WRITTEN BY KAYLA SAXTON AND DR. SWATHI“What smells so good?”
It’s probably the rose hips.
Rosehip oil is derived from Rosa canina. To extract the herbaceous oil from Rosa canina, the plant must undergo a complex process that involves pressing the fruit and seeds.
Plants in the genus, Rosa, have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Noted in published literature, rosehip oil, in particular, is valued for its healing benefits leading to its increased interest in the natural beauty space.
One of the most common reasons to use rose hips in cosmetics (besides the incredible aroma) is because of its anti-aging. A 2015 study using rosehip powder showed improved moisture retention and skin elasticity as well as reduced prominence of dreaded crow’s feet. Originating from the fatty acid content of the pressed oil, rose hips can provide radical hydration to the skin. Primarily linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, these fatty acids are associated with decreasing chances for breakouts as well as making the skin radiant and supple.
Rosehip oil is composed in such a way that features its notable antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. In the molecular structure of rosehips, the oil contains phenol groups, which, in this case, are key for a host of wonderful benefits for the skin. It also contains vitamins A (also known as carotenoids), B, C, and E.
Found in rose hip oil, lutein, lycopene, and zeathanthin are carotenoids that promote skin cell turnover to reduce hyperpigmentation like dark spots or acne scars. Working in synergy with the orange powerhouse sea buckthorn oil, clinical research shows that they can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and be part of the treatment regimen for acne. Rose hips is filled with flavonoids, like quercetin and catechins, which have been thought to be some of the most potent antioxidants; these compounds have been shown to play a role in preventing the leading causes of death in the USA: heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, assists in cell regeneration to boost skin radiance. Vitamins A & C are key in collagen formation therefore increasing skin firmness. The phenols and vitamin E are believed to assist in rosehip’s ability to reduce inflammation. Based on current literature, the findings from dermatitis studies suggest a promising future for oils derived from the Rosa species in the treatment of inflammatory skin disorders like dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
As you are probably aware, rose hips has the most distinct, alluring aroma. This is due to the number of terpenes found in the plant. You may remember the term terpene from other information you have learned about cannabis; terpenes are referred to as the essential oils of a plant which can determine the smell and a number of the therapeutic benefits. Rose hips, in particular, has significant amounts of the commonly discussed terpenes: pinene, B-caryophyllene, linalool, all associated with anti-inflammatory properties.
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- Chrubasik C, Roufogalis BD, Müller‐Ladner U, et al, A systematic review on the Rosa canina effect and efficacy profiles. Phytother. Res., 2008;22:725-733.
- Jay K. Rosehip oil for face: Anti-aging, acne, dark circles, and more. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/rosehip-oil-for-face. Published August 8, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2021.
- Mohebitabar S, Shirazi M, Bioos S, Rahimi R, Malekshahi F, Nejatbakhsh F. Therapeutic efficacy of rose oil: A comprehensive review of clinical evidence. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2017;7(3):206-213.
- Phetcharat L, Wongsuphasawat K, Winther K. The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture, and elasticity. Clin Interv Aging. 2015;10:1849-1856.
This article was written by Dr. Swathi and past Element Apothec Scientific Communications Intern, Kayla Saxton, a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in Athens, Georgia.