated skin after shaving, depilation and sunbathing. 

-It is an effective natural antihistamine and relieves irritation, redness and itching.

-It is a popular ingredient in creams, lotions, toners, masks (e.g. with clay, recipe below).

-It can also be a substitute for water in shampoos, which wonderfully scents our product.

-In compresses, it helps with headaches, inflamed eyes and tired facial skin.

-It is an effective gargle remedy for a sore throat.

-Soothes the stomach, in case of nausea, vomiting take one teaspoon – 5 ml of hydrosol.

-It is also indispensable for sweet tooths; we add it to drinks and sweets. We replace a part of water or milk in baking recipes with hydrosol and thus provide aroma.


Recipe for a simple mask for mature skin:

1 tablespoon purple clay,

1 teaspoon macadamia oil,

½ teaspoons of glycerol,

1 tablespoon rose hydrosol,

2 drops of EO sandalwood in

1 drop of Roman chamomile.


Prepare the mask by mixing all the ingredients into a paste. Do not use a metal spoon, but a plastic one. Apply a thick layer of mask on the cleansed face and leave it on for 10 minutes. Then wash it well with warm water. Moisturise the skin with a toner or hydrosol. Finish the treatment by applying a moisturising cream or oil.

The mask must be used fresh, so you may want to make half the amount to start with.

Sources and literature:

  1. Damjan, J. in N. Kočevar Glavač: Sodobna kozmetika, 1. izdaja, Širimo dobro besedo d.o.o., Velenje, 2015
  2. Battaglia, S.: The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd Edition, 2003
  3. Špiranec Maurer, N.: Aromaterapija, Vita založba, 2015
  4. Poštić, S.: A kot Aromaterapija, Meander, 2006
  5. Peace Rhind, J.: Aromatherapeutic BLENDING, Singing Dragon 2016
  6. Purchon, N. & Cantele, L.: Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, Robert Rose Inc. 2014.

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