What are Hydrosols?

by Jade Shutes

 

What are hydrosols?

Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats, are the aqueous product of distillation and carry the hydrophilic properties (water-soluble components) of the plant in solution as well as microscopic droplets of the hydrophilic components of essential oils in suspension.[i] Every liter of hydrosol contains between 0.05 and 0.2 milliliter (less then 1%, typically 0.01 – 0.04%) of dissolved components from essential oils, depending on the water solubility of the plant’s components and the distillation parameters.[ii] The major chemical families that may be found in hydrosols include: aldehydes, alcohols, phenols, ketones, oxides, esters, and phenol methyl ether groups. Hydrosols also contain carboxylic acids, which may explain their observed anti-inflammatory activity.[iii]

Hydrosols are sometimes inaccurately called floral waters. I say inaccurately because most hydrosols are not from flowers and most hydrosols do not smell flowery. The term hydrosol or hydrolat is a much more accurate term than floral waters. Hydrosols are also very different than a blend of essential oils in water created for room or linen sprays. When water and essential oils are mixed for this purpose, with or without a dispersing agent, this would be called an aromatic spritzer, and its therapeutic benefits and safety concerns will be slightly different from that of a true hydrosol.

How can hydrosols be used?

Each hydrosol offers a number of unique properties and can be used in product formulations where water is a component of the formulation. Hydrosols can be used in:

  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Gels
  • Toners
  • Cleansers
  • Facial exfoliants (in liquid portion)
  • Additives to bath
  • Dried plant glycerites (in place of water)

What are the general therapeutic benefits of hydrosols?

Hydrosols, in general, have numerous benefits for the skin including:

  1. Serve as hydrating components in a product
  2. Effective toners
  3. Anti-inflammatory, cooling (e.g. useful with aloe vera gel to cool pitta /inflamed conditions or too much heat in the body causing outward representation on the skin.)
  4. Wound healing

Hydrosols are also utilized for their energetic properties and can be sprayed around the body (like smudging) to clear negative energy or simply uplift and inspire. Hydrosols can support emotional well-being!


Common Hydrosols and their Uses

Calendula Hydrosol

  • Anti-inflammatory and cooling properties make it useful for various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, acne, sunburns, and other inflammatory conditions
  • A wonderful hydrosol to include in creams, lotions, and toners!

German Chamomile Hydrosol

  • Anti-inflammatory and cooling properties make it useful for various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, acne, sunburns, and other inflammatory conditions 
  • Calming and balancing to the autonomic nervous system; soothes or reduces feelings and symptoms of stress 
  • German chamomile, like lavender, can be added to the bath for its sedative and soothing properties 

Geranium Hydrosol

  • Astringent and can be used on oily skin types
  • Balancing to sebum

Helichrysum Hydrosol

  • Anti-inflammatory and cooling properties make it useful for various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, acne, sunburns, and other inflammatory conditions 
  • Useful for dry, mature skin.

Lavender Hydrosol

  • Relaxing, soothing, and comforting: headaches, stress-related conditions
  • Anti-inflammatory and antiseptic 
  • For infants in the bath or as a spritzer for diaper rash, sleep problems 
  • Muscular aches and pains, sprains, strains, sore or stiff muscles

Neroli Hydrosol

  • Antidepressant, euphoric
  • Stress relieving, insomnia, mild sedative
  • Toner for acne and oily skin due to mild astringent effect

Rose Hydrosol

  • Astringent, useful for acne, varicose veins, oily skin, normal-to-dry, mature, sensitive, and devitalized skin
  • Calming, soothing, nurturing
  • Strong affinity with the heart, useful for individuals who are grieving or are in need of emotional support, heartache
  • Female tonic: cramps, PMS symptoms, emotional upsets, hot flashes, menopause symptoms and related skin conditions

Witch Hazel Hydrosol

  • Astringent, useful for acne, varicose veins, oily skin, normal-to-dry, mature, sensitive, and devitalized skin
  • Strongest antioxidant hydrosol (Catty, 2001)
  • Cracked or blistered skin, eczema, psoriasis 
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Reduces itching, rashes, inflammation, and swelling of the skin

Yarrow Hydrosol

  • Anti-inflammatory: varicose veins, broken capillaries, acne
  • Can be used to clean wounds
  • Wonderful in a gel base with cypress essential oil and geranium essential oil for varicose veins

References:

[i] Harman, A. (2010). Healing Waters: A spotlight on anti-inflammatory hydrolats. International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, 7(2), 7-10.

[ii] Catty, S. (2001). Hydrosols: The next aromatherapy. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

[iii] Harris, R. (2006). Aromatic approaches to wound care. International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, 3(2b).