Rosehip Oil vs Retinol: Which Is Better?

When we are looking for anti-aging products in skincare, two products stand out among the others: Rosehip oil and Retinol. Both the products are well accepted in the skincare industry through various serums, facial oils, toners and moisturizers.

Although both rosehip oil and retinol have some common properties, the primary difference lies in their origin. Rosehip oil is produced from a natural source. On the other hand, retinol is a synthesized form of vitamin A.

Depending on the problem that your skin is facing, you can choose rosehip oil or retinol. In this article we will explore the composition of rosehip oil and retinol, and the effect that they have on our skin.

Additionally, you will also learn about the similarities and differences between rosehip oil and retinol, and the various ways you can apply them on your skin.

What Is Rosehip Oil?

Rosehip oil is an extract derived  from rosehip (Rosa canina), a wild rose bush that grows mostly in Chile. While rose oil is extracted from the petals of the rose plant, rosehip oil is extracted by cold pressing the seeds of the fruit.

Unrefined rosehip oil has a rosy pink colour and is slightly viscous in texture. It is readily absorbed into the skin. 

Rosehip oil contains essential fatty acids like omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Along with these, it is also abundant in vitamins A, D and E that have antioxidant properties. 

The properties and health benefits of rosehip oil are described below.

Benefits of Rosehip Oil for skin

The compounds present in rosehip oil are useful for regeneration of new cells at the surface of the skin. This is instrumental in strengthening the skin barrier and protecting the skin from external damage.

To understand whether rosehip oil will be of use to you, here is a brief description and its chemical properties and the nourishment they provide to our skin.

1. Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Rosehip oil has over 50% linoleic acid, 20% oleic acid along with other fatty acids. This combination works efficiently to lock the skin moisture. Especially for dry skin, rosehip oil works well as an hydrating and moisturising agent.

When used in combination with a facial oil, rosehip oil can make the skin look plump, moisturized and rejuvenated.

2. Presence of Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene belongs to the group of carotenoids. After applying on the skin, the beta-carotene in rosehip oil is converted to retinyl ester, which is functionally the same as Vitamin A.

Beta-carotene encourages cell renewal of the epidermis. This improves the barrier of the skin against pollutants. 

Moreover, beta-carotene also promotes collagen formation. This keeps the skin firm, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin.

Due to its cell regeneration property, rosehip oil is also used in post-surgery treatment to soothe the scars, prevent hyperpigmentation, and heal the skin fast.

3. Contains Antioxidants

Like most plant derivatives, rosehip oil is rich in antioxidants. Compounds like lycopene, zeaxanthin, rubixanthin provide relief to the skin from oxidative stress and protection from free radicals.

Rosehip oil also contains vitamins C and E. Both these vitamins have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. They kill the acne causing bacteria that accumulate in the pores of the skin and reduce redness, swelling and acne.

4. Lightweight, Non-Greasy Formula

Because of its light and non-greasy consistency, rosehip oil penetrates deep into the skin. It does not clog the skin pores and can be used in delicate areas under the skin.

Rosehip oil can also be blended with other oils to achieve a smooth, wrinkle free and blemish free appearance. 

Advantages of Rosehip Oil Over Retinol

As a plant derivative, rosehip oil is preferred over retinol by many people. Not only because it is a cleaner choice, but also because of the several secondary benefits that rosehip oil provides. 

Here are some of the ways in which rosehip oil has scored over retinol:

  1. Rosehip oil is free from the dryness, itchiness and flaking that occurs due to application of retinol in some people.
  2. Rosehip oil has other components like fatty acids and antioxidants, which is lacking in retinol. Thus, rosehip oil provides additional skin nourishment.
  3. Unlike retinol, rosehip oil can be used in application with other skincare products.
  4. Rosehip oil is safe for application during pregnancy without any adverse effects. On the other hand, retinol has some reproductive toxicity.
  5. Rosehip oil can be used in both AM and PM skincare routine, whereas retinol is found safe only for PM routine.
  6. People with skin concerns like eczema and rosacea cannot use retinol as it causes skin irritation and inflammation. However, rosehip oil can be safely used with these skin concerns.

What is Retinol?

In simple words, retinol is the synthesized form of vitamin A. What makes it different from other forms of vitamin A, is its origin and the way it is processed by our body.

To understand how retinol works, we have to understand the forms of vitamin A available around us. 

Ideally, there are two forms of Vitamin A: 

  1. Active Vitamin A or Retinol is derived from animals and can be directly utilised by the body.
  2. Pro-vitamin A or carotenoids is derived from plants. It is converted to retinyl esters which can then be used by the body.

As mentioned before, retinol is a synthesized derivative of Vitamin A. It is manufactured in laboratories. When applied on the skin, retinol converts to retinoid acid.

Retinoic acid is an active form of vitamin A that is used to treat acne and ageing of skin. While retinol is easily available in the market as an OTC product, retinoic acid in itself is a prescription drug.

Benefits of Retinol for skin

As retinol is also a derivative of vitamin A, there are several applications that are similar to rosehip oil. However, being a synthetic formulation, retinol overcomes the limitations of naturally sourced products.

  1. Retinol converts to retinoic acid very fast once applied to the skin. Thus it boosts the production of collagen and elastin and can undo the signs of premature ageing.
  2. Retinol also works as an excellent exfoliant. It can unclog pores and prevent the skin from breaking out and causing acne.
  3. Retinol also works on age spots, and can even out your skin tone.

Advantages of Retinol Over Rosehip Oil

Although plant-based alternatives have found their way into the market, retinol is not without its advantages. Primarily due to its fast action, and quick result, retinol is a favourite of many. The advantages of using retinol are as follows:

  1. Since retinol is a synthesized form of active vitamin A, it works faster than any of the plant-based sources of vitamin A.
  2. Retinol can drastically reduce the wrinkles, and boost collagen in a few weeks. On the other hand, rosehip oil takes at least a few months to show any visible change on the skin.
  3. Unlike rosehip oil, retinol is a potential chemical exfoliant. A small amount of retinol can cleanse the top layer of your skin and remove dead cells and dirt from pores.
  4. Retinol works at a deep cellular level and thus is more effective than rosehip oil. The rate of cell turnover with retinol is faster than rosehip oil.
  5. Retinol does not cause any allergic reactions that most plant based derivatives do.
  6. Retinol helps in the smooth functioning of oil glands and controls sebum production, thus limiting breakouts on the skin.

While both rosehip oil and retinol have pros and cons, they are invaluable in maintaining a healthy and youthful skin. Like most skincare products, it is advised to perform a patch test before proceeding with their application. 

All in all, introducing rosehip oil or retinol in your skincare regime in your early 20s will have a beneficial effect on your skin in the long run.


As we know both the oils are natural and have no side effects on skin. If you’re looking for a lightweight, non-greasy formula you should go for Rosehip oil. On the other hand if you are looking for an oil which helps you to reduce wrinkles, and boost collagen in a few weeks you should go for Retinol oil.

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