Asian woman laying on rose petals

Rose water has long been associated with health and beauty. One of its earliest proponents was a 10th-century Persian physician named Ibn Sina (Avicenna), who declared that its fragrance was good for the heart and brain. However, there is more to rose water than its soothing aroma. Read on to learn how important it was in ancient and medieval times – and how you can add it to your beauty routine up to this day.

Rose Water Benefits in History

Ibn Sina was at a castle attending a party when he saw roses floating on the moat. Enticed by its fragrance, he noticed that oil was collecting on the water's surface. He eventually figured out a way to distill oil from plants and delved into a deeper dive into the benefits of roses. In his 11th-century text The Canon of Medicine, he noted that roses could help revive people from fainting spells, calm rapid heartbeats, and improve memory. The steam from boiling roses in water also allegedly treated pains and diseases.

The benefits of rose water reached Europe during the Crusades, and the substance was used extensively during the bubonic outbreak in the mid-1300s. A 2015 James Madison University paper details rose water’s role during the plague. People used it to bathe and wash away traces of the illness. It also helped soothe fevers. Rags were soaked in rose water and applied to the patients' foreheads.

While rose water was especially in vogue in medieval times, you can trace its history to thousands of years BC. According to a 2017 study in Natural Product Communications, a clay tablet about the King of Akkadia (2684-2630 BC) mentioned roses. Assyrian tablets also noted how roses were boiled with water to produce a fragrance.

Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) wrote about how roses – from the seeds to the flowers – alleviate tooth, stomach, head, and ear pain. It also served as a diuretic. The Greek physician Dioscorides also recorded the capacity of roses as an astringent and cooling agent.

Old Indian, Chinese, and Arabic texts also listed more rose water benefits, not just for personal care but also for religious and cultural rituals.

Thanks to modern science, beauty and health enthusiasts now understand that rose water offers the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties that can not only depuff you but also reduce skin redness; it can also help manage rosacea or eczema flareups
  • Antiseptic properties to help deal with infections
  • Antioxidant-rich, which can help protect cells and delay the signs of aging
  • Antibacterial properties, which not only make you heal faster but also help with skin cleansing
  • Digestive aid since it reportedly works effectively as a laxative
  • Pain relief, which is its oldest known benefit

How You Can Use Rose Water Today

Many dermatologists consider rose water a natural toner – that is, the  that are meant to cleanse and fortify the skin gently as well as serve as a boon for other skincare products. Its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities team up to tone down redness and purify the skin. Its long history as a soothing agent also makes it a good face mist. It can revive tired skin and prep it for makeup. You can even use it to relieve razor burns or irritation.

Rose water also has naturally  and helps balance your skin’s moisture content. However, you shouldn’t use it to replace your .

If you don’t have roses lying around, waiting to be boiled or distilled, you can easily find rose-infused skincare products that pretty much do the same job and more.

Local brand Eskinol also uses rose water to a similar effect. Eskinol Naturals Micellar Water Glow with Natural Rose Extracts uses freshly picked rose petals to make a relaxing formula that nourishes and cleans your skin. It also comes in a .

So how about treating yourself to some roses? Well, rose water at least. This age-old ingredient may not seem like much, but history shows how beneficial it can be, not just for your skin.