A hydrosol, often called “floral water”, corresponds to the distillation water of a plant. They are called “floral water” when flowers are distilled, but can be made from other plant parts. When this plant is aromatic, distillation also makes it possible to obtain an essential oil. Hydrosols are nevertheless much easier to use and much better tolerated than essential oils, because they mainly contain water. They therefore present very little risk of use. They have many properties, both therapeutic and cosmetic. They are widely used to care for the skin or hair, particularly for pregnant women and babies whose use of essential oils is more delicate.

This article was updated on 07/10/2022

What is a hydrosol?

Hydrosols are obtained by steam distillation, or hydrodistillation, of generally aromatic plants. The name "hydrolat" comes from the milky appearance obtained after distillation, "hydro" meaning water, and "lat", milk. Concretely, after distillation of an aromatic plant, we obtain two phases:

  • The one above is concentrated in aromatic molecules, it is theessential oil. It is called hydrophobic, meaning it does not mix with water.
  • The one below corresponds to thedistilled water, this is what we callhydrosol or floral water. It contains a tiny part of active ingredients (mainly aromatic molecules) called hydrophilic, that is to say which have an affinity for water.

Finally, certain hydrosols are obtained by distillation of non-aromatic plants. There will therefore be no essential oil at the outlet of the distillation apparatus, only hydrosol. This is the case with Cornflower, Linden or Witch Hazel whose hydrosols are well known.

Due to their composition rich in water and very diluted in active molecules, hydrosols are much less powerful than essential oils, and therefore much more flexible to use. They are sometimes considered a by-product of essential oils, even though they have many benefits. They are described as the gentle version of aromatherapy, and can be used by sensitive users, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women or babies, who often cannot use essential oils.

Which hydrosol to choose for hydrolatherapy?

Hydrosols contain mostly water, and a tiny portion of aromatic molecules and other volatile water-soluble compounds from the plant. This gives them many properties, but also great flexibility of use. In the same way as essential oils, these are natural extracts useful for many problems. However, there are hundreds of them: as many as essential oils, or even more since they can come from non-aromatic plants.

To help identify the most suitable hydrosol for each situation, Compagnie des Sens has set up a very easy-to-use tool: simply enter the desired use, the user, and if necessary, the properties, the odor, and the desired taste to obtain the list of all the hydrosols that can be used.

How to use hydrosols in aromatherapy?


In treatment

The cures of hydrosol are interesting for seasonal changes in particular, either in treatment detoxifying to drain the emunctories, or for the immune system. Indeed, hydrosols are good drainers of the body, they have an action on the entire digestive and metabolic system in order to restore the ground. Hydrosol cures can also be carried out in the case of chronic problems such as menopause, fatigue, heavy legs, etc. To do a hydrosol treatment, 2 possibilities:

  • Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of hydrosol in 1 L of water to drink during the day. Continue for 20 to 25 days, and take a 5-day break before starting again if necessary.
  • Dilute 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, drink 3 to 4 times a day. Repeat for 20 to 25 days and take a 5-day break before resuming if necessary.

Used occasionally, hydrosols can act on the more serious problems, in case of digestive disorders, insomnia, etc. Depending on age, the quantity of hydrosol to consume will vary:

  • Child under 1 year old: ½ to 1 teaspoon per day in the bottle, or sprayed on the nipple.
  • From 1 to 3 years: 1 teaspoon per day in a glass of water.
  • From 3 to 6 years: 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, 1 to 2 times a day.
  • From 6 years old: 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, 1 to 4 times a day.

Depending on the desired goal, hydrosols can be diluted in a glass of cold or hot water or in herbal tea for example. The key is not to boil the hydrosol so as not to denature it.

In the bath

Unlike essential oils, hydrosols are perfectly suited to use in the bath, since they are miscible in water. They allow you to accentuate the relaxing effects of a bath, for example! Depending on the volume of water and age, the quantity of hydrosol to add will not be the same:

  • for children under 1 year old: add 1 to 3 teaspoons to bath water
  • from 1 to 3 years: add 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • from 3 to 6 years: add 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • from 6 years old: add 5 to 10 tablespoons

Hydrosols also help soothe painful and tired feet. In this case, add 3 tablespoons of hydrosol to a basin to make a foot bath.

Finally, hydrosols can be used in sitz bath against genital infections or hemorrhoids for example. To do this, add 5 to 10 tablespoons in a suitable basin.

For oral hygiene

Many hydrosols can be used for oral hygiene in cases of infection, mouth ulcers, gingivitis or bad breath for example. This is the case of Noble Laurel, Clove, Tea Tree or Peppermint among others. To benefit from their benefits, it is possible to use them as a mouthwash:

  • For adults, dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of hydrosol in a glass of rinse water.
  • For children, dilute 1 teaspoon of hydrosol in a glass of rinsing water.

In compress

For localized application of hydrosols to the skin, it is possible to make soaked compresses. To do this, dilute 4 to 5 tablespoons of hydrosol in 100 mL of water. Dip a compress or clean cloth into the mixture and apply to the skin. Leave on for 20 minutes for better action.

What is the difference between a hydrosol and floral water?

There does not exist no difference between floral water and a hydrosol. The name “floral water” is simply reserved to designate a flower hydrosol. It is therefore common to speak of Rose floral water, or Cornflower floral water for example. Certain hydrosols are nevertheless obtained by distillation ofother parts of plants, such as seeds (Carrot hydrosol), bark (Cinnamon hydrosol) or leaves (Witch Hazel hydrosol). So, all floral waters are hydrosols, but not all hydrosols are floral waters. In the context of use in hydrolatherapy, it is therefore more accurate to use the term hydrosol, or even aromatic hydrosol, in order to affirm that the product was indeed obtained by distillation of the plant, and to avoid any risk of counterfeiting or misuse of the term “floral water”.

Which hydrosol to choose for the skin and face?

Hydrosols have many benefits for the face, and are particularly interesting and suitable for taking care of the skin. They are on the one hand very soft, have many useful properties for all skin types (astringent, soothing, healing, purifying, etc.), and have a slightly acidic pH, appreciated by skin whose pH is around 5.5. They can therefore be used pure or diluted, directly on the skin:

  • In the morning, spray or on a cotton pad to wake up the skin and remove nighttime impurities.
  • In the evening, to cleanse the skin, remove the day's impurities, or as a makeup remover.
  • To replace water in the making of cosmetic recipes (creams, masks, lotions, etc.)
  • In a steam bath to deeply cleanse the skin and purify pores
  • Etc.

Top 5 hydrosols to take care of the skin and face:

  • L’damascus Rose hydrosol : certainly the best known, it helps moisturize, soothe the skin, and limit skin aging. Damascus Rose floral water is the reference hydrosol for mature skin, in cases of wrinkles, for dry skin, but also irritated and sensitive skin.
  • L’cornflower hydrosol : anti-inflammatory, decongestant and soothing, it is the eye hydrosol par excellence. Cornflower floral water is the reference hydrosol for tired and irritated eyes, but also for dry and irritated skin.
  • L’orange Blossom hydrosol : particularly soothing, it is especially appreciated for its sweet and floral scent. Orange Blossom hydrosol is very popular for dry and sensitive skin.
  • L’italian Helichrysum hydrosol : it is circulatory, anti-inflammatory and healing. Italian Helichrysum hydrosol is thus the reference hydrosol for dark circles and for damaged skin, but also for mature, irritated and sensitive skin.
  • L’tea Tree hydrosol : it is an anti-infective in the same way as its essential oil, but in a gentle version. Tea Tree hydrosol is unsurprisingly the reference hydrosol for acne, also suitable for oily and combination skin.

Which hydrosol to choose for hair?

Hydrosols have several beneficial properties for hair. In the same way as their different actions on the skin, they also act on the scalp with a view to solve some problems, or simply to moisturize or perfume the hair. They can be used in different ways:

  • In rinse water after shampooing, gently massaging the scalp
  • Sprayed on the lengths and ends between shampoos, to refresh curls or simply perfume the hair
  • To replace water in the making of cosmetic recipes (masks, solid shampoos, no-poo, etc.)

Top 5 of the best hydrosols for hair:

  • L’atlas Cedar hydrosol : it is very versatile for taking care of the hair and especially the scalp. It has a rebalancing action useful for many hair problems. Atlas Cedar hydrosol is thus the reference hydrosol in cases of oily hair, hair loss or dandruff.
  • L’lavender hydrosol : repellent, anti-inflammatory and calming, it is also appreciated for its sweet flowery smell. Lavender hydrosol is the reference hydrosol against lice and itchy scalp.
  • L’rosemary hydrosol : it has a detoxifying and purifying action. Rosemary hydrosol with verbenone is therefore particularly useful in cases of dandruff and oily hair.
  • L’peppermint hydrosol : it is very refreshing and above all purifying. Peppermint hydrosol is useful for oily hair or irritated scalp.
  • L’matricaria Chamomile hydrosol : it has anti-inflammatory and lightening properties. It is the reference hydrosol for blonde hair and to give highlights to light hair. It can be used for normal hair in general, but also dull hair or in cases of irritated scalp.

How to choose a quality hydrosol?

For a long time considered a by-product of distillation, hydrosols are today much more valued and are experiencing a real revival of interest in both cosmetics and aromatherapy. Whether in specialized stores or on the internet, there is today a wide choice of hydrosols, but all the qualities are not worth each other. Although it is difficult as a consumer to evaluate the know-how of the distiller, it is nevertheless possible to check certain elements to ensure the quality of the hydrosol purchased: it is necessary to favor a warnings are given for informational and above all preventive purposes:

  • Pregnant women and children : as a precautionary measure, hydrosols likely to contain ketones, of camphor, of the phenols or molecules estrogen-like are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children under 3 years old or under 6 years old (Yarrow, Peppermint, Clary Sage, Oregano, Clove, etc.)
  • Allergy : an allergy to an essential oil can potentially induce an allergy to the corresponding hydrosol. A allergy test simple can be done: place 2 drops of the hydrosol in the crook of the elbow and observe if redness appears within 24 hours.
  • Irritation : Hydrosols likely to contain phenols (Cinnamon, Oregano, Savory) can cause slight skin irritation on the most sensitive skin. Do not hesitate to dilute the hydrosol in this case.
  • Hepatotoxicity : hydrosols likely to contain phenols (Cinnamon, Oregano, Savory) can cause slight liver problems when used for long periods. In this case, it is preferable to use them for short periods of time.
  • Photosensitization : citrus, carrot or angelica hydrosols are likely to contain photosensitizing molecules. As a precaution, it is best not to use them before exposure to the sun.

It is recommended to be aware of all the potential risks of using a hydrosol before use.

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