Rose geranium essential oil is a delightful aromatic oil with some very useful therapeutic qualities, which makes it a fine addition to your essential oil collection.
As the name suggests, rose geranium oil has a sweet rosy fragrance, and it’s often used in place of the more expensive rose essential oil, earning it the moniker “poor man’s rose”.
The essential oil is regularly used in the perfume industry because of its similarity to rose but much lower cost, and in the food and beverage industry as a flavoring ingredient.
Versatility is a key feature of this essential oil, use it for skin care, emotional balance, first aid, and menstrual difficulties.
Where Does Rose Geranium Essential Oil Come From?
Rose geranium is a member of the pelargonium family which consists of several hundred varieties of pretty flowering plants and shrubs, and many thousands of hybrids. The essential oil you’ll most commonly come across is harvested from pelargonium graveolens, and will carry that name on the label.
The very best quality rose geranium oil is produced on the French island of Reunion, and is known as the Bourbon type.
What’s the Difference Between Bourbon Type and Other Rose Geranium Essential Oil?
According to aromatherapy expert, Robert Tisserand, in the past the Bourbon type essential oil was exclusively produced on Reunion, and the name ‘rose geranium’ was reserved for this source, but that is no longer the case.
Now, the pelargonium hybrid that produces rose geranium essential oil is grown in many countries.
Today, the rose geranium Bourbon essential oil from Reunion is only produced in very small quantities and isn’t available for purchase on the open market. The Bourbon type you’ll see offered for sale today is most likely produced in Egypt or Madagascar.
The Bourbon type has a rich fragrance and is preferred for perfumery applications. For therapeutic use, any good quality rose geranium oil will suffice.
While mention of the therapeutic use of many essential oils – or aromatics – can be found in texts reaching back thousands of years, rose geranium is a relative newcomer.
The earliest mention of rose geranium distillation is made in 1819 by the French chemist who first carried out the distillation. In 1847, further studies were made to determine the best varieties of pelargonium to use for essential oil production.
Current Sources of Rose Geranium Essential Oil
The pelargonium family is actually native to South Africa, but the plants are now grown for commercial essential oil production in many regions around the world, most notably Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Reunion, Madagascar, Spain, Italy, France, Russia, China, and India, with China and Egypt accounting for the majority of annual production.
Given the pollution problems in China, you may prefer to use the essential oil sourced from Egypt.
Rose Geranium for Skin Care
You can apply diluted rose geranium essential oil to your skin every day as part of your regular skin care routine, and you can also use the oil to help rectify some specific skin care problems.
Best mixed with lavender essential oil (6 drops of each), although rose geranium will still be a very good sunburn solution when used alone.
Gently apply the diluted oil to any sunburned areas for pain relief and faster healing. Both rose geranium and lavender have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, and used together will reduce peeling and blistering, calm any itchiness and minimize lasting damage.
When you think about using essential oils for acne, the first essential oil that comes to mind is usually tea tree oil, but if you suffer from acne (or regular breakouts of spots and blemishes) you should give rose geranium oil a try.
Besides smelling a whole lot more agreeable than the somewhat medicinal aroma of tea tree oil, rose geranium is a very effective antimicrobial which means it can stop the bacteria involved in acne in their tracks.
Rose geranium also works as an astringent, drying and shrinking swollen tissues, and thus reducing the inflamed appearance of your skin.
It’s important to choose the right carrier oil when you have acne. Many are far too greasy and will make your problem worse. Jojoba oil is the carrier oil that most closely resembles your skin’s natural sebum, it’s easily absorbed and has the ability to protect your damaged skin while it heals.
Unsightly and painful bruises respond well to the anti-inflammatory and astringent properties of rose geranium oil. If you’re overly clumsy or prone to bruising from sports, rose geranium is an essential oil you’ll turn to over and over again.
Add a few drops of rose geranium to a small bowl of water, then soak a folded washcloth in the water before applying it to bruised areas. Because essential oils don’t mix well with water, you’ll need to dilute the essential oil in a teaspoon of vodka to ensure that it disperses throughout the water.
You can also make a first aid spray to carry with you so you can spritz injured areas as soon as possible. All you need is a small spray bottle (30 or 50 ml is an ideal size), water, vodka and your essential oil.
Add up to 12 drops of rose geranium oil and 1 or 2 teaspoons of vodka to the bottle, then top up with water. Screw the cap on, give it a good shake and it’s ready to spray.
Dermatitis and Eczema
Help to calm the rashes caused by contact dermatitis and eczema with rose geranium oil. Its anti-inflammatory action reduces swelling and itching. Using rose geranium essential oil also protects broken skin from opportunistic bacterial and fungal infection.
The easiest way to make use of rose geranium essential oil for these conditions is to dilute a few drops with vegetable glycerine, then mix in with your usual lotion. If you don’t want to do that, simply mix with a carrier oil (jojoba is perfect for eczema) and apply to inflamed areas.
Broken Veins and Capillaries
As an astringent, rose geranium essential oil can shrink damaged blood vessels sitting just beneath your skin and minimize their appearance. You’ll need to use rose geranium every day to see any benefit though. Add to your lotion or mix with a carrier oil of your choice.
Rose geranium can be used to make oily skin less oily, and dry skin less tight and itchy. This is because the oil has adaptogenic properties which promote balance at a hormonal level. Mix with a little vegetable glycerin and then add to your favorite moisturizer or body lotion for easy application.
Lines and Wrinkles
Mature skin loves rose geranium essential oil. The geraniol in the oil is especially beneficial because it’s such a good antioxidant, mopping up the free radicals that cause so much skin damage and aging. As mentioned above, for ease of use you can simply add some diluted essential oil to your skin care products. If you prefer you can make a rich, nourishing carrier oil blend using sunflower oil, apricot kernel oil and avocado oil.
Despite the name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm (tinea), is a fungal infection of the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body and you may know it by one of its more familiar names like athletes foot if it’s found on the feet, or jock itch if it’s found in the groin area.
The ring shaped rash that appears, is itchy, oozy, sometimes painful, and very contagious. If the fungus infects your face, head, hands, or other visible areas it can also be very embarrassing.
Rose geranium essential oil is a strong antifungal. In 2014, researchers tested rose geranium essential oil to determine its effectiveness against a type of fungi called candida albicans. What they found was impressive – use of rose geranium resulted in complete inhibition of fungal development!
Use Rose Geranium Essential Oil to Shrink Hemorrhoids
Most people will suffer from at least one episode of hemorrhoids during their lifetime. Your chances of having to put up with this painful situation increase with age, poor diet (which leads to constipation and straining to pass stools), and pregnancy. Knowing how to effectively deal with the problem before you’re faced with it, is definitely a good idea.
The basic treatment for hemorrhoids is shrinking the swollen, painful tissue and stopping the bleeding.
The active ingredient in over-the-counter creams like Preparation H, is Phenylephrine HCI, a substance which constricts blood vessels and acts to stop bleeding. Some also contain witch hazel which is a natural astringent and skin soothing agent. The rest of the product is mostly petroleum jelly (Vaseline).
How does rose geranium essential oil measure up against these ointments? Pretty well actually.
Rose geranium is a styptic and a haemostatic which means it stops bleeding. It’s astringent, constricting blood vessels and shrinking swollen tissue. It’s anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and easing pain. It’s antimicrobial, preventing infection, and it’s a vulnerary which means it speeds up wound healing.
The haemostatic effect of rose geranium was demonstrated in a 2013 study. Individuals suffering from a genetic disorder that causes blood vessel abnormalities and bleeding were treated with rose geranium essential oil for 3 months. The majority of subjects reported improvement in their conditions with significantly less bleeding.
To use, dilute rose geranium in a non-greasy carrier oil like sunflower oil. This will be absorbed quickly and completely and won’t leave an unpleasant residue behind. After washing the area, apply the essential oil mix. Use several times a day.
Any time you have this problem, it’s important to avoid straining when you use the bathroom, because straining will make the hemorrhoids worse. To make it easier to pass stools, you can take a simple and safe dietary supplement called magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate draws extra water into the bowel and keeps stools soft and easy to pass. You can find it at any good pharmacy or health food store, as well as online.
Ease Muscle and Joint Pain
One of the main causes of muscle and joint pain is inflammation, so anything that you can do to reduce that inflammation will bring you relief from pain.
In laboratory research, rose geranium essential oil worked as well as the prescription anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac. Diclofenac is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and these drugs are a cause for concern because of the increased risk of heart attack and stroke that they carry.
Essential oils offer a safe alternative, and even if you can’t achieve complete relief with them, you may find that you can use a lower dose of medication and cut your risk of unwanted complications.
To use, massage diluted rose geranium essential oil over sore muscles and joints as needed.
Make A Natural Deodorant
Homemade deodorant is much better than the sticks, roll-on’s and sprays you can buy. It’s non sticky, non irritant and it won’t leave a white film on your clothes. Plus, when you make your own, you can avoid exposure to the environmental toxins that are prevalent in so many personal care products.
Sweat isn’t the source of body odor, but it is food for the bacteria living on your skin. It’s these bacteria that release the odor as part of their metabolic process.
The antimicrobial action of rose geranium essential oil will keep these bacteria at bay, and the delicate floral perfume of this essential oil will leave you smelling fresh and clean.
In a small spray bottle, mix rose geranium with either a teaspoon of vodka or vegetable glycerine, then fill with water.
Do bear in mind that this deodorant won’t stop you from sweating because it isn’t an antiperspirant.
You can make use of this spray to banish bad smells from shoes, and clothing too.
Brighten Your Mood
One of the nicest gifts we get from essential oils is the beneficial effect they have on the way that we feel. By making us feel better, certain essential oils not only put a smile on our faces and make it easier to face whatever the day brings, they actually improve our physical well being too.
The effects of stress and anxiety aren’t limited to emotional distress, they have a profound effect on all bodily systems.
Stress is a factor in many chronic disease conditions, and suffering from long-term stress is known to shorten lifespan.
When you’re under stress or dealing with anxiety, your body is flooded with hormones which over time have a detrimental effect on your health.
While exercise, mindfulness and meditation are all promoted as ways to combat the stresses of modern life, these activities aren’t always easy to fit into a busy day. But essential oils are!
Relieving stress with rose geranium essential oil is as effortless as breathing because inhaling essential oils is the best way to use them for emotional balance.
For a no-fuss method which you can use anywhere, simply uncap your bottle of essential oil and take a few deep breaths.
For a longer stress busting session, use a few drops in an aromatherapy diffuser and breathe in the relaxing fragrance while you watch TV, prepare dinner or take a bath. If your daily commute stresses you out, pick up an aromatherapy diffuser that plugs into your car’s electrical socket.
You can also get aromatherapy lockets to wear as jewelry, these are a great way to benefit from essential oils while you’re at work, at school, or traveling, where it would be difficult to set up a diffuser.
Balance Female Hormones
Regular use of rose geranium essential oil can help to restore balance to the out of control reproductive hormones that cause premenstrual syndrome and irregular periods, and which make for a difficult perimenopause and menopause.
Hormonal control is best achieved through essential oil inhalation, but you can also massage essential oils onto your skin if you prefer.
Diluting Rose Geranium Essential Oil
The standard, completely safe dilution for most essential oils used on adults is 2%, and rose geranium is no exception to this standard. Children and the elderly should use a 1% dilution.
To make a dilution, you will need to mix rose geranium essential oil with a carrier (also called a base). The most common carriers are natural oils like sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, etc. Mineral oil (baby oil) is not a suitable carrier because it forms a barrier which won’t allow the essential oil molecules to penetrate the skin.
If you want a rich massage oil, choose a longer lasting, thicker oil like olive or coconut oil. For quicker absorption choose a light oil like sunflower or hemp seed oil.
For a 2% dilution, mix 12 drops of rose geranium essential oil with 30 ml (one ounce) of your chosen carrier oil. A 1% dilution uses 6 drops.
If you plan to add essential oils to your bath water, be aware that essential oils don’t mix readily with water. To prevent an essential oil film forming on the top of your bathwater where it can come into contact with your eyes, skin and mucous membranes, you’ll need to use essential oil that has already been diluted in a carrier oil, or mix the essential oil with alcohol or glycerin before adding it to your bath.
While a 2% dilution is commonly advised for general use for the majority of essential oils, each oil has its own safe dermal maximum. The dermal maximum is considered to be the strongest dilution that you can safely use without risking irritation, allergic reaction or toxicity.
Always begin with a 1% or 2% dilution and see if you get the results you’re looking for. In most cases you will!
But if that strength isn’t enough, you may be able to go higher.
In Essential Oil Safety by Tisserand and Young, the dermal maximum for rose geranium essential oil is listed as 17.5%.
Does this mean that you should ramp right up to that strength if a 2% dilution isn’t sufficient? No, not at all. The dermal maximum is a measure of safety not therapeutic efficiency. Only increase the strength of your dilution gradually, 1% at a time, and always allow enough time to assess if the new dilution is having the desired effect.
Blending Rose Geranium
While essential oils work well as standalone oils, they often perform significantly better when blended with other oils. Blending creates beneficial synergies which can produce powerful results – and from an aromatic standpoint – gorgeous, uplifting fragrances.
Rose geranium blends well with lavender, orange blossom (neroli), patchouli, sandalwood, clove, bergamot, jasmine, orange, lemon, grapefruit, juniper and ylang, ylang.
Should You Pay Extra For Organic Rose Geranium Oil?
The pelargonium plants which are the source of rose geranium essential oil are susceptible to various diseases – the most problematic are root rot and leaf blight – as well as insect predation.
A certified organic growing operation is permitted to use chemicals to control these problems as long as these are approved for organic cultivation.
Because pesticides and fungicides can remain on plant material at harvest time, it’s important that only organic substances are used. These are chemicals that have no toxicity to humans.
When you purchase a certified organic oil, you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your oils are free from any harmful chemical residues.
You may prefer to purchase certified organic oils for therapeutic use and regular oils for household use.
Currently (2017) organic rose geranium costs around $30 for 10 ml whereas the regular essential oil costs roughly $25 for 30 ml. Obviously prices will vary depending on your chosen retailer.
One thing to be wary of when you buy oils, is adulteration. Just as rose geranium is often passed off as rose essential oil, or used to ‘water down’ the more expensive rose oil by unscrupulous vendors, rose geranium is in turn subject to the same deceptive practices.
Retailers should always be ready to supply the latest gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests (GC/MS) for their oils. These tests certify the chemical constituents in the oils and prove that the oils are genuine.
To be certain that you’re getting the real thing, purchase from high quality vendors like Mountain Rose Herbs and Plant Therapy.