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Everything You Need to Know About Hydrosols

Everything You Need to Know About Hydrosols | smelltheroses.com

Hydrosols (aka herbal distillates, hydrolats, or floral/herbal water) have become a common staple in many people’s skincare routines. Personally, I have fallen in love with rosewater and use it multiple times a day. Whether you use hydrosols or not, I would bet you have seen them advertised in stores or online by your favorite beauty bloggers. So what exactly are they and do they actually do anything? Below I answer these questions while filling you in on everything you need to know about hydrosols and which ones I recommend!


What are Hydrosols?

In the beauty and health worlds, a hydrosol is the water left behind after extracting an essential oil from a plant through water/steam distillation. In other words, it is the natural byproduct of making essential oils! They are distilled from various parts of plants such as the leaves, petals, roots, seeds, etc.

How Hydrosols Are Made | smelltheroses.com

Photo: LisaLise

Essential Oils vs Hydrosols

When you water/steam distill a plant, you are left with 2 products: the essential oil and the hydrosol (see picture above). The essential oil is the fat soluble elements of the plant while the hydrosol is the water soluble elements of the plant. Both essential oils and hydrosols provide us with countless therapeutic uses and benefits!

Key Difference: Unlike pure essential oils that must be diluted prior to application, hydrosols are naturally very gentle and can be applied directly to your skin without any sort of dilution. That is why you will usually see them sold in spray bottles or advertised for facial use.


Quality Matters.

Not all hydrosols are the same. Sometimes, companies will manually blend essential oils with water and sell them labeled as floral waters or falsely as hydrosols. The key to finding a high quality hydrosol is to read its ingredients.

What to Avoid

  • “Water” as the 1st ingredient – This is the #1 sign of a poor quality hydrosol! Either the product was not produced from distillation or the company diluted the product to save money.
  • Added fragrance or perfume – A true hydrosol is naturally aromatic/fragrant so it does not need fragrance added back in. Plus, who wants to be spraying a synthetic fragrance across their face?! Not me.
  • Added colors or dyes – Not all hydrosols will have a color and that is okay! Colors can vary from batch to batch or depending on the specie of plant so don’t worry if you notice subtle colors differences. However, added color is completely unnecessary so avoid products that have it.

What to Look For

  • “Hydrosol” is listed in the ingredients! – A high quality hydrosol’s primary ingredient should be the actual hydrosol and not a mixture of water and essential oil! Genuine hydrosols are listed as “____ (plant name) hydrosol”, “____ (plant name) hydrolat”, or “____ (plant name) distillate”.
    • I want to note that it is okay if there are other listed ingredients in your hydrosol. Many companies add additional essential oils for their therapeutic effects.

Rosewater Safe Swap | smelltheroses.com

Mario Badescu vs. Little Barn Apothecary

Shown above is a popular conventional “rosewater” product versus a true rosewater hydrosol. Both advertise the same beauty benefits but which one is better? Let’s take a look at their ingredients:

  • Mario Badescu Ingredients
    • Aqua (Water, Eau), Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Rosa Canina Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Citronellol, Geraniol, CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 42090 (Blue 1)
  • Little Barn Apothecary Ingredients
    • Aloe leaf juice*, Rose damacena hydrosol**, witch hazel distillate*, Leuconostoc (radish root ferment filtrate) ((*Organic, **Sustainably wild harvested))

The Mario Badescu product lists water as its first ingredient while it’s only mention of rose is from rose extract. It also contains synthetic fragrance and artificial coloring. In comparison, Little Barn Apothecary’s first two ingredients are organic aloe leaf juice and rose hydrosol which happen to be exactly what is advertised on the front of the bottle. There are no artificial fragrances or colors. While the Mario Badescu may be more popular and affordable, its overall formula and quality doesn’t come close to Little Barn Apothecary’s!


Common Plants Used For Hydrosols | smelltheroses.com

Helichrysum (aka Everlasting or Immortelle)

  • Natural antibiotic/antifungal which helps fight acne & other skin conditions
  • Reduces the appearance of scarring
  • Assists in skin renewal
  • Sunburn relief (hydrating & soothing)

Rosewater

  • Helps control oil production & pH balance of face
  • Works as a lightweight moisturizer
  • Anti-imflamatory benefits which reduce redness/puffiness
  • Naturally antibacterial to help fight acne & other skin conditions
  • Rose aroma is a natural mood enhancer

Lavender

  • Soothes irritated skin (great for sunburn or bug bites)
  • Helps to heal/repair so can be used to clean minor cuts & burns
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits which reduce redness/puffiness
  • Natural aroma is relaxing

Witch Hazel

  • Gentle astringent which protect skin cells
  • Natural mild cleanser
  • Soothing and calming to skin which makes it great for use on eczema and psoriasis
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits which reduce redness/puffiness

Frankincense

  • Gentle astringent which protect skin cells
  • Helps fight blemishes
  • Reduces the appearance of large pores
  • Helps prevent wrinkles and smooths out tiny lines
  • May decrease the appearance of scars

How to Use Hydrosols | smelltheroses.com

Rosewater is my favorite hydrosol and I use it multiple times a day. Here are a few ways you too can integrate hydrosols into your beauty regimen:

  • Sprits on your face throughout the day to replenish your skin and relieve dryness.
  • Apply to your face after showering to help your skin absorb the products you apply afterward (facial oils or moisturizers).
  • Spray on your face to set your makeup! This is perfect after applying powder makeup so it stays in place and lasts all day.
  • Use it in place of water when mixing your powdered masks for added benefits!
  • Use hydrosol on a cotton pad to remove makeup.
  • Each hydrosol has its own therapeutic effects so choose one based on your skincare needs (see above)!

My Favorite Hydrosols | smelltheroses.com

Shop My Favorite Hydrosols


I hope this post was informative and you learned something new about hydrosols! As always, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or send me a message on my contact page. Thanks for reading!

xoxo Caitlyn | smelltheroses.com

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