Many flowers such as Lavender, Chamomile and Orange Blossom do make lovely waters but the waters can be formed from any part of the plant that is distilled such as leaves, seeds, wood, resin etc. The term used by Aromatherapists to describe this water that is formed during essential oil production is hydolat or hydrosol.
Hydrolats are now becoming widely available, are very beneficial and have a wide scope for use. I will give an overview of some of my favourites that are easy to get hold of and give you a few ideas of how to use them at home.
Understanding Hydrolats: The Specific Hydrosols for Aromatherapy by Len and Shirley Price
Hydrolats can generally be used safely on the skin. If your skin is very sensitive, broken, damaged or you have eczema or simiar be cautious and test a very small amount on the area affected first and wait to check for adverse reactions.
Any precautions with essential oils such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Peppermint for example, that can be contra-indicated in pregnancy, for children and for epilepsy and other medical conditions can also be applied to Hydrolats so check before using or consult a qualified Aromatherapist for advice.
You can use Hydrolats at home in the following ways:
- in a dropper or spritzer bottle and applied directly to the skin of the face and body to cool, soothe and refresh
- as a base for a body mist with essential oils added at 1-2% to make a natural perfume or mood spritzer
- as a base for a room spray with essential oils added at 2-3% to make a natural air freshner
- as a base for a natural, anti-bacterial spritzer with essential oils at up to 5% for cleaning work surfaces or to help purify the air
- a few tablespoons can be used in the bath. This is especially nice for children or for people who essential oils may not be suitable as hydrolats can provide a more gentle alternative
- use hydrolats as a compress with or without essential oils on damaged skin, burns, wounds, inflamed joints etc
- add hydrolats to plain unfragranced base creams or gels to make customised lotions to suit your skin
- use hydrolat in place of spring water when making creams to enhance their fragrance and beneficial properties
Hydrolats can be used alone, blended together or blended with essential oils or herbal tinctures. Essential oils don’t dissolve in Hydrolats so if you use them together be sure to shake the bottle well to disperse the oils before you spritz or apply to the skin. A small amount of vegetable glycerin can be added to the hydrolat to help bind essential oils if desired or you can use a filtering process.
You can make a lovely classic feminine body lotion by adding 50ml rose water to a 200ml plain base cream and adding a few drops each of Rose and Jasmine Absolute.
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Water is also good for inflamed and sensitive skins and blends really well with rose to ease these problems when applied daily. It has a comforting fragrance and is nice in the bath to help soothe grumpy children!
Chamomile water is very effective on dry, red, sore and itchy eyes and I use it a lot on my daughter when she gets sticky eyes or eye infections. Make a compress by saturating a cotton pad and leave over a closed eye for a few minutes and repeat regularly. Do not add essential oils when using near the eyes.
Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) Hydrolat is great for soothing and healing blemished and irritated skin and can be used by all skin types to tone and refresh the skin.
Lavender water can be applied to a burn and also helps stings, bites etc
Lavender and Chamomile are great together, perhaps mixed into some aloe vera gel or plain base cream to help soothe itchy, red, inflamed skin.
Lavender and Geranium waters are fantastic as a facial toner if you have blemished and spotty skin that is worse for stress or hormonal imbalance.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) water, like the essential oil, can be used for its balancing action to the skin and the hormones so if you particularly suffer from spots re-menstrually or teenage acne geranium water can be useful to include in your skincare routine. Tea tree and manuka waters are also useful for skincare for blemished skin. I include Geranium as its floral smell is enjoyed by many women and can be matched to other skincare products that they use.
Geranium also makes a fantastic mood/ therapeutic spray and could be used for hot flushes and other problems associated with the menopause or for people suffering from stress, overwork and adrenal burnout.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) has a slightly more astringent action so is useful for slightly oily skin but its also good for dull skin that needs brightening.
The lovely refeshing scent makes it perfect for the base of a pick-me-up spritzer with refreshing citrus oils, energising rosemary or eucalyptus, or reviving conifers such as Black Spruce or Pine to revitalise you whilst you are writing, studying or driving for example.
Orange Flower (Citrus aurantium) again can be used as a skin toner and freshner and it helps to restore suppleness to the skin if it is dry. It is very rejuvenating. Lovely to keep a small bottle in your bag to spritz your face whilst travelling as its aroma is gently uplifting.
To make a spritzer to soothe anxiety or frazzled nerves try 50ml Orange Flower Water with 5 drops Neroli, 7 drops Frankincense, 3 drops Lavender and 3 drops Sweet Orange. Spritz around you to help change the way you feel.