A hydrosol is a by-product of the steam distillation of plants to obtain essential oil. The “by-product” of distillation is a water mixed with the water-soluble (volatile) components of the respective plant. Therefore, hydrosols are also called plant or flower water. However, some hydrosols are produced specifically even if no essential oil can be obtained from the plant part used. An example of this would be elderflower hydrosol. In order to distinguish these waters better from hydrosols, such flower waters are called distillates.

How is a hydrosol produced?

During steam distillation, the condensed water can absorb a certain amount of hydrophilic (water-loving i.e. a substance is also water-soluble and water-attractive) essential oils. As soon as saturation is reached, the excess essential oil settles on the surface and can be skimmed off. The remaining water is called hydrosol. 

What is the difference between hydrosols and essential oils

Hydrosols and essential oils differ considerably. Essential oils contain the hydrophobic (not water soluble) molecules. Hydrosols have a higher content of carboxylic acids and therefore have a slightly acidic character. The ph-value is normally between 3.0 and 5.0. Hydrosols are highly diluted aqueous solutions and can be used for external and internal applications without any problems. 

How do Hydrosols work?

As already described above, hydrosols can be used without any problems due to their high dilution. For internal use, it is assumed that the self-healing powers are activated, but there is no scientific evidence for this. Experience-based medicine reports a large and impressive spectrum of effects. 

A hydrosols largely reflects the character of the parent plant and can lean on the effect of the essential oil. However, due to the water-soluble substances it contains, the hydrosol has different modes of action and special features. Here is an overview of hydrosols and their effects on the skin: 

Birch hydrosol: wound healing, antiseptic, promotes hair growth, antirheumatic, soothing
Cistus hydrosol: clarifying, anti-inflammatory, haemostatic, refining
Witch hazel hydrosol: antiseptic, clarifying, cleansing, refining, invigorating
Immortelle hydrosol: calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory
Chamomile hydrosol: regenerating, calming, anti-inflammatory
Lavender hydrosol: tonifying and strengthening
Melissa hydrosol: calming, anti-inflammatory
Myrtle hydrosol: calming, refining, anti-inflammatory
Neroli hydrosol: skin-caring, -strengthening, -soothing

Peppermint hydrosol: skin strengthening, cooling, anti-inflammatory, antipruritic
Rose hydrosol: wound healing, anti-inflammatory
Rosemary hydrosol: hair growth promoting, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, refining, regulating, slightly disinfecting, wound healing
Sage hydrosol: antibacterial, promotes blood circulation, regulating, anti-inflammatory, refining, antiviral
Tee tree hydrosol: clarifying, cleansing, anti-inflammatory
Thyme hydrosol: antibacterial, antiviral, refining, regulating, anti-inflammatory
Juniper hydrosol: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

Hydrosols can be used externally 100% as a face tonic. In addition, hydrosols can be used for the water phase and conventional water can be substituted with one or more hydrosols. 

Some hydrosols are preserved with alcohol in advance which should be considered when manufacturing cosmetics. By adding a hydrosol with alcohol a certain preservation of the final product can be assumed. However, alcohol may make emulsions unstable depending on the emulsifier used. 

What do you have to consider when buying hydrosols?

Unfortunately there is no legal definition of when a product may be defined as hydrosol. Often you can find synthetic fragrances that are defined as hydrosols. However, there are a few criteria to be considered when buying a product: 

  • The botanical name of the plant is listed
  • It is indicated which plant material is used
  • Country of origin and type of collection (wild collection, culture, organic, conventional, etc.) is indicated
  • Method of production (e.g. steam distillation)
  • Indication of possible additives such as alcohol and salt for preservation
  • Batch number and/or date of filling or best-before

What is the best way to store hydrosols?

With a few exceptions, hydrolates usually have a shelf life of several months to one year. However, the prerequisite is that the hydrolate is kept in a dark bottle and stored in a cool place (8-13 °C). You can also store the hydrolate in the refrigerator. 

Overview of hydrosols & their effects



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Betula lenta
  • Plant part: buds, young leaves, branches, bark, wood
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: dandruff, hair loss, general hair care.

The white birch is a deciduous deciduous tree species and is native to Europe, North Africa and the Near East. In its wild form it can be found on fallow land, heaths and in light forests. The birch only blooms in spring. The leaves rot quickly in autumn and can therefore be easily composted into leaf soil.

Cosmetic use of birch water
Birch water is good for fighting dandruff and hair loss. In general it can be used for hair care as it nourishes and strengthens the scalp and hair and gives the hair fullness and shine. Especially for mature and sensitive skin birch water is well suited as a tonic. It has a moisturizing and skin protecting effect. It also has a slightly brightening and colleague-forming effect and is therefore also suitable for pale skin. Birch water has a pleasant, slightly sweetish scent.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Matricaria recutita | Anthemis nobilis
  • Plant part: Flowering herb
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: impure skin, acne.

The real as well as the Roman chamomile belong to the composite family and are native to Germany. The flowers of chamomile are similar to those of daisies. Camomile is an annual herb that grows to a height of up to 60 cm. Of the various types of camomile, true camomile and Roman camomile have the strongest healing properties.

Cosmetic use of camomile water
The camomile hydrosol is suitable for a variety of skin problems due to its healing supporting effect. It refreshes and cools inflamed skin and due to its low pH value, cleansing with chamomile water is recommended for acne skin.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Cistus incanus
  • Plant: resinous sticky branches, flowers, leaves
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: mature, impure and combination skin.

The cistus is a heat-loving dwarf shrub and is mainly native to the Mediterranean region. It belongs to a plant species of the cistus family. 

Cosmetic use of Cistrose water
Cistrose hydrosol has astringent, skin caring, antibacterial and fungicidal properties. It also has a regenerating and firming effect. Due to these properties it is well suited for the skin care of mature, sensitive and combination skin. Due to its disinfecting properties cistrose hydrosol can also be used in deodorants.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Helichrysum italicum
  • Plant part: Flowering herb
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Mature skin, wounds, haematomas.

Immortelle, curry herb or also Italian strawflower belongs to the family of composite flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region and blooms between May and August. It owes its name to its bright yellow flowers, which retain their color even when dried, which is why it is also called the immortal flower.

Cosmetic use of immortelle water
First and foremost, immortelle water is a first-aid water for bruises, strains and sore muscles, as it has a decongestant and soothing effect. It also regenerates, soothes and cares for demanding and mature skin. 



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Juniperus communis
  • Pflanzenteil: Wacholderbeeren
  • Plant part: blühende Rispen, Blütenstände
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: impure, pale and oily skin.

The evergreen juniper is found all over Europe. Junipers are coniferous trees and shrubs of the Juniperus genus of the cypress family. Depending on the taxonomic point of view, between 50 and 67 juniper species are widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from the Arctic, the South to tropical Africa, from Ziarat, Pakistan, to eastern Tibet in the Old World and in the mountains of Central America. The highest known juniper forest occurs at an altitude of 4,900 m in southeastern Tibet and the northern Himalayas, forming one of the highest tree lines on earth.

Cosmetic use of juniper water
Due to its anti-inflammatory and disinfecting effect, juniper water helps to heal and prevent pimples and blackheads. Used as a hair tonic it fights dandruff.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Lavandula latifolia, angustifolia
  • Plant part: Flowering panicles, inflorescences
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Normal, impure, mature, dry and combination skin. 

Lavender fine is the classic lavender. It is cultivated up to 900 m above sea level and offers a wide range of healing effects. Lavender extra is the wild mountain lavender, which grows between 800 m and 1,800 m above sea level. The harvest is laborious, but you are always rewarded with special qualities. The higher the growing region, the more esters and ingredients the lavender has. The lavender is a plant from the genus Lippblütler which today is mainly used as an ornamental plant and for the extraction of aromatic substances. There are 3 types of lavender, from each of which lavender oil of different quality is extracted: Real lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), spiked lavender (Lavandula latifolia) and the lavandin (Lavandula hybrida). Lavandula angustifolia and latifolia have the greatest healing effects. 

Cosmetic use of lavender water
Lavender water can be used for all skin types. Due to its strong antibacterial effect, the hydrosol is mainly used for oily skin and for skin regeneration.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Melissa officinalis
  • Plant part: Freshly cut cabbage
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: iInflamed, impure, sensitive skin, acne, oily hair.

The word melissa means “honey bee” in Greek. The reason is that the flowers of the balm attract bees, which produce the aromatic balm honey. Because of its characteristic scent, balm is also called lemon balm. 
The lemon balm plant originally comes from the eastern Mediterranean region, but is now also cultivated in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe and reaches a growth height of up to 80 cm. It belongs to the labiates family and flowers from June to August. 

Cosmetic use of melissa water
Melissa balm water is suitable as a facial tonic for skin problems. Due to its soothing properties it is effective for sensitive and mature skin. Its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties make it suitable for impure, oily and combination skin. 
An application of Melissa hydrosol is also recommended for oily hair. 



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Myrtus communis
  • Plant part: Branches, leaves
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Impure, inflamed, large-pored, oily skin, dry and sensitive skin.

The myrtle is an evergreen shrub and is native to the Mediterranean region. It can reach a growth height of up to 5 metres and flowers between May and August.

Cosmetic use of myrtle water
Myrtle water is particularly suitable for impure, inflamed and oily skin, as it regulates the skin’s function. It refines the pores due to its astringent effect, it also refreshes and tightens them. It is also recommended for tired and dry eyes due to the calming effect of myrtle water.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Citrus aurantium
  • Plant part: blossoms
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: all skin types.

The bitter orange, also called bitter orange, belongs to the citrus fruit family. Nowadays, the bitter orange is mainly cultivated in the Maghreb states as well as Spain and the Caribbean. Neroli oil is one of the most expensive essential oils, as 1 ton of flowers are needed for 1 liter of oil.

Cosmetic use of neroli water
Neroli water can be used for all skin types. It has a balancing and calming effect and, above all, strengthens the cells of dry skin.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Mentha × piperita
  • Plant part: Herb
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: blemished, inflamed skin.

Peppermint belongs to the mint genus and to the labiate family. The peppermint probably originates from the coincidental crossing of brook mint and green mint. Most cultures of peppermint are found in temperate climates. In 2004, peppermint was even named medicinal plant of the year.

Cosmetic use of peppermint water
Peppermint water has a cooling and refreshing effect on inflamed skin and hot flushes. It also has a positive effect on impure skin, as it cleanses, tones and promotes circulation.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Rosa damascena
  • Plant part: Blossoms
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Dry, mature and demanding skin.

The rose, which belongs to the eponymous plant genus of the rose family, originally comes from Persia. A distinction is made between wild roses and cultivated roses. Wild roses produce rosehips in winter, which serve as food for animals.

Cosmetic use of rose water
Rose water is a sensitive hydrosol for dry, mature and sensitive skin. It also has a decongestant, soothing, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect.



  • Hydrolate
  • Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis L.
  • Plant part: Branches with the needle-like solid leaves
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Tired, oily and impure skin, hair loss.

Rosemary is a small evergreen shrub and has silvery green leaves and light blue flowers. The shrub has an intense aromatic scent and grows in the western and central Mediterranean area. Rosemary should ideally be harvested in whole branches, not individual needles. It can be harvested all year round. Rosemary was voted medicinal plant of the year in 2011.

Cosmetic use of rosemary water
Applied to the body, rosemary water promotes blood circulation. Rosemary is generally well suited for impure skin and the use of rosemary hydrosol is also recommended for impure and oily skin. Just like essential rosemary oil, rosemary water is also suitable for treating hair loss. It stimulates the blood circulation and strengthens the scalp.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Salvia officinalis
  • Plant part: Fresh leaves
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Normal, impure, oily and combination skin.

The real sage is a shrub that belongs to the labiate family. Originally it comes from southern European Mediterranean countries and the Near East. All parts of the plant exude an aromatic scent and the herb’s flowering period ranges from May to July.

Cosmetic use of sage water
Sage water cleanses and tones oily, impure skin used as a facial toner. Due to its sweat regulating and deodorizing effect, sage hydrosol is well suited for the production of deodorants.


Tea Tree

  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Plant part: Branches
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: Impure and oily skin, acne.

The Australian Tea Tree is mainly grown in New South Wales. It is an evergreen shrub or tree, grows up to 7 m and has a bushy crown. The Tea Tree is a hermaphrodite, which means it has both female and male genitals.

Cosmetic use of tea tree water
Like the essential oil, tea tree water should be used for impurities. It regulates sebum production and has a clarifying and anti-inflammatory effect.



  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris
  • Plant part: Blooming herb
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: oily, impure skin, combination skin, acne.

Thyme is a low-crawling herb native to the Mediterranean and has been used for centuries as a medicinal and spice herb. Nowadays thyme is cultivated almost everywhere. The stems of thyme are rather narrow or even wiry; the leaves of most species are evergreen, arranged in pairs in opposite directions, oval, with entire margins, 4-20 mm long and usually aromatic. The thyme flowers are arranged in dense terminal heads with irregular calyx, with a three-lobed upper lip and are yellow, white or purple.

Cosmetic use of thyme water
Thyme water has an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effect and thus prevents impurities. Due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties, the hydrosol counteracts sebum production and refines the pores.


Witch Hazel

  • Hydrosol
  • Botanical name: Hamamelis virginiana
  • Plant: bark, leaves, twig tips
  • Manufacturing process: Steam distillation
  • Cosmetic use: impure and combination skin, acne.

The witch hazel originally comes from North America, but can also be found in Europe. The witch hazel shrub blooms in January and February and has a striking yellow flower cluster and a strong bitter and woody scent. 

Cosmetic use of witch hazel water
Witch hazel water is preferably used for impure skin with a tendency to acne. It has an astringent, soothing, cooling and clarifying effect on impurities. Due to its astringent (contracting) effect, germs cannot easily penetrate the skin.