Do you want radiant skin without the chemicals? Maybe it is time to switch to hydrosols, which is the water portion from essential oil production. They are gentle and effective but pack a therapeutic punch. Oh and did I mention your body will love them too?
Anna, what the heck is a hydrosol?
I know. Most of you have never heard of a hydrosol.
What is a Hydrosol?
According to Jeanne Rose, Founder & Executive Director of the Aromatic Plant Project, a hydrosol is “a distilled watery solution that contains some micro-drops of essential oil as well as the water-soluble plant components.”
She further states:
“These micro-drops of essential oil give the hydrosol its characteristic scent and essential oil therapy while the plant components give the hydrosol its herbal or floral therapy.”
The liquid of the hydrosol looks clear and may have little drops of oil in it.
My hydrosols smell spicy especially the mint hydrosol, or powdery in the case of rose hydrosol, and earthy in the case of calendula or Valerian. Their pH is on the acidic side.
What Are the Benefits of Hydrosols?
Rose explains that hydrosols are “20-30 times more concentrated in herbal strength than a cup of herb tea.” Hydrosols are used for skin inflammation, can be used as an astringent and toner, and help with common maladies. Some people drink them diluted in water.
I focus on their skin and body rejuvenation attributes. Some of their uses include:
- Re-hydrate dry skin
- Freshen a room
- Use on a compress for sore muscles, rashes and bites
- Add 1-2 cups into a bath
- Spritz and massage areas of your body,
- Add 1 teaspoon to a neti pot
- Use as a facial toner
- Add the spray to a wash cloth and add to the dryer.
I dabbled at making a rose hydrosol a couple of years ago by using a pot and ice to capture the steam. (See here.) It is a crude form of distillation. I decided to refine my process and bought a copper still. (I will talk about it in a later article.)
There are numerous hydrosols being made from various herbs. Certain hydrsols are better than others for skin and body benefits.
Listed below are some skin ailments and some of the herb hydrosols which help:
- Inflammation: Mint hydrosols have great inflammatory benefits. If you have acne prone skin use any mint but I happen to like lemon balm for its soothing ability. Lemon Balm is good for combination skin. Peppermint hydrosol is good for aches and pains.
- Rashes, itching, sunburn, etc. Use German or Blue Chamomile.
- Facial toners: Rose geranium is my #1 choice as a facial toner for all type of skins. Not only does it smell nice, it just gives the skin a glow. Use it like a toner. This hydrosol is great for aging skin.
- Fine line and tightening: Fennel hydrosol is the fine line remover. It smells like anise. Fennel hydrsol is derived from the green immature seeds.
- Humicant: Humicants draw moisture to the skin. Rose hydrsol is a great humicant. It is wonderful for aging skin.
- Swelling in varicose viens and broke catpillaries- Use Goldenrod or Chamomile.
- Clarifier for normal and combination skin: Use Lemon Verbena.
- Calming and cooling, helps with cuts, cramps, and PMS: Use Lavender
- Anti-wrinkle: Use Rock Rose. Mist twice a day.
- Oily skin:Use Orange Blossom. Do not use on dry skin.
- Help with stiff joint and arthritis-Goldenrod.
In need of focus or invigorating? All mints are invigorating and great for focus. My favorite is peppermint for focus but all mints are wonderful.
One of my customers sprays my Valerian/Lemon Balm hydrosol on her neck, and it helps her sleep at night. Lemon Balm is very soothing and great for calming frayed nerves. Valerian helps with sleep. I told her also to spray it on her pillow at night, which probably gives her the same effect.
For a close and personal view of hydrosols, watch my short video.
Where to Buy?
I do produce several of the hydrosols listed above. Don’t just buy from anyone. Question you should ask when buying
- Are they tested for microbes before they are shipped?
- Are they made by the people who are selling them. Maybe it is the grower in me, but I would rather buy from someone who meticulously harvested and created the hydrosols or at the very least, made the hydrosol from herbs that they sourced from local farmers.
- Do they distill fresh herbs–not herbs that were fresh but wilted?
- Are they refrigerated until shipped to you?
- Are there preservatives in the hydrosols? Purists do not add preservatives to the hydrosols. They believe they are stable. However, it is very easy to contaminate hydrosols.
If a company doesn’t use preservatives, then ask about testing. If they are free of preservatives, you will need to refrigerate the hydrosol.
Shake the bottle periodically and see if a white swirling matter appears. This is called a bloom. If you have a bloom, simply throw the contents in your composter or outside.
In my case, I put an eco-cert preservative in the hydrosols as a precaution since I have no idea how my customers are going to handle the products. This allows the products to be unrefrigerated but it does shorten its life.
If there is a preservative, find out if it contains parabens. If so, move on.
- Ask the age of the hydrosol. Some hydrosols have a longer shelf life than others but it is just easier to cap it at one year for your purpose.
Most importantly, be sure products marketed as hydrosols are truly hydrosols. Many companies sell “rose water” that contain synthetic or essential oils dissolved in water.
“Many commercial products are synthetic, bearing no relation to the plant or any of its healing properties. Many others are essentials oils dissolved in alcohol or glycerine and added to water. However, there is now a growing trend that recognizes the intrinsic value of a true hydrosol.”
I only sell certain hydrosols. However, I found some sources that grow and make their own hydrosols or alternatively, make their own hydrosols from locally source herbs.
- Morning Myst botanticals. (Ann Harman, the author of Harvest to Hydrosol, produces wholesale hydrosols)
- Phibee Aromatics
- Ritual Botanica
- Eat Well Farm
In addition, many Etsy sellers grow and make their own hydrosols.
Join the Conversation:
Do you use hydrosols?
Next up introduction to using a copper still.