14 February 2022

Best Substitute for Rose Essential Oil

Rose essential oil is used for both its skin benefits and for aromatherapy.   It's a wonderful oil to add to your collection, but it is expensive.  What is a good substitute for rose essential oil? Here are several ways to substitute for rose essential oil to get similar aromatherapy benefits and skin benefits.

Rose Essential Oil Substitute

Rose essential oil is often used in skin care recipes because of its benefits for the skin.  It's a great oil to use dry skin, and there's some evidence to suggest that it can promote healing.  

Rose essential oil is one of the most expensive essential oils.   One small bottle costs over $200 from most companies!  

Personally, I would not buy it other than for sharing it with my readers.  

Luckily, there are several ways to substitute for rose essential oil.  These substitutes aren't exactly like using rose, but they work well at a fraction of the cost.

Below, I have some rose essential oil substitutes for both aromatherapy and for its skin benefits.  You can also find information for other oils in my essential oil substitution chart printable.

Learn more about essential oils in these posts:

Rose Essential Oil Benefits for Skin

Rose essential oil is a wonderful oil, and I'm glad that I have it in my stash.  However, not everyone can justify the cost.  

Rose essential oil is naturally antimicrobial.  It can reduce germs, including some strains of bacteria and yeast on the skin.  Rose essential oil may promote healing for small cuts and scrapes.  

Rose is also used on the skin because it can balance moisture levels and reduce skin blemishes.  It promotes an even skin tone and can improve your complexion.  

Rose Essential Oil Aromatherapy Benefits

In aromatherapy, you'll want to choose a rose essential oil substitute that has the same properties.  Rose is said to be relaxing and reduce anxiety while boosting self-esteem.  

Some say that it can increase drive in women, which is why roses are typically associated with Valentine's Day.

In a study, rose essential oil aromatherapy helped decrease pain after surgery.  

Why is Rose Essential Oil So Expensive?

There are several reasons why rose essential oil is so expensive:

  • Only the petals are used to make essential oils.  The leaves and stems are not used like they are in other plants.
  • Roses are low in natural oils, so you get less oil from each plant.
  • Only two kinds of roses have any essential oil, so not all plants can be used.
  • Roses are harvested by hand, which makes it expensive to harvest.
  • Demand for rose essential oil is high, which boosts the price.
  • It takes approximately 8.000 rose plants to make one 5 ml bottle of rose essential oil.

For the casual DIY'er, I'd look for the best substitute for rose essential oil and not buy it unless you feel that you really need it.

So what is a substitute for rose essential oil?

Rose Otto vs Rose Absolute

Rose essential oil can be sold as rose otto or rose absolute.  They are made with different methods, but rose absolute is often used as a substitute for rose essential oil.

Rose otto is made by steam distillation similar to other essential oils.  Rose absolute, however, is made by using a chemical solvent that is removed after making the oil.

While I generally like to geek out on science with essential oils, I'm not going to go in depth in the extractions for this post.  However, a general explanation is that they use a solvent, which is another chemical, to extract more oil from the rose petals.  

This allows the manufacturer to get more oil from the same amount of plant material.  The solvent is then removed from the oil.

Rose essential oil is a thick oil with a yellow hint.  Rose absolute is red or dark orange and thinner.

Rose essential oil has a very true rose scent.  Rose absolute, however, smells like roses with an almost grass like undertone.  It smells really good, but it is different.

Because of the different extraction methods, rose otto, also called rose essential oil, and rose absolute have different properties.  Although you can use rose absolute on your skin, but I prefer to find a substitute for rose oil because it can lose some of its skin care benefits.  

Although the solvent is removed from rose absolute, some could remain.  This may cause skin irritation in some individuals.  

What Can I Use Instead of Rose Oil?

If you're looking for a rose essential oil substitute, you do have some options.  I'll get more in depth about the pros and cons of each one below.

  • Rose Absolute
  • Rose Infused Oil
  • Rose Hydrosol (Rose Water)
  • Rose Essential Oil Blends
  • Other Essential Oils

Rose Otto Diluted

Some essential oil companies sell what is called Rose Otto Diluted.  It's a smaller bottle, usually 5-15 ml, of prediluted rose essential oil.

These diluted oils are a combination of rose essential oil and a carrier oil.  Plant Therapy sells Rose Otto Diluted 10 Percent diluted in jojoba oil.  

It's ready to use in DIY skin care recipes, and you can even further dilute it to 1 or 2 percent with some  math.  Use my essential oil dilution chart to determine which dilution ratio you need.

Rose Infused Oil

Rose infused oil is not a direct rose essential oil substitute because it's not an essential oil.  However, it does retain some of the rose skin care benefits.  

You can use rose infused oil as a carrier oil in DIY recipes for the benefits of the roses.  Roses are great for dry skin, so I use rose oil for dry skin recipes like this rose salve for dry skin.

Learn how to make rose infused oil at home.  You can also buy rose infused oil to use in your DIY recipes.

Rose Hydrosol or Rose Water

Again, rose water is not a direct substitute for rose oil.  However, you can use it in place of water in DIY bath and body recipes.  

Note: rose water can go bad, so always use a preservative when you use rose hydrosol.  Don't substitute it for a carrier oil or an essential oil in recipes because it is water based and not oil based.

Learn how to make rose water or buy it from Revive or Mountain Rose Herb.

What Essential Oil Can You Substitute for Rose?

Geranium essential oil is the best substitute for rose essential oil.  Although they are different plants, geranium essential oil has a similar chemical makeup as rose essential oil.

Geranium essential oil is a great rose essential oil alternative for skin care recipes because both oils are so similar.

Since geranium and rose essential oils have similar properties, many essential oil brands offer a rose geranium blend.  There is also a rose geranium essential oil that comes from a plant in the geranium family.  

Rose geranium (Pelargonium roseum) essential oil has similar properties to both rose and geranium, and it smells more like roses than geranium alone.

To tell the difference between a blend and the plant, look at the ingredients and species.  Pelargonium roseum is the name of the plant, so it is not a blend.  

For aromatherapy, I suggest using palmarosa as a substitute for rose oil.  Palmarosa isn't actually a rose; it's part of the lemongrass family.

However, palmarosa has a similar scent to roses with some citrus hints.

Here are some more rose essential oil alternatives:

Essential Oil Blends for a Rose Essential Oil Alternative

If you want to use rose essential oil and not use a substitute for rose oil, you can save money by buying a blend with rose in it.

I like the Smell the Roses blend from Revive.  It's a blend of geranium, ho leaf, ylang ylang, litsea, cove, eucalyptus, rose (centifolia), osmanthus and rose (damascena).  

This is an amazing blend and the best substitute for rose essential oil that I've found.  It smells very, very close to actual rose essential oil.  It also has the same rose essential oil skin care benefits since the blend of oils have many of the same properties.  

Smell the Roses is also affordable.  It's less than $20 for a 10 ml bottle!

I love my rose essential oil, but I'm always hesitant to recommend it in DIY beauty recipes because of the cost.  However, now you know the best substitute for rose essential oil to use in DIY beauty recipes and for aromatherapy.

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