DIY Rose Water Facial Mist/Toner - My Thoughts On Natural Beauty

During my first forays into makeup, I would always find myself wondering where my beloved lipstick had disappeared to as it faded away between drinks, conversation, and laughter hoping that I could somehow, vainly, figure out a way to make it last forever. It wasn't until I'd seen that horrifying beauty myth that I'm sure every girl has seen by now about how every woman will have swallowed 6 lbs. worth of lipstick in their lifetime that I started to actually worry. Couple that with the miniscule amounts of lead that may be present and it almost makes you want to toss all your makeup out the window (almost!).

True or not (according to Snopes, 6 lbs is extremely unlikely and difficult to accomplish), who really wants to put all those nasty chemicals on your face/body/lips let alone ingest them when it's possible to avoid it entirely WITHOUT sacrificing on quality and performance?

In my experience, the government cannot be trusted to regulate things to the degree that they should (I'm looking at you, teethless FDA!) and America has fallen behind the rest of the world in the fight to better regulate cosmetics and skincare. And so (thankfully!) a revolution was born. Brands like Bite Beauty, Burt's Bees, LUSH Fresh Handmade cosmetics, Honest Company, Yes To..., Tom's of Maine, Tata Harper, Tarte, Jurlique, 100% Pure Cosmetics, Josie Maran, and Stowaway Cosmetics (which I just happened to stumble upon today!) to name just a few (for a full list, please see my post here with more detail). These brands are emerging as serious contenders in the cosmetic and skincare world holding themselves to higher standards. And bonus! Some of them are even edible!

And for those of you who are wondering, you don't have to be a kale-juicing-all-organic-vegan-only-gluten-free-eating-machine to indulge, have insanely sensitive skin that reacts severely to chemicals, nor obsess over sulfate, phthalate, and paraben content. I simply believe that if you don't have to add harsh chemicals to make a great product, why bother? While I must admit, it is a pain when products like homemade rosewater and LUSH bath goodies have an incredibly short shelf-life in your bathroom without the saving grace of a refrigerator and/or some preservatives, convenience is a small price to pay for worry-free natural products! It's peace of mind, really.

In accordance with my attempts to incorporate more natural products into my beauty routine and my obsession with all things rose, I was determined to attempt a DIY recipe for organic rosewater after finishing up my bottle of Burt's Bees Rosewater Toner and deciding it was too much of a hassle to order online again since it is so difficult to find in-store. I also wanted to do myself a favor and try out an alcohol-free version. Thayer's makes an alcohol-free version that uses witch hazel instead but after reading some recent reviews saying they might've changed their formula and still include alcohol despite the labeling, I decided to go ahead with a DIY recipe. It seemed so easy!

That's when I encountered some issues. So many websites and blogs claim an easy DIY recipe. But there's at least FOUR different ways to do it with little detail and barely any explanation as which was best and why! I had so many questions along the way so I decided to share my trials and errors with you. Because let's face it, no one wants to Pinterest fail!

  • Organic Rose Petals
    • Cleaned and rinsed petals ONLY, not the stamens, stems, leaves, hips, etc.
      • Make sure you rinse thoroughly because the bugs on your roses can be very, very tiny and hard to see
      • I kept a couple rosebuds and petals around just for decoration because it looked so pretty but leaving any rose petals or rosebuds in your rosewater is a bad idea because it will eventually disintegrate and dissolve in your rosewater
    • Pesticide-free, NOT from the grocery store or florist, preferably from your yard 
      • Rinsing non-pesticide free/grocery store/florist roses will NOT get rid of the pesticides and method #4 will probably only make the presence of pesticides worse and more concentrated 
    • I used roses that were pink or red so that it would give a pretty tint afterwards (depending on which method you use) and so that I would know when they had lost their color as opposed to white or yellow ones
    • More fragrant small roses are best as opposed to large ones. Large ones are typically bred for size and looks rather than fragrance
    • I read here that the best types of roses to use are Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia, and Rosa gallica but I was not about to spend the time hunt these specific types down so the ones in my garden just had to do
    • The fresher the roses the better, so just-picked ones will make better rose water. Petals more than a day old even sitting in the fridge won't give you good results (trust me, I tried). The same website I mentioned just now listed here also recommended that you pick the roses after the morning dew has evaporated (2-3 hours after sunrise). I picked mine in the afternoon at sunset after work and it worked fine so *shrugs*
  • Distilled water (I used bottled water and didn't realize it until after I was done, whoopsies! The only difference I read so far was that distilled water will help your rosewater last longer supposedly)
  • Ice (for method #4)
  • To preserve and make your rosewater last longer, you can add 1 part vodka or a bit of boric acid
  • To use as an astringent/toner, you can add 1 part vodka, alcohol, or witch hazel. I personally would add alcohol as I prefer it to the stench of the other two. I'd use it as I did with the Burt's Bees version I had purchased to disinfect freshly tweezed areas on my face or to cleanse acne afflicted areas.

  • Stainless Steel/Glass/Ceramic Pot (no non-stick) with glass lid
  • Strainer/sieve/fine mesh strainer/cheesecloth/coffee filter
  • Glass jar or glass spray bottle (to store you rosewater when you're finished)
    • Glass is recommended over metal because metal can alter your concoction and plastic can absorb
    • I got mine spray bottles from Daiso! They even had miniature rose shaped glass spray bottles! And they spray wonderfully! I grabbed a couple other different bottles of different sizes for variety and gifting as well.
  • A funnel or pipette (to help fill your glass jar or spray bottle - I got mine from Daiso surprisingly! It came as a set but I didn't use the mini spatula though)
  • A pestle and mortar or food processor (for method #3)
  • A small brick (for method #4)
Methods listed below from easy to hard, quick to time-consuming:
Method #0 - Steep: *I did not attempt this method because I thought I was too cool for the easy route but I wanted to share it with you anyway because ain't nobody got time for making rosewater 4 different ways (except me apparently!):
Pour boiling water over rose petals (one part rose petals to two parts water) and strain when cool. Store in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator where it can stay good for as long as a month. Eazy-peazy!

Method #1 - Simmer: Claims to be quick and easy but supposedly not as potent.
1) Add your petals to your pot and fill with enough water to just cover the rose petals (the petals will float I know but just try).

2) Put on low heat until it just SIMMERS (not boiling!)
3) Once the petals have lost their color, remove from heat.
4) Discard the petals by separating the liquid that remains using a sieve/strainer and carefully pouring the remaining liquid into your glass storage container with a funnel.
My notes: Making rosewater this way was certainly the easiest but smelled unappealing to me in comparison to the Burt's Bees Rosewater Toner I had used. It may have been my mistake as I had the heat on medium-low instead of low and may have overcooked the rose petals resulting in an unpleasant smell of overcooked rose (think along the lines of what happens when you overboil vegetables). It still worked fine as a toner and facial mist but the rosewater was tinted an unsightly pink color that leaned brown. Supposedly has a longer shelf life which I suppose can be attributed to the cooking.

Method #2 - Sunlight: Takes much longer but doesn't require much more effort than simmering. Probably got just as hot as using a stove since it's been so hot out lately!
1) Add petals to a glass bowl and fill with enough water to just cover the rose petals (the petals will float I know but just try). Cover with glass lid or plastic wrap.

2) Leave in a sunny spot for at least 12 hours.
3) Remove and discard petals with either a sieve or a strainer.
4) Carefully pour the remaining liquid into your glass storage container with a funnel.
My notes: This was really easy. Just throw the petals and water in a bowl, cover it, set it outside and forget about it! Seriously. I forgot about it. lol. And apparently a cat kept letting the curiosity get the better of it thinking it was food. But it was untouched and worked fine.

Method #3 - Crushed Combination: This was my own method I hacked together from the various methods I researched online and found that it produced the most fragrant, spot-on scented rosewater and best coloring in my opinion. And it didn't take too long surprisingly!
1) Divide your rose petals into two piles.
2) Simmer the first half of the rose petals as shown in Attempt #1.
3) Add the remaining half of the rose petals to either a food processor or do what I did and crush the petals using a pestle and mortar (I love this thing for really bringing out the oils and flavor when I cook so no surprise that I loved using it for this as well).

4) Pour a little bit of the rosewater you simmered into the mortar to make sure you collected all the crushed oils. Pour all of it into a bowl along with the simmered rosewater and stir a little bit to make sure the crushed rose petals are incorporated with the simmered rosewater.
5) Then strain all the liquid into your glass container. It should be a nice pretty pink somewhat clear color that smells extremely rosy.
My notes: I always reach for this method's batch of rosewater out of all the bottles of rosewater I made using the various methods because it smells the nicest.

And finally...!
Method #4 - Distilling: Much more involved and lengthy process. Produces clear rose water much like what is used commercially. I also thought this method produced a cooked rose smell that I mentioned earlier which smelled unpleasantly like overcooked vegetables.
1) Get a small brick and place in the center of your pot and place a small glass bowl or cup on top. The height of the brick and the glass should not be higher than the edges of the pot and there should be enough room for you to place the lid upside down with the handle.
  • No one ever explained what the hell the brick was for but now I know! It is to:
    • Elevate the glass
    • Prevent the glass you place in the center of your pot that collects the condensation from rattling around in the boiling/simmering water and driving you nuts!
    • And finally, to keep the glass from slipping away from the center of the pot ensuring that you catch every last drop
  • I learned the hard way and didn't use a brick so you won't see a brick in the pictures, you'll see two glass jars instead. Don't do it my way! I had to keep prying open the hot lid and shove the glass back into the center of the pot through the scalding steam to ensure all the condensation collected and dripped back into the glass.
2) Fill the pot with rose petals around the brick and add enough water to just cover the petals (the petals will float I know but just try!)
3) Place the lid on the pot upside down and turn the stove on to low heat.
4) Let the petals simmer so that steam will begin to collect inside the pot on the upside down lid.
5) Place pieces of ice in the center of the upside down lid to draw the condensation of the steam towards the center and hasten the process of the rosewater collection within the glass bowl. After the ice melts, continuously replace it with new pieces of ice.
  • I kept making the mistake of trying to check on how much rosewater had collected in the bowl and inadvertently dripped the melted ice water back into the pot when I lifted the lid (the lid had steamed up so much I couldn't see through it anymore). I wasn't sure if the water landed back into the pot or if any got into my glass bowl. *shrugs* Oh well. I'm pretty sure it didn't!
6) Continue simmering until all the water is gone. This will take a LONG time (1-2 hours). If you're impatient like me, continue until you have your desired amount of rosewater collected in the glass bowl and/or the petals have all lost their color.
7) Remove the glass filled with condensation. Again, be careful! The lid is hot and so is the steam so make sure you wear oven mitts or a silicon oven glove! The glass filled with condensation is your rosewater. It should be clear. Pour it carefully through your funnel into your glass container.
8) Discard the remaining water and rose petals from inside the pot around the brick.

Rosewater Uses:
Bath additive
Light fragrance
Add to lotion
Hair rinse

Phew! That was a long post! If you made it all the way through, I salute you! I hope this was helpful to you because I sure as hell would've appreciated something this detailed when I first started out!

If in the end, you want to just go ahead and buy a pricey bottle of rosewater instead, I found a couple of these (Links below are not sponsored):

Roberts Florentine Rosewater $10 @Urban Outfitters
Boots Botanics Organic Rosewater Toning Spritz

High End:
Glossier Soothing Facial Mist Rosewater Spray + Aloe, Glycerin, and Honeysuckle $18
Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist @Sephora
Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater
Fresh Rose and Marigold Floral Toner @Sephora $40
Chantecaille Rosewater 3.4 oz @Nordstrom $64


  1. I've always wanted to make my own rose water mist! I am obsessed with rose water anything! Thanks for the great post :)


I'm so happy that you're willing to share your thoughts with me! Love hearing what you think! :)