When you start to look out for the most natural approaches to health, its only a matter of time before you also consider the most natural approaches to taking care of skin and hair. After all, the skin is a huge permeable membrane that absorbs whatever we apply to it so there’s no pretending that the ingredients in soaps, shampoos and creams don’t matter quite as much as what we eat – because they really do.
On my own journey into this territory, one thing that keeps popping up and that has extraordinary health benefits is the humble rose. A couple of years ago, I happened upon rosehip oil and started using it on my face as a moisturiser. The results were astonishing and quick to show up! Easily absorbed into the skin, and neither greasy or breakout-inducing (in fact it heals blemishes super-quickly), this wonder-moisturiser has provided me with the best skin of my adult life and a complexion that looks, I think, far younger than my years, with many spontaneous compliments from other people to back that up. My laughter lines are now most likely to show-up when I do just that – when I laugh or break out into a smile, not when my face is relaxed – and a couple of age spots I had started to develop on my cheekbone, where the sun causes most damage, have almost vanished. My skin has literally never been better or more manageable and glows with natural health so that I hardly have to bother with make-up these days – and all since using this oil.
So what is rosehip oil?
Typically made from the seeds of a variety of rose called Rosa rubiginosa, known as sweet briar or eglantine rose, or Rosa canina, known as dog-rose, this delicate oil is cold pressed to keep its active ingredients intact. For the same reason, it is best stored in an amber bottle in a cool place so, even if you source it from a supplier that sells it in white or clear packaging, I recommend transferring it into an amber glass one to ensure it stays at its most potent. More on suppliers below.
Rosehip oil contains essential fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 3), vitamins E, C and B-carotene (provitamin A) and is packed full of antioxidants. The C vitamins stimulate collagen production and the A provitamins improve moisture levels; the latter being of small enough molecules to penetrate particularly deeply. The antioxidants are the power ingredient that combat ageing, skin spots, UV and free-radical damage, blemishes, tone and pigment imperfections, even skin irritation (it works brilliantly on sunburn). I’ve read that it can be a useful treatment for facial rosacea and that it helps get rid of scars, which I can well believe given the incredible rejuvenation process that its seems to trigger off.
This is what is classified as a ‘dry’ oil and absorbs quickly and easily into the skin, with no problems using it beneath makeup. I simply use the pipette that came with my amber bottle to dispense two squirts into the palms of my hands, rub them together then apply liberally to my face, neck and general décolletage area, then any left over on my hands is a bonus as they get to benefit too. For the occasional boost, I add a layer of a favourite moisturiser or night cream on the top, once the oil has soaked in. Both dry and excessively oily patches of my typically combination skin have settled down and my skin feels plump and moisturised in a way that lasts all day – and is making a real difference to its long-term appearance (someone in an article described it as “better than botox”). If I had any doubts that this was all down to the rosehip oil, the fact that I stopped using it for a few months then went back to it – and saw a huge difference all over again – has reassured me!
Like most natural ingredients, the use of rosehip is hardly a new thing as it derives from a variety of roses that grows particularly in the Andean part of Chile and was used by natives of the area for countless generations. In its new revival, it is rapidly becoming the power-ingredient in a variety of beauty products and face creams – but why pay the premium for those, and bother with all the other chemicals and ingredients, when you can go straight to the source! Rosehip oil is widely available online and a 20ml bottle will last for months.
Why have a single rose when you can have a dozen?
Another product containing rose that I’ve recently taken to using is rosewater – that extremely old-fashioned staple of the dressing table in an era gone by (I remember playing with a vintage bottle of this tucked behind my mother’s fold-out mirror). Quite aside from the wonderful fragrance, rose water has many healing benefits that include purification, healing, maintaining pH, calming acne and eczema, tightening pores and stimulating circulation. You can simply use it to remove makeup and as a toner or, my favourite, transfer it to an amber mister-bottle and use it as a facial spray whenever you want to refresh the skin; great for carrying around in your bag or when you have a hot flush!
Even as an aromatherapy staple, rose has made its way into my repertoire lately – and that’s inspite of rose absolute being one of the most pricey essential oils out there, delivered in its own tiny 2ml bottle, which is a fraction of the size of most other oils, in its purest form (and don’t even bother with the diluted versions)! Even so, all it takes is a drop of this super-pure oil mixed with another favourite or two, in your oil vaporiser, and the whole room smells divine. If you are really prepared to get to know your oils in a medicinal sense, the benefits of this one go on and on – I won’t even try and repeat the long list of health benefits. Near the top of that list is that it acts as an antidepressant and relieves anxiety which means that mixed with, say, lavender, chamomile or yang yang, you can transform your space into a relaxing and aromatic haven from stress in no time.
Impossible not to notice how rose is now sneaking its way into my diet since one of my favourite raw chocolate bars comes covered with rose petals and one of my tea blend samples arrived recently with rose petals liberally sprinkled amongst the leaves, I even found them amongst my salad leaves when I went out for lunch one day (and no bad thing as the rose has long been used in Chinese medicine to treat digestive orders, pain and for hormone irregularities). Even my favourite tube of paint, for a few weeks now, has been a vibrant tube of Brilliant Rose which I bought on a total whim and haven’t stopped using since. Clearly my body was trying to tell me something.
Rosehip Oil – I use a certified organic source from NZ based Trilogy, whose products are available worldwide on many websites. There are some smaller-scale, more local, suppliers out there (look for ‘cold pressed’ and ‘organic’ on the labelling) and I have just ordered a large economical bottle from The Aromatherapy Shop website (which certainly smells and feels much the same; I have yet to try it on my skin).
Rosewater is very widely available from a variety of sources (including The Aromatherapy Shop above); just shop around and read the reviews.
Rose absolute essential oil – my favourite brand for this is Tisserand and I defuse all my oils in a fabulous SOTO aroma diffuser (Madeby Zen) which I love so much, and which is such a thing of colour-changing beauty, that I just bought a second one for upstairs; here’s a picture of it in action.
Flower Power handmade raw chocolate bar from Mr Popple’s Chocolate (the best I’ve found).