Way back in the day, ancient Egypt’s Cleopatra — one of the most powerful, beautiful, and beguiling women of all time, BTW — would draw herself a bath of rose water. Imagine it now: An open-air bathroom, fragrant with roses, clean air, and essential oils, complete with gorgeous views of the pyramids out in the distance. Sigh.
Fast forward 2000 years and guess what beauty product is still all the rage? That’s right, darling: Rose water. Cleopatra knew her ish when it came to the most luxurious and lavish skincare and beauty treatments, so you can bet your heiney that if dousing yourself in the stuff was good enough for her, it’s good enough for me, too.
While I couldn’t interview Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and eyeliner, about rose water, I did the next best thing and consulted cosmetic and medical dermatologist, Dr. Kally Papantoniou, about this old school ingredient.
“Rose water has been used for centuries in the Middle East for its medicinal properties and for its rejuvenating qualities,” explains Dr. Papantoniou. “It can help hydrate skin, contains natural anti-microbial compounds, and contains natural antioxidants which can help reverse and prevent skin damage and scars.”
As such, rose water-infused products are suited for all types of skin, including dry, mature, sensitive, aging, and acne-prone. Ideally, Dr. Papantoniou says you should use rosewater as a complement to — versus a replacement for — other products already in your regimen. For example, you can keep a bottle of rosewater toner desk side for an ultra-fragrant, midday pick-me-up.
Which leads me to my current, overflowing stash of rose water-infused skincare goodies. My fondness for rose water is an obsession, really, and one that I don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging. If a product contains rose water, I’m way more apt to pluck it from the shelf or add it to my virtual shopping cart. Not only do these products smell divine, but they most assuredly make my skin feel buttery soft to the touch. These are some of my favorites.
Dermovia Lace Your Face Hydrating Rose Water Mask
Above is the Dermovia Lace Your Face Hydrating Rose Water Mask, which is slightly spendy at $15 per mask. However, it's a super high quality, lace-textured sheet mask that plumps, soothes and hydrates like a rock star. Plus, it attaches to your earlobes and covers your neck, too, providing more coverage and more "stay put" power. (Warning: if your cats are like mine, they'll think you're a weirdo while wearing this).
Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe Herbs & Rosewater
Speaking of toners: Rummage through any makeup artist’s or esthetician’s beauty stash and there’s a high likelihood you’ll find a pink-colored bottle of Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater. This holy grail toner is a cult fave and is accompanied by a very humble $7 price tag. One spritz and you momentarily forget your impending deadlines and instead feel like you’re a powerful (and well-moisturized) Egyptian queen staring out at the land she rules over — at least, that's what I'm doing in this photo:
ARYA Essential's Purifying Toner
If you're looking for a more splurge-y option, sink your wallet into ARYA Essential's Purifying Toner, a $50 facial mist that combines rosewater with tulsi water (AKA holy basil), cucumber peel extract, and aloe. It's a little lighter than Mario's, and has a slight, non-aggressive spicy kick to it.
Formulary 55 Shea Butter Soap in Rosewater
You should probably go ahead and purchase this Formulary 55 Bath Bar ($10) in bulk and hand out to all your friends RN. It's intensely fragranced and lathers beautifully and has mad longevity where scent is concerned. If you're not team "bring back the bar soap" before using this product, you will be afterward.
Shea Terra Organics' Argan & Rose Water Beauty Cream
Finally, meet Shea Terra Organics' Argan & Rose Water Beauty Cream ($26), a luxe, velvety moisturizer that will make your skin scarily soft without a hint of greasiness. The formula doubles down on moisture while leaving your face dry to the touch. I like to slather on a thin layer (you only need the tiniest amount), let it set for a couple minutes, and then apply my makeup on top for a flawless base.
These are the rosewater ingredients I use on a regular basis to channel my inner Cleopatra. Try them out for yourself, but don't be surprised if you become as obsessed as I am — after all, this stuff is fit for a queen.