Rosehip oil is rich in beneficial oils and certain vitamins and has long been known for its positive effects on the skin. There is evidence that rosehip oil helps to improve the look of the skin in several different ways so no wonder many people have made this oil a staple in their skincare routines. If you are a rosehip oil newbie, continue reading to learn everything you need to know about this beneficial multipurpose oil.
How is rosehip oil made?
First of all, let’s look at how rosehip oil is made, to give you an idea of what goes on behind its production.
Rosehip oil is made of rosehips, fruits that grow on rose bushes once roses drop their petals.
This doesn’t mean rosehip oil is made from rosehips you see grown in all kind of places, not at all. Only certain types of rosehip seeds are chosen for the rosehip oil production. These normally come from Rosa canina L., a wild shrub commonly found in Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.
Other Rosa species are also used to produce rosehip oil, however, it has been shown that the content of fatty acids and antioxidants vary, depending on the species.
There are different ways of extracting rosehip oil from rosehip seeds with the main ones being:
- Solvent extraction
- Cold-pressed extraction
- Supercritical extraction
The type of extraction used affects the quality of rosehip oil and how much of valuable antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamins are left at the end.
The extraction method that results in the best quality rosehip oil is supercritical extraction. This non-toxic method uses carbon dioxide gas at high pressure to extract the oil at low temperatures. There is no heat present during this process.
Cold-press extraction method doesn’t use heat to extract the oil but during the process of crushing and pressing, a lot of friction can be generated (rosehip seeds are very hard) and this naturally results in some heat being created. Once the seeds have been crushed and oil released, the oil is then strained. No solvents are needed for this process.
Solvent extraction uses chemicals such as hexane (a neurotoxin!) and produces the lowest quality oils. If you discover any oils/extracts produced using this method, you should avoid them. That’s because, after extraction, some of these solvents may still remain in the extract, despite the best efforts from the manufacturers to remove them. Although hexane can easily be removed with evaporation, it doesn’t mean there is none left in the oil. And when other solvents are used there is still a question of purity of those oils and how much solvent was left behind. What’s more, the heat is used during this process so inevitably some loss of nutrients will occur.
Rosehip seed oil vs rosehip fruit oil
Just to mention that in some cases, rosehip oil is made using both, the seeds and fruit and this creates oil with a different nutritional profile and antioxidant levels.
It’s worth knowing that most of the beneficial fatty acids are found in rosehip seeds, not the fruit. So, rosehip oil that’s been made with seeds and fruits is not as rich in these fatty acids as pure rosehip seed oil. Also to note, there is much more vitamin A in rosehip fruits than seeds so this type of rosehip oil will be higher in this powerful antioxidant.
Sometimes, only the fruits (without the seeds) are used to make rosehip oil but this is a much longer process and not commonly practised as it takes too many resources. Of course, the final oil will have a totally different chemical composition than rosehip seed oil.
If you want to buy rosehip oil made only from the seeds, make sure the rosehip oil in question refers to as ‘rosehip seed oil’, not ‘rosehip oil’. Although some manufacturers use ‘rosehip oil’ for their rosehip seed oil so it’s not clear-cut. If in doubt check with the brand directly.
When ordering rosehip oil online, also check what extraction process has been used by a manufacturer and what parts of the plant they used to make the oil. What the most affects the final quality is the extraction method used to produce the oil so make sure you only buy cold-pressed rosehip oil.
By now you should understand that not all rosehip oils are created equal. The quality varies from brand to brand and if you go for a cheaper brand you will get what you pay for. The cheaper oils are those that they’ve been extracted using heat and therefore are of lower quality since the heat generated during the production process destroys some of the oil’s beneficial nutrients.
Beneficial compounds in rosehip oil
The exact nutritional composition of rosehip oil depends on several different factors, for example, the quality of rose hips used to produce the oil (organic or not organic, where they’ve been grown, etc.), the extraction method and the type of Rosa species.
However, in general, you will find the following beneficial compounds in rosehip oil of varying amounts:
- Essential fatty acids are the star ingredients in rosehip oil. The most important ones to mention here are linoleic acid, linolenic acid and oleic acid. These help to regenerate the skin, improve skin elasticity and restore skin moisture.
- Provitamin A – rosehip oil contains a naturally-occurring acid of retinol (a form of vitamin A), also called tretinoin. Tretinoin is commonly used for the treatment of acne and some other skin diseases. Retinol is proven to work on fine lines and wrinkles and for this reason, it gets added to various skin care products today. But synthetic retinol comes with various side effects so it’s always better to choose natural alternatives such as rosehip seed oil.
- Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a natural preservative helping to maintain the freshness of rosehip oil.
- Vitamin C – normally, only small amounts of vitamin C can be found in rosehip oil, sometimes even none. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and helps to brighten the skin.
There is a lack of information about the content of vitamin C in rosehip seed oil in scientific papers and despite that, many reputable sites wrongly state on their websites that rosehip seed oil is rich in vitamin C. It’s actually rosehip fruits that are extremely rich in vitamin C but there is a question of how much vitamin C there is in rosehip seed oil.
There have been several studies analysing chemical compounds found in rosehip seed oil and many have confirmed high content of essential fatty acids, Vitamin A and E (this one, for example). What about vitamin C? Nobody is mentioning vitamin C!
I couldn’t find a source explaining the chemical composition of rosehip seed oil which would mention vitamin C. However, I managed to find a report from the Institute of Chemical Engineering in Bulgaria which clarified any confusion about vitamin C in rosehip seeds.
The Bulgarian researchers have examined separately the different parts of the fruit (the skin, seeds and pappi) to determine their antioxidant activity and their content of vitamin C. They discovered that vitamin C was unequally distributed in the different parts of the fruit. The highest concentration of vitamin C was in the skin and 6 times less in the seeds. Pappi contained the lowest quantity of vitamin C.
Rosehip oil uses
Although rosehip oil is normally used on the face to smooth out fine lines, correct pigmentation and improve scarring, it can be used in other ways as well.
Here is what you can do with it (other than using it on your face):
- to improve the look of your scars, anywhere on the body
- to prevent and minimise the look of stretch marks
- to gently remove the eye makeup
- to improve skin disorders such as eczema and dermatitis; it can also be used on acne
- use it as a cuticle oil to nourish the nail bed and cuticles, improving healthy nail growth and reducing brittle nail growth
- use it on your damaged hair to aid repair and renewal process
- massage it into your scalp to moisturise it and encourage hair growth
- use it as a beard oil to provide shine to the beard and prevent irritation
- apply on small non-open wounds to encourage healing
- use it on your eyebrows to help them grow faster
You should never use rosehip oil as sunscreen though as this will not offer you adequate sun protection. Rosehip oil naturally has some SPF but it’s not enough to prevent sunburn.
How to use rosehip oil on your face
First, you want to make sure that your face has been thoroughly cleansed and contains no residue from other skincare products.
Rosehip oil should be used before, not after your moisturiser.
It doesn’t have to be diluted, you apply it directly to your skin.
Take a few drops of rosehip oil and massage slowly and thoroughly into your face. Use more if needed, to cover your neck area as well. 2-4 drops should be more than enough for your face and neck. Start with fewer drops and see how your skin responds.
If you are worried that the oil may give you some undesirable reaction, such as allergic reaction or acne, test the oil on a small area of skin first.
The best is to apply the oil after bathing or shower and never before since its positive effects will be minimised.
Apply rosehip oil at least twice a day (in the evening and in the morning) to reap all the benefits. Once a day is fine too but if you want to see improvements in your skin quicker, twice a day is the recommended frequency. At night, you could use a little bit more oil than in the morning to give your skin more nutrients and help it regenerate overnight.
You can use rosehip oil instead of moisturiser or you can add a few drops to your moisturiser and use it that way.
Or, once the rosehip oil has been applied to your face, you can add a moisturiser on top.
How to store rosehip oil
Rosehip oil is really sensitive to light, heat and air and therefore it’s important to store it correctly.
Before you buy it, check what bottle has it been put into. Is it dark glass bottle (brown/amber/blue)? It’s really important you buy rosehip oil stored in a dark glass bottle as this gives it protection from the light that can spoil it.
Once you open a new bottle of rosehip oil, make sure you close the cap tightly after each use.
Store it in a cool, dark place, ideally in the fridge to prevent it from going rancid. It’s especially important to store it in a cool place in summer when the temperatures are higher. Higher temperatures can easily spoil this delicate oil.
Rosehip oil FAQs
What does rosehip oil smell like?
Rosehip oil smells nothing like roses, it should have a woody scent, not very strong. The scent will vary from brand to brand and will depend on the quality of the oil and how it’s been extracted. The typical scent is subtle, not particularly pleasant but something that you can get used to. The scent should not be too strong.
Does rosehip oil clog pores?
Rosehip oil is suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin. The oil has a rating of 1 on the comedogenic scale and it’s considered to be non-comedogenic oil, basically, it’s an oil that has a very low likelihood of clogging your pores and giving you breakouts.
If you are worried it may not be suitable for your skin, the best is to do a patch test before using it all over the face.
Does rosehip oil expire?
Once rosehip oil has been packaged into the bottles, it has a shelf life of 1-2 years, depending on the extraction method used. Some brands add vitamin E to the oil to make it last longer. Rosehip oil does expire after a while though and it should be used up within 6 months of opening the bottle.
Can you use rosehip oil as a moisturiser?
Yes, you can but if your skin is pretty dry you will be better off using rosehip oil in combination with your face cream. Just remember to apply rosehip oil first and then the cream. You could also mix a few drops of rosehip oil into your face cream.
Is rosehip oil good for oily skin?
Yes, rosehip oil is suitable for all skin types, including oily skin. It’s a dry type of oil, non-greasy and quick to absorb. To use it on your oily skin, make sure you cleanse the skin properly first to avoid breakouts.
Can rosehip oil be used around the eyes?
Yes, rosehip oil can be used around the eyes focusing on dark areas and fine lines. Apply gently with your fingers, not too much and don’t drag the skin. I’ve personally used it safely around my eyes with no issues whatsoever. It certainly didn’t cause me milia. However, if you are prone to milia, you may want to check with a skincare professional first for advice.
Is rosehip oil safe during pregnancy?
Rosehip oil is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. As long as you apply it topically and don’t ingest it! Many pregnant women use it to prevent stretch marks and even for perineal massage.
Which brand of rosehip oil is best?
If you were wondering which rosehip brand is good, here are some of the most popular rosehip oils you can try: