Hydrosols - Use and Properties

Hydrosols

Cleanse, Tone and Repair Skin - Naturally. 

Hydrosols for Skin

Our hydrosols are all from indigenous plant species that contain particular constituents beneficial to skin. As established species, the plants are healthy and thrive and we don’t use pesticides. The ecology is enhanced too - this year we planted an extra 500 lavender bushes and the field was soon awash with fat, drunken bees. A bumper honey harvest followed, touched with a hint of lavender!

There has been a growing trend for using hydrosols to cleanse and tone skin. This is partly due to people becoming more aware of the potential harm harsh chemical cleansers can cause. It also seems to be part of the ‘all natural’ skincare trend. Hydrosols have been taken as drinks and used in first aid relief (especially on battlefields!) for centuries as most contain anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The individual constituents vary across species and there can even be disparity between the chemical structure of one sub-species and another. For this reason,we have taken our time whittling down our plant list and now grow just those with the best evidence of being beneficial to skin.

History of Distilling Plants for Hydrosols

Plants have been distilled for thousands of years for their apparent health benefits. The oils produced during the distilling process were siphoned off and used for perfume and for use in religious ceremonies. The ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilisations were the first to document the distillation of both herbal waters and alcohol. As the process became more complex, these were often mixed together. The practice spread across the world during the 8th and 9th centuries, by the 12th century, most monasteries in Southern Europe produced a distillate of herbs. These were prescribed for various maladies, from toothache to plague and the recipes were a closely guarded secret. People bathed in them, sprinkled them on clothes and drank them - for general good health or simply to prolong life…

Taking the Waters

The famous Carmelite Water was made by nuns and monks, using a variation of: lemon balm, cloves, coriander, angelica, orange peel and an alcoholic grape juice (which developed a niche market all of its own...) . This was tremendously popular for over a century, until 1810, it was banned by Napoleon. However, it was the high prices being charged for it that he objected to, he personally used the herb distillations daily. He suffered with ‘neuro-dermatitis’ which affected most of his skin and was only soothed by lying in a bath of hydrosol for hours.

The Modern Take - The process is now well established and plants, roots and barks all produce popular hydrosols. More delicate plants, like the tissue-like Evening Primrose petals, need steam to lift out the precious constituents, whilst more fibrous plants, only release theirs when steeped in water. As different properties are extracted in each method, knowing your plant is important.

Hydrosol or Essential Oil - Hydrosols differ from essential oils in that they are much less concentrated. The distilled water contains the hydrophilic (water loving) properties that are not in essential oils. But the hydrosol has only a small amount of constituents that are lipophilic (oil loving). When the water is saturated in all the oil it can dissolve, the oil then begins to separate out and sit on the surface. This is the part collected for essential oils. Many of these plant chemicals are only needed in small amounts to work effectively in a daily routine. Hydrosols are well-tolerated by skin and their potent, but gentle properties work well, especially on sensitive skin, with a tendency to react to both oily and alkaline products.

 

Keeping Hydrosols Fresh.

It would be hard to bottle fresher than we do - we pick our plants at the optimum time, when the plant contains the maximum levels of useful constituents. Drying depends on individual plants: we don’t use a dehydrator, we put the flowers on slated shelves, open to gentle, warm air. As soon as they are dried, they are weighted, prepared, dunked, steamed and bottled on the same day. Something delicate like borage or evening primrose can be bottled forty-eight hours after being picked, whilst others, like lavender, can take over a week. There is a careful balance between between ensuring they are thoroughly dried (to eliminate moulds) and retaining precious constituents. 

After bottling, they should be kept at between 5-10ºC, out of sunlight, well sealed. Once opened, they are effective for six to nine months if kept well. We keep some from every batch and continue to test them. After two years or more we have found they often still have the same scent and pH, with no signs of blooming or detectable deterioration. Nevertheless, we recommend using a hydrosol within 3 months of opening. If there is a change in the smell or a cloudiness (bloom) in the appearance, it should be discarded. It is important to check the compatibility and safety of each, especially regarding plant allergies and during pregnancy. (Warnings tend to be for people drinking hydrosols or infusions, but, to stay safe, it is wise to also adhered to this in topical use.)

All our crops are grown pesticide and GMC-free. GMO-free, but not certified. Vegan: Yes    Animal Testing: No    Country of Origin: Isle of Man

We produce hydrosols for use on the skin - before consuming hydrosols for any therapeutic purpose, please consult a physician.

Our Hydrosols - their properties and recommended skin-types

Borage: INCI Borago officinalis L. flower  Boraginaceae family.

borage close up

Parts Distilled: Ariel parts - steam distilled

Constituents: mucilage (a demulcent for inflamed skin), tannins, silicic acid. It has a high vitamin A and C content in the raw plant; although heat and pH will adversely affect any vitamin C in the hydrosol. Flowers and leaves contain 0.02% and 0.12% lipids. Flowers contain more essential oil and vitamin C and less carotenoids, chlorophyll and flavonoids. The flowers tend to have more polyphenols. Almost 20% mucous compounds, tannins 3-5%, mineral salts, calcium and potassium nitrate 4%, organic acids: citric, malic, lactic and ascorbic acid; saponins, allantoin1%, carotene and tocopherols. Borage is an astringent hydrosol,

Use: Use neat as a cleanser, toner and hair rinse. Borage can sooth damaged tissue, eczema and a number of chronic skin conditions. It is an astringent, with a near skin pH and particularly good for skin prone to patches of acne.

Best for: Acne, rosacea, eczema and low grade, sun-burn or itching, as it contained mucilage, a demulcent for inflamed skin. It has a nice feel and is emollient. 

Borage is not for internal use, due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can affect liver function.

Specifications: Appearance: clear. Odour: Slightly nutty/cucumber scent; pH Value: 5 - 5.6 at 25°C. 

 Calendula INCI Calendula officinalis flower distillate    Asteraceae family.calendula close up

Extraction: steam and hydro-distillation.            Parts distilled: flowers 

Contains /Active Constituents: Flavonoids, terpenoid esters, saponins, mucilage, polysaccharides, resin, betacarotene, carotenoids (these make the flowers orange).  Petals and pollen contain triterpenoid esters and the carotenoids flavoxanthin and auroxanthin.         

Use: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diaphoretic, oestrogen, diuretic lymphatic, astringent, anti-fungal, antiviral. Effective at soothing and moisturising. Especially suitable for the sensitive and irritated skin.

Best For: Acne, soothing inflammation and irritation, especially suitable for sensitive skin. This is good for most skin-types, it is moisturising and slightly astringent. It is also anti-fungal and antiseptic with some anti-viral properties.

Specifications: PH: From 4.9-5.8 @ 25ºC Odour: A light ‘green’ herby scent. Appearance: Clear fluid

Members of the Asteraceae family can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to wheat and daisies. Not recommended for consumption during pregnancy. For external use only.

Chamomile - Roman - Anthemis nobilis and German -Matricaria recutita L.

Asteraceae family (German is often more concentrated).

 

Extraction: steam and hydro-distillation. Parts distilled: flowers.

Contains/Active Constituents: Apigenin (inhibits skin cell adhesions); phenols and flavonoids, including the unusual chamazulene, luteolin and antioxidant glycosides and quercetin. 

Uses: A cleanser and toner. It is moisturising and can reduce TEWL for 24 hours. The relatively high a-bisabolol and apigenin help the anti-inflammatory efficiency and improve texture and elasticity. It can ameliorate UV damage and inhibit skin cell adhesions. It is an excellent anti-irritant. Not recommended for very dry skin though, due to the acidic pH.

Best For: Acne, oily skin, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, heat-rash, sunburn, itching, wound healing and stings. It is probably the best hydrosol for baby skin and like cornflower, it can improve sore eyes and conjunctivitis when applied as an eye-bath.

Specifications: PH: Between 4.3 - 5 @ 25ºC; Odour: Roman-faint apple/strawberry; German - slight nutmeg/mushroom. Appearance: Clear.

Members of the Asteraceae family (including Chamomile) can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to wheat and daisies. Not recommended for consumption during the first three months of pregnancy. 

Manufacture: From organically grown, pesticide-free materials.

Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus - Asteraceae family

cornflower close

Extraction - steam-distilled. Parts distilled: Flowers 

Contains Active Constituents: flavonoids - anthocyanins, aromatic acids, amino acids, acetylenes and coumarins, sesquiterpenes, sugars, indole alkaloids, and rich in vitamins and minerals.

Uses: A cleanser and toner. Soothes damaged tissue and chronic skin conditions. It is an astringent hydrosol and the pH is very similar to most skin. 

Best For: Acne, eczema, dry, dehydrated and flaky skin. Quite astringent and improves skin suppleness and can be used in an eye bath for conjunctivitis. Both soothing and stimulating for skin. Antibacterial (moderate activity against Staphylococcus aureus), anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and excellent antioxidant.

Specifications: PH: 5-5.8 @ 25º Odour: A slight, herby/ hay scent. Appearance: Clear fluid.

Members of the Asteraceae family (including Cornflower) can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to wheat and daisies. Not recommended for consumption during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis - Onagraceae family 

 evening primrose

Extraction: - steam and hydro-distilled.  Parts distilled: flowers and arial parts

Constituents: fatty acids, ascorbic acid, phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids (campferol and quercetin) and sitosterol.

Uses: Cleanser, toner and for scalp problems including dandruff. to sooth sun-burn, moisturise skin, re-balance dry patches and fade excessive pigmentation.

Best For: All skin types and for use on bruises, inflammation and redness.  It balances both oily and dry skin and is astringent enough to counter oiliness, but is  moisturising. Strong antioxidant properties.

Specifications: pH:Between 5.2-5.6; Odour: Slight vanilla/almond; Appearance:Clear

Shouldn't be taken by anyone with epilepsy 

Honeysuckle: Lonicera japonicaCapifoliacea family AKAWoodbine

 honeysuckle

Extraction: Steam distilled Parts distilled: Flowers

Constituents: Anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial EGCG (epigallocatechingallate) and apigenin. Quercetin and rutin, a very high polyphenol content, catechins, tannins, and glycosides, luteolin and vitamin C.

Uses: Cleanser and toner; an astringent hydrosol. It has probably the best anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It contains vitamin C, another good anti-oxidant and widely used to stimulate collagen synthesis.

Best For: All skin types -and particularly psoriasis (luteolin), prematurely aged skin and, sun-damage, including hyper-pigmentation.

Specifications: PH: 5-5.7 @ 25º Odour: Scent of the flower. Appearance: Clear.

 (Honeysuckle is made is small batches and we sell out quickly

 

Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia

 lavender fatheads

Extraction: Steam-distilled. Parts distilled: Flowers

These are mixed to gain the most effective combination of beneficial properties. Angustifolia has the highest antimicrobial activity, whilst Munstead has a higher mineral content.

Constituents : linalool, borneol, α-terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, eucalyptol and 1,8-cineol Providing good antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. 

Uses: Cleaner and toner; a good hair rinse and can be used both before and after shaving to counter irritation. It is often used as a preservative for other water-based products. 

Best For: Good for all skin types and especially good for any skin inflammation. It is excellent for minor skin injuries, rashes, insect bites, stings, sunburn and other conditions that cause irritation. 

Specifications: PH: Between 4.6-5.2 Odour: recognisably lavender, but not as strong as the essential oil.

*If consumed, it can be dangerous to take Aspirin or blood thinners. Not recommended to take during the first trimester in pregnancy. 

 RosesRosa GallicaRosa Chinensis, Rosa damascena; Rose Alba

 roses

Extraction: Hydro and steam.   Parts distilled: Flowers

(Produced in the same way as precious rose otto oil. We distil with a 1KG rose petals to 1L water ratio - producing the highest quality hydrosol.)

Constituents: Rose contains vitamins A, B and C which all help it retain its reputation as being the best hydrosol for all round skincare. Saponin, flavanoids, tannins and fixed oils: phenylethyl alcohol, b-citronellol and geraniol; esters and aldehydes. 

Uses: A cleanser and toner with anti-inflammatory benefits and the perfect pH for skin and scalp. It can be applied to rebalanced skin that has undergone either excessive acid or alkaline stress through acid peels or washing with soap. Soothing to skin inflammation, helped by antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Best For: Acne, sun-damage, dry and sensitive skin, UV damage including hyperpigmentation, smoothing surface irregularities and to heal scars more rapidly. It contains some sun protection and anti-oxidant activity - in the form of  free-radical scavenging.
PH: Between 5 - 5.5

Odour: A natural, light, fresh rose.