I have a powerful memory of crouching for a good half-hour in a flower bed in a car park with my face in a full-blown apricot pink rose .... passers-by must have thought I was insane. But I was breathing in the essence of that perfect flower, so I could replicate it with my palate of essential oils at home. People still beg me to recreate that scent. I can't even recall what I named it was so long ago, but I DO have the formula in the vault - and I believe there were over a dozen different essential oils in it, only 2 of which were rose! Maybe one of these days - but in the meantime, we've been busy!
Last June marked the first summer we could actually harvest and distill roses in well over a decade - it's a tricky business, by all accounts, and the weather gods have a big hand to play in it all. But we were successful, loading up about 3 laundry baskets with hot pink old variety rosa damascena flowers, just at their peak in the perfect dry heat of Cowichan June.
I had no expectation of getting any rose 'oil' per se from our efforts. For one thing, you can't get 'rose oil' through steam distillation. Period (more about that another day). Secondly, we were after the actual rose distillate - hydrosol (or hydrolat as it's also called) - primarily because my daughter Katie has been desperate for ever more organic solutions to her skin regime and wanting to try an authentic pure rose toner. Not to mention those persistent clients (of long memory) frequently asking if I had made 'that lovely rose perfume' again?
Distilling is a very tricky and challenging art. No wonder it's called alchemy - I am always astonished, even after over 20 years since I first began distilling, at the almost magical transformation from raw plant material to liquid elixirs, redolent of summer's scents and shortcuts to emotion, like port-keys to memories. Not to mention their medicinal powers...
Let the magic begin!
The heating chamber has been jammed with rose petals, primed, checked and fired up. The steam that gradually rises up through the rose petals is cooled back to liquid in the cooling tower, and the first few drops, then a thin trickle of distillate falls into the receiving flask, beginning to gush as it 'lets down'. I turn off the flames after almost two hours, and gradually it all comes to an end. Of course, we could have run the still twice as long but the distiller's nose, eyes, fingers and feelings (another aspect of the tricky) always tell her when it's time to quit (or risk all kinds of undesirable outcomes). Not compromising the quality of the end product always take precedence over volume, in our business.
I was very pleased to see a yield of close to three litres of hydrosol from that batch of flowers. At that stage the hydrosol smells almost off - there's a metallic twang to it that's not very pleasant and certainly doesn't smell like the proverbial rose. Katie wrinkles her nose, but I know, having done this before, that 6 or so months in a dark cupboard will see a whole other story!
What's a Hydrosol anyway?
The thing about hydrosols, is that they're really not widely available or well known (yet). Traditionally, commercial distillers are interested in the essential oil that (can) be created through steam distillation, not so much the 'water' that comes with it (menstruum, really, in herbalists terms, as it 'carries' the essential oil).
Here at Dragonfly Dreaming Organics, I myself have long been fascinated by hydrosols and the production and use of them. The most 'interesting' thing to come out of my still was when a local chemistry prof convinced me to run a batch of Scottish Broom - which believe me, smelled like the devil's own armpit! Talk about sulphurous!
But all that (and more) is for another blog.
Suffice to say, and for the sake of clarity: rose hydrosol is NOT necessarily rose water. You can have a rose infusion (like a tea) - made through soaking rose petals in hot water; you can try to put some rose oil in water and use that if you like; or you can have a liquid distillate of roses. That is legitimately called rose hydrosol, hydrolat or (obviously) distillate.
We always take the time to stop and smell the roses - so we bottle the feeling.
Six months later, the precious bottles emerge from their cupboard and, like wine in a French cave, have aged to perfection. What a scent! What a feel! C'est magnifique! The hydrosol has matured, mellowed; no more metallic twang of any kind, it is deep yet subtle, with a complete, utterly natural scent that is impossible to find in an artificial chemical lab-creation.
And so, after years of fielding requests for toners and rose perfumes - meet our brand new line, complete with a Moisturizing Face Mist, Toning Face Mist, and Spirit Mist.
We have named the line From the Roses™ in homage to our beloved Joni Mitchell - and of course due to their key ingredient - roses!
From the Roses™ Moisturizing Face Mist is 100% natural: pure single-run complete rose hydrosol, steam-distilled in our gardens here in the Cowichan Valley from Rosa Damascena flowers harvested at their peak. We add 0.5% natural grain alcohol to preserve and stabilize the hydrosol, and nothing else. It's a decadent yet delicate form of moisturizer which effortlessly nurtures your skin - without weighing it down. This makes it perfect for including in the beauty regime to help prevent the signs of aging, wrinkles, rosacea and so on.
It is also wonderful as a general 'pick-me-up' as the aromatherapy benefits of rose are also carried in the hydrosol - uplifting, calming, balancing - and the medicinal benefits would be extremely useful in cases of burns, both accidental or weather-induced (sunburn and windburn).
While the From the Roses™ Moisturizing Face Mist is an excellent treatment for all skin types, we have also formulated From the Roses™ Toning Face Mist for oily/youthful complexions. The toner is also 100% natural and includes infusions of aloe vera and witch hazel, organic English Lavender distillate (also from our still) and essential oil of Rose Geranium for its hormonal balancing effects. And of course, our Rosa Damascena hydrosol!
Rose distillate has been used for generations and is praised for its amazing effects and characteristics - calming irritated skin, reducing excess oil production, hydrating deeply and helping skin cells regenerate due to its high antioxidant content.
It also is great for all skin types - including and especially those of us who have sensitive skin! With its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it's a gentle yet restorative form of moisturizer and has even helped cases of rosacea and eczema.
There's also evidence that it can heal cuts and burns, ease sore throats, relieve headaches, and enhance sensuality mood. The list is endless.
Preview Review From the Roses™ Moisturizing Face Mist
Over the summer, Katie was diligently sampling From the Roses™ Moisturizing Face Mist as part of her daily skincare routine and was smitten with the results.
"After showering, I would grab my Crema Light™ and From the Roses™ from the fridge, and while my skin was still damp I would spray no more than 2-3 spritzes of From the Roses™ over my face, then add my Crema Light™ and gently massage it into my skin. The added layer of moisture really helped my skin improve and heal, and I noticed that the smaller bumps and any uneven skin tone, as well as fine lines, all went away. People were stopping me on the street to compliment me! I'd bathe in the stuff if I could.
I have very sensitive skin, which is usually quite dry if I don't stay on top of using my Sacha Face Crema Light™. I noticed an improvement within the first few days of adding From the Roses™ to my daily skincare routine, and over the summer my skin was glowing (I was also not sleeping a lot, not eating very well, not drinking enough water - all things that usually wreak havoc with my skin no matter what skincare I use). Since running out of From the Roses™, my skin is definitely suffering for it, and I'm beyond thrilled that we're bringing this product into the family."
We're looking forward to introducing the Spirit Mist really soon, but for now -
Find the Moisturizing Mist here
Find the Toning Mist here