By Betsy Aaron
My love of roses is relatively recent. In third grade, I had a powdered and pillowy teacher whose upper arms flapped and swung in her short-sleeved, floral dresses as she wrote with yellow chalk on a green blackboard in curly cursive, “The Crops of Long Island.” Mrs. Miller. She had us collect coins, march in parades and recite the requisites of her syllabus by rote. Mrs. Miller larded herself from top to toe with a faux-scented unguent that she must have purchased by the tub and it is this cloying scent which I’d always dismissed as yuck, rose. My olfactory Aha! moment came when I inhaled a garden of roses at dusk in India. Next, I discovered real rosewater. And now I’ve become a devotee of this botanical as a remedy for dry, sensitive skin.
Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream Light, in the parlance of marketing, is a new classic, i.e. a somewhat luxe but nowhere near over-the-top staple for anyone who is, like myself, a delicate flower. As promised, it soothes and protects, it’s non-oily and the natural scent is subtly, sublimely, uplifting. Use this product every day, it’s simple–you will be happy. (Note: I am not grading, as Mrs. Miller would, but products which are not French and are labeled “cream” rather than “crème” get extra points in my book. Also, this product is described as being “like a poem of fragrant roses,” which I wish I had written and a claim with which I concur.)
After my year of experimenting with beauty products, I now know that the proper daily ritual is: cleanse, toner before serum, toner left on, serum before moisture. The most transcendently scented toner I’ve tried is Sweet Red Rose Tonique from Éminence Organic Skin Care. I constantly revise my wish list to keep it simple (rx sunglasses, a trip to Morocco, world peace,) but now I must add that I wish for a lifetime supply of this elixir that is composed of red rose petals, lemon juice, rose oil and spring water. At the very least, I must have it to prevent withering in mid-flight. I followed with Couperose-C, an antioxidant serum that has the scent of science. It contains rosehip extract and sets your face up for the soothing and lusciously scented Sweet Red Rose Whip Moisturizer. Start your rosy regimen with the lightly scented, richly textured Sweet Red Rose Cleanser, a product also imbued with the power to addict.
If you’d prefer to start the day in a lather – something I haven’t done since the Ivory soap days of Mrs. Miller, use Duchess Marden’s Damascena Foaming Cleanser. It’s an outstandingly elegant froth that profoundly, yet gently, cleanses and hydrates with two kinds of rose oil. It leaves your face feeling thoroughly refreshed and soft as, well, a petal.
The most scientific of serums is Resurface Stem Cell Reconstructing Serum, new from Dermelect Cosmeceuticals. Imagine the resilience of the Swiss Alpine Rose in winter, deduce how its stem cells can benefit your beauty –or read all about it –then apply in a gentle, circular motion 2x daily. It is freshly scented, power-packed with cutting-edge technology, obviously restorative and seriously effective in protecting your face from harm.
Available: Henri Bendel and http://www.dermelect.com
Nora Ephron lists nightly makeup removal as one of the things she won’t miss when she’s no longer around. I say, embrace this ritual with something delightful: Chantecaille’s Rose Eye Makeup Remover. The scent is high rose – pure, petaly, elevating. The feel is cool and refreshing. No rubbing required, there’s no sting, you are simply left de-mascara-ed and utterly soothed. (Extra points for simple elegance)
Available: Barneys New York and Space NK
For sensitive faces, exfoliating can be thorny. Zensation’s Ultra Silky Rose Exfoliating Cream is a softly grained, botanically infused balm that deeply cleanses, leaves your face velvety, aglow and fine-pored. Rather than making your face red as a rose, this emollient cream makes your skin radiant.
Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream from The Organic Pharmacy moisturizes you for the day you face but more than that, it greets you with the deep, Proustian scent of rose that is in itself, a daily treat. The texture is rich but non-greasy and absorbs well. The double rose ingredients, purifying rose and nourishing rose hip, are definitely doubly rejuvenating. (Extra points for lack of pretension)
For the seriously sensitive and/or stressed, it’s Rose 012 Ultra-Moisture Serum from Ren to the rescue. The serum feels like a thick cousin of an essential oil. It boosts hydration, calms irritation and intoxicates with rose damascena oils from Bulgaria and Morocco. This is my pick for preventing that jet-lagged look.
Available: Sephora and http://www.renskincare.com
Revitalizing Face Oil from Aromatherapy Associates got me through the long, dehydrating nights of winter and I see no reason to stop now that it’s spring. Some beauty experts advocate against wearing moisturizer at night and this oil makes a fine last step in lieu of a heavy night cream after toner and serum at the end of the day. It is easily absorbed, exotic in scent, soothing before sleep and nourishes your face naturally. (Extra points for elevating the every day)
Any of these products make nice Mother’s Day gifts. I don’t know if Mrs. Miller is still on the planet or if she had kids but if she is and she did, I hope that this year, they deliver.