By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro
“Of all flowers, me thinks rose is best.”
— William Shakespeare
Smack in the midst of winter, February provides an excuse to shop for fresh-cut-flowers for friends, loved ones, and ourselves. Even if your Valentine’s Day budget doesn’t allow for a dozen long-stemmed stunners, there are many ways to enjoy the healing properties and beauty of these prized fleurs. This month, why not check our fave rose-infused skincare products, and try our new DIY face scrub and mask?
So Many Varieties
Poke around the FTD site and you’ll see that there are over 150 species of roses and thousands of hybrids. They’ve even put together a visual compendium breaking down the multitudinous colors, shapes, and sizes of roses. Whether you seek ground-cover, shrubs, climbing, or tea, there’s certainly a rose out there for you.
According to The Smithsonian Gardens, fossils evidence proves that roses are 35 million years old. They play an important role in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. There’s a tale where Cupid shot arrows to deter pesky bees while he poked around, inhaling the sweet scent of roses in a garden. The story goes that thorns first appeared on rose branches where his arrows missed their mark.
So Many Uses
Native Americans used roses to treat burns, digestive issues, fevers, colds, and various skin ailments. Chinese medicine touts roses for their bitter, warm taste and uses them in teas to cleanse the spleen, liver, and to aid digestion. Ayurveda highlights the cooling, anti-inflammatory properties that roses possess. Ayurvedic practitioners advocate the use of roses topically and in healing teas.
Rose petals were added to celebratory meals in ancient Rome, and Middle Eastern cuisine often features roses in sweets. Check out this recipe for Persian Love Cake, featuring cardamom, pistachios, and roses. Rose petals are used in skincare to moisturize, brighten and reduce inflammation.
According to 1-800-Flowers.com, rose water was used as legal tender during the seventeenth century. A chilled spritz on a hot day can be truly restorative—mentally and physically. Keep some on hand to freshen up post-yoga, to refresh yourself after a long drive, or for an afternoon pick-me-up when working at home. Try this in place of coffee— it’s a surefire way to wake up a bit and add a touch of spa elegance to your day. Food grade rosewater makes for an excellent alcohol-free cocktail when mixed with sparkling water and a sprig of mint. Coincidentally, I wrote an entire article dedicated to the benefits of rosewater; feel free to check it out here.
They’ve Been Around
Roses are tough. On average, they live for about 35 years, sometimes far longer. Take for example the world’s oldest known rose, growing today on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. The plant is 30 feet wide, 69 feet tall, and was planted in the year 815 by King Louis the Pious. It even survived a bombing in 1945. No big deal—it’s only 1,205 years old!
Josephine Bonaparte assembled an elaborate rose garden in France from 1804-1814, featuring 250 different varieties. In the UK, the now-defunct Royal National Rose Society Gardens in Hertfordshire featured over 8,000 different roses. Queen Mary’s rose garden located in Regent’s Park boasts more than 400 varieties and a total of 30,000 roses. Not to be outdone, The Belfast International Rose Garden in Ireland features 45,000 roses!
The American Rose Society helped categorize roses into two distinct groups. Roses cultivated before 1867 were called “Old Garden Roses”, and anything from 1867 forward was labeled “Modern Roses”. 1867 is an important year in the history of rose gardening, as that’s also when the hybrid tea rose was first introduced.
What the Heck are Rosehips?
Those plump little fruits found just beneath your roses are called rosehips. Rosehip oil is commonly used as a base in skincare products. It’s best undiluted to help restore dry, depleted skin, and combat the effects of free radicals and sun damage. Try pressing a few drops onto your face in place of a serum now and then. Loaded with vitamin C, you’ll love its skin-plumping effects, particularly post-exfoliation. It’s also effective in minimizing scars, so keep a bottle in your first-aid kit as well.
Rose Petal Powder
1 Cup Dried Organic Rose Petals
Food Processor or Blender
Pulse the rose petals down using a food processor or blender until the petals are broken down into a fine powder. Pulverized roses may be stored in an airtight container for up to 12 months. Add a sprinkle to your afternoon tea, a pinch to your face cleanser, or toss some into your bath water for a sweet, luxurious home spa upgrade. Scroll down for our DIY face scrub/mask recipe, featuring rose petal powder.
And now, this month’s favorite beauty products featuring roses. . .
A heavenly, non-greasy, solid perfume hand-crafted in small batches by Santa Barbara artisan, Donna Greene. Check out her full line of natural beauty products, featuring cold-pressed skin-nurturing ingredients.
PC: Love From Santa Barbara
Little Barn Apothecary Rosewater + AHA Texture Tonic will slough away dead skin cells that can clog your pores and leave your skin looking dull and tired. Little Barn Apothecary Rosewater + AHA Texture Tonic balances pH and helps calm your complexion. Remove grime, minimize the look of pores, and leave skin feeling refreshed, smoothed, and brightened.
PC: Little Barn Apothecary
Formulated for sensitive to normal skin types, these ingredients will give your skin a healthy glow. Keep your skin nourished with chamomile extract and rose hydrosol, with the deeply hydrating and moisturizing properties of Sweet Almond Oil.
PC: Heather Grace Skincare
A true classic and the centerpiece of the Dr. Hauschka range, Rose Day Cream captures the strength and softness of the rose to nourish and protect normal, dry, and sensitive skin. Calms skin and minimizes the appearance of redness, irritation, and couperose.
PC: Dr. Hauschka
A delicious and decadent natural lip balm with rose essential oil, beet powder, pomegranate, and shea butter. It is sure to moisturize and nourish your lips and the best part is, the formula is always 100% natural and made from certified organic ingredients.
PC: Grapeseed Soap Company
An anti-inflammatory and moisturizing cleansing body soap with shea butter, coconut oil, turmeric, rose petals, and essential oils of neroli, orange, and rose.
PC: Jamaica Moon Wellness
And now, how about some self-administered Coco Eco skin-loving’ DIY fun?
Rose Petal Face Scrub & Mask
1 tsp Rose Petal Powder
1 tsp Coconut or Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Filtered Water
Mix all ingredients in a small, clean bowl. Add a few more drops of water (one drop at a time) until the mixture is thin enough to spread across your face. Massage away, using a gentle circular motion, and let it set for 5-10 minutes. Remove using a warm wet cloth or facial sponges. Follow up with a few drops of your favorite serum or facial oil.
We hope you enjoy sampling the clean beauty rose-infused products mentioned above. Take some time to surround yourself with the beauty of roses—in a vase, your bath, and even your teacup!
Additional Photo Credits: Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro