This article first appeared in our Consumer Revolution issue of My Green Pod Magazine, released on 19 Dec 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
The Bulgarian rose (Rosa damascena) is known as the queen of the roses and one of the world’s most incredible flowers; it opens the heart and invokes love and inspiration, but is most famous for its healing and beautifying properties. Cleopatra and Michelangelo knew well of its secrets and used rose water daily.
A recent revival has seen countless new rose-infused skincare products hit the shelves, but many are ‘rose-based’ and enhanced with artificial essences and aromas. Traceable ingredients and organic certification are crucial if you want to get the full scope of benefits from this amazing flower.
Likewise the distillation process is key to retaining the rose’s purity and, consequently, its therapeutic clout; while rose absolute is distilled using a chemical process, rose otto is extracted using steam, making it a ‘true essential oil’. Known as liquid gold, organic Bulgarian rose otto is the rarest and most precious essential oil in the world.
Rosa damascena thrives in the microclimate of Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses; the area is sheltered by two mountain ranges and the favourable soil conditions produce an abundance of extremely potent roses.
Given the demand for rose otto and rose water, growing these beautiful flowers was a natural career path for Daniel Kolev’s great-grandparents, who were born in the area. Over a century later the family business continues, and the knowledge handed down over the generations continues to inform the way the company is run.
‘Purity has been a family value for as long as I can remember’, Daniel tells us. ‘Today there is more reason than ever to uphold it; the land and Earth have provided for us for generations and we have enormous respect for Her. Organic and Earth-friendly agriculture has always been our only option.’
Towards the end of the last century the company – now Alteya Organics – began to develop its own skincare based on traditional beauty recipes, and today it’s the only fully internationally certified organic skincare manufacturer in the region.
As a fully integrated business it does everything (literally) from the ground up – from planting and harvesting the roses to distilling the raw ingredients and manufacturing the finished products.
‘Obtaining a rose water, or a rose otto, which keeps its full scope of therapeutic quality is an art in itself and that is not an exaggeration’, Daniel tells us. ‘Everything matters in this process – the way of growing, the time of harvesting the rose petals and the specifics of the distillation process.’
Producing rose otto is extremely labour-intensive; each milligram requires 50,000 individual petals – roughly 1,500 flowers – of the bounty harvested annually between May and June.
During this period the roses are flowering abundantly; they are picked by hand, on a daily basis, in the dewy morning as the sun starts to ascend.
If the rose petals are not picked on time, they tend to fade with the heat of the day and their potency gradually diminishes. ‘There is no danger of over-harvesting’, Daniel explains; ‘the real challenge is to harvest all the available petals on time every day during the harvesting campaign.’
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Rosa damascena is a holy ancient plant with modern pharmacological benefits that are still not entirely appreciated. However its antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties are just some of the benefits that have been confirmed in scientific research.
Alteya is perhaps the best-placed company to understand the complex and multi-faceted bounty of the rose; today it blends 400-year-old traditions and ancient recipes with research that sits at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery.
The result is a range of effective skincare that masterfully blends the natural benefits of the purest and most potent roses with ingredients that further enhance their performance, effect and functionality for modern lifestyles.
The company’s proprietary distillation process captures the most complete range of aromatic plants’ benefits – producing a rich composition of essential oil microelements and a full concentration of hydrophilic components.
Every ingredient used undergoes rigorous testing and all products are certified organic and free from any harmful ingredients. ‘Creating organic products that are on a par with conventional ones in terms of efficacy is a challenge that we have relished’, Daniel tells us, ‘and I’m glad to say we have been successful.’
Alteya creates three facial skincare lines that are dedicated to different skin types and age groups, alongside a range of five different floral waters – the undisputed highlight of which is the Organic Rose Water. ‘Our Rose Water boasts the most full and complete traceability in the world’, Daniel tells us. ‘It’s crafted in our own distillery from our own organic rose gardens, which use our own source of underground spring water.’
This rose water is so beautiful, pure and powerful that it’s hard to resist drinking it. Our three-year-old wears it as a perfume on special occasions and a spritz on the pillow can help relieve tension and soothe you into a calm sleep.
The more conventional application is as a facial mist after cleansing; it supports skin rejuvenation and renewal, helps to maintain the skin’s pH balance, softens, tones and hydrates.
You can even use Alteya Organics Rose Water as a hair spray or a flavour enhancer to ease digestive issues; a spray in your culinary creations, juice or tea delivers an instant hit of that Cleopatra or Michelangelo feeling, plus countless other benefits.
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