Rosehip oil and retinol are perhaps two of the most popular skincare ingredients in beauty products.

They each provide a unique set of benefits. There’s no wonder that most skincare products today contain either one, or the other.

People are curious about whether they can use retinol and rosehip oil together.

And why shouldn’t they?

Both ingredients are powerful and can have magnificent benefits but what happens if they’re used together?

I’ll help you find the answers to these questions. Let’s see if we can safely use rosehip oil with retinol.

What is retinol?

What is retinol in skincare
So what is retinol, and what does it do for the skin?

Retinol is a naturally occurring ingredient that can (and, for skincare, is) synthetically created. Also known as Vitamin A, this compound is a powerhouse for helping aging skin.

It’s commonly found in concentrations ranging from 0.1% – 0.3% (low concentration) to 1% (or more – high concentration). You can find over-the-counter creams, gels, serums, face masks, and other skincare products.

Its main effect is to boost cell turnover and stimulate collagen production. It’s also great for achieving glowing skin as it supports and promotes the blood flow to the skin. Retinol is a true powerhouse for many skin-related issues such as adult acne, wrinkles, age spots, texture, and more, and it’s one of the most researched and efficacious compounds out there.

In short, if you’re dealing with aging problems, texture issues, adult acne, wrinkles, and sagging skin – retinol is your best friend.

Experts advise using retinol only at night and always following up with SPF in the morning, to protect the skin. 

There are many different retinol formulations, some stronger than others.

Because of its powerful properties, it’s recommended to start slow, with the lowest percentage available, and gradually increase the frequency of application until your skin adapts.

I recommend starting once a week with the lowest concentration of product and gradually raising the bar to twice a week and then every other day. I also highly advise starting with a lower percentage of retinol and introducing progressively products with a higher concentration as you adapt your skin.

Side effects of retinol

It’s completely normal to notice some side effects due to retinol but the adverse effects are stronger if you’re overusing the ingredient (either too high of a percentage, or too frequent use).

Some of the side effects include: redness, irritation, itching, peeling, and mild burning sensations. These are completely normal reactions and should pass with time and use.

What is rosehip oil?

What is rosehip oil in skincare

The roses’ seed pods are rich in ingredients that can be of extreme value to your skin.

Apart from their use in the skincare industry, rosehips are also used for tea, medicine, and other products. Rosehip oil is created by pressing the rosehip.

Rosehip oil is extremely rich in vitamins A, C, D, and E, which have antioxidants that rejuvenate the skin and improve its health. They’re also packed with omegas 3, 6, and 9. These nutritious fatty acids help reduce wrinkles and fine lines, increase hydration and make your skin elastic and smooth.

The oil minimizes sun damage and protects the skin with its lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene contents. It can smooth the complexion and balance the skin tone. Not to mention its intensely moisturizing abilities without clogging the pores.

There have been multiple studies that show rosehip oil’s effectiveness in reducing hyperpigmentation and age spots.

Rosehip oil can help you get rid of scars by stimulating cellular regeneration and reducing inflammation. A study found it effective in treating post-operation scars.

Side effects of rosehip oil

Since rosehip oil contains small amounts of tretinoin (another retinoic acid form), you can expect some skin reactions to it as well, but not as severe as using the concentrated thing.

Being a natural compound, it means that there is a chance of developing an allergic reaction to it.

Is rosehip oil a retinol?

Rosehip oil is considered to be a natural form of retinol but it’s nowhere near as potent as the purified, concentrated retinoids. Technically speaking, it does contain some amounts of tretinoin (a form of retinoid).

The oil contains a lot of valuable compounds for our skin, which makes it more nutritious. But your prescription tretinoin, and even OTC retinol products, beat it in effectiveness and results.

Does rosehip oil have retinol? Is rosehip oil a strong retinoid?

Is rosehip oil as strong as retinol

When it comes to retinoids, it’s important to know that they’re all forms of vitamin A, including retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid & co.

Vitamin A is precisely the component that reduces wrinkles but it can also cause damage by irritating your skin. Not all retinoids are the same and they come in different forms and strengths.

Since rosehip oil contains vitamin A, it’s considered a retinoid. However, it is hard to pinpoint whether it’s a strong retinoid or not.


Because it’s a natural ingredient derived from plants so the amount of vitamin A will vary between batches of the product.

Things like soil conditions, climate, distillation, and the process of refining will all have an influence on how strong the rosehip oil is.

With retinol, it’s easy to calculate how much vitamin A it contains as it’s mostly synthetically produced for skin care products.

For example, you can expect to find more vitamin A in unrefined rosehip oil, which makes it stronger, and richer in antioxidants, but also more irritating for the skin. And it’s even more interesting that two batches of rosehip oil from the same brand can have different quantities of vitamin A. But rest assured, rosehip oil is definitely more gentle than prescription retinoids like tretinoin.

The purest form of rosehip oil contains about 0.357 mg of tretinoin per liter of oil (or 34oz), which is a concentration of 0.00003923% tretinoin.

With retinol, it’s easy to calculate how much vitamin A it contains as it’s mostly synthetically produced for skin care products. For example, prescription tretinoin ranges in concentrations between 0.025% to 0.05% or higher.

What all of this means is that you can test rosehip oil even if you have sensitive skin. Just make sure to gradually introduce it to your skincare routine.

Can you use rosehip oil with retinol?

People new to skincare start with The Ordinary products as they are inexpensive and straightforward. Naturally, many people wonder if they can use The Ordinary retinol and rosehip oil together, although the brand doesn’t really matter because ingredients are ingredients everywhere.

The answer? – Depends.

There are four scenarios that I want to take you through:

  • Using retinol and rosehip oil separately;
  • Using them together as part of a single product;
  • Using them with product series that are designed to work together;
  • Mixing rosehip oil with a retinoid product.

Let’s go through each one in more detail.

Scenario 1: Using rosehip oil and retinol separately

Using retinol and rosehip oil in separate routines is one of the best ways to avoid potential side effects while still enjoying the benefits of both compounds.

Some skin types may tolerate the combination, but others can show adverse reactions.

I mentioned that there is a risk of experiencing skin irritation when applying retinol and rosehip oil together. This is mainly because rosehip oil is rich in retinoic acid and retinol is transformed into retinoic acid. What this means for the skin is too much retinoic acid, which could cause side effects, especially for sensitive skin types.

Both ingredients stimulate cell turnover, which is another reason to avoid layering them in the same routine.

This doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye to one or the other. You can still take advantage of them at different times of the day or even better – on different days.

For example, you can use retinol one to three times a week, depending on how sensitive your skin is, and alternate it with rosehip oil.

Retinol is more potent than rosehip oil so it’s advisable not to overuse it. You can use rosehip oil four or more times a week without fearing any irritation.

My personal advice is to always remember that your skin is unique to you, no matter its type, so you never know what to expect before you try.

Integrate each ingredient separately, one at a time. And start slowly with both ingredients to observe how they’re influencing your skin.

Scenario 2: What if you use The Ordinary rosehip oil and retinol together?

Using The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil with Retinol Together

There are plenty of products on the market that have successfully combined rosehip oil and retinol in a product series or specifically instruct users that it’s good to use them together. They offer the best of both worlds without compromising the quality of the product or risking side effects like irritation.

A great example is The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil and the brand’s retinol. The pair has been tested to work well together by many users of TO products. A lot of them have shared great feedback from using The Ordinary rosehip seed oil over retinol 1% before bedtime or even alternating rosehip seed oil in the morning and a retinol product in the evening.

The Ordinary retinol doesn’t require any waiting time to absorb, which is good as you can quickly follow up with the occlusive rosehip oil.

In my personal experience, it’s best to use the combo in the evening, as it will increase the sun sensitivity of your skin.

Wait around five minutes between the two applications. In this case, the two products won’t interfere with each other and won’t cause any problems. For a full skincare routine, you can even apply your favorite moisturizer on top.

The combo hydrates your skin well and makes it look healthy and elastic, even in the cold winter months.

Scenario 3: Using Retinol and Rosehip seed oil as part of a single product

Rosehip oil and retinol can be a dream team for skin types that can tolerate both products.

Alternatively, if a single product has been specifically formulated to offer the benefits of both, your skin can reap its full benefits.

I’ll share three great ones that I found below:

Revolution Skincare 0,5% Retinol with Rosehip Seed Oil >>

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the Revolution brand (I’m totally in one boat with James Welsh on that) but if you’re looking for a good product that combines the powers of rosehip oil and retinol in one – this is one of the best bets.

It features a pure form of vitamin A (retinol) and rosa canina fruit oil in combination with a couple of other oils such as grape seed oil and sweet almond oil. It’s one of the cheapest, yet most effective combination products on the market.

PSA Midnight Courage Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinol Night Oil >>

This one is more appropriate for those of you with sensitive skin as it features another retinol alternative – bakuchiol.
Its price is on the more expensive spectrum but definitely worth every cent since it boasts a long list of beneficial oils in its contents.

Bakuchiol (Phyto Retinol) has been all the rage lately. Studies have shown that it behaves in the skin in a very similar way to retinol while not showing any of the side effects that retinoids are famous for.

There’s also coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) – a popular antioxidant popular for its anti-aging abilities.

Votary Intense Night Oil >>

This is one of the best combinations of retinol and rosehip oil blended together in a single product that I’ve personally ever used.

The Votary Intense Night Oil is created as an overnight treatment that is specifically targeted at mature or dull skin. It contains 0.1% of hydroxypinacolone retinoate – an oil-soluble type of retinoid that stimulates the skin’s cell turnover and minimizes the breakdown of collagen. The product also works wonders by helping with pigmentation and balancing the skin’s topmost layer.

This product boasts an ingredient list rich in:

  • Camellia flower extract – contains vitamins A, D, and E. Supports healthy skin cell generation and locks in moisture, resulting in smoother, softer, wrinkle-free skin.
  • Australian sandalwood extract – an anti-inflammatory agent that also comes with antibacterial, antiseptic, and astringent properties. It helps clear acne and treats sunburn.

Scenario 4: Mixing rosehip oil with retinol

Playing a chemist at home is never a good idea, so it’s not advisable to mix your retinoid product with rosehip oil in the hopes that you’ll see faster results.

Here’s why:

  • mixing different skincare products messes up their preservative system, so it’s more likely for bacteria to form;
  • it also means that you’ll dilute both your products and will apply less amount than you usually would, rendering your routine less effective;
  • there’s a high chance that you’ll get an uneven, patchy application due to the badly mixed concoction. Skincare chemists use special equipment to ensure that the compounds in a mixture will be evenly mixed, there’s no way for you to ensure that at home;
  • by mixing rosehip oil with a retinol cream or serum, and applying the mixture on your face, you drastically increase the chances of irritation.

Your best bet to get the most out of your skincare products and avoid irritation is to either layer things or use a combo product that is specifically formulated to contain retinol and rosehip oil in a stable formula.

Can you use rosehip oil with tretinoin?

Another common question I see is whether it’s safe to use tretinoin and rosehip oil in the same routine. Yes, it’s completely safe to use tretinoin and rosehip oil in the same routine, as long as your skin can tolerate it. It’s best to layer these two in the evening.
Simply top up your tretinoin with a moisturizer and apply rosehip oil after 10-15 minutes, when
everything else has soaked into your skin.

Rosehip oil and tretinoin are a great combination when you want to see faster results.

Do you use rosehip oil before or after retinol?

It’s best to apply retinol first and then follow up with rosehip oil. This is because you want to have as few obstacles as possible for your retinoid product of choice. The closer it is to your skin, the more effective and potent it becomes because penetration is enhanced instead of encumbered.

Wrapping up

The bottom line is that both retinol and rosehip oil are outstanding ingredients that your skin can benefit on their own or as a part of a single product. Choosing to use them separately or together ultimately depends on how your skin will react, so I always advise to do your own patch testing and see the effects for yourself.

I’d love to get your thoughts and experiences and see how you feel about the two ingredients and how you’ve used them or are still using them. Share your comments in the comment section below!

My TOP Picks For The BEST Face Creams For Teenagers
My TOP Picks For The BEST Face Creams For Teenagers

A popular myth is that teens shouldn’t use a face cream because their skin is too oily and acne-prone anyway, so why add anything else to aggravate it? Untrue. Teenage skin, just like any other skin, requires sufficient moisturization in order to stay healthy and...

read more