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, choose a product from a known manufacturer to be sure the product is safe from pesticides.
If you have rosebushes in your yard, consider leaving some of them unpruned. Harvest the rosehips and break them open to examine the fruit. You may even want to use a handful to brew a cup of tea or make your own rosehip oil.
How does rosehip oil work?
- 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 safe 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 Great Britain was unable to import citrus fruits during World War II, the government encouraged people to collect rosehips. The rosehips were made into syrup that was then distributed to people as a source of vitamin C and other nutrients.
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, which 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.
Rosehip oil is a folk remedy for arthritis and joint pain. A 2008 review of studies 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 review of clinical trials, 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. A 2018 review of four studies found that lycopene-rich products can help protect skin from the sun.
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
- itchy, watery eyes
- chest discomfort
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 24 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 breastfeeding 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. 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 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, blend a few drops of essential oil with about an ounce of rosehip oil and apply topically. Rosehip oil is often used as a carrier oil for essential oils.
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 pain-relieving 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.Reference:
Angelo G. (2012). Vitamin A and skin health.
Bohm V, et al. (2003). Rosehip—a “new” source of lycopene? DOI:
Christensen R, et al. (2008). Does the hip powder of Rosa canina(rosehip) reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients? – A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. DOI:
Chrubasik C, et al. (2008). A systematic review on the Rosa caninaeffect and efficacy profiles. DOI:
Cohen M. (2012). Rosehip an evidence based herbal medicine for inflammation and arthritis.
Dilokthornsakul W, et al. (2018). The protective effect of lycopene-rich products on skin photodamage: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Dog rose. (2012).
Hongratanworakit T. (2009). Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans [Abstract].
How are essential oils extracted? (n.d.).
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Osteoarthritis.
Michels AJ. (2011). Vitamin C and skin health.
Poljsak B, et al. (2012). Free radicals and extrinsic skin aging. DOI:
Rose hips: Attractive and edible. (n.d.).
Written by Annette McDermott — Updated on March 20, 2019
Photo Credit: Chelsea Shapouri