On 14th February, most women will be fantasising about roses. Red ones. Pink ones. Fragrant ones. Giant bunches of them, so that the delivery person looks like a walking rose bush, with luck. (We can dream, can’t we…?)
But actually, at Beauty Bible, we’ve become pretty interested in a different aspect of rose-power. Because over the past 16 years we’ve been trialling products for our series of books, we’ve discovered something extraordinary: they push our testers’ buttons in a way that few other ingredients do. Consistently, we hear absolute raptures about rose-scented, rose-based, rose-infused products – to the point where we can put a small private bet on a rosy body cream, or eye treatment, or face mask, scoring well. (NB Despite every product going to 10 women, scores are almost invariably astonishingly consistent.)
But in reality, these high scores are notched up because roses are more than just beautiful – and fragrant. They have serious, heavy-duty ‘beauty power’. Rose, like lavender, is infinitely adaptable, giving a boost to all skintypes: normal, oily, combination, ageing and sensitive. The oil from the hips – rosehip seed oil – is astonishingly effective, as an anti-ager. And in all its incarnations, rose is wonderfully skin-softening and can even benefit skin that’s been damaged by scars, acne and the sun. (Culpeper, the great herbalist, maintained that an ointment of roses would ‘cool and heal pimples on the face.’ All in all, that explains why for as long as people have been concocting cosmetics, roses have been incorporated into beauty products. Known as the Queen of Flowers (as the Greek poet Sappho crowned her), we actually think roses should hailed as the ‘Beauty Queen of Blooms’.
We were inspired to write this month’s column because many of our own – and our testers’ – favourite rose-powered skin/face/body treats feature on Victoria Health. So this month – as a fall-back position in case that bouquet doesn’t arrive (or as a bonus, if it does) – here are half a dozen of our favourite roses, on this site.
Barefoot Botanicals Rosa Fina Intensive Eye Serum, £25.95 for 15 ml. This high-potency serum (based on rosa mosqueta rosehip seed oil) got a spectacular score in The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible (it triumphed in its category). Other key botanicals include argan oil, frankincense, antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, vitamin B5 plus instantly firming witch hazel. A great ‘starter’ eye product if you’re not in the habit, because it sinks in fast, according to testers – who also commented: ‘Divine smell; I liked this product very much; went on very easily, sank straight in – and I noticed a difference in crêpiness’ • ‘really light, silky product; lines much fainter after six weeks, wrinkles less deep, skin much smoother’ • ‘lines have significantly reduced and people comment I look “fresh”!’
Weleda Wild Rose Day Cream, £12.50 for 30 ml. This all-natural, quickly absorbed cream is a real ‘steal’. It’s packed with oils of musk rose, peach kernel and almond, to nourish and revitalise – and (no surprises here), the essential-oil-derived fragrance certainly enhanced the cream’s pleasure quotient for our testers. Here are some of their comments, too: ‘Very moisturising; lovely to smooth on to face, and felt it was quite calming on my red areas; lovely rosy smell, but not old fashioned; rich, creamy texture: I loved it!’ • ‘I had fewer blemishes when testing this product’ • ‘light and quickly absorbed; nice texture; skin was soft and looked smoother, not shiny’ • ‘my skin looked a little plumper and more even toned; flaky nose went, and make-up applied easily; lovely, velvety-soft texture that melts into the skin, leaving it very soft and dewy; also made a very effective neck cream’ • ‘my skin drank this up, more than any moisturiser I have ever used; it kept my skin moisturised during the very cold weather’. (It duly appears in the Beauty Bible Beauty Steals App that you can find at the iTunes Store, and which we regularly update – click here to find it.)
Aromatherapy Associates Renew Rose Body Cream, £30.50 for 200 ml. Dewy and easily absorbed, this has the straight-from-heaven scent of tea roses. The Renew Rose range is a long-term favourite of ours, and many beauties we know (‘English roses’ or not!) Truly a fast-track to summer. (We are promised it will come…)
Circaroma Replenishing Hand Cream, £22.70 for 50 g. Beauty Bible testers have in repeated trials given truly outstanding scores for this natural cream from a tiny British aromatherapy brand. It’s based on organic rose water, rose attar, geranium and ultra-moisturising shea butter – and we’re also serious fans. Here’s what testers said: ‘Smells fantastic – real rose scent, not synthetic’ • ‘very good on dryness, nails and cuticles, and seemed to have a whitening effect’ • ‘silky feel, sank in right away – a real treat’ • ‘my hands look younger and brighter – the best hand cream I’ve ever used’ • ‘a scar on the back of my hand is less noticeable – my hands are soft as cashmere and blissed out’.
Temple Spa Take Time To Smell The Roses, £18.50 for 500 g. Ooh, this is just outrageously gorgeous. It’s seriously rose-scented and dissolves silkily in the water, leaving skin satiny. Once submerged beneath this, we frankly find it pretty hard to exit the tub. There are dried rosepetals in the mix, and the rose fragrance is underpinned by pink peppercorn, mandarin, geranium and ginger. Just yummy.
Pukka Herbs Love Rose Tea, £2.25. In general we can take or leave herbal teas – but this is heaven-in-a-cup: truly fragrant and a great mid-afternoon alternative to caffeine. Serve in your finest vintage china, we recommend. Preferably decorated with – yes! – pretty roses…