So you've probably heard a few people gushing over rosehip oil benefits or perhaps you read that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, owes her glowing complexion to rosehip. But what is it? Why does everyone seem to love it? And why will it totally change your skincare routine?
What is Rosehip oil?
Rosehip are the little seeded fruits that grow on the wild rose bushes of South America. They're usually bright red but can be purple or even black depending on the rose bush. Rosehip oil comes from the seeds found inside the fruit and is extracted through pressing.
Why is rosehip oil good for skin?
The reason rosehip oil is so good for your skin is because it is very rich in vitamin A (in the form of provitamin A and tretinoin), antioxidants and fatty acids. These are all compounds that fight skin concerns like ageing and sun spots.
Vitamin A has many skin restorative properties. Essentially it can improve and correct all skin conditions because it normalises skin functions and literally repairs and reprograms cells. Vitamin A works by stimulating and thickening the dermis, which is the layer of skin that contains connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis contains your blood vessels and collagen and vitamin A increases both blood flow collagen production in this area - leading to reduced wrinkles, slower ageing processes, cell repair, reduction in pigmentation or sun spots, possible eradication precancerous lesions and an increased rate of wound healing.
So if vitamin A is this amazing? Why aren't we all just dipping our faces in vitamin A or dosing up on vitamin A tablets. Well unfortunately, large doses of vitamin A can have some pretty nasty side effect including increased sensitivity to light, birth defects and, in extreme cases, poisoning. This is why you'll find heavy-duty vitamin A creams are prescription only. Any and all side-effects are avoidable if you move back to the basics and get your vitamin A from an unprocessed and natural source, rather than a man-made cream.
Rosehip is just that, natural and unprocessed. It contains just enough of two types of vitamin A, provitamin A or beta-carotene and tretinoin. Tretinoin just so happens to be the compound that retinol converts to. Yes, retinol, the other miracle skin cure that everyone raves about. Some retinol creams cost $100+ but you can get rosehip oil for under $20.
Fatty acids are essential for our all over health and they're great for our skin. But here's the kicker? Our bodies can't actually produce these, we have to get them from an external source - foods and topical treatments. Fatty acids are the basics of healthy cells. They are natural moisturisers which improve skin quality, flexibility and permeability. Critical in keeping skin hydrated, they help to create and produce the skin's natural oil barrier which leads to plumper and younger looking skin.
Essential fatty acids have also been linked to a reduction in sun sensitivity and also, they've been shown to diminish inflammation associated with acne. Rosehip oil contains three fatty acids - omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Omega-3 is essential for the structure of our cells and provides moisture and plumpness to the skin. Helping in the production of natural skin oils, omega-6 helps cells create a natural barrier to protect from environmental damage from the sun, wind and cold. Omega-9 helps to literally repair skin and tissue damage and improves the over all condition of your skin. So now that you know the benefits, you should also know that without fatty acids your skin can be dry, congested and prone to blackheads and whiteheads. They are literally essential for beautifully, flawless and healthy skin.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body's tissues from harm. They neutralise and counteract free radicals, which are molecules that can cause severe damage to our cells. The damage caused by free radicals has been linked to numerous diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Free radicals are also a predominant cause of premature ageing. It is the process of oxidation (the way the body destroys bacteria and bad cells) that generates free radicals, as a result we're designed to deal with a controlled number of them. However, factors like pollution, pesticides, smoking, stress, alcohol and poor diet can increase the free radicals to a number that the body can't cope with. Free radicals damage our cells and if there are many free radicals attacking a cell it will eventually die - if too many cells are killed, we age. And this is why antioxidants are so important, they combat the free radicals and stop them from killing our cells.
Rosehip oil has numerous antioxidants, notably beta-carotene and lycopene. The vitamin A in Rosehip oil allows the oil to penetrate deeper into the skin where antioxidants are truly needed. Lycopene improves skin texture and evens out fine lines while the beta-carotene fights against free radical damage.
Vitamin C is another amazing feature of rosehip oil. Like beta-carotene, it provides antioxidant protection from free radicals and can aid in the anti-ageing process. But vitamin C has a number of other benefits too. It helps to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of brown spots. In fact, vitamin C is so effective at reducing sun related pigment damage that you can buy it in a pure topical form. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production and keeps the skin tight and firm.
Rosehips are very rich in vitamin C, richer in fact than almost every other fruit. However, almost all of the vitamin C is lost during the oil extraction process. Many rosehip oils have added vitamin C for this reason. If you see a bottle that has "+ Vitamin C" written on it, this means that the vitamin C was added after the extraction process and it's not actually a bottle of pure rosehip oil. Anyone wanting pure rosehip should avoid these but if you want the brightening effects of vitamin C then, give it a go.