What is a hydrosol? Probably one of the most underused and misunderstood component of aromatherapy. Hydrosols are known by many names--hydrolates, hydrolats, floral waters, or plant waters. Susan Catty gives us this definition "Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam- or hydro-distillation of plant material for aroma-therapeutic purposes."
A hydrosol will have unique therapeutic benefits and properties all its own. Not the same as if you just took a drop or two of the same essential oil and placed it in water. You will also find that the hydrosol may have an entirely different odor.
It is imperative that you get your hydrosol from a reputable retailer. There seems to be much room for fakes in this industry. So do a little homework. All will be worth it though as hydrosols are wonderful to work with.
There are some hydrosols that you use strictly for their benefits on the skin or in healing. There are some though that you just love to sniff, the benefits are just a nice little plus.
Probably the most well known hydrosol, one you most likely didn't know was a hydrosol, is good old witch hazel. Though the witch hazel you have seen in the drug store is preserved with alcohol, and alcohol is very drying to the skin. Try to find the real thing-witch hazel hydrosol. What you will get is one of the strongest anti oxidant hydrosols. It is considered anti aging, and will reduce redness, irritation, and itching of the skin. It has been used with very good success on insect bites, eczema, and psoriasis.
If you want one of the most wonderfully scented hydrosols try Neroli Hydrosol. This is heaven. I use this as a toner after cleansing with nothing else added to it. It is known to be good for delicate, oily, or sensitive skin types. In aromatherapy terms, think calm. Neroli is the anti stress hydrosol. It is great for children also.
Sandalwood hydrosol is difficult to find, but worth the search. It has the soft woody odor of true sandalwood. This one is super as a men's toner or after shave. It is calming to the skin and the mind also. It is just slightly astringent and drying. It seems to work well for mature skin as the essential oil does as well.
Immortelle, aka Helichrysum, is what you reach for in the treatment of bruises. It is also good for healing to prevent scar tissue. It is anti inflammatory and is wonderful for healing of surgical incisions.
Here are some simple body mists from the book by Susan Catty "Hydrosols-The Next Aromatherapy"
50% Rose Hydrosol
25% Coriander Seed Hydrosol
25% Lavender Hydrosol
50% Juniper Berry Hydrosol
25 % Wild Canadian Ginger Hydrosol
25% Basil Hydrosol
50% Eucalyptus Globulus Hydrosol
25% Orange Mint Hydrosol
25% Balsam Fir Hydrosol
50% Neroli Hydrosol
25% Rose Hydrosol
I put these in glass misters and store them in the refrigerator. It extends shelf life, and makes them more refreshing and bracing.
This is barely a start. Hydrosols are safe and exciting. Where essential oils can't be used in Jacuzzis and whirlpools, hydrosols can be used without worry of damaging working parts.
There is also a question of price. Some essential oils are extremely cost prohibitive. Neroli is a perfect example. You can still get to experience its scent when purchasing the hydrosol. They are affordable to most.
Start with one or two, see what you think. I think they are a wonderful addition in aromatherapy.