Which hydrolat to choose and how to use it?

A hydrolat, often called "floral water", corresponds to the water of distillation of a plant. They are called "floral water" when flowers are distilled, but can be obtained from other parts of plants. When this plant is aromatic, distillation also allows to obtain an essential oil. Hydrolats are nevertheless much easier to use and much better tolerated than essential oils, because they contain mostly water. They therefore present very few risks of use. They have many properties, both therapeutic and cosmetic. They are widely used to care for the skin or hair, especially for pregnant women and babies whose use of essential oils is more delicate.

What is a hydrolat?

Hydrolats are obtained by steam distillation, or hydrodistillation, of generally aromatic plants. The name "hydrolat" comes from the milky aspect obtained after distillation, "hydro" meaning water and "lat" meaning milk. In concrete terms, after distillation of an aromatic plant, two phases are obtained:

  • The one on top is concentrated in aromatic molecules, it is the essential oil. It is said to be hydrophobic, meaning that it does not mix with water.
  • The one below corresponds to the distillation water, which is what we call the hydrolate or floral water. It contains a tiny portion of active ingredients (mainly aromatic molecules) said to be hydrophilic, i.e. having an affinity for water.

Some hydrolats are finally obtained by distillation of non-aromatic plants. There will be no essential oil at the exit of the distillation apparatus, only hydrolate. It is the case by the Cornflower, the Lime or the Hamamelis whose hydrolats are well known.

Because of their water-rich composition and very diluted active molecules, hydrosols are much less potent than essential oils, and therefore much more flexible in use. They are sometimes considered a by-product of essential oils, even though they have many benefits. They are described as the gentle version of aromatherapy, and can be used by sensitive users, such as pregnant and nursing women or babies, who often cannot use essential oils.

Which hydrolat to choose in hydrolatherapy?

Hydrolats contain mostly water, and a small amount of aromatic molecules and other volatile water-soluble compounds from the plant. This gives them many properties, but also a great flexibility of use. In the same way as essential oils, they are therefore natural extracts useful for many problems. However, there are hundreds of them: as many as essential oils, or even more since they can be derived from non-aromatic plants.

To help identify the most suitable hydrolate for each situation, The company of the senses has set up a very easy-to-use tool: simply enter the desired use, the user, and if necessary, the properties, the smell, and the desired taste to obtain a list of all the hydrolates that can be used.

Which hydrolat to choose for each use?

How to use hydrolats in aromatherapy?

By ingestion

In treatment

The cures of hydrolat are interesting to the changes of season in particular, either in cure detoxifying to drain the emunctories, or for the immune system. Indeed, hydrolats are good drainers of the body, they have an action on the entire digestive and metabolic system to restore the ground. Hydrolat cures can also be used for chronic problems such as menopause, fatigue, heavy legs, etc. To make a cure of hydrolat, 2 possibilities:

  • Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of hydrolat in 1 L of water to drink during the day. Continue for 20 to 25 days, and take a 5-day break before starting again if necessary.
  • Dilute 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, to drink 3 to 4 times a day. Repeat for 20 to 25 days and pause for 5 days before resuming if necessary.
In a punctual way

Used punctually, hydrolats can act on more acute problems, in case of digestive disorders, insomnia, etc. Depending on age, the amount of hydrolat to consume will vary:

  • Child under 1 year: ½ to 1 teaspoon per day in the bottle, or sprayed on the nipple.
  • From 1 to 3 years: 1 teaspoon per day in a glass of water.
  • From 3 to 6 years: 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, 1 to 2 times a day.
  • From 6 years old : 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, 1 to 4 times a day.

Depending on the purpose, hydrolats can be diluted in a glass of cold or hot water or in an herbal tea for example. The main thing is not to boil the hydrolat to avoid denaturing it.

In the bath

Unlike essential oils, hydrolats are perfectly suited for use in the bath, since they are miscible in water. They can be used to enhance the relaxing effects of a bath, for example! Depending on the volume of water and age, the quantity of hydrolat to be added will not be the same:

  • for children under 1 year: add 1 to 3 teaspoons to the bath water
  • 1 to 3 years old: add 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • 3 to 6 years old: add 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • from 6 years old : add 5 to 10 tablespoons

Hydrosols can also be used to soothe sore and tired feet. In this case, add 3 tablespoons of hydrosol to a basin to make afoot bath.

Finally, hydrosols can be used in sitz bath against genital infections or hemorrhoids for example. For this, add 5 to 10 tablespoons in a suitable basin.

For oral hygiene

Many hydrolats can be used for oral hygiene in case of infection, mouth ulcers, gingivitis or bad breath for example. This is the case of Noble Laurel, Clove, Tea Tree or Peppermint among others. To take advantage of their benefits, it is possible to use them in mouthwash:

  • For adults, dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of hydrosol in a glass of rinse water.
  • For children, dilute 1 teaspoon of hydrosol in a glass of rinse water.

In a compress

For a localized application of hydrolats on the skin, it is possible to make soaked compresses. To do this, dilute 4 to 5 tablespoons of hydrosol in 100 mL of water. Dip a compress or a clean cloth in the mixture and apply to the skin. Leave on for 20 minutes for best results.

What is the difference between a hydrolat and a floral water?

There is no difference between a floral water and a hydrosol. The name "floral water" is simply reserved to designate a flower hydrolate. It is therefore common to speak of Rose floral water, or Cornflower floral water for example. Some hydrolats are nevertheless obtained by distilling other parts of plants, such as seeds (Carrot hydrolate), bark (Cinnamon hydrolate) or leaves (Witch hazel hydrolate). Thus, all floral waters are hydrosols, but not all hydrosols are floral waters. In the context of hydrolatherapy, it is therefore more accurate to use the term hydrolate, or even aromatic hydrolate, in order to affirm that the product has been obtained by distillation of the plant, and to avoid any risk of counterfeiting or misuse of the term "floral water".

Which hydrolat to choose for the skin and the face?

Hydrosols have many benefits for the face, and are particularly interesting and suitable for taking care of the skin. On the one hand, they are very soft, have many useful properties for all skin types (astringent, soothing, healing, purifying, etc.), and have a slightly acidic pH,appreciated by the skin whose pH is around 5.5. They can therefore be used pure or diluted, directly on the skin :

  • In the morning, spray or apply on a cotton pad to wake up the skin and remove the impurities of the night.
  • In the evening, to clean the skin, remove the impurities of the day, or as a makeup remover.
  • To replace water in the preparation of cosmetic recipes (creams, masks, lotions, etc.)
  • In a steam bath to deeply cleanse the skin and purify the pores
  • Etc.

Top 5 hydrosols to care for the skin and face:

  • The Damask Rose Hydrosol: certainly the most famous, it allows to moisturize, soothe the skin, and limit skin aging. Damask Rose floral water is the reference hydrosol for mature skin, in case of wrinkles, for dry skin, but also irritated and sensitive.
  • The Blueberry Hydrosol: anti-inflammatory, decongestant and soothing, it is the ultimate eye hydrosol. Cornflower floral water is the reference hydrosol for tired and irritated eyes, but also for dry and irritated skin.
  • The Orange Blossom Hydrosol: particularly soothing it is especially appreciated for its sweet and floral scent. Orange Blossom hydrosol and very appreciated for dry and sensitive skin.
  • The Italian Helichrysum Hydrosol: it is circulatory, anti-inflammatory and healing. Italian Helichrysum hydrosol is thus the reference hydrosol in case of dark circles and for damaged skin, but also for mature, irritated and sensitive skin.
  • The Tea Tree Hydrosol: it is an anti-infective in the same way as its essential oil, but in a mild version. Tea Tree hydrosol is unsurprisingly the reference hydrosol for acne, also suitable for oily and combination skin.
Which hydrolat should I choose for my skin?

Which hydrolat to choose for the hair ?

Hydrosols have several beneficial properties for the hair. In the same way as their various actions on the skin, they also act at the level of the scalp in order to resolve certain problems, or simply to hydrate or parfume the hair. They can be used in a variety of ways:

  • In rinse water after shampooing by gently massaging the scalp
  • Spray on the lengths and ends between shampoos to refresh curls or simply to perfume the hair
  • To replace water in cosmetic recipes (masks, solid shampoos, no-poo, etc.)

Top 5 best hydrosols for hair:

  • The Atlas Cedar Hydrosol: it is very versatile for caring for the hair and especially the scalp. It has a rebalancing action useful for many hair problems. The Atlas Cedar hydrosol is thus the reference hydrosol in case of oily hair, hair loss or dandruff.
  • The Lavender Hydrosol: repellent, anti-inflammatory and calming, it is also appreciated for its sweet floral scent. Lavender hydrosol is the reference hydrosol against lice, and scalp itching.
  • The Rosemary Hydrosol: it has a detoxifying and purifying action. Rosemary verbenone hydrosol is therefore particularly useful in cases of dandruff and oily hair.
  • The Peppermint Hydrosol: it is very refreshing and especially purifying. Peppermint hydrosol is useful in case of oily hair or irritated scalp.
  • The Matrix Chamomile Hydrosol: it has anti-inflammatory and brightening properties. It is the go-to hydrosol for blonde hair and to give highlights to light hair. It can be used for normal hair in general, but also dull or in case of irritated scalp.
Which hydrolat should I choose for my hair?

How to choose a quality hydrosol ?

For a very long time considered a by-product of distillation, hydrolats are now much more valued and are experiencing a real revival of interest in both cosmetics and aromatherapy. Whether in specialized stores or on the internet, there is now a wide choice of hydrolats, but not all qualities are equal. While it is difficult as a consumer to evaluate the distiller's expertise, it is possible to check certain elements to ensure the quality of the hydrosol purchased: you should favor an organic, preservative-free, concentrated and microfiltered hydrosol.

BIO Certification

Choosing to use hydrolats is already choosing to opt for a natural alternative to more conventional products, either to take care of the environment or to take care of one's health. Distillation is a technique that allows the release of the aromatic molecules of the plant, but the process means that some pesticides are also carried away, and can end up in the essential oil or hydrosol. Favoring the BIO certification seems essential on the one hand to limit the use of pesticides during the cultivation of the plant, and on the other hand avoid finding some in its hydrolat.

No preservatives

As hydrolats are mainly composed of water, they are very sensitive to microbial contamination. To overcome this problem, preservatives can be added. The disadvantage of these preservatives, although they are generally of natural origin, is that they must be added in high concentration to be effective, and they must not be ingested. Therefore, hydrolats with preservatives should only be used dermally. To get the most out of the benefits of hydrolats, and to be able to use them in hydrolatherapy, it is therefore best to opt for hydrolats without preservatives. To find out if a hydrosol contains preservatives, simply look at the list of ingredients. Hydrosols without preservatives are thus more susceptible to the risks of microbial contamination. It is best to store them in the refrigerator.

1:1 ratio or concentrated hydrolat

The 1:1 ratio means that 1 kilo of distilled plant yielded 1 liter of hydrosol. Lower quality hydrosols often come from a higher yield, where 1 kilo of plant has yielded 10, 20, or even 50 liters of hydrosol. These are then considered very diluted, and are of little interest. Indeed, although the content of aromatic molecules is not systematically analyzed in hydrolats, the 1:1 ratio is a guarantee of quality because it allows to obtain a concentrated hydrolat. However, this is rarely specified on the labeling of the bottles, and can therefore be difficult for the consumer to control. In this case, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer for more information.


Microbial contamination is very common in hydrosols. Although they are sterile when they leave the still, since the distillation temperature is around 100°C, germs can develop during storage, and thus alter the quality of the hydrosol. To control this risk, a microfiltration step is carried out before each packaging, whether in large cans or small bottles. To do this, the hydrolat passes through one or more filters containing filtering membranes of different diameters. The final filter is usually0.2 microns to retain a maximum of microorganisms, and ensure a clean and healthy hydrosol. Microbiological analyses are then carried out to ensure proper microfiltration, to ensure that no germs have passed into the hydrolat and thus that it is not contaminated. During storage, natural white deposits may form at the bottom of the bottle. Other deposits can nevertheless testify of a contamination, causing an unpleasant odor of the hydrosol. It is then preferable not to use it and to throw it away.

How to use hydrolats in cooking?

Some hydrosols smell divine and can be incorporated into various cooking recipes to flavor preparations. In smoothies, cocktails, sorbets or fruit salads, hydrosols flavor and provide their benefits at the same time. They can also be added to vinaigrettes or dishes in sauce to take advantage of their digestive properties. In order to preserve all their properties, it is best to add them cold to the dishes, or to spray them just before serving. The cooking would risk to denature them, to make them lose flavour.

The most used hydrolats in cooking are Orange Blossom and Rose, especially in oriental pastries such as loukoums and gazelle horns. However, there are many others! Let your imagination run wild and let yourself be carried away by the delicate aromas of Basil, Savory or Verbena hydrosols to bring a little originality to your dishes.

Precautions for the use of certain hydrolats

Hydrosols are particularly flexible to use. They are not dangerous or nearly so, which is why they are highly valued and often recommended for sensitive users such as pregnant and nursing women, and babies. As a precautionary measure, however, and due to a lack of data on their composition, a few warnings are given for information and especially prevention:

  • Pregnant women and children: As a precautionary measure, hydrolats likely to contain ketones, camphor, phenols or estrogen-like molecules are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women and for children under 3 years old or under 6 years old (Yarrow, Peppermint, Clary Sage, Oregano, Clove, etc.)
  • Allergy: an allergy to an essential oil can potentially induce an allergy to the corresponding hydrosol. A simple allergy test can be performed: place 2 drops of the hydrosol in the crook of the elbow and observe if a redness appears within 24 hours.
  • Irritation: Hydrosols likely to contain phenols (Cinnamon, Oregano,Savory) can cause slight skin irritation on the most sensitive skin. Do not hesitate to dilute the hydrolat in this case.
  • Hepatotoxicity: hydrolats likely to contain phenols (Cinnamon, Oregano, Savory) may cause mild liver disorders when used over long periods. In this case, it is preferable to use them for short periods of time.
  • Photosensitization: Citrus, Carrot or Angelica hydrosols are likely to contain photosensitizing molecules. As a precautionary measure, it is best not to use them before exposure to the sun.

It is recommended to be aware of all the potential risks of using a hydrosol before use.