Fragrant rose and rose oil

With a history dating back 30 million years, roses and rose oil are in great demand today for their health benefits, as well as their wonderful fragrance.

The hallmark of romance and beauty, the rose plant is much older than humans. A source of inspiration in almost every civilization, it has been around for almost 30 million years. This enchanting beauty appeared for the first time in written history on 5,000-year-old clay tablets found in Mesopotamia. Deeply ingrained in Turkish traditions, as in those of many other civilizations, the rose has been widely known in the country for at least nine centuries. An essential ornamentation motif since Ottoman times, rose motifs used in stone carving, wall paintings and fabrics, books, and tombstones have mesmerised people for centuries.

Ottomans saw the rose plant for the first time during their establishment period and began to use it in a variety of areas. Over time, cultivating rose plants and distilling roses gradually developed into a major business throughout the Empire. This is why the rose oil produced from the rose flower is one of the oldest ingredients used in perfumery. It is a well-known fact that with roots dating far back in history, the rose was used widely by Ottoman women for its beautifying effects. Consumed in palaces by the ton, rose water was also a common household item in the countryside.

With its powerful enhancing properties as well as its beautiful fragrance, rose oil is one of the essential ingredients in today’s cosmetics industry. Obtained from oil roses harvested in May, rose oil is a very valuable product across Turkey. Fifty per cent of the world’s rose oil demand is supplied by Turkey, the world leader in rose flower cultivation. Turkey is followed by Bulgaria with 40 per cent of the market, while Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, and India provide the remaining 10 per cent. Almost all oil output produced from the special oil roses (rosa damascena) grown primarily in Isparta and its vicinity (an area known as the hometown of the rose) and in other regions such as Afyon, Denizli, and Burdur, is exported. Exports are made primarily to the Netherlands, France, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, the UK, and Japan. Accordingly, rose oil exports provide great economic gains for Turkey.

Why has rose oil been in demand for centuries?

Because it is the skin’s best friend and helps to create long-lasting cosmetic products that enhance beauty. With the healthy minerals it contains, rose oil produces a soothing, revitalizing and refreshing effect on the skin. Its antioxidant properties soften and soothe the skin as it moisturises.

In addition to having a therapeutic effect on sensitive skin, it is used to remove irritating blemishes and is just the right product for purple and swollen under-eyes. Likewise, it helps to produce longer-lasting and attractive make-up.

Its use is not limited to the skin, however. Used as a painkiller/reliever, it has an analgesic effect, primarily for sore throats and headaches. Rose water is used for its cleansing properties, but it can also help with toothache and topical inflammations, as well as in the treatment of eczema and intestinal diseases.

Passed down through the ages, the use of rose water and rose oil was the most important beauty and health secret of Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt. By conquering hearts and minds in Rome, Cleopatra left her mark on history and we are sure that roses will continue to do so for many more centuries to come.