Welcome to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a series of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll be talking about Rose Absolute!
Think of a flower. Was it a rose? If it was, that’s no surprise; the rose is one of the most recognizable flowers in the world! Besides being the symbol of love, romance and beauty, roses are widely used in soaps and cosmetics and have been revered throughout history for their intoxicating aroma.
Rose oil comes in two different forms and is extracted from the petals of the rose flower, from the genus Rosa of the plant family Rosaceae. The rose is native primarily in temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, and is grown in Asia, North America, Europe and northwest Africa.
What’s in a Name?
The word rose comes from the Latin word rosa and transformed into the spelling we know today via Old French.
A Sweet Smelling History
Roses have a long history of inspiring love, temptation and promoting beauty. Let’s take a stroll into the mythical history of this beautiful flower to find out why it has stood the test of time as the prevailing material way to show affection.
In ancient Persia as well as in ancient Indian literature, the rose is used symbolically as a tool in the creation of the world and of manking. For example, Vishnu (the supreme god of India) created Lakshmi, his bride, out of 108 large rose petals and 1,008 smaller rose petals.
In Greece, it was believed that Aphrodite created the rose after her love, Adonis, was wounded on a hunt for a boar. When she heard that he was suffering, she rushed to him and her tears mixed with his blood to form red roses. It was also believed that the sea foam from which Aphrodite was formed created white rose bushes wherever it touched land!
The Romans believed that Flora, the Goddess of Springs and flowers, was so distraught when she found the dead body of her most beloved and beautiful nymph that she called out to the other gods to help her transform the nymph’s body into the Queen of Flowers (widely considered to be the rose). Hearing her call, Apollo gave the nymph the breath of life, Bacchus bathed her in nectar, Vertumnus gave her fragrance, and Flora gave the nymph petals so that she would always be remembered as being beautiful.
Christians widely believed that the rose did not have thorns until Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and the thorns were formed because of mankind’s wickedness. In the Muslim religion, roses are said to be formed from the perspiration of the Prophet Mohammed.
Types of Rose Oil
There are two types of oil that you will come across in your search. The extraction and distillation of rose oil dates back to before the French Revolution, when the French would distill roses specifically for the use of their famous rosewater!
Rose Otto: Rose otto, also called attar of roses, is an oil produced via steam distillation of roses, specifically the Damask rose. This oil is usually either olive green or a pale yellow and has a scent that is described as floral and spicy.
Rose Absolute: The more commonly used of the rose oils, rose absolute is produced using solvent extraction and is favored for its lower price point. Rose absolute is noticeably thicker than rose otto and is usually olive green or red/orange in color. The scent of rose absolute is described as light and floral, and is the closest to the popular rose scent of the two oils.
To produce one ounce of rose absolute, approximately 60,000 roses are needed. This is why rose absolute is more expensive then many other popular essential oils; the process of extraction is much more time consuming and costly. Flowers are typically picked by hand before sunrise and then the extraction process begins!
Benefits of Rose Oil
Besides allegedly inciting feelings of love, rose absolute has been used throughout history for many ailments, including:
Menstrual and menopausal symptom relief
Remember: this information is being provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. The FDA has not approved rose absolute or rose oil in general for medical use. The HSCG does not give medical advice and does not advise using rose absolute for medicinal purposes.
Because it is so expensive to produce, some dishonest merchants dilute their rose oil with other oils like geranium and palmarosa. Sometimes, these oils will still be marketed as pure rose absolute oil; be sure to buy from respectable and historically honest suppliers and ask questions about the oil’s origin to make sure you don’t spend rose absolute money on mostly geranium oil!
Using rose absolute oil in your soap and cosmetics can add a light, romantic scent that is both uplifting and inspiring. With the storied history behind the rose, you have many talking points for your rose-scented products; don’t let the expense of the oil dissuade you! A light touch with a high quality rose oil will make any soap or cosmetic positively float off the shelves. Get creative with fragrance blending and invent your own warm and romantic aroma to keep your customers coming back time and again.
Do you know what pairs well with rose absolute? Find out by taking a look at our article about Fragrance Blending: http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/