The unexpected power of roses in beauty

Driven by a renewed interest in the flower’s power, a rose renaissance is dawning.

This is joy in its purest form: silky cool and velvety to touch, the billowing Jurlique Rose sits feather light across my cupped palms, a sumptuous burst of pale pink petals that beckons, not just with its beauty, but with its almighty sweet scent. It feels almost incomprehensible that nature can magic such an exquisite thing into existence and perhaps, in part, that is how roses have become such blooming legends.

The rose, queen of flowers, is the quintessential symbol of love, beauty and youth and the world has acclaimed it so for Millenia: Greek legend has it that white roses sprang from the ground wherever Aphrodite (the goddess of love) trod the earth and Cleopatra was rumoured to have seduced Mark Antony with the heady scent of rose.

“I have always been drawn to roses, not only for their beauty and exquisite scent but also for their lesser known powerful beauty benefits,” says Terry de Gunzburg, creator of By Terry. She adds rose in some form or another (rose stem cells being one of the more unique) to everything from her skincare products to her buttery makeup formulations. 


“When I started By Terry, I wanted to share my passion for roses and asked the laboratory to investigate further to understand how their powers could be harnessed. Through this research we discovered that every part of this delicate flower, from the petal to the heart to the stem, holds different benefits to the skin, from hydrating and soothing agents to anti-ageing properties.” One of Terry’s biggest sellers, the Baume de Rose lip balm was what she calls a ‘happy accident’ – the lab miscalculated the amount of rose blossom essential wax and added double, fortuitously making it the cult product it is today.

From Jurlique and Santa Maria Novella to Weleda and Dr. Hauschka, the rose is revered in many skincare formulations for its medicinal properties. 

“It’s nature’s role model for radiant skin,” says Melanie Anderson, Dr. Hauschka Australia Esthetician Training Manager. “There are more than 400 individual components in Damask rose essential oil, which has harmonising and soothing properties.”

 No less than 35 organic and biodynamic roses are in every tube of the brand’s legendary Rose Day Cream, which sells every 30 seconds somewhere in the world.


The petal’s popularity as a medicinal product harks back to the bubonic plague in Italy. When the ingenious friars at the Santa Maria Novella monastery noticed that the roses in their garden near Florence were resistant to certain pests, they concluded that distilling the petals would create a disinfectant that could prevent humans from succumbing to the Black Death. It didn’t work of course but by 1380 they had created a rosewater tonic that is still one of the company’s best-sellers today because of its skin toning properties. 

Rose water is actually a by-product of the distillation process used to make rose essential oil – the most potent (and costly) of all the rose extracts.

“Rose extract has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes the skin and helps to reduce redness,” says Dr Tarj Mavi, who uses Rosa Damascena in her refreshing organic La Mav Rose Hydrating Mist. 

“It has been shown to inhibit the enzymes that break down collagen, making it an excellent ingredient for age defence.”

roses beauty

Rose petal extract is not to be confused with rosehip – the edible part of the plant that contains the seeds – which is also excellent for skin. The ‘fruit’ is pressed and the extract is prized for its high vitamin C content which can inhibit melanin production (responsible for pesky brown sun spots on your skin). 

“Rose hip extract is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6,” says Dr Mavi. “The high vitamin C content supports immune function, skin health, and collagen production. It also has potent antioxidant properties, which help in combating oxidative stress and inflammation.”

Anyone’s skin can benefit from the beauty of roses, even the most delicate. “My mother and grandmother swore by rose water for a fresh, healthy complexion,” says Terry. “As a baby, my mother would pour my grandmother’s homemade rose water into my bath. I think that’s where my love for the scent of roses stems from!”

That signature scent ensures this flower continues to be a central feature in some of the greatest fragrances of the world, from Miss Dior to Chanel No. 5. More recently Vyrao Georgette, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris L’ea A La Rose, Diptyque Eau de Rose and Jo Malone Rose Blush are all centred around the rose but each is wildly different.

 A roses’ scent goes beyond the merely aesthetic – celebrity facialists such as Ingrid Seaburn prize rose for its relaxing qualities. 

“Studies show that the scent, combined with the properties of the extract itself, mostly likely contribute to both emotional and skin stress reduction,” says Ingrid, a big fan of Mx Skincare Cosmeceutical Facial Oil, which contains rose extract.

When your stress levels dial down, that allows your skin cells to do their essential work – produce helpful enzymes and proteins that keep it fit and healthy. It does however, require an enormous number of flower petals to harness its active properties. 

This season, over 600 kilograms of the Jurlique Rose petals have been carefully hand harvested and laid onto the drying racks in preparation for extracting the plant’s potent properties. Developed by renowned South Australian rose breeder George Thomson, this particular varieties’ impressive resilience, beauty and scent is found nowhere else in the world.

George sadly passed away last October but his passion for roses – and taking the time to appreciate their beauty – lives on. A stroll through the stunning floral avenues on the Jurlique Farm leads to a quiet bench, beckoning visitors to pause and soak up the stunning surrounds. Look closely and you will see this heartfelt inscription: George Thomson, forever in bloom.

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