Rosebud Salve for Acne?

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Although known for its soothing quality, rosebud salve does not have a large enough concentration of pure rose water or oil to have a detectable positive effect on acne-prone skin. Other ingredients of the salve, however, could have serious negative effects on the skin. Rosebud salve is extremely popular for moisturizing and soothing dry skin, but the use of the product to treat acne has not been shown to be valid. As always, consult with a doctor before starting any new treatment

Petrolatum Base

Smith’s Rosebud Salve, the only producer of the specifically named salve, has four ingredients: cotton seed oil, white petrolatum, borax and Aromol. The essential oils contained within the petrolatum base are not able to absorb into the skin due to the nature of the salve. Petrolatum, like that found in Vaseline, remains on the top of the skin rather than absorbing, which is why the product has been found to aid in cell regeneration. The moisture produced by the skin is locked ino place, aiding in the regenerative process. White petrolatum protects the skin from irritation and increases the amount of water the skin maintains. Acne-prone users are advised to look for non-comedogenic products, however, as some petrolatum products can worsen acne.

Aromol and the Rose Flower

Aromol, a blend of seven essential rose oils obtained from perfumery houses, is not the same as the unadulterated rose water or oil used in natural acne remedies. The rose flower has a complex chemical composition. Of over 300 chemical ingredients, phenyl ethanol and eugenol are the most significant for the treatment of acne, according to Phenyl ethanol is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. Eugenol is also described as helpful in fighting the bacteria that cause acne, as a natural anti-microbial and astringent. But the salve does not contain pure or certified organic extracts such as these, making it hard to say that Rosebud Salve could have more than a moisturizing effect on skin and acne.

Pure Rose Extract

Nature's Gift recommends pure pulp extract from rose absolutes with high amounts of linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid and oleic acid, also known as omega-6, omega-3 and omega-9. Along with stearic and palmitic acid, phytosterols, tocopherols and carotenoids, the solvent extract is recommended for use in acne treatment. Certified organic rosemary verbenon also has positive effects on cellular regeneration and treatment of oily skin. Again, the salve’s essential oils have not been shown to contain the extracts likely to improve skin and reduce acne.


While petrolatum and cotton seed oil may not be the best topical treatment for acne-prone skin, the most harmful ingredient of the salve would be borax, also termed sodium borate decahydrate, 00079 in the CA DPR Chem Code Text, dinatrium tetraborat decahydrat, and many more difficult names. The chemical, completely inorganic, is commonly used as an herbicide, insecticide and anti-fungal. The product was banned from use in food due to toxicity concerns and damage to the liver over prolonged periods of ingestion. According to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, sodium borate causes irritation to the respiratory tract and skin and should not be absorbed into the skin. Prolonged skin absorption could cause skin rash, vomiting, mild diarrhea and anemia. The Pesticides Action Network of North America also lists borax as a borate compound, making it a slightly toxic skin irritant. The amount of borax used in Rosebud Salve is unknown as Rosebud Perfume Company doesn't reveal the ingredient amounts in the product, but it can be assumed to be an extremely small amount. Regardless, it is probably not a product to use without caution and a solid understanding of the potential side effects.


There are many causes of acne that depend on the genetic make-up and environment of the person. The treatment of acne vulgaris is not only complex due to the varying causes, but also due to the internally affected nature of the disease. You should always consult with your doctor or a dermatologist before trying any product for the treatment of acne.