rosewater: 17 posts

Rosewater is a by-product of rose oil distillation, but many brands on the market are simply the reconstitutions that feature rose oil or rose synthetics. I prefer the former. My favorite rosewater brands are Mymouné, Heritage Products (can be found at Whole Foods and other natural food stores), and Cortas. Mymouné and Heritage Products are especially beautiful. Cortas is sharper and zestier, but it’s very good for baking or cooking. You can find rosewater from gourmet markets, Middle Eastern and Indian stores, natural food stores and online from Kalustyan’s and In Europe, check pharmacies for the floral waters, including lavender and orange blossom and verify that it is food grade.

Roses and Jasmine : Skin Toners

One of my favorite discoveries during my stays in Japan was the skincare. Any beauty store, from the glitzy establishments like Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya to the emporia like Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Ainz & Tulpe, has knowledgeable staff that not only can help you select the right products, but also diagnose your skin type and choose the right regimen. This is how I discovered the versatility and usefulness of face toners and mists. In my new column, Putting on the spritz: face mists, I cover some of my favorite products, both naturally scented and fragrance-free, as well as ways to incorporate them into a skincare routine.

Although my face toner schooling took place in Japan, most of the products I use are made by the American and European brands that offer well-formulated and interesting choices in all price ranges. I mention all of my top favorites in the article: Clinique, Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, Omorovicza, pure rosewater and more.

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Rosewater Essence

One of my recent FT columns is all about rosewater, a by-product of rose oil production. After the steam distillation runs its course, there remains a fragrant liquid, or rosewater. It’s used in cosmetics, food, medical preparations and home scents. Rosewater is not stable enough to be used in perfumery, but many rose oil producers have started re-distilling the rosewater and making so-called rosewater essence, or extract. It’s less expensive than rose oil and is packaged with words like sustainable and environmentally friendly, which it may or may not be. Nevertheless, it’s a curious product, and perfumers have been using more of it to create a fresh petal effect, or to soften the outlines of synthetic floral accords.


The 11th-century Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna is credited with many contributions to astronomy, geography, psychology, logic, mathematics and physics. He also found time to delve into perfumery and devised methods to extract essential oils, experimenting on roses. If Avicenna were to step into a fragrance lab today, he would orient himself quickly enough – modern perfumery is a curious amalgam of traditional techniques with state-of-the-art technology. Indeed, rose oil is prepared in much the same way as in Avicenna’s time – through the process of steam distillation. Continue here.

Previously, I also wrote about my favorite ways with this rose-scented liquid. Do you use rosewater? 

Image via HTSI

Many Wonders of Facial Mists

I didn’t realize, until my husband pointed it out, that I have quite a collection of facial mists. Besides several bottles on our bathroom shelf, I carry a small spray in my purse and always keep an extra one in my travel case. As far as I’m concerned, facial mists are among the best skin care tricks for sealing in makeup, getting a quick dose of hydration and feeling refreshed. Another bonus is that many facial mists are naturally scented, and their light, mild fragrance of rosewater, linden, lavender or orange blossom offers a dose of aromatherapy throughout the day.


My staple facial mist is a simple blend of rose and distilled water, which I either concoct myself (1 cup of distilled water, 4 Tablespoons all-natural rosewater) or buy it ready-made at the pharmacy. In the US, Whole Foods and other health food stores carry several good brands of rosewater* in small, handy atomizers.  Rosewater is a boon for my combination skin; it’s soothing, calming and has a delicate scent of sun warmed petals. The scent is all-natural, fleeting, but stimulating while it lasts. Besides falling into a rose perfumed reverie, you can use a mix of rosewater and argan oil to remove makeup, including water-proof mascara and eyeliner. Instant radiance is guaranteed.

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Rhubarb Rose Sherbet

Let it be spring! Nowruz, or “new day” in Persian, falls on the spring equinox and is celebrated for the thirteen following days. This year it fell on March 20th, and now we’re in the Persian year of 1393. While Nowruz is a major festival in Iran, the holiday is also celebrated in other countries, where ancient Persian culture left its mark, such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, India, and Turkey. The festivities came into our family with my Azeri stepmother, and along with Easter, Nowruz is one of my favorite holidays for its rich symbolism of renewal and hope. It’s also a reminder that winter’s grasp is weakening and that warm days are around the corner.

hyacinthrhubarb 4

In every home, the centerpiece of Nowruz celebrations would be a table decorated with seven items, haftseen or the seven S’s. Seven is considered a lucky number, and each item on the table beginning with the letter seen (s) in Persian has its unique meaning. For instance, seeb (apple) represents beauty, seer (garlic)–good health, serkeh (vinegar)–patience, and sekeh (coins)–prosperity. The arrangement is ornate and colorful, and people make rounds admiring each other’s haftseen tables, sharing good wishes and delicious food.

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Tisanes : Fragrant Caffeine-Free Teas

I have a tea drawer, which is hard to explain to those who either don’t drink tea or don’t drink so much that they actually need a designated tea drawer. “What do you do with it?” ask bewildered guests suspiciously eyeing the dozens of packages that I keep in a credenza in the corner of my dining room. (Those guests become even more bewildered when they see my perfume shelf, but that’s another story). Although all tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinensis, it exists in such a range of flavors and tastes that one box of Earl Grey simply doesn’t cover all of my cravings. But since high-quality tea is best bought in small quantities and drunk as quickly as possible, the bulk of my tea drawer is made up of herbs and dried flowers that I use for tisanes.


Tisane usually refers to a non-caffeinated beverage made by steeping flowers, herbs, or spices in water. I’m very sensitive to caffeine, and after 6pm I don’t drink anything caffeinated. For this reason, linden blossom or cinnamon and honey tisane is one of my favorite ways to wrap up the day. Some infusions like linden, sage and ginger have health benefits, but I drink them for their aroma and taste. It takes less than 10 minutes to brew rose tea, but the boost you receive from a steaming cup that smells like summer itself lingers for hours.

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