The cheap skincare product that's brightening, evens out skintone and is super hydrating.

Our love for beauty oils has reached peak obsession, and frankly it took enough time (and a lot explaining that using oil on your face is not, in fact, the skincare devil) for us to get there.

But, amongst the jojoba, almond and coconut oils there has been one old and faithful oil quietly working its magic on skin long before it was cool to be part of the oil gang: rosehip seed.

There’s a good reason people have been into this guy for so long – it’s kind of a skincare overachiever.

Brightening, great for evening out skin tone, full of antioxidants, super moisturising – and it  also contains fatty acids and vitamins which makes it ideal for anti-ageing.

There’s even some evidence to suggest it can help fade minor scars because of its combo of vitamin A and C.

See what we mean? Total overachiever.

But there are a few things about rosehip oil that might surprise you, too – and knowing these will not only help you smash trivia nights, it’ll also help you sort through the thousands of oils out there to find the one that’s right for you.

To get the lowdown we spoke to Athena Hewett, creator of oil-based natural beauty brand Monastery. And, as someone who formulates and blends her own products by hand, she’s one person who knows a hell of a lot about oils.

Here’s what she said:

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It’s a ‘dry’ oil.

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well, what “dry” actually relates to here is how quickly it’s absorbed on the skin. “A dry oil isn’t oily or slick in sensation, instead it has more of a tacky feeling and absorbs super quickly” says Athena.

On top of that, dry oils are also astringent, which makes them less comedogenic than other oils (like coconut) and therefore perfect for oily skin types.

It really comes from roses.

No, there isn’t some crazy “rosehip” bush we’ve been missing all along – the good stuff comes from plain old roses. Or, more specifically, the seedpod of the rose bush that looks like small red berries.

When they’re cracked open the insides are a vivid orangey/red colour… which brings us to the next point.

The colour isn’t just for show.

Rosehip’s colour isn’t just about good looks.

As Athena explains, “it also means that it’s packed with Vitamins A and C (like carrots!) which can help brighten the complexion.”

rosehips and rosehip oil
These are what rosehips and rosehip oil actually looks like. Image: Getty.

But that same goodness can actually tint your skin a kind of orangey-yellow colour, so Athena warns that you should be careful in using pure rosehip that’s not blended with other oils or a carrier oil, as it can leave you with a kind of orangey glow.

It contains a natural form of Retin-A.

The active ingredient in rosehip (the one that makes it such a superstar) is all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA for short). In fact, rosehip seed oil contains a higher level of ATRA than any other oil and it’s powerful stuff.

“ATRA is the naturally occurring derivative of Vitamin A - what you know of as Retin-A - and it works similar way but without the irritation,” says Athena.

It’s anti-inflammatory.

The “fatty acids” we were talking about earlier are not only good for hydration, moisture and plumping - they’re highly anti-inflammatory too.

Rosehip has Linoleic Acid, Omega 6 and Omega 3, which have great soothing properties for when you get that killer monthly pimple, and they can also help repair broken and damaged skin.

Its purest form smells kind of funky.


Aside from the colour giveaway, the other way to spot high quality rosehip oil is the smell.

“High quality rosehip seed oil will have a fishy scent to it which means it’s not ideal for direct application,” says Athena.

Not all rosehip is created equal.

Just like pretty much every plant-based product, “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good quality - or right for you.

Athena says, “the quality of the seeds and the extraction method are critical here, and the highest quality variants are cold pressed, not solvent extracted.”

This is because solvent extraction removes a lot of the nutritious - and even some of the natural - properties of the oil like colour and scent.

So if you’re looking for a pure rosehip keep those factors in mind, however, also know that many formulators blend rosehip with other high quality essential oils to hide the scent - and these work just as effectively, with the same benefits, except they smell less gross.

Want to jump on the rosehip train? Sarah recommends to try trusted brands like Trilogy for a pure version, or a high quality blend like Monastery’s Gold Botanical Healing Serum that also has the powerhouse oil, raspberry seed.

For good quality rosehip oil, check out Trilogy, A'Kin and Essano.

Sarah Tarca is a beauty, travel and lifestyle writer.