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Ask an Aromatherapist: What is a Hydrosol?

I was recently visiting my lovely friend Lea, who also happens to be a client and fan of our skincare products and she asked me "what is a hydrosol?" She also wondered how it was different than a toner.

So I figured there may be others out there wondering the same thing. And most likely a lot of misinformation out there as well.

Hydrosols also called hydrolats or aromatic waters are aqueous steam distillations of plant materials. Hydrosol is derived from Latin: hydro meaning "water" and sol meaning "solution". They can be produced from any plant part: flowers, leaves, roots, bark, fruits, seeds.

Susan Catty, author of "Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy" proposes the following definition: "Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam or hydro-distillation of plant material for aroma-therapeutic purposes."

Hydrosols can be a by-product of essential oil distillation or the primary purpose of a distillation and "aromatic plant waters" is a great description of what hydrosols are.

Hydrosols contain the water soluble components of plants and may be very much like or quite different from the essential oil derived from a plant. They are gentle but powerful.

Essential oils are very concentrated aromatic extracts derived from steam or hydro distillation, cold pressings, or CO2 extraction of plant material, whiles hydrosols typically contain less than 1% aromatic compounds along with water.

But don't let their gentleness fool you. Hydrosols offer gorgeous aromas and many therapeutic benefits.

For example I incorporate a relatively small percentage of rose hydrosol into several of my products; our best seller goat milk face cream and a rose water mousse for a wholesale client. Rose hydrosol not only offers a gorgeous aroma but also supports the skin and scalp as well as emotionally and energertically.

Hydrosols can replace water in formulations and can be incorporated into creams, lotions, toners, gels, and other leave on formulations for their aroma and therapeutic benefits. I love that they offer double duty as a wonderful aromatic and also offer therapeutic benefits.

And hydrosols can simply be used as is, spritzed on the face or body for their therapeutic or emotional benefits, used to create gargles, compresses, added to baths, used to hydrate clay masks, and if unpreserved used in foods and beverages.

How is a hydrosol different from a toner? Toner is a cosmetic applied to the face to hydrate and "tone" the skin. There are many types. Aromatherapists often use blends of hydrosols as a "toner" while commercial toners can include a wide range of ingredients and in fact be devoid of gorgeous hydrosols. So it's best to read ingredient labels to know exactly what's in the bottle. A hydrosol is an aromatic water or plant distillate that can be used to "tone" the skin while a toner can include all types of ingredients.

Have you used hydrosols or purchased products made with them? Have you formulated products with hydrosols? Or are you curious about them and want to learn more? Let us know.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about hydrosols. Be sure to contact Tricia if you have questions.

Aromatic blessings,



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