Love, war, politics, medicine, and perfume. The rose has played a role in all these things and more throughout history and it’s one of our favorite floral scents. In perfumery, the rose shines as a classic note that lends romance, sensuality, and richness to any fragrance.
In today’s post, let’s dive into what makes the rose so special - and see why we love using it in our fragrances!
By Any Other Name
For all of our science fans out there, roses are of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae and grow in a woody perennial bush. Fossils suggest that the rose is 35 million years old and today, we know of more than 150 species of rose that grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from the United States to Africa. That’s a lot of bushes and bouquets!
The University of Illinois notes that garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago and since then, they’ve become one of the most popular floral varieties.
Roses have also inspired artists, storytellers, and royalty for thousands of years. In Ancient Greece, mythology notes that the rose originated from the tears of Aphrodite as she wept over her lover Adonis. In the 1400’s, English royals feuded in the War of the Roses, with the York and Lancaster families choosing white and red roses to represent their houses. Napoleon's wife Josephine was a great lover of roses and renewed the interest in rose cultivation when she established her rose garden at Malmaison. And in our own state of Pennsylvania, William Penn was known to be an appreciator of roses and brought several varieties with him when he settled in the New World.
But it was the Romans who may have made the rose a beloved fragrance that has stood the test of time.
The Rise of the Rose
During the time of the Roman Empire, roses were an integral part of Roman culture. Romans used rose petals for confetti at celebrations, as currency, and even sprinkled them into wine as a way to prevent drunkenness. They also crafted perfumes using rose essential oils and women used roses as a natural wrinkle-fighting remedy. In centuries since, rose oil has become a staple in perfumery and skin care.
To extract the intoxicating and rich scent, roses are steamed to release and extract its essential oils. By using steam, the delicate oil is preserved for potency. But it’s a demanding process: it takes more than 22 pounds of roses to get just 5 milliliters of rose essential oil, making rose one of the most valuable fragrance components available. Even so, rose appears in countless fragrances, skin care products, and cosmetics as its aroma is simply like nothing else!
In addition to its staple status as a fragrance, roses have long been used for medicinal purposes. Medieval apothecaries used roses in powders, teas, jellies, and oils to address a variety of illnesses. Rose essential oil is known to have antiseptic, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, and its scent has been shown in research to reduce depression and anxiety.
Our Perfect Picks for Rose Lovers
At NOTE, we use rose in our fragrances, candles, and soaps to achieve that rich and heady scent you love (and so many have loved for thousands of years!).
Here are some of our favorite products spotlighting this iconic ingredient:
- Channel your inner Roman empress with our Rosewater Mandarin Shea Butter Soap, which offers a lovely rose fragrance in combination with mandarin, juniper, and ylang-ylang.
- Set your senses aflame with our Tea Rose Soy Candle. Using a variety of rose scents, this small batch candle is the perfect pick for creating a romantic or cozy ambiance.
- Catch of hint of rose in the notes of our Citron Pomelo and Honey Blossom eau de parfums. Citron Pomelo is lively and energetic while Honey Blossom calms and comforts.