review (updated): rosehip oil

UPDATE (2013-08): while I don’t use this all over, or regularly, I do still use it fairly often. In the time since this review was first posted, I’ve used various combinations and permutations of the following, for topical sunscreen-boosting antioxidants:

  • vitamin C (+/- E) serums (ex. from Silk Naturals)
  • green-tea-based serums (ex. from Garden of Wisdom)

and meadowfoam seed oil for moisture.

Examples of usage:

  • morning: Garden of Wisdom Natural Majik Green Tea Hydragel + GoW Matcha Green Tea Hyaluronic Acid Serum
    (= antioxidant humectant layer, pretty much all over)
    + meadowfoam seed oil (= moisturiser)
    + lip balm (= lip and eye area moisturiser)
    + sunscreen
  • evening: Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate seed & oil blend in eye area
    + meadowfoam seed oil (all over)
    + lip balm (= lip and eye area moisturiser)

But I admit that I often just go to bed without washing myself, or I do something sketchy and lazy with maximum two steps. My main purpose in using rosehip oil is the same as for using other topical antioxidants: sun protection. Others are as interested, or more interested, in using these sorts of things for skin renewal, revival, regeneration, etc. I’m not  fussed about the vanity aspects (skin brightening / whitening, etc.), but whatever, each to their own…

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST (2011-12): Used off and on for about five years; twice daily for around about the last two years. Skin here: sensitive, dryish, prone to irritation breakouts (or, irritation as expressed as a breakout–first place is the thin skin around the nose). Used various brands along the way; see further down for specifics. Applying it like a serum, after washing, to damp skin. About 2-3 drops for face, a similar amount for neck and throat, and a drop patted in around the eyes. More than that, and it can feel greasy. Then moisturiser on top in the morning and evening, plus sunscreen on top of that in the morning.


It’s a lightweight oil, easily absorbed. Like any oil, it will moisturise. It’s fairly well-tolerated on quite a range of skin types and conditions. Not all, YMMV, do research reviews and other online resources to see if it seems likely to suit *your* very individual skin.

Made from the seeds of the rose; sometimes with the addition of an extract made from the rest of fruit: the “hip.” As with other plants, that seed is the part that feeds the baby plant that will eventually leave the parent plant and start a new life of its own. Hence high and concentrated nutritional content: most obviously lots of fats.

Rose hip seeds have all this and more, as they’re also high in antioxidants, especially retinol, plus essential fatty acids. Very high in vitamin C and A (as retinol; the only plant-sourced oil to contain vit A, which you’ll otherwise find in many animal fats, ex. fish oils). Useful for dealing with photodamage, retinol helping with cell regeneration/turnover, collagen renewal, elastin levels. General “skin food”: linoleic acid or omega-6, and linolenic acid or omega-3: good for moisture, repair, soothing and smoothing, especially on more sensitive and eczematic skin.

Given that I can’t use any other forms of vitamin A without massive skin reaction, this stuff is a godsend.

Can be eaten too–or drunk in the form of rosehip tea–indeed, this provides at least as many benefits from ingestion as from topical application (if not more). As is usually the case with antioxidants.


May be made from the seed of any of the main common rose varieties. Most often nowadays from rosa moscheta, the musk rose a.k.a. rosa rubiginosa or r. eglanteria = the briar, or sweet briar, or eglantine rose. Same plant, different names. It’s usually called r. moscheta (freq. misspelled moschata) for cosmetic purposes, though the official botanical / scientific name is r. rubiginosa (alt. eglanteria for historical reasons). Reckoned to be originally from the Himalayas, native to western Asia and Europe, cultivated for millenia, main commercial source now Chile (and Argentina).

(Rarer) from a different rose species native to the Alps, rosa pendulina. Ex. used in some Swiss skincare products.

A completely different beast from “rose oil” = scented / perfume oil, made from rose petals, and usually from different species (rosa damascena, rosa centifolia, r. gallica, r. canina, etc.). Rose otto = made by steam distillation; rose absolute = by solvent or CO2 extraction.


From (kind of the UK equivalent of Garden of Wisdom, Mountain Rose Herbs, and other ingredient-providers)

Description: Cold pressed. The seeds contain approx. 9% oil. A dry to very dry oil. The only Vegetable Oil which contains natural Retinoic acid (Vitamin A acid). Good for oily skin, sensitive skin, skin problems and skin with large pores. The best Vegetable Oil source of Omega 3. Also a good source of Omega 6.

Origin: Most commercial Rosehip oil now comes from Chile and grows wild in the Southern Andes.

Thickening point: – 15 ºC

Shelf life: Keeps for 2 – 5 years.


  • 13 – 19 % Oleic Acid (Omega 9);
  • 48% Linoleic Acid (Omega 6);
  • 25 – 35% Alpha Linoleic Acid (Omega 3);
  • 5 – 8% Glycerin;
  • 0.06 – 0.09% E-vitamin – Natural d-alpha Tocopherol;
  • 0.0001% A-Vitamin Acid (Retinol Acid);
  • a tiny amount of Beta carotene.

Rosehip Seed Oil which is used commercially is produced in Chile. It is extracted from seeds of a rosebush which grows wild in the southern Andes. It is the only Vegetable Oil which contains natural Retinol acid (A-Vitamin acid) – 125mcg per every 100g.

Rosehip Seed Oil is high in both Linoleic Fatty Acid and Linolenic Fatty Acids and they belong to what we call Essential Fatty Acids often known as Vitamin-F. One of the effects of these is to reduce the size of the pores so it’s very good for preparations for people with large pores on the skin. Because of its natural content of Vitamin A, it is also very good for all kinds of skin infections such as acne, pimples and boils. It is also useful in the treatment of damaged skin tissue caused by scalds, burns and varicose veins.

The consistency of Rosehip Seed Oil is dry to very dry and is useful in all kinds of face oils where the purpose is cell regeneration. The high quantity of Linolenic Acid (a Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid) means that Rosehip Seed Oil has a low melting point (20ºC minus). This helps to counteract the high melting point of Saturated Fats such as Cholesterol (150ºC plus), Cocoa Butter (28ºC plus). This high melting point means that it is hard for the body to process. This is one of the reasons why people with oily skin / acne should not eat chocolate. By adding Rosehip Seed Oil to your skin, you reduce the overall melting point of the fats in your skin allowing the body to process them.

  • Rosehip Oil contains 5% Saturated Fatty Acids, 16% Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids, 41 – 50% Duo-Unsaturated Fatty Acids and 30-36% Poly-unsaturated Fatty Acids.
  • Due to the high level of of Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids, you should never buy the oil without added 0.5% Vitamin E Oil. (This prevents the oil from going rancid.) Without this the Rosehip Oil will have a shelf life of less than 6 months. By adding 0.5% Vitamin E Oil, this will increase the shelf life to around 2 years.
  • Rosehip Oil reduces the fattiness of other Vegetable Oils in blends.
  • Rosehip Oil is a classical and luxurious Vegetable Oil which is excellent for sensitive and oily skin, acne and for skin with large pores.
  • Rosehip Oil has a short surface time on the skin which means that is absorbed fast and leaves no fatty residue. It is very good for face oils.
  • Can be used in face oils, creams, lotions and massage oils.

See also: the product information pages of Mountain Rose Herbs and, as ever, the Wikipedia article.


  • Skin smoother, more even, firm.
  • No irritation, indeed feels soothed. May be increasing skin resilience (and may “toughen” it up slightly–in the case of thin fragile skin, this is a great thing). This depends on the oil type, though (see further below)
  • Helps moisture levels (in my case, in combination with moisturiser and sunscreen on top).
  • May help reduce scarring; also used for stretch-marks.

I tested out all of the above (being the hypothetical benefits–testing this as, well, a scientific hypothesis) vs. not using RHO. Methodology:
1. split-face testing, product vs. nothing
2. split-face testing, one product vs. another
3. one day on with stuff, one day off (without)
4. ditto, for a week. This was usually accidental rather than intentional, due to forgetting stuff when away, or to having lost it or broken a bottle and not got round to replacing it yet for work-crisis reasons.

Not sure but while I can’t prove it helped scarring, it hasn’t actively hindered it either. Also: at the time of the injury, didn’t use RH oil cos it was an accident and a first-aid situation: witch-hazel on cotton pad, disinfectant, anti-bug stuff, and dressings. I had an accident two months ago that involved smashing a glass in my face (did it to myself, entirely own stupidity, not having fights with trolls or anything…). Nose cut to bone at the bridge, upper lip (mouth to nose area) cut through (tooth bumped, mouth cut through on inside too). Once the wounds had sealed and I could wash and touch them, I used RH oil as per usual, plus moisturiser and more sunscreen than usual. Two months on and the nose will scar, but it’s already very faint. The upper-lip marks are almost gone. Can supply before and after photos if need be–happen to have one from a conference dinner 3 days after accident, can take an “after” one any time …


Increasing in price down the list.

1. Refined:

= what I prefer: better-tolerated on sensitive skin, longer-lasting, and cheaper.

Doesn’t include any of the Exciting Exotic Extras (inc. Foreign Undesirables and potential irritants) that may be found in the unrefined kind.
If you’ve had issues with RHO before, try this. Should be more or less odourless. A very light yellowish shade, nearly colourless.

Of the various sorts of RHO, this one has the least of all the “natural goodness” etc. But better than nothing; better to be getting some of these lovely supposedly skin-nourishing things than none at all; and better to use something your skin tolerates than something it doesn’t. Cos if it doesn’t, you’ll be doing more harm than good: damage, needing to use other things to repair the damage, destabilised skin, ruined skin barrier, etc. It’s like with sunscreen: sure, by using ZnO-only stuff I’m not using super-high PPD stuff, but at least what I use offers some PPD, it is broad-spectrum for UVA & UVB, and it does the job–main jobs being preventing burning (my main risk and concern, as a redhead who’s already had a Curious Growth Incident) and reducing photosensitive reactions.

  • NOW brand, bought in Whole Foods and in various places online: some bottles smell slightly of rosemary; not to worry, doesn’t seem to make any difference.

2. Unrefined, cold-pressed:

Smell: Should smell slightly earthy-nutty-fruity, not pungently sweet, with a smoky tea note. Some contain preservatives, either vitamin E or rosemary oil. Some smell slightly meatier, well, more like fishier. Not rankly fish though it’s not unusual for there to be at least some fishiness to the scent, as is often the case with omega fatty acids (borage and evening primrose have this nose-note too). Colours range from deep amber to near-red, most are in the orange range. Textures vary: some are heavier.


  • The commonest kind of RHO. Readily available, many manufacturers. Competitive market, competitive prices.
  • Some (check with manufa
    cturers–some have been indicated below) are fair-trade; most are organic.


  • NBBB YMMV. I’ve had least tolerability from this kind of oil.
  • Competitive prices = huge range of prices, and higher price is no indication of any difference, for good or for ill, in quality. Most often, you’re paying for packaging (and other overheads and middle-men) rather than product.
  • Short shelf-life, goes off quickly. It’ll smell and skin will too. Should be kept refrigerated; warm the requisite small quantity between hands before use. Best to buy little and often from a supplier with a rapid turnover; resist the temptation to buy greater quantities even though they’re a lower price by volume… Be careful buying online, especially at warmer times of year, as the oil is so fragile that it can be damaged through temperature changes (especially higher ones) in transit. As is normal, to be fair, unless it’s being transported like a biological specimen, which would render the cost prohibitive.
  • Always also means possible inclusion of things that might be irritants (very individual), and variation between batches and bottles. I’ve had some bottles that were fine, others that weren’t.

Some folks may prefer to have completely utterly pure oil with no preservatives. Unfortunately, this is hard to juggle with the oil’s fragility, even if buying very little–say, weekly. If that’s your cup of tea (same goes for organic/not), check with manufacturers before ordering.

You can always add in a little vitamin E yourself as a preservative, as suggested in the Aromantic information further up. If worried about skin reactions, look for a vitamin E oil that’s the straight-up lab synthesized sort and/or from safflower seed (avoid the one from wheat-germ; at least, I’ve had issued with it even though I’m not coeliac). Either the oil in a bottle or–usually cheaper–the capsules meant for ingestion; just snip one open and pour the contents into your RHO.

Here’s some more reasonably-priced brands:

  • Garden of Wisdom
  • Mountain Rose Herbs (Fair Trade, like all their stuff)
  • some Etsy sellers (online: prices vary considerably): often cheapest. But short shelf-life.

Some other more widely-available ones: but beware breakouts, short life and rapid rancidity, and costing USD20.00 to 40.00 – and even more!!! per ounce:

  • Aubrey Organics
  • Melvita
  • Natio
  • Neal’s Yard
  • Primavera
  • Renew
  • Skin Actives
  • Sukin
  • Trilogy (fair trade and carbon-neutral, inc. their transport)
  • various Etsy sellers, etc.

—Of these, the most easily findable ones are Trilogy–in some boutiquey places and online–& Aubrey Organics–in health-food/eco-stores (also online), cheaper than Trilogy.

3. Unrefined, but different manufacturing process–supercritical CO2 extraction:

Supercritical carbon dioxide is used as the extraction solvent, rather than traditional (and less environmentally-friendly) hydrocarbons, and rather than using the cold-pressing method. Compared to cold-pressing, this method produces a more stable oil, doesn’t oxidise, much longer shelf-life. Currently more expensive method, partly through set-up costs; though the cost should decrease over time and it’s a longer-term more viable method.

Here’s an article about it: Siti Machmudah, Yukari Kawahito, Mitsuru Sasaki, Motonobu Goto. “Supercritical CO2 extraction of rosehip seed oil: Fatty acids composition and process optimization.” The Journal of Supercritical Fluids 41: 3 (July 2007): 421-428.

  • A’Kin (similar—high—prices to Trilogy, plus shipping costs)
  • From Nature With Love
  • The Herbarie
  • lots from other cos. in Australia & New Zealand: the extraction process was *I think* developed there, or at least most of the commercial use has been there

4. Unrefined, seed oil + fruit extract, CO2 extraction:
Blend of seed oil + fruit extract vs. oil only: more sterols and carotenoids, compared to seed-only. As with many other fruit, the whole rosehip–skin and all–includes trace minerals and more vitamins (the whole fruit is very high in C), and more sterols and carotenoids, compared to the seed (or just the seed oil) alone. Maximum around 5% fruit extract in the blend (for practical / formulating reasons). More expensive, but as with 3. above, longer life, more stable, doesn’t oxidise. Orange, more viscous than refined, less so (and less dense, heavy-feeling) than other unrefined whole-fruit oils. Contains some vit. E (sunflower) for extra antioxidant effect, and as a stabiliser and preservative (c/o antioxidant effect). Smells like rosehip tea. This is the only unrefined (and organic, etc.) one that I’ve found tolerable and can use longer-term. That’s my skin, not the oil :)

  • Kosmea (online)
  • Pai (online, some boutiques)
5. Fruit extract only (CO2-extracted):
The main one I’ve found is from
  • Garden of Wisdom.
Also contains FLAVEX rosemary antioxidant, as a stabiliser, and otherwise “no additives, preservatives, carriers and no technical adjuncts. It is not reinforced, blended, diluted or formulated, it is conform to the EC-regulation 88/388 for natural extracts” (as per here). It’ll be thick and viscous; recommended to mix in 5% with 95% of the seed oil (or whatever else you’re mixing it into–can be used in formulating creams etc.).


1. Beware of being overcharged:
Sample prices:

  • Refined:
    NOW = CAD 10.50 / 1 oz (30 ml), online from USD 4.00 / 1 oz (not including shipping costs).
  • Unrefined, cold-pressed:
    Mountain Rose Herbs = USD 17.25 / 8 oz to $ 871.00 / 5 gallons; works out around $ 1.40-2.15 / 1 oz
    Garden of Wisdom = USD 5.65 / 1 oz or $ 13.85 / 4 oz; works out around $ 3.50-5.65 / 1 oz
  • Unrefined, CO2-extracted:
    From Nature With Love = USD 7.71 / 0.5 oz to $234.00 / 32 oz; most sizes work out around about $10.00-12.00 / 1 oz
  • Unrefined, CO2-extracted, blend of seed oil + fruit extract:
    Kosmea = USD 24.50-27.00 / 1 oz (1 oz & 2 oz available)
    Pai = USD 35.00 / 1 oz.
  • CO2-extracted fruit extract:
    GoW = USD 6.30 / 0.25 oz; works out at $25.20 / 1 oz

If it’s plain unrefined cold-pressed seed oil–most RHO sold is–and costs more than that, you’re being ripped off and/or paying for pretty packaging.

2. Beware of organic-washing:
ex. Trilogy
= USD 24.00 / 20 ml to $44.00 / 45 ml, works out around $ 29.00 – 36.00/ 1 oz
compared to the Garden of Wisdom and Mountain Rose Herbs ones
even the most expensive small size from GoW = $5.65 / 1 oz.
The latter two are organic, yet they still keep prices decent. There’s also the quibble that organic may be worth choosing for ethical reasons (environment) but no evidence for any difference in topical application to skin.

3. Beware of what looks like the “whole fruit” oil:
Beware of companies making ambiguous statements which may lead you to think that you’re buying an oil made from the whole fruit. There’s no such thing: it’ll be a blend of seed oil + fruit extract, and not much of the latter (for formulating and aesthetic reasons): around about a 95:5 ratio.

Readers: I fell for this one.
Yes, me, the person who prides herself on never falling for anything. I’ve been kicking myself black and blue over this, and it’s the main reason I’ve edited all my MUA rosehip oil reviews AND posted this revised version of the blog version.

4. Beware of things that look like they’re rosehip seed oil but aren’t:
I don’t mean Crisco that’s been rebottled. Read the label and ingredient list carefully, because just like with argan oil, there’s a lot of products out there that contain rosehip oil but also contain other stuff too.

Ex. Evan Healy Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum.

$25 / 0.5 oz (15 ml). THAT’S TEN TIMES THE PRICE of plain standard cold-pressed rosehip oil.

This stuff, to be fair, isn’t labelled as “rosehip oil” but many aficionados seem to think it is RHO, and most of the stuff on the manufacturer’s product description page is about rosehip oil and its benefits. Except this bit right at the end. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting BS in bold; as you’ll see, all the BS here relates to the extra stuff in here that’s not actually RHO:

[… long section all about rosehip oil, qualities, benefits, esp. for anti-aging *sigh*…] Precious essential oils are added to enhance the action of the rose hip seed oil. Their tiny molecular size and lipophilic (oil-loving) tendency make them ideal for curative skin treatments.

What is the difference between Blue and Rose Serums?
Our Rose Serum harmonizes and regenerates dry, devitalized, prematurely aging skin. It contains essential oils of rose geranium, rosewood, sandalwood, carrot seed.
Our Blue Serum soothes sensitive, irritated, oily and/or delicate skin. It contains essential oils of lavender, blue chamomile, immortelle, carrot seed.
Both serums contribute significant benefits to an anti-aging skin care routine.

The only thing possibly doing anything anti-ageing in here is the RHO… unless you believe in the power of smells, in which case, go burn them or whatever to scent the air, but don’t necessarily spread them around willy-nilly on your skin. The Rose one (apart from rosewood EO) would probably be OK on quite a lot of sensitive skins. The Blue one might, except for the lavender: while lavender *water* may, in some circumstances, be a good idea on some sensitive skins; the oil is not, and is a very different chemical beast. Tsk.

Here are the full ingredients:

Blue: Rose hip seed oil (Rosa canina seed); essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia maillette), blue chamomile (Matricaria recutica), immortelle (Helichrysum italicum), carrot seed (Daucus carota), and vitamin E (tocopherol).
Rose: Rose hip seed oil (Rosa canina seed); essential oils of rose geranium (Pelargonium roseum asperum), rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), carrot seed (Daucus carota), sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) Australia, and vitamin E (tocopherol).

I’ll remind you of the argan oil analogy:

Always. Read. The. Label. Especially the ingredient list. There is a crucial difference between “contains 100% pure argan oil” and “100% pure argan oil.”

For example: Moroccanoil, Agadir, and Organix have treatments that have ARGAN OIL in big letters on the front, but are mainly cyclopentasiloxane etc.

It’s like this statement from Papa John’s Pizza:

Now, I have eaten Papa John’s pizza. I have also eaten various other pizzas, including in Italy, including in Naples. And I’ve eaten mozzarella. Which is as completely different a beast from ”crafted from 100% mozzarella and high-quality milk by one of America’s finest cheese producers” as, well, Papa John’s pizza is from an Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana-certified pizza. To be fair, PJ’s training is probably a bit different from this, too.


  1. Tiffaine

    So much wonderful information! Thank you for sending me this link and the others. I will be reading all of it – and more! =)

    • gingerama

      You’re welcome: glad to be useful. Spread the wealth of knowledge! Especially other people’s, and help celebrate their work–like my heroes on Wikipedia *smooch* !!

  2. worrywort

    I have been using organic rosehip from RainAfrica for about 6 months now. I used to swear by it, but recently my skin is feeling burny is it possible my skin is changing or suddenly having a strange reaction after all this time?

    • gingerama

      Yes, both these things are possible. Other possibilities:
      1. Change in diet
      2. Change in hormonal levels
      3. Changes in sleep, stress, activity, exercise (and then back to 2)
      4. Other products you’re using, including any new ones (or any you’ve stopped); could be them, could be them combined with the RHO
      5. Change in environment: seasonal shift, weather, dryness or dampness of air, wind, air temperature; sudden shifts in temperature and humidity from indoors to outdoors (home/outside/work, plus heating or air-conditioning indoors and in vehicles); moving house and changing water (or if your local water has become harder)
      6. As you point out yourself: + skin changing or new reactions
      7. Any combination of the above

      One way to find out: don’t change anything, but only use the rosehip oil on one side of your face (and body, I’m presuming you’re using it and other regular face stuff on your neck, throat, bosom area…). Don’t use it on the other side. All else as per usual, and don’t try out any new products in the meantime. Keep doing so, with the RHO on the same side of the face each time. This split-face testing may already provide results quite fast (a week, maybe even a day or two) but if you want to be more sure, keep doing it for a good month (6 weeks, to cover for normal monthly hormone cycles) and take photos morning and evening, in the same lighting conditions etc. each time.

      Ah, what did we do before cheap cameras and cameras on phones…

      Hope that helps!

    • Asmah

      @worrywort:vitamin A content of rose hip oil makes skin sensitive and u need to apply sunscreen daily when using any product with vitamin A

      • gingerama

        Yes, wearing sunscreen is a good idea. Although the type of vitamin A and quantity (and concentration) are quite different from a stronger version (retinaldehyde, like Retin-A or the Avène Ysthéal and Éluage products); in the case of rosehip seed oil, most of the vitamin A is *probably* used up as an antioxidant. Thus: boosting sun protection (like vitamins C and E in their various forms). But better safe than sorry!

        YMMV as ever. My view is that sunscreen is worth wearing, for most people, anyway.

        On sensitivity: this will vary from individual to individual, and with natural variations from one rosehip seed oil to another.

        For example: I cannot apply stronger retinaldehyde products to my skin at all: immediate contact dermatitis. But I can use some rosehip seed oils.

        With sensitive or sensitised skin (which are themselve two different things), when it reacts, that reaction can look exactly the same–in terms of observed physical changes–and feel the same–pain–even though the cause and process is different. This is especially true of slower reactions, such as skin getting reddened, “cloggy,” and “zitty” after using a product or ingredient for a couple of days, or a week, or even a couple of weeks or a full monthly cycle. The cause of that skin reaction could be one single thing, or a combination, or acting in concert with other factors (such as the usual hormone fluctuations over the course of a month; or diet, sleep, weather, other environmental factors). And the way that reaction is happening–the biochemistry behind it–will also vary. So: a note of caution on saying things like “X makes skin sensitive” … in the nicest possible way, and with all due respect 🙂

  3. Annie

    This is the most informative post on oil for skincare I ever read. Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful post. I enjoy reading it very much.
    I am very interested in rosehip oil now. I’ve decide to try the co2 extract version but when I look up fnwl and theherbarie they say the recommend amount is around 5%?, and it’s akin to rosehip eo. Does that mean I can’t use the co2 extract neat?

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