INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHT: ROSEHIPS AND THE VITAMIN C MYTH
Rosehip oil is probably one of my favorite skincare ingredients but there is one big misconception about it: it does not contain vitamin C. Yep, you read that right, rosehip oil does not contain vitamin C. Let's take a closer look at rosehips and rosehip oil to find out why I use this amazing plant in my products and why I love making a tincture every fall with fresh hips!
Rosehip oil is cold pressed from the seeds of the rose fruits of wild roses and is great for overall anti-aging effects on the skin and fading scars and discoloration. A quick google search will lead you to believe that rosehip oil has all these amazing skin healing abilities because of it's vitamin C content. So what's the deal? Is rosehip oil really good for the skin, and if it is, why is that?
One study showed some improvement in skin condition using rosehip oil topically while another study listed rosehip oil’s content of trans-retinoic acid (a derivative of Vitamin A ) as being the main source of skin enhancing benefits such as scar reduction and fading of photoaging marks*. Another study showed that rosehip extract retained antioxidant activity even with the absence of vitamin C**. Yes, you read that right . . . even with the absence of Vitamin C.
So why all the confusion about vitamin C? Well, fresh rosehips are really rich in vitamin C. More specifically, rosehip skins contain tons of vitamin C, while rosehip seeds contain very little but most of the oil. This is important to consider since rosehip oil is usually pressed from the seeds. Considering this and the fact that vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, you can see why rosehip oil doesn't contain much vitamin C at all. Rosehip oil does contain high levels of beta-carotene (an antioxidant), all-trans retinoic acid (a vitamin A acid that retinol converts to and which has similar effect to retinol when applied topically), omega-3 and omega-6 ***. So rosehip oil is a great oil to use in skincare, but it’s not because of its vitamin C content!
My favorite way to use rosehip oil is in a rosehip serum!
Dried Rosehips (whole or powdered)
So what about dried rosehips and rosehip powder? They should contain high levels of vitamin C, right? Well, fresh rosehips are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants which is why I love making a tincture from wild harvested rosehips in the fall that I add to my diet in the winter for a boost in vitamins and heart healthy components. But do these components survive the drying process?
Unfortunately when the rosehips are dried, the vitamin C content does not survive and quickly degrades. Why are you so fragile vitamin C? Alas. But the good news is rosehip powder still has some beneficial properties. Taken orally, rosehip has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. There aren't many studies out there about the topical application of rosehip powder, but I think it is safe to assume that the anti-inflammatory properties demonstrated when used orally most likely translate to topical application. Rosehip powder does make a great mechanical exfoliator, so using it in a scrub or mask is not a bad idea!
So how can you take advantage of the high vitamin C content in fresh rosehips? Try making a tincture, tea or jam from the fresh berries. Rosehips can be harvested from most rose species, as long as they are grown in clean soil (I would avoid rose bushes planted in the city since city soil often contains lead). The best time to harvest rosehips in in the fall, right after the first frost since that is when vitamin C content is the highest! It's also worth noting this study that showed taking rosehips orally helped reduce wrinkles. Sounds too good to be true, but hey, worth a try!
Looking for ways to integrate Vitamin C into your skincare ritual? Check out our blog post about this amazing skincare ingredient to learn more about it and to find out the best form to use in skincare products.
* Cohen, Mark. Rosehip: An evidence based herbal medicine for inflammation and arthritis. Australian Family Physician. Volume 41, No.7, July 2012 Pages 495-498
** Silviya Georgieva, George Angelov, Stanislava Boyadzhieva. Concentration of Vitamin C and antioxidants activity of rosehip extracts. Institute of Chemical Engineering. Bulgarin Academy of Sciences. Journal of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, 49, 5, 2014, 451-454
*** L Phetcharat, K Wongsuphasawat, and K Winther. The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture and elasticity. US Library of Medicine, Dove Press. Clin Interv Aging. 2015; 10: 1849–1856