Ingredient Watch: Rosa Damascena

The World's Most Expensive Essential Oil

Ingredient Watch: Rosa Damascena

There are two essential oils I adore. Rose Oil and Lavender Oil. These two oils are very commonly used in the creation of cosmetics products and for good reason (more on that in a moment).

One of my life goals has been to visit Kazanlak, in Bulgaria, and Grasse, in France, to see the production of these oils. Kazanlak is renowned as the epicenter of rose oil production and Grasse is the same for lavender oil.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get to Kazanlak and take a private tour of the Enio Bonchev factory. Enio Bonchev Productions is a family-owned (third-generation managed) production facility in the heart of the rose oil manufacturing area of Bulgaria. They produce 60% of all the rose oil in the world and have been in business since 1909. Bulgarian rose oil is highly prized and regarded as the best in the world (as a matter of fact 80% of all rose oil is produced in Bulgaria). 

The Damask Rose is the most prized for its oil, and the benefits thereof, but it does not give up its oil easily. It takes some 3000kg of rose petals to produce a single kilo of rose oil. During a dry season (such as the one Bulgaria is experiencing this year) that number can reach as high as 5000kg for a single kilo of oil. And the process is very time consuming. This process has changed very little since 1909 because roses are so fragile. 

Roses are still picked by hand (there is no other way to gather the flowers without damaging them) and the best pickers can harvest about 120kg per day.  Harvesting can only be done from about 5am to 12pm as the roses start to concentrate their oil in the roots after the mid day sun rises. Everything is time sensitive once the rose is harvested. They must be processed within just a few hours or the precious oil evaporates. 

There are two types of rose oil that can be produced: Rose absolute – which is used exclusively for perfume making, and rose concrete — which is used for cosmetics and cooking supplies (yes you can even flavour your favourite foods with rose water — it’s yummy in rice, as a salad dressing, and even in stews).

Part of my tour was in the rose fields, which go for hundreds of kilometres through the Rose Valley, and you can imagine the fragrance in the warm air. Roses have been cultivated there since 1254. The region is known for its soil minerals and fresh water supply, which are both critical in the growing of roses and distilling of rose oil. Kazanlak is perfectly situated in a valley with all the critical natural resources, which have culminated in the world’s most prized rose oil.

Rose water this is the common name for rose concrete and it has a great many benefits to the skin:

Anti-bacterial — rose oil can stay good for literally hundreds of years and when applied to the skin, in rose concrete form, can kill acne causing bacteria on contact.

Anti-inflammatory — a great analgesic that will reduce irritation and redness in the skin.

Hydrating — a natural moisturizing factor, one of the few scented oils that can mimic the structure of human lipids thus hydrating the skin.

Exfoliating — rose concrete can remove dead surface skin and refine the texture of the skin, all without grains or acids.

Healing — a great option for small wounds and cuts on the skin rose concrete is antiseptic and works to speed the healing process of the skin.

Reduces pigmentation — rose concrete can actually fade pigmentation and scars on the skin.

All this said, be wary of products containing rose oil. Due to the fact that it is so expensive to produce, many unscrupulous manufacturers use a very small amounts of rose oil and mix it with irritating geranium oil to mimic the smell while negating all the benefits. Rose concrete should have a listed concentration of 0.02% - 0.05% to be effective on the skin and it can be as high as 0.12% for the best quality (also the most expensive). Personally I use a 0.08% concentration and find it works the best for me. 

If you can’t find a quality rose water, with the noted concentration of rose concrete on the ingredient list, you can buy pure rose absolute and dilute it for use. This is an expensive option as 5ml will run about $150 but all you need is one or two drops in your favourite jar of moisturizer and you can get all the benefits right away. 

Just make sure you are buying pure Bulgarian Rose Oil. 


O Magazine: 5 Skincare Ingredients That Reverse Aging

Did They Get It Right?

O Magazine: 5 Skincare Ingredients That Reverse Aging

The cover of this month’s O Magazine featured a huge headline about cosmetics ingredients that can actually reverse the signs of aging. This claim always makes me a little dubious, for a couple of reasons:

1.  Over-the-counter products cannot change the physiology of the skin, by definition of law and, of course, because they do not work on the living tissue.

2.  There is no over-the-counter topical product that can actually stimulate the biological processes of the skin that would actually reverse the aging process since the very process is part of our genetic coding. 


So what exactly could this article be referencing?

O Magazine did get some key information correct but do not be misled; none of these ingredients reverse the aging process. It would be more accurate to say these ingredients help create a more healthy looking skin, in a very cosmetic kind of way. Some will prevent the aging process from speeding up, but none can reverse the already done damage.

Here is the published list, from O Magazine, what they claimed these ingredients can do and, of course what they can actually do:

1. Retinoids. 

O Magazine says:

“Retinoids increase collagen production (plumping your skin), speed up cell turnover (smoothing your complexion) and unclog pores (reducing breakouts).”

What they can actually do: While prescription retinoic acid can actually stimulate collagen synthesis — which in turn makes the skin stronger and able to withstand more environmental aggression — OTC retinols do not. At best an OTC retinol will exfoliate the surface of the skin and provide hydration. Retinol, in all its cosmetics forms, can also aid in the delivery of other active ingredients but in an OTC concentration will not make a wrinkle disappear.  In an OTC product the concentration of retinol is not enough to convert to retinoic acid, which is the potent ingredient needed to stimulate collagen synthesis.


2. Alphahydroxy Acids.

O Magazine says:

“Discolouration is minimized, skin feels smoother, and pores can look smaller. Overall, skin is more luminous.”

What they actually do: Yes. Absolutely, these ingredients (made from fruit and sugar and milk) are one of the best ways to exfoliate the skin while protecting the delicate hydration level of the tissue. AHAs will indeed create a smoother texture, on the surface of the skin, while providing a luminous glow all over. The trick it to use a fairly low level on a regular basis, to avoid irritation, and of course to ensure a sunscreen is worn at all times. All of this does not mean they will actually remove a wrinkle but the skin will look very fresh and radiant.


3. Hyaluronic Acid.  

O Magazine says:

“It draws a tremendous amount of water to the skin—about 1,000 times its weight. Hyaluronic acid not only makes parched skin feel better but also temporarily plumps it.”

What it actually does: This one is 100% accurate. Hyaluronic acid is, arguably, one the best cosmetic ingredient being used today. This compound is skin compatible (the body actually produces it), incredibly effective at preventing water evaporation in the skin and is so gentle even the most sensitive skins can tolerate its activity. The results are very temporary, lasting only about 12 hours at a time, so it is not an age reversing ingredient at all but rather a temporary cosmetic quick fix.


4. Anti Oxidants.

 O Magazine says:

“Disable free radicals, the molecules generated by sun, pollution and other sources, which damage the DNA of healthy skin cells.”

What they actually do: Anti oxidants do indeed disable free radicals, which in turn prevents molecular damage to the skin. O Magazine says that Vitamin C is the best anti oxidant but the truth is there is no one best anti oxidant. All of them work effectively. However, you can avoid most of the damage done, by free radicals, by simply wearing a good sunscreen.


5. Sunscreen. 

O Magazine says:

“The UV filters in sunscreen absorb or scatter UV light before it can damage your skin; in effect, they stop aging.”

What they actually do: O Magazine gets this 100% correct.  By far the best skincare product you can use, to prevent the ageing process, is sunscreen. With less than 50% of sun exposure happening before the age of 40 sunscreens become more critical to the defense of skin as we grow older. Sunscreens do not reverse aging, however, rather they prevent premature aging due to UV damage.


Meet Daniel Thompson In Person

The Beauty Buster Live In A City Near You!

Meet Daniel Thompson In Person

Daniel Thompson Beauty is so happy to announce two new retail partners in Canada!

And if you are in one these two cities you can meet me at the grand openings happening this month.

Drop by to say hello or book a personal appointment to meet me, have your cosmetics questions answered and of course have me create a personalized make up look just for you.  These appointments are normally $250 but if you visit me during the grand opening events they are free of charge!

I love meeting all of the Beauty: BUSTED! readers when I travel and now there are two new locations to come and meet me.


May 11 - Fredericton, New Brunswick

Sorella Spa - 358 King Street,  506 450 8000


May 16 - Gatineau, Quebec

Studio E-Ki-Libre - 360 Maloney Boulevard O., 819 669 0005


and I will be making a return appearance in Ottawa at the end of the month.

May 30 - Ottawa, Ontario

Pygmalion Spa - 646 Sommerset Street W., 613 695 7709


I will be featuring my newest creations called Bejewelled Minerals at each of these events.