There's something about roses that brings to mind happiness, beauty, and romance for just about every person on the planet. After all, what other flower has inspired phrases such as "wearing rose-colored glasses" and "everything's coming up roses?" And we've all heard unpleasant situations referred to as being "no bed of roses." With all of the positive imagery this single flower conjures, it's no surprise that roses have long been used in spas to create a romantic, relaxing, and beautiful atmosphere. What many spa-goers (and perhaps some spa employees) may not be familiar with, though, are the rose's many skin-improving and mood-boosting benefits.
Roses aren't just beautiful to behold. They also help bring out the skin's natural beauty. The flower's petals can be distilled to extract rose oil (as well as rose water, which is a byproduct of steam distillation) in a process that was most likely developed in 10th-century Persia. Even today, most rose oils are still produced in that same region of the world. To extract one ounce of pure rose oil, it takes several pounds of rose petals, making it one of the most expensive botanical oils around. Luckily, only a small amount is needed to have a therapeutic effect on the skin. One of those skin benefits is due to rose oil's astringent qualities—it shrinks and constricts the blood vessels below the surface of the skin. Rose oil is a great addition to treatments and in products aimed at reducing redness, such as the Calming Rose Facial ($110, 50 minutes) at the Spa Le Merigot (Santa Monica, CA). The service, which is suited for skin that's easily irritated and prone to redness, features an ampoule loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients and rose oil.
Rose essential oils are also praised for their moisturizing properties. At The Spa at the Inn at Bay Harbor (Bay Harbor, MI), guests are first scrubbed with a blend of olive pits and rose oil and then slathered with a rich rose cream before being cocooned during the Rose Petal Wrap ($140, 50 minutes). "The hydrating nature of roses really improves skin texture and is very nourishing for stressed and aging skin," says spa director Camryn Pollard, who recommends the service to anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun and to new mothers.
The rejuvenating Flower Facial ($175, 60 minutes) at Chanrecaille Energy Spa at Barney's New York incorporates essential oils and floral waters from roses and other botanicals.
Skin-perfecting oil can also be extracted from rosehips, the fruit of the rose plant, which looks like a red berry. Rosehip oil is rich in free radical-fighting vitamin C. Some evidence suggests it is among the richest sources of the vitamin found in any plant, making it an excellent complement in antioxidant treatments. At Lakehouse Spa at Lake Austin Spa Resort (Austin, TX), the Vital Nutrient Anti-Oxidant Enzyme Peel ($150, 50 minutes) is enhanced by rosehip oil from organically grown roses. "We added this treatment to the menu so that we could stay on the cutting edge and because we know the products really work for the client," says spa director Lynne Vertrees. Rosehip oil is also an excellent anti-aging ingredient, as it contains trans-retinoic acid, a vitamin A derivative that's been proven to help regenerate skin cells, reduce hyperpigmentation and the appearance of wrinkles, and aid in the healing of scars and wounds. Treatments for photo-aged skin can always benefit from a boost of vitamin A, and rosehip is a great source for guests who prefer a natural approach.
In addition to the various skincare benefits of rose and rosehip oils, the flower also packs aromatherapeutic power. Rose essential oils are often used to treat anxiety and depression and as a mild sedative. At The Spa at PGA National Resort (Palm Beach, FL), guests can choose a rose-infused oil from a selection of aromatherapeutic blends for the Real Aromatherapy Experience ($170, 75 minutes). "Guests like rose because it's a new yet familiar scent that's very comforting," says spa director Margaret Byrnes. "Lavender is still popular and wonderful, but we thought adding a rose aromatherapy treatment was an opportunity to bring something different to the mix that would still be familiar."
The English Garden Ritual ($155, 80 minutes) at The Spa at the Crescent at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel (Dallas) includes a bath in fragrant rose petals.
The familiarity of roses and rose gardens can also help spas bring the outdoors in, which allows guests to reconnect with nature in a way that's very grounding. At The Spa at the Hotel Hershey (PA), for example, rose petals are set to float in a tub during the Hershey Gardens Rose Petal Soak ($40, 15 minutes). Rose petals are also added to the footbath during the Rose Petal Foot Treatment ($65, 45 minutes) and scattered in a bath for the Australian Wine and Roses ($178, 120 minutes) service at the Waterstone Spa at the Ashland Springs Hotel (OR). "Clients who appreciate natural products and a straightforward approach to healing love that we provide fresh, organic, and locally grown roses in our treatments," says the spa's owner, Deb Cleland, who notes that many varieties of roses thrive in Oregon. "Visually, rose petals evoke a luxurious and indulgent ambience and give guests a sense of being well cared for," adds Cleland of the power of simply seeing real roses in the spa environment.
Though women are more likely to seek out rose treatments, there's one surefire way to help men experience flowery services: Offer them as tandem treatments. "I think rose oil evokes a spiritual feeling of love, sensuality, and romance," says Jill Eisenhut, spa director at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (AZ). The romantic quality of roses makes them perfect for couples' therapies, like Willow Stream's Hip to Hip Experience ($399 per couple, 60 minutes), where rosehip oil is massaged into the skin before a body wrap. "This treatment is great for couples on their honeymoon or those who just want to celebrate their love," adds Eisenhut. At The Spa at the Crescent at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel (Dallas), couples are treated to a room full of fragrant roses during the Duet Massage ($200 per couple, 50 minutes), which doesn't actually use rose oil on the skin. "We found that seeing the roses really brings people together and reminds them that they're here for romance," says spa director Jennifer Haack. At the end of the treatment, the female guests are given a single long-stem rose to help them take the romance beyond the spa—a helping hand that we're sure many spa-goers would appreciate .—Megan O'Neill
Coming Up Roses
These flowery favorites are sure to keep spa-goers (and their skin) in love with rose-infused face and body remedies.
Aromatherapy Associates Renew-Rose Hydrating Mask: Damask rose water is the key ingredient in this weekly treatment product that softens skin and boosts its regenerative process and circulation. (972) 334-0923; www.aromatherapyassociates.com.
Buddha Blends Salt Glow: Draw out impurities with this detoxifying blend of finely ground sea salts, safflower oil, and essential oils of lavender, rose, and rosewood. (541) 488-5879; www.buddhablends.com.
Decléor Aromessence Repairing After-Sun Balm: This 100 percent natural balm calms and soothes sunburned skin and helps promote skin repair, thanks to essential oils of chamomile, geranium, and rose, as well as plant oils and waxes from avocado and jojoba. (888) 414-4471; www.decleor-us.com.
Dermalogica After Sun Repair: Rose flower oil is just one of the many natural ingredients found in this treatment balm that helps protect cells from further damage post sun exposure. Japanese alder fights free radicals, algae extract restores moisture, and chamomile and yucca ease irritation and redness. (800) 831-5150; www.dermalogica.com.
June Jacobs Redness Diffusing Serum: Rose hips and calendula are added to this serum to diminish redness, while anti-inflammatory botanicals like arnica extract and horse chestnut work to prevent the problem from recurring. (866) 586-3522; www.junejacobs.com.
Jurlique Rose Hand Cream: Soft, smooth hands are just a second away with this super-hydrating hand cream, which is enriched with rose oil to soften, balance, and restore the skin. Like the rose, this cream's other botanical ingredients (such as calendula and viola) are grown on eco-friendly, sustainable Australian farms. (800) 854-1110; www.jurlique.com.
Kerstin Florian Rose Tonic: Calm, protect, and moisturize your clients' complexions with a spritz of this tonic, which contains hydrating rose water, cell renewing beta glucan, and moisture-retaining glycerin. (888) KERSTIN; www.kerstinflorianusa.com.
Napa Valley Spa Products Rose Hip Salt Scrub: Add some to your clients' bathwater or use it to slough off their dead, dry skin cells. The soothing rose hip aromatherapy blend helps ease muscular fatigue and is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, and E and zinc. (800) 963-3432; www.napavalleyspaproducts.com.
Pevonia Botanica RS2 Care Cream: Made to treat rosacea and redness, this rich cream contains green tea, licorice, chamomile, and rose to hydrate and repair irritated and inflamed complexions. (800) PEVONIA; www.pevonia.com.
Prima Fleur Nourishing Body Emulsion: This synthetic oil- and fragrance-free body moisturizer contains vegetable oils that are high in linoleic acid, plus avocado, rose water, and seabuckthorn to soothe dry skin. (415) 455-0957; www.primafleur.com.
Red Flower Moroccan Rose Cleansing Body Wash: This botanically based body wash combines pure rose extract with honey and silk extracts for their moisturizing properties and evening primrose, which helps repair damaged skin cells. (212) 966-1994; www.redflower.com.
Sampar Velvet Cleansing Milk: Wash away dirt and pollution with this light yet effective face cleanser, which contains rose and lime blossom waters as well as mint extract to refresh and tone the complexion. (800) 539-0019; www.samparusa.com.
Suki Delicate Moisture Body Oil: Massage and moisturize the skin with this blend of organic ingredients that features a soft scent due to the addition of rose, bergamot, cedar, and vanilla. Organic apricot kernel, grapeseed, sunflower, and rice germ oils are added to hydrate the body. (888) 858-SUKI; www.sukipure.com.—M.O.