Coming Up Roses
From the Bard to emily Brontë to the band Poison, roses have inspired poets and songwriters for millennia. Their delicate petals have also inspired beauty and therapeutic treatments—Cleopatra’s rose oil treatments and rose water baths, for example—and roses have become a symbol of love, romance, and femininity. But sometimes the flower’s skincare benefits get lost in the telling, overpowered by the intoxicating fragrance. This spring, as roses start to bloom, remind spa-goers that which we call a rose treat- ment would not by any other name smell as sweet.
“Besides the esthetic pleasure we get from roses, people have loved the rose aroma since ancient times,” says Szilvia Hickman, senior vice president of Szép Élet, exclusive distributor of Ilike Organic Skin Care. “The rose is one of the most cultivated flowers with approximately 150 species around the world. The petals have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years.”
While most know roses have a soothing scent, the aroma of rose essential oil also relaxes guests and can work as an antidepressant and anxiety reliever, which contributes to overall wellbeing and adds to the spa experience. Plus, Hickman says, roses represent luxury, and rose treatments are considered decadent. “Royalty and different religious ceremonies have been linked with roses,” she says. This makes roses a perfect ingredient for the spa, where guests come to be pampered and to feel like royalty, even if only for a day or a 60-minute treatment.
The rose oil extracted from the petals contains large amounts of vitamin C, which helps protect skin cells from the sun and other environmental damage, and pectins, tannins, and malic and citric acids, which help tone and tighten skin, slough off dead skin cells, and produce a rejuvenating effect. “French rose extract helps to increase circulation, neutralize free radicals from UV rays, and has a tightening effect on the skin, giving it a healthy glow,” says Anthony Vargas, CEO of Tilth Beauty.
In other words, the sweet-smelling flower packs a powerful, good-for-your-skin punch. Because of its harmonizing properties, certified Dr. Hauschka esthetician and Dr. Hauschka USA esthetics trainer Jaime Olander suggests using rose in relaxing- yet-effective facial and body treatments for dry, sensitive, and mature skin. Rose plays a starring role in the Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment ($270, 2 hours) offered at Great Jones Spa (New York City). “Rose blossoms contain essential oil, tannins, lipids, wax, and resins that Dr. Hauschka Skin Care values for the hydrating, soothing, and protective properties they offer the skin,” says Olander. “Rose ingredients help dry skin feel softer and smoother, helping protect, calm, and fortify skin that is irritated, stressed, and sensitive.” The Spa at Stoweflake at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa (Stowe, VT) uses Ilike rose products in its Organic Rose Facial ($140, 50 minutes) to nourish dehydrated skin, while the Spa at Sanderling at Sanderling Resort (Duck, NC) uses them in its Showers to Flowers ($170, 80 minutes) body treatment to improve the skin’s elasticity. “Rose oil extracted from the petals is very hydrating, softening, and soothing,” says Hick- man. “It also has a toning effect that contracts the capillaries and reduces redness of sensitive skin, including rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. The antiseptic effect of the rose oil decreases inflammation and cleanses the skin.”
Rose is also an especially great ingredient for dry, sensitive, or mature skin types, says Stephanie Baresh, director of marketing at Éminence Organic Skin Care. “Rose acts as an anti-inflammatory and a rich source of antioxidants, which can help strengthen skin cells and regenerate skin tissue.”
Every rose extract has different properties, depending on the origin of the rose, says Fabienne Lindholm, executive director of education at Babor. Babor’s Advance Biogen Collection from the SKINOVAGE PX line features rock rose extract, which comes from the smaller flowers found in the mountains. Rock rose extract has a stimulating effect, “increasing regeneration of the skin as well as cell turnover, which, in turn will have an anti- aging affect,” says Lindholm.
These diverse qualities make rose ideal for facials, because its attributes run the gamut from its astringent effect on oily skin to soothing sensitive skin and its regenerating benefits for mature skin. But, Hickman says, using quality ingredients is key to achieving rosy results. “It is interesting to know that the synthetic mimic of rose oil has absolutely no therapeutic effect, so it is very important that skincare products use real rose oil,” she says, adding that there are two methods of oil extraction from rose petals: the steam distilled Rose Otto and the solvent extracted Rose Absolute. “Ilike Organic Skin Care opts to create and use the more costly Rose Otto oils in its products, because this method is the purest, uses no solvent, and hence the oil has no traces of solvent left. Knowing that approximately 60,000 rose petals are needed to extract just an ounce of rose oil by the Rose Otto method, one should not be surprised about the price of quality rose oil.”
Most spa-goers will find the expense to be worth it. “The ‘queen of flowers’ has the ability to gracefully balance between strong yet tender and soft, thorny yet velvety, upright yet quite alluring,” Olander says. “We try to reinforce the feeling of the rose as a precious gift of relaxation and renewal. For example, a gift of a bouquet of roses is quite common throughout the year for holidays like Mother’s Day.”
Instead of fresh-cut flowers, encourage spa- goers to gift a rose facial or body treatment to the “queen” of the house, aka mom, or to celebrate an anniversary or bride-to-be. 2110 Salon & Spa (Oroville, CA) offers gift certificates treating special someones to Chocolate & Roses ($70, 60 minutes), a facial featuring Éminence organic sweet red rose products made from Bulgarian roses partnered with the Éminence Chocolate Mousse Hydration Masque, which is made with organic raw 85 percent cocoa. Olander suggests pairing rose with other soothing ingredients and high- quality butters, oils, and waxes like shea butter, sweet almond oil, and apricot oil to make the most of its hydrating benefits.
Hickman says Ilike often combines its rose petal products with rosehip products. Rosehips are the ripened berries of the rose flower; hence these herbs complement each other well, while the pulps and seed oil of rosehip berries add an extra vitamin dose, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants, she says. And as guests breathe in the scent of roses, spa owners can enjoy another sweet smell: success.