Sunday, March 13, 2016

Roses are red...

An enduring symbol of love and luxury, ancient rose finds new life in modern-day skincare.

rose
From rose-scented treatment rooms to baths infused with the precious petals, rose has long been a popular ingredient in spas. As the world’s oldest cultivated decorative plant, it is primarily native to the Northern Hemisphere but likely originated in Persia, according to The Magical and Ritual Use of Perfumes (Destiny Books, 1990) by Richard Alan Miller and Iona Miller. The flowers quickly spread, popping up symbolically in Greek and Indian mythologies and in physical form throughout Europe and the Middle East. Over the years, women as disparate as Joan of Arc and Cleopatra have been linked with this token of love, and if they’re good enough for a hallucinating martyr and a cunningly beautiful queen, they’re certainly suitable for we spa-going mortals.

As befitting a plant of such stature, “Rosa damascena is one of the most precious and expensive oils currently on the market,” says Amy Galper, founder and executive director of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. “The petals don’t yield much essential oil, so it takes a huge amount of plant material to distill a few milliliters, approximately 10,000 roses for just five milliliters, but just a tiny bit has a profound effect in skincare.” Donna Cristino, founder of the beauty brand Jing Ai, calls rose oil “a hidden little gem” and promises that we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

While rose is often noted for its scent, the velvety flower has hidden depths. “Rose essential oil is an excellent emollient; it also offers antiseptic and astringent properties to treat acneic skin and properties that help treat redness and inflammation,” says Jaklin Idris, director of education for Decléor Paris. “Rose oil can help refine skin texture, controlling skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.” And, according to Galper, it has no known adverse effects. “Rose can be a great addition to skincare formulas, especially for evening out stressed skin and nurturing clients’ confidence,” she says. “It also has great therapeutic characteristics, balancing and soothing tired, dull, and aging skin.”

Rose’s high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and E encourage healthy skin rejuvenation and protect from free-radical damage, says Tiffany McLauchlin, director of education for Lira Clinical. The flower also contains fatty acids like linolenic acid, which hydrates and suppresses tyrosinase activity for healthier, brighter skin.

Precious Petals

Rose appears in skincare products in multiple forms, from standard extracts and essential oils to cutting-edge stem cells, and each offers its own benefits. Rose extract and essential oil are often valued for their aromas, says Nicci Anstey, global sales development manager for Elemis, but the extract is reputed to have soothing and refreshing benefits, while the essential oil has hydrating properties. There’s also rosehip oil, which “contains a high content of unsaturated essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E,” says Anstey. “It’s highly moisturizing and replenishes dry, stressed skin, helping it to feel more elastic, firm, and hydrated.”

A Rose by Any Other Name

There are more than 100 species of rose, and companies are combining different rose stem-cell extracts for maximum benefits. “White rose supports natural cell regeneration and the skin barrier while restoring suppleness; damask rose helps to tighten pores and purify and smooth the skin; rosa canina (rosehips) calms and brightens skin and helps prevent transepidermal water loss; and pale rose helps to rebuild the moisture barrier and provide suppleness for the appearance of newer, softer skin,” says director of education Tricia Campbell.

Celebrated as the queen of essential oils, steam-distilled Bulgarian rose oil (known as rosa damascena or rose otto) is considered to be some of the best in the world. “Soothing, cleansing, and an anti-inflammatory, it is ideal for sensitive skin, rosacea, and broken capillaries, and it has a sweet floral scent that is uplifting, romantic, and calming,” says Agnes Ding, public relations and marketing manager at Anantara Spa at The Puli Hotel and Spa (Shanghai). “Traditional Chinese medicine uses the petals to nourish skin, and in Ayurvedic medicine, rose is used to balance emotions and tone and cool the skin.”

At Anantara Spa, rose is only combined with massage oil for special packages or treatments, but when it’s used, Bulgarian rose oil is preferred. “Extracted from the petals of the pink rose plant rosa damascena from Europe and the Middle East, rose absolute is brimming with antioxidants that help combat signs of aging and cellular damage,” Ding says.

Picking Up the Scent

Skincare benefits are all well and good, but the coveted flower also boasts an appealing scent with therapeutic advantages. “For many people, rose evokes a scent memory that makes it not only a fabulous treatment for the skin but also an experience for the spirit,” says Cindi Moreno, former director of spa and wellness at the Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (FL). Rose oil can also be used to subtly perfume a treatment room or a welcome area. ”The aroma has tremendous calming and nurturing properties,” says Galper. “It’s quite transporting and helps us make deeper connections to our spiritual sides.” It’s important to keep in mind, however, that because it’s so expensive, diffusing it isn’t the best idea. “An authentic oil is so potent that one drop in a half-ounce of facial serum is enough,” says Galper.

excerpt via American Spa Magazine - Maya Stanton
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