Hydrating your skin with a fragrant mist can be one of the most beautiful moments in any skincare regimen—especially if you’re lucky enough to be using a natural hydrosol. Hydrosols, which differ from toners, infusions, and extracts, are a product of the essential oil making process—one that some would say is just as precious as the essential oils themselves. Hydrosols are the floral water that forms while natural plant materials are steam distilled to make essential oils, making them an inexpensive means of accessing the benefits of pricey natural oils.
Hydrosols differ from toners in that they do not contain astringent ingredients like alcohol or witch hazel (though some, like rose or cucumber, can have some natural astringent properties). They are generally less drying and gentler on the skin, and they complement the skin’s acidic pH. Hydrosols tend to have an acidic pH range of 3.5 to 6, though their pH differs depending on the type of plant used in the hydrosol.
Where can I use a hydrosol?
Hydrosols are an ideal ingredient for treatments in the spa itself, and are also great additions to your clients’ home care regimens. Though essential oils are all the rage in skincare, they can have adverse effects, especially when used overzealously, because they’re so concentrated. Hydrosols deliver the benefits of essential oils in a much gentler way, and can be used judiciously without the supervision of an aromatherapist, with far fewer safety concerns, which is why they’re an ideal home care item for clients.
In the spa, hydrosols enhance any facial protocol when used in a steamer or Lucas sprayer. They are more user-friendly than herbs and are better for your machines than essential oils. They can be used in a warm or cool compress in lieu of hot towels or steam, and can also be used as a standalone toner, or as an ingredient in a toner in the treatment room or as a homecare or retail product.
Another great in-spa application for hydrosols is using them to rehydrate dry herbal clay masks. This makes the treatment more luxurious than using water, and also adds additional botanical benefits to the mask.
Which hydrosols should I choose?
Choose your hydrosol like you’d choose your essential oil, with the understanding that hydrosols have subtler, less concentrated benefits for your skin. Here are four of our favorites, with their properties:
- Rose: firming, astringent, reduces redness
- Lavender: soothing, calming, universally well-tolerated, anti-inflammatory
- Cucumber: cooling, balancing to oily skin, anti-inflammatory, and lightly astringent
- Geranium: calming, soothing, excellent for sensitive skin
Preservation and storage considerations
Hydrosols are easily contaminated and, even without contamination, they’re not immune to the growth of pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast due to their water content. Some hydrosols come already preserved, but many do not, so be sure to check the ingredients in your hydrosols.
To extend the life of your hydrosol you may decide to:
- Preserve. Some hydrosols come already preserved, but others must be preserved upon receipt if you want it to have a shelf life of any kind. One option is grain alcohol at 20% concentration (80 proof or higher vodka or brandy work fine). Another option is a broad spectrum preservative. There are several options for this, and there are many options online at cosmetic manufacturer’s sites. Use your chosen preservative according to ingredient supplier’s instructions, and store the hydrosol in a dark glass jar, away from heat, light, and humidity. Shelf life varies depending on the hydrosol itself and the preservative used, but typically ranges from 3 to 6 months, or 12 months at the most with natural preservatives.
- Use your hydrosol right away
- Refrigerate your hydrosol for longer shelf life.
- Order small quantities at a time to ensure freshness.
If you or your clients have been missing out on the skin benefits of hydrosols by skipping this skincare step, or by equating them with toners, think again. These diluted, yet powerful, products restore moisture to the skin, soothe the senses, and provide a healing, pH-balancing moment for the skin all at once.
We want to hear from you!
Are you a fan of using hydrosols in your skincare regimen?
Which hydrosols are your favorites?