From dry skin to dewy radiance with rose water


Dry skin to dewy with rose water

Does the skin on your face often feel taut? Perhaps your moisturiser doesn’t last long and fine lines appear?  That’s dry skin. If you’d like to know how rose water can help, this article is for you.

At a glance: rose water and dry skin

If you want to heal dry/dehydrated skin, a two-pronged approach is best. First, manage your external skin care routine and beauty products to support your skin in performing properly as a good barrier to moisture loss – rose water is great for this.

Rose water provides an instant moisture boost, and its plant compounds have properties that support the skin’s health as a barrier over the longer term, which is essential for retaining good levels of the natural oils and moisture that both dry and dehydrated skin lack.

If dryness is still an issue, work with a trusted health practitioner to optimise your inner health to improve your skin’s oil production.

For dry skin, choose a high quality distilled rose water made from real rose petals. Avoid rose waters containing synthetic lab-made compounds and other added ingredients, such as alcohol, that may place more stress on your skin and impair its ability to work as a healthy barrier.

What you’ll learn if you read on

  • The difference between dry and dehydrated skin.
  • Your skin’s barrier health and why it’s key to dry skin.
  • How rose water supports barrier health.
  • The role of inner medicine in healing dry skin.

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin

Dry skin = lack of oil. Dehydration = lack of moisture. They are different but closely related. We cover the difference and why its important further on in this article.

Dry skin - rose water pore image

This is a pore under a scanning electron microscope. Gorgeous! You can see the layers of flattened cells that make up the outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum); these prevent dehydration by controlling water loss. If your skin is lacking oil, moisture can escape more easily.

Healing dry skin: building skin health as a barrier is key

Healthy, intact skin helps our bodies to retain moisture and provides a protective barrier from physical stress and strain as well as from environmental pathogens. The sebaceous glands form sebum, an odorless oily substance that keeps the skin and hair moist, effectively waterproofing it. The amount of sebum produced and retained in the skin varies depending on hormone levels and your cleansing habits. 

Studies show that rose (damascena) has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities – all of these support the skin’s ability to act as a healthy barrier and retain moisture.

If you’ve been compromising your skin’s barrier function through using cleansing products or beauty treatments that strip away too much of your skin’s protective oil, or irritate it with harsh ingredients, switching to gentle rose water may also help.

Rose water’s gentleness is also important if dryness and dehydration has impacted your skin’s health to the extent that it has become sensitive and/or inflamed, which further compromises its ability to hold moisture.

Dry skin - rose water petal image

As short-term relief, rose water’s high moisture content means it is a great temporary moisture boost if your skin is dehydrated. You get instant moisture and beneficial plant compounds. And, an extra benefit is that when you spritz and inhale rose water, you’re also gaining its calming qualities on your nervous system through aromatherapy.

Using rose water as a temporary moisture boost

Damp skin cells are more porous, so a rose water spritz is a good way to better prepare your skin to receive the next products in your routine. If you have dry skin and have not been using a mist product in between cleansing and moisturising, you’ll be amazed at what a difference introducing rose water here can make.

Pressing in a heavier moisturiser with occlusive ingredients once you’ve saturated your skin with rose water, will prolong the moisturising. Occlusives act as a barrier on the skin to stop the release of moisture. Plant butters, such as shea or mango butter, are good occlusives.

While depending on heavy occlusive layers to seal in moisture isn’t ideal as long term strategy, by using rose water you are supporting your skin’s longer-term health while using this as a quick fix.

More ideas for using rose water to help your dry skin

One of the joys of pure natural rose water is its versatility. We’ve put together one page of our best ideas for using rose water in your daily routine to help nurture your dry skin back to health.

Just zip down the page to the signup box and enter your email to get the link immediately in your inbox.

Dry skin - rose water checklist image

Dry skin and rose water: thirsty for more detail? Read on.

Dry skin - rose water sand image

Dry skin is a skin type, dehydration is a condition

As we covered above, dry skin is defined as skin lacking in oil (i.e. it has low levels of lipids and sebum). This means that its health as a barrier is compromised and it loses its ability to hold moisture well.

Dry skin is officially classified as a skin type, something that is linked to your body’s core biology, which means that it’s something you may grapple with over your life. Its deeper cause is how different systems in your body (such as your hormones) function, so may have a basis in your genetics, and may change as you age.

Dehydration is when skin is lacking in moisture. Dehydration is classified as a skin condition, so it may be temporary. It often goes hand in hand with dry skin because if you have dry skin, and your skin’s moisture regulation is not working properly, you’ll more easily be tipped into dehydration by your environment i.e in dry heating or air conditioning at the office or an aircraft.

It’s not just dry skin that gets dehydrated, oily skin can be dehydrated too.

Can rose water help both dry and dehydrated skin?

Yes. Rose water can help both dry and dehydrated skin. It provides an instant moisture boost, including lovely plant compounds, for dehydration. It also supports the skin’s health as a barrier over the longer term, which is essential for retaining good levels of the natural oils and moisture that both dry and dehydrated skin lack.

Dry skin - rose water spray image

What makes rose water so gentle for dry skin?

High quality distilled rose waters should naturally contain rose oil, but the molecules are microscopic and are very finely dispersed through the water. Applying rose water is a way to get the beneficial compounds found in rose oil into the skin (along with other valuable water-soluble compounds not found in the oil) in a less-concentrated form.

There are currently no known contraindications (reasons to withhold use of rose water because of potential harm) listed in the safety literature.

Pure, natural rose water may be suitable for people who find products containing a high proportion of essential oils, or other concentrated extracts too strong.

If your skin is dry, it’s especially important to avoid rose waters that further burden your skin, such as those with synthetic compounds, fragrance, or a high percentage of alcohol.

How exactly does rose water help the skin’s health as a barrier?

Studies show that rose (damascena) has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities – all of these support the skin’s ability to act as a healthy barrier and retain moisture.

Anti-microbial qualities are linked to the health of the skin’s microbiome (its balance of bacterial populations), which is now understood to be critical to many important skin functions, including healthy immune response to allergens, controlling inflammation, and protecting against pathogens.

Antioxident qualities are linked to protecting cells from stress, for example from UV exposure or environmental pollutants.

Anti-inflammatory qualities are linked to helping relieve signs of inflammation (such as redness and mild irritation).

Some science if you want to geek out: The Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena.

Rose water also supports your skin’s acid mantle, a key factor in its health

Sebum also sets up what is known as the acid mantle, a protective barrier that controls the types of beneficial microbes and pathogens that are permitted to reside in the skin. The acid mantle has a pH of 4.5-5.5. Rose water is slightly acidic (usually pH 4 to 4.5), which is a good match for your skin’s natural pH.

If your skin’s acidity levels are not optimal, the protective ability of this film gets compromised and the outer layer of skin may become more permeable. This can impact its ability to keep in water and increase vulnerability to inflammation.

Dry skin - rose water class image

An important part of maintaining a healthy barrier is making sure that your cleanser is not stripping away your skin’s protective lipid layer. Rose water is lovely to use as part of cleansing.


This depends on many things, including the type and quality of the actual rose water in the product as well as your skin’s condition. If you have an impaired barrier, any benefits from the rose water for your skin’s health may be counteracted by issues caused by these other ingredients being absorbed in a way that they wouldn’t if your barrier was healthy. 

If your skin shows any signs of inflammation (redness, flaking, scaling) or noticeable dehydration or dryness, it would be wise to avoid rose waters with these ingredients.

Rose water – the case for pure

A note: the role of inner medicine in healing dry skin

While rose water skin care can be effective at treating your skin’s outer layers, longer-term healing may need to come from within.

If you have switched to natural, pure products and a gentle routine that preserves your skin’s natural oils and supports its health as a barrier, and your skin is still dry, we recommend also working with a good functional health practitioner to explore the underlying reasons why your skin’s oil production is low.

Your dry skin may be caused by impaired fatty acid metabolism, which is hormone related, or by poor gut health.

If there are internal factors contributing to your dry skin this will be key for healing your skin for the longer term.

Pause the frenetic beauty product merry-go-round to immerse yourself in rose.

One of the joys of pure rose water is its versatility. We’ve put together one page of our best ideas for how to incorporate rose water into your daily routine to help nurture your dry skin back to health.

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

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