Most species of rose are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwestern Africa. Roses have acquired cultural significance in many societies and are widely grown for this reason, plus their beauty and their fragrant bouquet.
Rose is considered a superior ingredient when it comes to formulating skincare, and with good reason. Both rose petal and rosehip (rosa canina) extract are known for their anti-ageing properties. Rose oil is found helpful when moisturisation and regeneration is needed. Rosebuds and petals are beneficial to all skin types, but particularly so for mature skins. Rosehip oil has been shown to improve skin hydration and regeneration and is frequently used in anti-ageing and antioxidant products. But did you know the earliest roses bloomed on the earth some 35 million years ago, and rose has been an important ingredient in beauty since ancient civilisation?
Ancient Egyptians would boil down whole roses to create a beauty balm with healing properties and would use scented oils, including rose, to cleanse and protect their skin against harsh dry desert winds. Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen known for her baths of ass milk and crocodile dung face packs, used to fill her home with rose petals whenever Marc Anthony would visit, in the hope that every time he smelt a rose he would think of her, and her opulence.
The Romans cultivated rosa gallica, one of the oldest garden roses, and newly weds were often crowned in these roses. Roman women from high society would make rose petal poultices, in the belief that they could banish wrinkles with them.
Fast forward to 10AD, and the Persians are commercially cultivating roses, and discover a new way to extract the goodness from rose petals - steam distillation. Just like modern rose absolut, the price of this extraction was enormous, and with good reason; it took two thousand roses just to make one gram of the finished product.
During Medieval times, rosewater was mixed with lead powder to lighten complexions (pale skin was de rigueur), rose oil was being used to treat scars, and rosewater was the base of many perfumes.
It was in the late 1800s and early 1900s that rose really made it into “mainstream” beauty - perfumes, lotions, soaps and creams were all readily available with rose as the main fragrance, and rose has remained a steadfast beauty stalwart ever since.