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Rosehip oil: the uses and benefits of rose hip essential oil

Updated on July 19, 2013

Introduction to rosehip oil

Looking for a natural, but also an effective, skin care oil?

Rosehip (or rose hip, as it is sometimes spelled) essential oil is a proven reducer of lines, wrinkles, and scars, and there are many more benefits of this versatile plant and the essential oil derived from it.

Rose hip essential oil is extracted from the seeds and seed cases of a rose bush (commonly Rosa canina or Rosa majalis, but other rose species are also used).The rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant.

The oil from the plant contains retinol (vitamin A), vitamin C, and essential fatty acids. These combined nutrients make it a great skincare product, packed full of natural anti-oxidants.

Rosehip oil is not the same as attar of roses or rose oil. Attar of roses is produced from rose petals, and rose hip oil from the hips which form after the rose's blooming is over.

Both rosehip oil and attar of roses are wonderful oils, but they are entirely different - they are used for different things, and their scent is also different.

Rosa canina rosehips have fine hairs on the outside, which can irritate. These should be removed before you use the rose hips.

Wild rosehips growing in late summer. Photo is in the public domain.
Wild rosehips growing in late summer. Photo is in the public domain.

Benefits of rosehip essential oil for skin and hair

Do you want to reduce wrinkles, fine lines and "crows-feet" marks?

Applied twice a day, rose hip oil can help your skin return to a more youthful appearance. Expect to see results in about three months.

Rosehip plant oil can be also used in body creams, lotions and massage oils.

Why does it work so well? Rose hip is particularly high in vitamin C, containing about 1700–2000 milligrams per 100 grams of oil, and the product contains natural tretinoin (the acidic form of vitamin A).

Tretinoin is the active ingredient in many dermatologist-prescribed wrinkle reducers.

The two vitamins work to halt and reverse typical signs of aging such as wrinkles, crow's feet and sagging skin by accelerating the skin's cellular activity, in turn hastening skin renewal and cell regeneration. The face becomes firmer and smoother as signs of aging diminish.

Other applications of rosehip essential oil include improving the appearance of scars, including those from acne or radiation therapy.

Rose hip oil also helps fade age spots and reduces uneven pigmentation.

Too much sun? Try applying a few drops of rosehip plant oil to the sunburn for a soothing remedy.

The powerful anti-oxidant properties of the oil are one reason why it is so useful in a number of ways for skincare.

One more beauty-related use of rosehip oil is for hair care. It adds shine and body to coloured hair, permed hair, or hair that has been damaged by too much sun or cold weather.

The great thing about rosehip oil is that a very little of it goes a long way - a bottle lasts for ages.

Drawing of Rosa Majalis from an 1885 German botany book.
Drawing of Rosa Majalis from an 1885 German botany book.

Rosehip Tea Recipe

This versatile plant makes a tangy, tart-flavored tea with a pinkish color.

To make rose hip herbal tea, dry and finely grind the entire rosehip (pulp, seeds and all), and add two teaspoons of the crushed rosehips to hot water. You can also buy ready-made rose hip herbal tea bags.

You can sweeten it with honey or sugar, if you like, and drink it several times per day.

Personally, I enjoy rosehip tea from time to time, but find sweetening isn't necessary; it's sharper and more refreshing as a natural herbal tea, to my taste.

You will be adding the following nutrients to your diet: vitamins C, A, B1, B2, B3, K and a wide variety of flavonoids, and polyphenols.

Traditional wisdom about rose hips

  • Nostradamus purportedly used rose hips with other ingredients to make rose pills that he prescribed to patients suffering from plague, otherwise known as the Black Death. He claimed remarkable success with the pills.

  • Rose hips were used in many types of food preparations by native Americans;

  • During the Second World War, the people of England gathered wild rose hips and made a vitamin C syrup, for general consumption, and in particular for children. Citrus fruits were very difficult to find during wartime, owing to the attacks on shipping by the Germans, and the rich syrup gave a great vitaman boost. Rosehip syrup is still quite popular in England today - my grandmother was particuarly keen on giving it regularly to toddlers and small children;

  • A traditional Hungarian alcoholic beverage called Palinka contains rosehips.

'Roses in a vase' by Renoir
'Roses in a vase' by Renoir

Other uses for rosehips and rose hip oil

  • In a Jam: Rose hips are used for all kinds of food products, such as herbal tea, jam, jelly, syrup, pies, puddings, bread, and marmalade.
  • Got a guinea pig? Rose hips are a healthy treat for pet chinchillas and guinea pigs. These animals need vitamin C, but lack the digestive system to process many vitamin-C rich foods. Rose hips are a safe way to increase the vitamin C intake of these animals.
  • From the horse’s mouth: Rosehips are also often added to horse feed. A tablespoon per day of the powdered form can be added to regular food to improve coat condition and encourage new hoof growth.
  • Scratch and sniff: The tiny hairs found inside rose hips are used in itching powder!
  • Dried rosehips are also sold for crafts and potpourri. Add a few drops of rosehip oil to a bowl of potpourri for a lovely pick-me-up, and to refresh older mixtures.

Tips on growing your own

Thinking of growing your own roses? Roses are propagated from hips by removing the seeds from the outer coating and sowing just beneath the soil’s surface.

Plant the seeds in a cold frame or greenhouse, or under glass indoors. It takes at least three months until they germinate. Only about half germinate at all, so sow more seeds than you want plants.

A 'Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison' rose flower
A 'Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison' rose flower

Rosehip oil in aromatherapy

Strictly speaking, rosehip oil is not an essential oil, but is usually referred to as an essential oil because of the benefits and properties it brings. Although a vegetable oil, it's not just a carrier, like, for example, grapeseed oil is.

Rosehip oil is often used in aromatherapy products, especially for aromatherapy skin care and massage. This is because of the wonderful benefits it has for skin texture and elasticity, as listed above, as well as for its scent.

Unlike many essential oils, rose hip oil can be used undiluted, and the maximum benefit is obtained for skin health if it is not diluted.

It's quite common for rosehip oil to be included in aromatherapy creams and lotions, and because of the skin benefits, in aromatherapy bath oils. If you are looking for aromatherapy products which are good for your skin, in addition to any other benefits, rosehip oil is a great ingredient.

As with other oils, I think it is worth buying organic rosehip oil, as there's not much point adding chemicals when you are going the natural aromatherapy route!

Herbal Lore

The linoleic acids in rosehip essential oil have been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Keeping and using rosehip oil

Unlike most shop-bought essential oils and aromatherapy oils, rose hip essential oil should be kept refrigerated because of its delicate nature.

Rosehip plant oil is more susceptible to spoiling than most vegetable oils, especially in regards to fluctuations in temperature, oxygen saturation in the air, and light.


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    • profile image

      rosehip 7 years ago

      When I was a child my grandfather have lots of this at their home I always wonder what he used it for until a few months back I found out the benefits roship gives us, very nice hub very informative great job

    • profile image

      isabelle ichikawa 7 years ago

      I have a question concerning the containance of tretinoin and vitamins in the rosehip oil, when the essential oil is cold pressed does it damaged the vitamins it contains ? is the absolute rosehip more efficient ?

      I don't know if you can answer but if you can' t do you know where I can get some informations ?

      Thank you !

    • profile image

      Rob 8 years ago

      I bought a case. 24, one Lb bags. I soak two cups and it becomes a thick paste syrup then blend it all into fruit shakes.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Brian - I did too, for my Granny!

      JG, I wouldn't swear that they actually worked, he claimed they did. Caveat emptor, I think.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Rose hip pills for the plague? Must've been the concentration of vitamins jump-starting a victim's immune system.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      We use to collect rosehips as kids for my mother, now I remember a little more about why she wanted them.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 8 years ago from England

      Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

      I have collected rosehips for tea, good information, thanks.