What Are the Benefits of Rosehip Oil?

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI on April 18, 2016Written by Annette McDermott

What is rosehip oil?

Rosehips are the fruit of a rosebush. When roses die and are left on the bush, they leave behind bright reddish-orange, spherical fruit. The tiny edible fruits are thought to pack a powerful medicinal punch.

All roses produce rosehips, but certain varieties such as Rosa rugose and Rosa canina are better at the job. When selecting rosehip oil, be sure to never use any form of rosehips grown with synthetic pesticides or herbicides.

How does rosehip oil work?

Rosehip oil contains vitamin C and vitamin A. It also contains essential fatty acids such as:

  • oleic acid
  • palmitic acid
  • linoleic acid
  • gamma linolenic acid

Rosehip oil is also a good source of vitamin F, a fatty acid made of linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid.

Rosehip oil is an alternative and complementary medicine, so there aren’t many studies proving its effectiveness. Anecdotal evidence supports its value as a skin care product.

Benefits of rosehip oil

Rosehips have been used for centuries, as far back as the days of Hippocrates. Keep reading to learn more about the various benefits of rosehip oil.

Rosehip oil and vitamin C

Rosehips are thought to have more vitamin C than an orange or lemon. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties. Research shows vitamin C may help reduce ultraviolet light damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also supports collagen production, which helps reduce wrinkling. Finally, vitamin C may increase wound healing and help prevent dry skin.

When choosing rosehip oil for skin care, keep in mind some vitamin C may be lost during the oil extraction process. Vitamin C is also water-soluble and doesn’t store well. This makes it difficult to know exactly how much vitamin C is in rosehip skin care products. Some manufacturers add vitamin C to their rosehip oil formulations. You’re still getting the benefits of vitamin C for your skin, but you may not be getting all of the benefits directly from rosehips.

Other skin benefits

Rosehip oil contains vitamin A. Research on vitamin A shows it may benefit your skin by:

  • reducing and reversing sun damage
  • reducing wrinkles
  • reducing hyperpigmentation
  • treating mild to moderate acne

There is anecdotal evidence that rosehip oil reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks. But there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim. It may be due to the vitamin A, vitamin C, and fatty acid content of the oil.

Osteoarthritis relief

Rosehip oil is a folk remedy for arthritis and joint pain. A 2008 meta-analysis showed rosehip powder reduced osteoarthritis pain better than placebo with no adverse side effects.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones wears away. The positive results from rosehip oil may be due to the polyphenols and anthocyanin in the oil, which are thought to reduce inflammation and joint pain.

The anti-inflammatory benefits of rosehip oil may make it a good option for people who cannot take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medicines.

Although rosehip powder was the focus of the meta-analysis, results support the potential pain-relieving properties of rosehips in other forms as well.

Source of lycopene

A 2003 study found rosehips are a great source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from skin-damaging free radicals. Newer research is needed to support this claim.

Stress reduction

Rosehip oil has an intoxicating scent and is used in aromatherapy. According to a 2009 study, inhaling rosehip oil reduced autonomic responses such as systolic blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and breathing rate. In addition, participants were calmer and more relaxed than those in the control group.

Side effects of rosehip oil

Side effects of topical rosehip oil are rare, though an allergic reaction is possible. Allergic reaction symptoms may be mild or severe, and may include:

  • rash or hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heartrate
  • dizziness
  • congestion
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • wheezing
  • chest discomfort
  • anaphylaxis

To limit your risk of allergic reaction, do a skin patch test before using. Start by applying rosehip oil on your wrist, elbow, or jawline. Then cover the area and leave the oil on your skin for 24h hours. If no rash occurs, you’re less likely to be allergic. If you experience irritation, rinse thoroughly and do not use again. If irritation is severe, call your doctor.

Risk factors of rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is generally considered safe when used topically for a short time under the supervision of your doctor or natural health practitioner. It’s not recommended for internal use.

Rosehip oil is not well studied or recommended for use by children, pregnant women, or breast-feeding women.

In some cases, vitamin C isn’t good for you. It’s unclear how much vitamin C is in rosehip oil or how much is absorbed by your skin. As a result, if you have any of the following conditions, do not use rosehip oil without your doctor’s approval:

  • Diabetes: vitamin C may impact diabetes control
  • Kidney stones: large amounts of vitamin C may increase your risk of kidney stones
  • Anemia: vitamin C may impact how your body absorbs iron

Rosehips in any form may increase your bleeding risk. Stop using two weeks before surgery or if you take blood clotting medication.

How to use rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is most often used topically or in aromatherapy. Unlike other essential oils, rosehip oil may be applied directly to the skin without using a carrier oil. Vitamin E may be added as a natural preservative.

Rosehip oil should be stored in a dark glass bottle to prevent light exposure. Most brands need refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

There are no established dosage recommendations for rosehip oil. A general guideline is to apply it twice daily to your face as a moisturizer. You can also apply it directly to dry areas of your skin, scars, and stretch marks. Consult your doctor or a natural health practitioner for dosage advice to treat wounds or skin conditions such as eczema.

For aromatherapy, you may:

  • inhale rosehip oil directly
  • use it as a massage oil
  • add a few drops to your bath
  • add it to a diffuser
  • apply it to your pulse points

Rosehip oil may also be used as carrier oil for other essential oils. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils that can’t be applied directly to the skin.

Should you use rosehip oil?

Rosehip oil is a nourishing, natural oil with potential skin and stress relief benefits. More research is needed to determine its painkilling and other health benefits, but results so far are encouraging.

Before using rosehip oil to treat a condition such as eczema or osteoarthritis, speak with your doctor. They can help you determine if rosehip oil is right for you.

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