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Close to the Source: Valley of Roses, Bulgaria

Handpicked organic roses
Badgers Emily and James in the Valley of Roses in Bulgaria. Emily is Badger co-owner and VP of Sales and Marketing, and she wrote this piece - enjoy!

Badger believes that sourcing the very best ingredients requires getting close to the source. We use only 100% natural and certified organic ingredients, minimally processed to retain as much of the original plant essence as possible. This means we search long and hard for ingredient suppliers that meet our high standards for people- and planet-friendly practices. Thankfully, we’ve been lucky to find partners who really shine in this area.

In order to make a more direct connection to the source of our ingredients, it’s been a long-standing goal of ours to meet face-to-face with all our suppliers, walk their land, and see their process in action. Of course, this is a work in progress because Badger’s ingredients come from all over the world. But, bit by bit, we’re making it happen.

This past May, my colleagues and I were lucky enough visit the source of our organic rose oil, Rosa damascena, which is grown in the Valley of Roses in central Bulgaria. Rosa damascena was brought from Turkey to Bulgaria hundreds of years ago when it was discovered that the climate and soil in a valley near the town of Kazanlak provided the perfect environment for growing roses. This area, now called the ‘Valley of Roses’, is where 70% to 85% of the world’s rose oil comes from.

organic rose oil
Valley of Roses - Rosa Damascena flower close up

Rose oil is special. Most of us have never smelled true rose oil because many products use a synthetic version to save on costs. Rose oil is one of the most precious and expensive essential oils available. When you smell true rose oil, it has a beauty and complexity that’s unmatched.

During our visit to the Valley of Roses, we learned how the roses are cultivated, harvested, and transformed from rose blossoms into the rose essential oil.

From the end of April through the month of May, harvesters pick rose blossoms starting as early as 4’oclock in the morning and by 11 o’clock, they’re done for the day. Precious oils in the petals evaporate in the heat of the sun, so this early morning harvest ensures the blossoms will still have dew on them, which helps the petals retain the most amount of oil.

The harvest is then transported to the factory as quickly as possible to be combined with fresh water in a steam distiller and heated. The resulting rose water steam is re-distilled through a series of heating and cooling steps to separate the oil, leaving behind rose water and rose pulp as byproducts.

Rose petals from the Valley of Roses, ready for distillation.
Rose petals from the Valley of Roses, ready for distillation.
Steam distillation of fresh, organic rose petals.
Steam distillation of fresh, organic rose petals.

Badger uses only steam-distilled essential oils in our ingredients because the process is very simple and no chemicals are used. The result is a pure, 100% natural and certified organic ingredient that meets all of our sourcing standards.

Badger Damascus Rose Beauty Products

True rose oil is the only rose oil we use in our Damascus Rose Beauty Line.

Next time you open a jar of the Damascus Rose Beauty Balm take a deep breath and smell the true rose fragrance. That one-ounce jar contains 1.2 pounds of fresh rose petals made into organic essential oil!

Damascus Rose Beauty Balm
Emily Schwerin-Whyte

Emily Schwerin-Whyte is Badger's Co-CEO, and one of the family-owners.
"I remember packing boxes off of our dining room table alongside my dad when Badger first started in 1995. We have grown quite a bit since then, and we now come to work each day in a beautiful ecological building, but I am still lucky enough to work with my family. I even got to bring my daughter Maya to work with me when she was a baby!"
Emily's favorite Badger products: Sleep Balm & Sore Muscle Rub

Check out Badger's Rose Beauty Products.

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