Rose otto oil, nature’s liquid gold

by Tim W. Shaw August 27, 2019

Rose Otto Oil, Nature’s Liquid Gold

The stunning pink Damask Rose (Rosa Damascena), grown in Bulgaria, is responsible for nearly 70% of the world’s annual supply of rose otto oil (Flip Flop People, 2015). It is hand-harvested in The Valley of Roses, overlooked by the Balkan Mountains.

The Valley of RosesHistorically, most of this supply went to the perfume industry, giving a key aroma to thousands of scents worldwide. However, in recent years the main uses of the oil have diversified. Now, more is used for skincare and aromatherapy and it also has a role in pharmaceutical and food industries.

Since it was first discovered to be beneficial to skin, it has grown in popularity. It is now well known as an effective ingredient in skincare products. It brings a powerful natural solution to nourish and tone the skin, improving skin tone and complexion.

The benefits of rose otto oil

Benefits of rose oil glowing skinRose otto is the naturally occurring essential oil present in the petals of the damask rose. It is packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as giving off an intensely sweet scent. When used in aromatherapy or applied directly to skin it can provide a host of positive effects for your mood, general wellbeing and skin (Naziroglu, 2013).

When exploring the uses of plant extracts on the skin, a 2011 study discovered that Rose Otto had emollient properties which could moisturize dry itchy skin (Casetti et al., 2011). At the same time, it is an anti-inflammatory and reduces redness and swelling (Nonato et al. 2012). 

If you suffer from more specific skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis it has antiseptic and antibacterial properties (Ulusoy et al., 2009). This supports it to heal, and smooth rough skin textures caused by skin disease. Once it has soothed and healed skin complaints it then tones and nourishes the skin giving it a youthful glow.

The international culture of the damask rose

Festival of RosesRoses have significance in cultures all over the world. Their beautiful blooms, intoxicating smells and the contrast of the sharp thorns, have led to numerous images, stories and legends.

The damask rose is particularly sweet-smelling and was used by ancient Persian civilisations for its physical and psychological healing properties (Nikbakht & Kafi, 2008). It continues to be an important cultural icon of the Middle East, Balkan and Northern African regions.

These areas draw tourists from all over the world to for their Festival of Roses. Hundreds of thousands of people descend on the Iranian region of Kashan, Kazanlak in Bulgaria, Dades Valley in Morocco and many others to celebrate the rose petal harvest and to make rosewater.

The history of the Bulgarian rose

Rose picking in Bulgaria historicalIn 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. This brought a huge development in rose otto production to the fertile valleys of Bulgaria (Rose Festival, 2019).

Mild winters and heavy rainfall during May and June are a reliable feature in the Valley of Roses because of its unique geography. It is surrounded by the steep slopes of the Balkan Mountains which creates conditions that are perfect for producing oil-rich blooms (Rose Festival, 2019).

As the fame of the fragrant rose spread the entrepreneurial spirit of the local farmers grew to match it. The oil and rose water were used in perfumes and flavourings and the superior Bulgarian products were traded throughout the region.

Picking Bulgarian RoseIn the early 20th century 89% of Bulgarian farmers grew the damask rose in addition to their regular crops (Rose Festival, 2019). Because the production of rose oil is intensive and costly it required ingenuity. To get the best from their harvests each village in the region developed their own techniques to prevent flower damage and produce the best harvests.

To produce 1kg of oil you need at least 3,000kg of rose petals (Flip Flop People, 2015). Because of the huge amount of picking require to produce small amounts of all the oil itself was expensive.

Despite its price, it was still in great demand. The rose oil industry resulted in important growth and developments for the local area and the Bulgarian economy. Visitors trading with rose farmers would also bring new ideas, trends and fashions resulting in the Valley of Roses becoming increasingly culturally diverse.

Pure rose oil

Pure Rose OilPure rose oil should be undiluted by other chemicals and toxins. It contains the best natural blend of active compounds of any essential oil. To preserve these blends the best oils are farmed organically with traditional methods. This includes the use of steam to extract the purest most concentrated oils.

When buying rose oil, it is important to select product ranges from brands that use organic and sustainable farming practices. These methods support the local community, preserve the unique geography of the area and create a safe product. Buying organic oils will prevent you from exposing your skin to toxins and pesticides used in non-organic farms.

Alteya Organics and Bulgarian rose oil

Alteya Organics are a family run Bulgarian Rose Oil company. They have made it their mission to harness the amazing benefits of rose otto into a beautiful range of organic oils and skincare products.

Alteya has a family history of harvesting the Bulgarian damask rose reaching back to 1900. More recently, in 1999, they used their knowledge of the rose and traditional organic methods, to found their revolutionary company.

The Alteya rose fields are in the heart of The Valley of Roses, and other ingredients for their organic range are grown on the slopes of the nearby Balkan Mountains. Because of their inherited knowledge, and the research of their science teams, they have created a unique synergy between centuries of traditional methods and modern scientific understanding. This means that their methods are cutting edge yet steeped in tradition and allow them to perfectly preserve the delicate natural substances that are present in each rose petal.
Alteya Organics and Bulgarian Rose Oil

How rose otto is made

Bulgarian Damask RosesThe Damask Roses are ready for harvest for only a few weeks a year. Employees of the Alteya family harvest each petal by hand. The roses are picked first thing in the morning before the sun is too bright. This gives each petal the optimum amount of oil and natural compounds.

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 the pure rose otto.

Bulgarian rose oil is so valuable because it takes 2000 petals to produce one drop, this makes it a time consuming but rewarding process (Nikbakht & Kafi, 2008). With such a finely crafted and valuable product you can understand why the rose otto is sometimes referred to as liquid gold.

alteya organics bio damascena roseAlteya then combines this therapeutic oil with other high-grade natural products to create their organics range. It is designed to boost your skin’s resistance to environmental factors and reduce ageing.

By careful matching raw materials, Alteya successfully enhances their natural synergy. Their range includes a wide number of products with varied benefits. For example, a light-weight anti-ageing sunscreen, nourishing moisturisers and restorative serums.


As our understanding of the natural world develops, so does our scientific capabilities. Unfortunately, our human obsession with progress constantly drives us forward and can stop us from pausing to appreciate the here and now.

Often the wonder of nature is cast aside in favour of our own synthesised achievements. We take fruit, add sugar, preservatives and artificial flavours. We find spots of natural beauty and add arcades and power stations.

Wonderfully, however, Alteya has successfully navigated the pitfalls of their achievements to create the best of nature and innovation. They have placed their unique skincare range at the place where scientific understanding meets nature’s own skincare secrets.

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1. Casetti, F. et al. (2011). Dermocosmetics for dry skin: a new role for botanical extracts. Retrieved from
2. Flip Flop People. (2015). Bulgarian Rose Oil. Retrieved from
3. Fukada, M. (May, 2012). Effect of "rose essential oil" inhalation on stress-induced skin-barrier disruption in rats and humans. Retrieved from
4. Kim, J. (August, 2010). Enhancement of keratinocyte differentiation by rose absolute oil. Retrieved from
5. Naziroglu, M. (January, 2013). Rose oil (from Rosa × damascena Mill.) vapor attenuates depression-induced oxidative toxicity in rat brain. Retrieved from
5. Nikbakht, A. and Kafi, M. (2008). A study on the relationships between Iranian people and Damask Rose (Rosa Damascena) and its therapeutic and healing properties. Retrieved from
6. Nonato, F. et al. (December, 2012). Anti-inflammatory properties of rose oxide. Retrieved from
7. Rose Festival. (2019). Bulgaria’s Rose Valley and Rosa Damascena – The Bulgarian Rose. Retrieved from
8. Ulusoy, S. et al. (November, 2009). Tocopherol, carotene, phenolic contents and antibacterial properties of rose essential oil, hydrosol and absolute. Retrieved from

Tim W. Shaw
Tim W. Shaw


Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, cannabis 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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