A Rose by any other Name

by Penny Price February 09, 2020 5 min read

A Rose by any other Name

Rosaceae family

The Rosaceae family, a small but very prestigious family has the queen of flowers as a member. Originating from Asia, there are some 250 different species of rose and over 10,000 different hybrid varieties. Only 3 are commonly distilled for their perfume: french rose (Rosa gallica), cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia) and damask rose (Rosa damascena). Bulgarian damask rose is considered the finest quality and gives us attar or otto of rose. In France, cabbage rose is solvent extracted to produce rose absolute.

Within the Rosaceae family is also Rosehip which is a carrier oil. Therefore the rose products we will be looking at in this blog are:

  • The Distilled Oil (Rosa Damascena)
  • The Absolute (Rosa Centifolia)
  • The Hydrolat (Rosa Damascena)
  • The Carrier Oil (Rosa canina)
  • Rose Otto (Rosa Damascena)

A symbol of love, romanceand beauty. Eros is credited with giving the worlds first rose.


Distillation of the petals, which must be picked just after the dew. It is said that it takes 4,000kg of flowers to yield just 1 kilo of rose oil.

Main chemical constituents

Monoterpenes 25%, alcohols 25%. Esters 1–6%

Historical use

Cleopatra slept on a bed of roses. In ancient Rome during festivals and banquets rose petals were strewn over the floor and along streets. Rose oil was first discovered at an Indian wedding. A ditch circling the garden was filled with rose water and scum was noticed floating on the surface, which turned out to be the oil that the heat of the sun had caused to separate from the water.

Rose Otto(Rosa Centifolia/Damascena)


Antibacterial, anti-infectious, Anti-depressant, Antiseptic, Cicatrisant, Sedative, Tonic, Anti-inflammatory and an aphrodisiac. This wonderful oil can solidify if stored below 20 degrees C

What is Rose Essential Oil used for?

Assigned to the heart, this oil was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. Fabulous for nervous conditions Such as palpitations, irritability, insomnia, depression and grief, this beautiful aroma can also help as an aphrodisiac. Rose Otto is also great for the skin because it softens and hydrates, so it is absolutely perfect for dry, mature and sensitive skin types. For acne rosacea, it is astringent on capillaries and can help to reduce the redness. Rose Otto is the ultimate feminine oil and it has a strong affinity with the human reproductive system to balance, calm, reduce pain and to help with infertility.

Rose absolute (Rosa centifolia/Damascena)

Many writers describe the character of Rosa centifolia absolute as representing the passion of the spirit with a deep, hypnotic aroma that can calm and relax to the deepest levels. Rose absolute from Rosa Damascena is an orange-yellow to brown-orange viscous liquid with a rich warm, spicy-floral, and very deep rose odour with a pronounced honey undertone. Rose absolute is always obtained through solvent extraction rather than steam distillation. The resultant oil will contain a small amount of the solvent used to extract. For this reason, some therapists will not use it because they do not consider it a true oil. In fact, the aroma of rose absolute is closer to that of the plant than the distilled oil and some people prefer the rich aroma to that of otto.


These are the same as for Rose otto. Patricia Davis associates rose as the supreme oil of the heart chakra which is the centre of love, whether that be love for one person or universal love. It will help the heart chakra to open when grief has caused it to close down. Mojay says that when rejection or loss has injured one’s capacity for self-love and nurturing, rose brings a sweet, gentle comfort, restoring the trust that makes love possible.

Used for

The same conditions as Rose otto. Cautions: Not recommended for neat application to the skin or for vaporising, due to the small content of solvent present.

Rose Hydrolat (Rosa Damascena)

Hydrolats are the aromatic waters produced by the steam distillation of botanical material, usually during the production of essential oils. Hydro means water and lat come from the word for milk, because when fresh these waters can be cloudy or milky from the suspended soluble plant extracts. Generally calming and soothing with very few contra-indications, hydrolats can be safely used with children, animals, in combination with homoeopathic remedies and for those with a fragile immune system when stronger treatments may not be well tolerated. Hydrolats can last for up to two years if they are kept cool and dark (preferably refrigerated).


Rose hydrolat or Eau de rose as it is often referred to, has a simply divine aroma and taste. It is safe to take internally up to 10mls at a time and is great added to hot water. The water is particularly useful during the menopause as it helps to combat PMS, cramps, and mood swings. It is also moisturising and strengthening for mature, dry, sensitive and devitalised skins, particularly good in masks, steams, compresses. This exquisite cologne can be an aphrodisiac and helps to promote emotional balance for male and female energies and remove mental blocks


SKIN TREATMENTS - Use hydrolats as cleansers, toners, to make masks and for facial spritzers. Either use 50/50 with purified water or undiluted.

HEALTH DRINK - To help promote a healthy, balanced body, dilute 20mls of hydrolat into 1 litre of water and drink throughout the day. Also suitable for babies and children in smaller amounts.

COMPRESS - Soak a cloth in hydrosol and compress to the area being treated. Wrap up the area with plastic film and leave for 30 minutes. A hot or cold water bottle can be used to enhance the effects.

Rosehip Carrier (Rosa canina, R rubignosa)

This oil is known as ‘dog rose’ perhaps because the root of the plant was believed to be a cure for rabies when bitten by a rabid dog. Native to S. America – the Andes of Chile & Peru, the rosehip yields a golden reddish oil – due to the carotenoids.

Rose hips contain 20 times as much vitamin C as oranges! This oil is gleaned mostly from wild plants and is usually organic, yielding a lovely pale peachy-yellow oil, often obtained by solvent extraction or other conventional methods. The best oil is cold-pressed and usually comes from Chile, although it is the most expensive.

Research from universities in Chile shows rosehip oil to be a tissue regenerator, perhaps due to its high unsaturated fatty acid content, making it an excellent oil for mature skin. It has also been shown to be effective on scars, wounds, burns, sunburn, eczema and ageing. The oil will keep for up to 2 years in a cool, dark place, and you would use 25% or less to a base carrier oil.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. We love to hear from you so do give us feedback on the blog and the recipes, and how they have worked for you or your clients. All the products mentioned are available from our website or you can phone your order through or get advice on 01455 251020. If you are interested in training with us, please call, or email Lizzie on courses@penny-price.com.
Penny Price
Penny Price

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