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Plants for President | Hydrosols

Hydrosol is a science-y term for plant matter that’s been distilled in water. Also known as flower waters or plant distillates, hydrosols are healing and aromatic, and can be used for a number of different applications in both medicine and skincare.

WHAT IS A HYDROSOL?

Hydrosols are made by distilling fresh plant matter like leaves, fruits, or flowers. The distillation process is very simple (you can try it for yourself at home), involving the gentle simmering of plant matter to produce steam, which is then condensed and collected. As they simmer, plants release volatile oils (commonly known as essential oils) into the steam, resulting in a water that contains many of the same properties as the original plant.

Most of the volatile oils released during the distillation process float to the top and are then collected and packaged separately as essential oils. The hydrosol that remains contains less than 1% concentration of volatile oils, but it retains all of the plant’s aqueous matter, organic acids, and other beneficial molecules. 

WHY SHOULD I USE HYDROSOLS?

Because hydrosols contain less than 1% concentration of essential oils, they have a much more gentle effect than pure essential oils. This means that hydrosols are safer for babies, elders, pets, and people with skin sensitivities (read more about the proper use for essential oils in our Essential Oil Safety Primer). Our Underarm Primer is formulated specifically for sensitive skin, with witch hazel hydrosol as one of its active ingredients.

In addition to being safe for sensitive skin types, hydrosols provide healing properties similar to essential oils. These aromatic waters contain microscopic beads of volatile oils, polyphenols, antioxidants, and other water-soluble plant properties that make them an excellent tool for skincare. They can be used on their own as a toner or a perfume, and we love the way they support other ingredients in cleansing products (like our Face Cleanser which contains witch hazel hydrosol) as well as hydrating ones.

Our Geranium Palmarosa Face Toner is a great example showing how hydrosols shine. Both witch hazel and rose hydrosol lend our Face Toner an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory quality. Hydrosols can help reduce redness, soothe irritated skin, and help it heal from rashes, wounds, or acne. Additionally, the naturally occurring acids present in hydrosols aid in cleansing pores and balancing oil production.

In addition to being used in skincare, hydrosols can also be utilized as an aromatherapeutic room spray. Using them to replace plain water in your DIY beauty or cleaning recipes is a nice way to add a soft scent and additional cleansing properties. We even incorporate witch hazel and lavender hydrosols in our herbal Insect Repellent to nourish and keep your skin happily bug bite-free!

HOW TO USE & STORE HYDROSOLS

While hydrosols can be nourishing and healing to your skin, it’s important to use them correctly for the best effects. Since hydrosols are comprised of mostly water, they can actually be drying to your skin rather than hydrating if not combined with glycerin or lipid ingredients (which are the fats and plant-based oils we use to give our products a silky quality). Water has one of the strongest molecular bonds, which means that when it evaporates from the surface of your skin, it pulls out existing water molecules from deeper layers of skin cells underneath. This is called transepidermal water loss, or TEWL. 

TEWL can result in drier and more sensitive skin, but luckily, it can be prevented with one simple additional step. While your face is still wet from spritzing your toner or hydrosol, follow up with a lipid-rich moisturizer to lock in water and prevent evaporation. Our Geranium Palmarosa Face Toner is best combined with our Juniper Carrot Seed Face Oil or our Skin Cream for this reason.

The production of hydrosols is naturally sterile as the steam is collected at high temperatures, however, once they have cooled, hydrosols are not totally sterile and should be stored in the fridge. We like to do this anyway, as nothing feels better than a cool aromatic mist on a hot day!