Rose otto oil, nature’s liquid gold

by Tom Russell July 19, 2021

Rose Otto Oil, Nature’s Liquid Gold

The stunning pink damask rose (Rosa Damascena) is most commonly grown in West Asia and Eastern Europe. Its petals are handpicked and distilled to produce an aromatic essential oil called ‘rose otto’. Bulgaria and Turkey are most well known for producing this fragrant liquid and are responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s supply.

Rose otto has been made for several centuries and was predominantly used by the perfume industry. However, in recent years its main uses have diversified. Now, it’s also used for skincare and aromatherapy.

Rose otto oil fast facts

The Valley of Roses
  • Rose otto is an essential oil distilled from the petals of the damask rose.
  • It’s used in skincare, aromatherapy, cosmetics and perfumes.
  • The damask rose comes from Western Asia but was imported to Europe in the 13th century.
  • Bulgaria and Turkey produce the most rose oil in the world.
  • To produce 1kg of oil, you need at least 3,000kg of rose petals.
  • Every year Bulgaria supplies between 1,200 and 1,500kg of rose otto to be used in perfume and cosmetics.
  • The EU has awarded Bulgarian rose oil protected geographical status.

The history of the damask rose

Rose picking in Bulgaria historical

The damask rose was used by ancient Persian civilisations for its physical and psychological healing properties. In ancient times the rose petals were single distilled, which produced very small amounts of oil. In the 17th century, the more efficient double distillation method was developed.

After this innovation, the fame of the fragrant rose spread, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the farmers grew to match it. Rose water and the oil became essential for perfumes and flavourings. It was so popular throughout Europe that in the early 20th century, 89% of Bulgarian farmers grew roses in addition to their regular crops.

Festival of Roses

Because the production of rose oil is intensive and costly, it required ingenuity to get the best from every harvest.  Each village in a rose producing region developed their own techniques to prevent flower damage and produce the best oil.

The industry continued to grow resulting in substantial development for local areas. Visitors trading with rose farmers would also bring new ideas, trends and fashions. Well known rose producing areas, like the Valley of Roses in Bulgaria, became increasingly culturally diverse as a result.

EU Protected status

Picking Bulgarian Rose

Bulgarian rose oil has now been awarded protected geographical indication status.

For a product to be labelled as this, it must meet quality standards, use specific harvesting areas and techniques.

It also needs to fall under the official EU description: “Bulgarian rose oil is the essential oil obtained by distillation of Rose Damascena flower petals”.

How rose otto is made

The damask roses are ready for harvest for only a few weeks a year. They’re handpicked first thing in the morning before the sun is too bright. This gives each petal the optimum amount of oil and natural compounds.

Alteya Organics bio damascena rose

The flowers are then placed in a specially designed still, which passes low-pressure steam through the petals to vaporise the oil. The vapour is collected and then separated to leave pure rose otto.

This rose oil is so valuable because it takes 2000 petals to produce one drop; this makes it a time consuming but rewarding process. With such a finely crafted and valuable product, you can understand why the rose otto is sometimes referred to as liquid gold.

Rose otto is prized by skincare companies such as Alteya Organics in Bulgaria who carefully choose other natural raw materials to create a natural synergy. As a result, they’re able to produce a wide number of products with varied benefits. For example, a lightweight, anti-ageing sunscreen, nourishing moisturisers and restorative eye serums.

Benefits of rose otto oil

Rose otto gives off an intensely sweet scent and is packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Like many other essential oils, it should not be swallowed or applied directly to your skin; however, it’s often used in aromatherapy and can be blended safely into skincare products.

Aromatherapy benefits

Aromatherapy benefits

Decreases pain – Scientists believe that inhaling rose otto may stimulate the release of endorphins in your brain. One study with post-operative children and another with women suffering from menstrual cramps linked it to significant decreases in pain.

Eases anxiety, stress and depression – Research into this incredible oil has discovered that it initiates the release of dopamine which is known to improve depression. It’s also been found to reduce many of the common symptoms of anxiety and stress, including blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Skincare benefits

When mixed with a carrier oil or used in a skincare product, it provides a host of positive effects for your skin:

Moisturises dry patches - When exploring the uses of plant extracts on the skin, a 2011 study discovered that Rose Otto had emollient properties. Emollients trap moisture and soften dry, rough areas of skin.

Reduces redness and swelling – Rose otto-based skincare products are often applied to swollen irritated patches to provide relief and reduce swelling. Several studies have proven that it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Has antiseptic and antibacterial properties – Rose otto can effectively destroy bacteria that cause common skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis and cellulitis. Scientists report that it can prevent infection from e-coli, staphylococcus, streptococcus and candida albicans.

It’s an antioxidant – Skin products containing rose oil have demonstrated characteristics of a potent antioxidant. It’s often used in products that are designed to protect skin from the ageing effects of sun damage.

Helps to heal rough, damaged areas – It’s packed with nutrients that support the skin’s own healing and rejuvenating mechanisms. Consequently, some people use it to smooth out rough patches of damaged skin or even to reduce the appearance of scars.

Alteya Organics and Bulgarian Rose collection

Are there any side effects of Rose Otto?

Bulgarian Damask Roses

Rose essential oil should not be swallowed because it could cause nausea, vomiting or, in extreme circumstances, coma. It should also never be applied directly to your skin; this may cause irritation and burning. Only use it on your body if it’s been diluted and mixed into other safe products, such as Alteya Organics Face Creams or eye serums.

Rose oil allergies aren’t common, but they can happen. To be safe, place a small amount of your chosen product on your skin and observe it for 24 hours.

However, when used safely, following these guidelines, no studies have reported any side effects.


The long history of rose otto oil has allowed farmers and manufacturers to develop techniques to get the best out of every petal. Now, companies such as Alteya Organics are able to put a modern scientific twist on these practices and create something that’s both traditional and revolutionary. Rose oil skincare delivers the stunningly sweet fragrance of rosa damascena and many benefits for you skin health and appearance.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell


Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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