Hydrosols - Use and Properties


Cleanse, Tone and Repair Skin - Naturally. 

Hydrosol History

Plants have been distilled for thousands of years for their apparent health benefits. The oils that were produced during the process were often siphoned off and used for perfume and religious ceremonies. The ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilisations were the first to document the distillation of both herbal waters and alcohol. These were often mixed together as the process became more complex.The practice spread across the world during the 8th and 10th centuries and by the 12th century most monasteries in Southern Europe produced some distillate of herbs. These were prescribed for various maladies, from toothache to plague and the recipes were a closely guarded secret. People both bathed in them 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 lemon balm, cloves, coriander, angelica, orange peel and some sort of alcoholic grape juice (which developed a niche market all of its own...) . This was tremendously popular for a century, before Napoleon outlawed the church selling it in 1810 -1830. However, it wasn’t the distillate Napoleon disapproved of, as he relied on herb distillations himself, for his various skin complaints. He was diagnosed with ‘neuro-dermatitis’ which affected most of his skin and was only soothed by lying in a bath of hydrosol with oat hay for hours.


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

Hydrosol or Essential Oil - Hydrosols differ from essential oils in that they contain the hydrophilic (water loving) properties missing in essential oils, but have fewer lipophilic (oil loving) properties. When the water has taken up all the oil it can dissolve, the oil will begin to separate out on the surface. This is the part collected for essential oils. These parts of the plant contain different chemical properties than those that were dissolved and are far more concentrated. Many of these chemicals are only needed in tiny amounts to work effectively. Hydrosols work well as their hydrophilic tendency makes it easier for skin to tolerate their potent, but gentle properties.

Our Hydrosols for Skin

We produce hydrosols from native species of plants which thrive here and do not threaten the ecology, in fact they enhance it. A few botanical properties are found in most of the hydrosols and these are: anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. These are further enhanced by the individual constituents each plant brings to benefit different skin conditions. Below is a list of which we distil and how/which type of skin might benefits most.

Keeping Hydrosols Fresh.

It would be hard to bottle fresher than we do - we pick our plants at the optimum time, including the best time of each day, to optimise the constituents. Drying depends on a particular plant’s requirements: we don’t use a dehydrator, we put the flowers in wooden, slated boxes, open to the warm summer air. As soon as a box-full is ready to be distilled, it is weighted, prepared and then dunked. Borage can be bottled ten hours after being picked. There is minimum time for moulds to grow and precious constituents to deteriorated.

We prepare hydrosols both with and without preservative. (We use a low-irritant, but effective preservative). Without, they should all last 6 months, when kept between 5-10ºC, out of sunlight and with the lid firmly replaced. With preservative, they mostly will be effective for 18 months, kept under similar conditions. Some may still be perfectly good after longer, but we do not recommend you continue to apply older hydrosols to skin.

Although we thoroughly check all our batches and in the rare case of finding any that have developed ‘bloom’, we will recall all from that batch. If you notice a change in the smell or a cloudiness in the appearance, please do not continue to use. It is important to check the safety for use of each, especially regarding allergies to the plant or plant family and during pregnancy. (These warnings tend to be for people consuming 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: Not animal tested   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 use on 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 -6.4 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 4-5.8 @ 25ºC Odour: A light ‘green’ 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 - 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: 4.5-5.9 @ 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 5-6; Odour: Slight vanilla/almond; Appearance:Clear

Shouldn't be taken by anyone with epilepsy

Feverfew -  Tanacetum parthenium


Extraction: Steam and hydro-distillation Parts distilled: flowers and leaves

Constituents: Tannins, sesquiterpenes lactones and flavonoids. Gallic acid, a tannin, is a good anti-oxidant. Luteolin - also in honeysuckle and chamomile, is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and free-radical scavenger.The sesquiterpene lactone-parthenolide is  anti-inflammatory and inhibits prostaglandin production. 

Uses: We mix this with Chamomile for best results. Excellent for calming irritated skin, including that caused by skin-mites. Helps burns and wound healing. It is used to reduce skin-mites.

Best For:  Oily skin, uneven complexions, dermatitis, psoriasis, sunburn and UV damage. It is anti-inflammatory, astringent and soothing, with, antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties.

Specifications: PH: Between 4.3 - 5.7 Odour: slight herbal/green- bitter.

Not to be used on skin with rosacea. If consumed, it can be dangerous to take with Aspirin or blood thinners and is not recommended during the first trimester in pregnancy. 


Honeysuckle: Lonicera japonicaCapifoliacea family AKAWoodbine


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 - we will contact you if you order this and have none left to offer you an alternative.)


Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia and Munstead Wood

 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 4.5-6.1 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. 

 Roses…Rosa GallicaRosa Chinensis, Rosa damascena; Rose Alba


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.