Currently, there are no studies proving that rose water is an effective treatment for acne. However, it does have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may benefit some people with this condition.

Rose water is a gentle product with many cosmetic uses. If a person wants to try it for acne, it is unlikely to cause any harm. However, other proven treatments may lead to better results.

This article looks at the evidence for using rose water for acne, along with its properties and how to use it in skin care.

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Rose water is a hydrosol that manufacturers make by distilling water that contains rose petals. It is often a byproduct of the process of making rose essential oil, so it contains a small amount of the same compounds.

According to an article in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, the main type of rose used to create rose water (Rosa damascena) contains:

  • phenylethyl alcohol
  • geraniol
  • citronellol
  • nerol

According to one 2011 article, these chemicals give rose water, and other rose products, their scent and pharmacological properties.

However, it is worth noting that rose water’s potency depends on how much essential oil it contains, which can vary widely.

For example, some sources suggest that it can contain as little as 0.02–0.09%, whereas the 2011 article above suggests that it can contain up to 10–50% rose essential oil, depending on the species of rose, the extraction method, and the manufacturer.

There are no studies that look specifically at rose water’s impact on acne. However, there is evidence to suggest that rose water has the following properties:

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • astringent

Antioxidants are substances that combat damage from free radicals, which are unstable atoms that damage cells in the body.

As an article in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology notes, inflammation and free radical damage may play a role in the development of acne.

The following sections will look at what existing research says about rose water’s properties.


A 2018 laboratory study of rose water found that it contains several types of polyphenol, which is a type of antioxidant. The researchers identified the following in their samples:

  • tannins
  • terpenoids
  • flavanoids
  • saponins

These polyphenols may prevent oxidative damage. A 2021 review notes that other studies have found that rose water has an anti-free radical effect — even more so than other popular skin care ingredients, such as vitamin E and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

However, this benefit seemed to depend on the dose, meaning that weaker rose waters may not be as effective.


An older 2011 laboratory study of fibroblasts, which are the cells responsible for producing collagen, found that rose tincture was protective against damage caused by hydrogen peroxide.

The researchers suggest that this is the result of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as the tincture reduced anti-inflammatory markers and prevented some of the damage.

This may mean that rose water has the potential to reduce inflammation and skin damage caused by other things, though more research is necessary to confirm the findings of the above study.


The same 2011 study also found that rose tincture inhibited the production of collagenase and elastase, which are the enzymes that break down collagen and other proteins.

Collagen is a key part of the skin’s structure. As people age, the amount of collagen in the skin decreases, meaning that the skin loses firmness. Inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen may improve the skin’s appearance.


There is mixed evidence on rose water’s ability to kill or inhibit microbes.

In a 2014 laboratory study, researchers tested different rose extracts against various species of bacteria and fungi. They found that water-derived extracts were effective in inhibiting the growth of:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Staphyloccocus aureus
  • Salmonella enteritidis

However, a small study in the journal GMS Hygiene and Infection Control found that rose water had no antibacterial activity when applied to the hands after contact with bacteria.

This may be due to the rose water in this study having lower amounts of active compounds. Alternatively, it may indicate that rose water is not as effective as an antimicrobial outside of a laboratory setting.


Rose water contains phenyl ethyl alcohol and tannins, which are astringents. Astringents are substances that shrink tissues such as the skin, producing a tightening effect.

People use astringents to reduce excess oiliness, which can contribute to the development of acne. Compared with stronger astringents, such as witch hazel, rose water may be less likely to cause dryness.


Some researchers have argued that the antioxidants in rose products may protect the skin from the damage caused by UV light. However, no human trials have proven this.

A 2018 study suggests that the flavonoids and saponins in rose water may block the formation of free radicals when the skin has exposure to UV radiation.

If true, this could mean that rose water may be helpful for people whose acne gets worse when they go out in the sun.

It is important to note that this does not mean that rose water can offer SPF protection. High quality studies in humans would be necessary to validate this theory.

People can use rose water in skin care in a variety of ways. For example, they can apply it:

  • to a cotton ball or reusable pad to gently remove eye makeup
  • to the face after cleansing as a mild astringent
  • to the face throughout the day as a refreshing face mist

If someone is using rose water for acne, it may be best to use it as a gentle astringent after cleansing. People can incorporate it into a routine that helps with acne by following these steps:

  1. Wash the face using a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser.
  2. Pat the face dry with a soft, clean cloth.
  3. Apply some rose water to a cotton pad and gently wipe it around the face, paying attention to areas affected by oiliness or pimples.
  4. Alternatively, close the eyes and spray some rose water on the skin.
  5. Allow the rose water to dry completely.
  6. Apply a lightweight, noncomedogenic moisturizer.
  7. If going outside, apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or above.

People can repeat these steps in the morning and evening.

If acne is a persistent concern, a person may wish to include other acne treatments in their routine. There are many effective over-the-counter and prescription products that may help.

For example, for milder cases, people can try products containing:

For whitehead and blackhead breakouts, people may need a combination of retinoids and acids or a combination of benzoyl peroxide and an antibiotic.

More severe acne may benefit from retinoid medications, hormonal medications to address imbalances, or cosmetic procedures. Some evidence also suggests that making certain dietary changes may help with acne.

Learn more about the relationship between diet and acne here.

People can typically manage mild acne and pimples at home. However, anyone who feels self-conscious, anxious, or depressed about their acne can speak with a doctor about getting treatment.

It is particularly important to do this for severe acne, as this type can leave scars.

Additionally, some other conditions can look like acne. Contacting a dermatologist can help a person get a diagnosis and receive expert advice.

There is no research proving that there are any benefits to using rose water for acne. However, rose water does contain antioxidants, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.

This, along with rose water’s mild astringent properties, may make it a useful addition to someone’s skin care routine. However, rose water varies in potency, with some products containing more rose essential oil than others.

Other, more reliable treatments may provide better results for people with persistent or severe acne.