Essentil Oil Files: Rose

'My luve is like a red red rose

'That's newly sprung in June.

O, my luve's like the melodie,

That's sweetly play'd in tune.'

Rabbie Burns

'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'

William Shakespeare

Undoubtedly the world's most romantic flower, the wild beauty of the rose has been immortalised in unlimited tracts of poetry, film, and music for eons. Possibly the most commonly used essential oil in perfumery, rose is understood to have a richly feminine mystique, a result of its sweet, almost intoxicating scent.  The rose flower isn't just a pretty face, either: it is one of the most precious (and yes, expensive) essential oils known to us today.

The finest rose oils are widely accepted to be rosa damascena, known as  Damascus Rose, and rosa centifolia, the Cabbage Rose, the origins of which is shrouded in mystery and legend. While Damascus and Cabbages rose appears to have originated in the Middle East, some say the Romans brought it to Europe. Others attribute the Damascus to the crusader Robert de Brie bringing the rose to the West in the 13th century. A final story has Henry VIII's physician making a gift of the flower to the king in the 16th century. The best modern examples of rosa damascena are grown in Bulgaria, Afghanistan and Syria, and rosa centifolia in Egypt, France, and Morocco, where the yearly festival of the Rose is celebrated in the small town of El Kelaâ M’Gouna, in the picturesque Atlas Mountains.

Due to its deeply moisturising, softening attributes and fine scent, where the rose flower really shines is in decadent beauty products. Whip up your own face cream, exfoliant, or cleanser using 1 drop of rose oil to ten mL of sorbelene or aqueous cream. Alternatively, add a couple of tablespoons of fine white clay and a teaspoon of glycerine to a couple of drops of rose oil and you have your very own, decadent face mask.

Blends: Rose mixes best with delicate, fruity citruses, such as bergamot and sweet orange. Ancient, deep, spicy notes like sandalwood, frankincense, and patchouli also resonate well with rose, bringing an intriguing masculinity to the oil's pure feminine enchantment.

Do not use: If you are trying to conceive, as rose has a regulating effect on the menstral cycle. Using pure rose oil (absolute) in high doses is not recommended.

N.B. Rose oil is used sparingly in essential oil blends, not only because of its expense, but because of its strong scent.

Sample blend:

To address low spirits:

Rose oil (1 drop), Bergamot oil (1 drop), Geranium (3 drops), Sandalwood (3 drops): 20mL Sweet Almond Oil.

For mature or dry skins:

Rose oil (1 drop), Patchouli (2 drops), Geranium (3 drops), Ylang Ylang (1 drop): 20mL of Sweet Almond oil.