Beauty and the hydrosol

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Beauty and the hydrosol

Have you heard about hydrosols and know they can be good for skin, but are not quite sure exactly what they are?  Read on, in this article we cover what hydrosols are and how they support healthy skin.

What is a hydrosol?

A hydrosol is the enriched water produced when flowers or other parts of plants are distilled.

They have long been associated with healing and were in wide use long before essential oils. They are in some ways a fusion of aromatherapy and herbalism.

During distillation, components of the plant are carried over by the steam and found in the water left when the steam condenses. Hydrosols should contain both microscopic particles of essential oil as well as beneficial plant compounds that are water-soluble and thus not present in essential oils.

hydrosols - skin class image

An important note about hydrosols

It’s important to note that not all hydrosols are created equal. The results you experience for your skin will be closely linked to the quality of what you buy.

The final quality of a hydrosol is influenced by many things: the botanical species of the plant being distilled and when and how it’s harvested; how it’s grown; how it’s distilled; and, any processing and additives afterwards.

There is also no single commonly accepted name for waters produced from the distillation process. While ‘hydrosol’ is commonly used in the beauty industry for distilled waters, this term, along with ‘aromatic water’ and ‘floral water’ can all be used for the same product and different products. In this article we are referring only to hydrosols that are produced via distillation.

The best hydrosols for healthy skin

Keen to explore the lovely world of hydrosols?  We’ve pulled together a list of the classics for skin. Scoot to the signup box at the bottom of the page to view it.

Hydrosols image

How hydrosols support healthy skin

Hydrosols are a great way to harness plant actives to keep your skin healthy and to avoid the potential toxins in synthetic beauty products. Read on for the main benefits of hydrosols for skin.

Benefit: they contain valuable plant actives for skin

Hydrosols can contain valuable plant compounds for skin health. They are produced from plant material and water/steam, so in their pure, unadulterated state they are a wholly plant-based product.

The specific properties of a hydrosol will depend on the plant that has been distilled and which of its components come through in distillation. 

Traditionally distilled, high quality hydrosols should contain both microscopic particles of essential oil (unless the flower has no oil Cornflower or Witch Hazel) and water-soluble plant compounds.

Hydrosols for skin

Helichrysum, pictured here, has healing properties that has made it one of the most sought after hydrosols.

Some of the commonly known benefits of hydrosols for skin are: hydration, soothing inflammation, healing and regeneration, balancing sebum and astringing (astringing is constricting small blood vessels, it’s more commonly known as ‘toning’).

Benefit: they are gentle with low risk of skin irritation

Hydrosols are more gentle than concentrated essential oils. While they contain essential oil molecules, these molecules are microscopic and very finely dispersed through the water. This means that hydrosols may be suitable for people who find products containing pure essential oils too strong for their skin.

Hydrosols naturally have a very high moisture content. This makes them a great way to get moisture back into the skin, whether straight after cleansing, or throughout the day if your skin is dehydrated.

Benefit: they are close to the skin’s own PH, which supports its health as a barrier

The surface of the skin is covered with a protective acidic film (known as the acid mantle) that plays an important part in maintaining its health. The acid mantle is an important part of the skin’s protective capability as a barrier. If it’s compromised it can impact its ability to stay hydrated and make it more vulnerable to infection such as acne.

Hydrosols are neutral to slightly acidic, and are a good match for the skin’s natural pH.

hydrosols

If you want to mirror your skin’s natural way of functioning – pair an oil with a hydrosol.

As the skin uses its own oil and water (sebaceous and sweat gland secretions) to keep itself hydrated and healthy,  pairing a hydrosol with a pure oil (such as rosehip or pomegranate) beautifully matches your skin’s own natural way of functioning.

Benefit: they may positively influence mood

Hydrosols contain microscopic particles of essential oils and when you spray on a hydrosol and inhale the particles, they can positively affect your nervous system.

Because hydrosols they were in wide use before essential oils, they may be considered the first aromatherapy.

Hydrosols clouds image

Authentic hydrosols are created by distillation. The earth also has a natural system to distill our water that works in a similar way. Heat from the sun changes water from the sea, lakes, rivers and transpiration of plants into vapour. Once cooled in the air the water falls as rain or snow. Image of clouds by NASA.

Questions about hydrosols and skin care

Does a hydrosol have the same properties as the essential oil from the same plant?

Hydrosols may have generally similar properties to essential oils, but usually not to the same degree.  They also contain water-soluble compounds not found in essential oils, which also may introduce different actions from the oil.

Generally hydrosols tend to be more acidic than essential oils because of the plant acids they contain.

What types of skin care products are they in?

They are most commonly used in facial mists.

hydrosols image - roses in still

Rose water is without doubt the most famous hydrosol. Pictured: Damask roses from Khloris 2016 season’s Australian Rose Water packed into the still awaiting distillation. 

How would I use a hydrosol in my routine?

As facial mists, hydrosols are mostly used in-between cleansing and moisturising.  With their slight acidity they can be helpful in supporting your skin re-establish good levels of acidity if this has been disrupted during cleansing.

Khloris skin tonics contain only pure hydrosols, and are suitable to be used at any stage in your skin care routine.

How to use Khloris Botanical Skin Tonic

Why are hydrosols gentle for skin?

A long tradition of use has shown high-quality hydrosols are almost completely non-toxic, and they are generally recognised as being among the safest of ingredients, especially when compared to essential oils.

A high quality hydrosol will contain some essential oil, but only in microscopic particles naturally diffused throughout. This means they may be more suitable for those with sensitive or damaged skin than products with added concentrated essential oils.

How gentle a hydrosol is for your skin, will of course though, also depend on whether other ingredients are added afterwards to the hydrosol product you are buying.

Are they good for all types of skin? How would I choose the best one for my skin?

Yes, they are good for a very wide range of skin.  The best hydrosol, or hydrosol blend, for your skin will depend on what’s going on with your skin and the specific attributes of the plant distilled.

To learn more about which might suit your skin best, get our one-page guide to the hydrosol classics. It lists our favourite hydrosols, what they are best known for and what type of skin they best suit.

Discover the best hydrosols for healthy skin

Hydrosols image

Enter your email address to get the link to our one-page Guide to the Hydrosol Classics immediately. You can view the pdf in your browser like a normal webpage, or choose to download and save it.

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