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The Beauty Benefits of Rose

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Q. What do Lather and a house full of bachelorettes have in common?
A. We can never have too many roses.

Reality television aside, rose is a popular ingredient in skin care -- and with good reason! Extracts of this delicate flower may be used on all skin types but are often included in products for dry, sensitive, and mature skin. Now is a great time to highlight the many ways rose is used in beauty.

There are generally two species of roses that are used in skin care: rosa damascena and rosa centifola. The former, often hailing from Bulgaria, has a deep, potent scent; the latter, known as the cabbage rose or the Moroccan rose, has a lighter, clean and sweet scent. Both are valued for their pure essential oils, derived from the rose flowers. Fun fact: It takes tens of thousands of rose blossoms, picked as they are unfolding in the early hours of dawn, to yield 1 ounce of rose essential oil. That makes rose oil one of the most expensive essential oils; it's so concentrated, however, that only a few drops are necessary to reap the benefits.

Containing a complex array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, rose essential oil has excellent emollient properties for moisturizing dry skin; it also offers antiseptic and astringent properties to treat acneic skin, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help treat redness and inflammation. Rose oil can also help refine skin texture, controlling skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. A study has even shown that rose essential oil can help heal wounds, as inhaling it inhibits water loss in the skin and lowers the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body.

Want more? Rose essential oil also possesses aromatherapy properties that calm and soothe. A recent study showed that rose and lavender oils can help treat anxiety and depression in post-partum women; while rose oil specifically has been shown to have a positive effect in treating depression.

Not to be confused with rose essential oil, rosehip seed oil (rose canina) is derived from the small fruits that sit behind the rose flower. Rosehip contains high levels of vitamin C, plus is rich in oils and proteins, which help keep skin soft and moisturized. It is the only vegetable oil that naturally contains retinol (vitamin A), which may help treat lines and wrinkles and other visible signs of aging. Rosehip oil has been shown to inhibit pigmentation, which often shows up as "age spots" or sun spots, so may be found in sunscreens, skin lighteners, and other anti-aging crèmes.

Finally, rose hydrosol (also known as rosewater, rose floral water, or rose distillate) is derived from an intricate process. Small batches of rose buds are steamed in copper distilleries and ultimately release a volatile therapeutic compound into the water. The essential oil is drawn off, and rose water -- containing micro molecules of essential oil and constituents from the flower -- is captured drop by drop. With antibacterial properties, hydrosols are often used in facial mists, toners, and hair tonics to help balance skin.

There's nothing thorny about it: In beauty, as seen on TV, rose is always a winner.

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