Marula vs Rosehip Oil: What Are the Differences & Which One is Better?

Marula and rosehip oil rank as super oils thanks to their extraordinary antioxidant and anti-ageing properties. Many brands are highlighting them as star ingredients in their skincare formulations. From face creams and acne treatments, they seem to be appropriate for everything.

But what is so special about these oils that even celebrities and royalty do not seem to get enough of them? Holly Robinson Peete swears by The Leakey Collection’s Marula Oil, and Kate Middleton cannot do without Trilogy’s Rosehip oil.

 Are they worth the hype? Marula versus rosehip oil, which one is better for your skin?

To answer these questions for you, we have done a thorough investigation into what experts have to say about these oils; and why you should introduce them into your skincare routine.

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What is Marula oil?

Marula oil is the oil obtained from the kernel seeds found in the marula fruit.  These seeds a selected and press to get a light yellow and nutty scented oil. This oil typically originates from the southern parts of Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Namibia). For years parts of the marula tree have been used traditionally for their medicinal and nutritious properties.

marula fruit
“Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) fruits and leaves” by berniedup is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Recently picked up by the mainstream cosmetic industry, marula oil stands out for its extremely light texture and intensely moisturizing effect. This super ingredient cannot get enough of the show as you find in a wide range of cosmetic products for skin, hair, and nail.

Benefits of Marula Oil

  • Retains moisture: Marula oil is scientifically proven to have intense hydrating, occlusive, and moisturizing properties. Its fatty acid profile consists of essential fatty acids like oleic, linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and myristic acids that replenish moisture in the skin. The linoleic acid present in marula oil boosts ceramide production (the natural lipids in the skin); for a functional moisture barrier. For anyone with dry skin, this sure sounds like heaven.
  • Antioxidant protection: As far as antioxidants go, this oil is rich in phenolic compounds and vitamin E and C (ascorbic acid) that protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals and UV rays that are responsible for uneven skin tone. It is also rich in vitamin C (6x that of an orange) which acts as a collagen booster. This makes marula oil a go-to oil for mature skins.
  • Skin repair: Marula oil is also rich in amino acids. These contribute to producing the protein needed to maintain healthy skin tissues. Notably, L-arginine helps repair visible damage to the skin (wrinkles and fine lines), and glutamic acid that acts as a humectant and skin conditioner.
  • Non-congestive: Due to its light texture, marula oil is easy to absorb into the skin. According to Dr. Sheerene Idriss, certified dermatologist, and expert in skin rejuvenation, marula oil equally favours the penetration of other products deep into the skin. Although it is important to note, marula oil is slightly comedogenic (3-4 rating), especially for acne-prone skin.
  • Anti-ageing benefits:  Despite many anecdotal claims, there exists no scientific proof of this oil’s efficacy on skin ageing. Although this 2018 study revealed that the extract from the marula stem could be developed into an anti-ageing ingredient as they appeared to inhibit the breakdown of collagen and elastin in skin tissues.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: For years, Africans have been using this oil to heal wounds and prevent scarring which is due to the anti-inflammatory properties displayed by the fatty acid profile of marula oil. Because of its moisturizing capacities, marula oil also soothes irritated, itchy skin and calms down the redness. Hence, it’s highly recommended for people suffering from eczema.

What is Rosehip oil?

Rosehip or rosehip seed oil is a plant oil obtained from the seeds of wild rose bushes. Though various wild rose bushes give different types of rosehip oils, those used in the cosmetic industry are the Rosa canina (dog rose) and the Rosa Rubiginosa (sweet briar).

Rosehips

These two varieties of rosehip oil originate from the Andes Mountains around Chile and Argentina. Extraction occurs through the cold press of the seeds that grow below the rose petals.

This process allows the oil to retain all its rich nutrients earning it the connotation of super ingredient in skincare products). These include vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Rosehip oil is highly recognizable from its red/orange colour due to its high levels of carotenoids.

So far, most of the research on the skin benefits of rosehip refers to its powder form. Lots of lab tests are still made only on animals, yet experts are enthusiastic about this oil. Because the advantages of the topical application of most of the compounds found in rosehip oil are known, it is expected to provide the same.

Benefits of Rosehip oil

  • Reduces signs of ageing: Rosehip oil contains high concentrations of antioxidants in the forms of vitamin A and small amounts of vitamin C. These vitamins help protect the skin from UV rays that cause premature skin ageing by stimulating the regeneration of damaged skin cells. It also contains vitamin E that shields the skin from DNA damage by free radicals. A 2015 study on the benefits of rosehip powder ingested by participants revealed significant improvements in skin-ageing-related conditions. It successfully reinforced the life span of skin cell membranes.
  • Moisturizes and hydrates: Rosehip oil has intense hydrating and moisturizing properties with a fatty acid profile made up of oleic acid and linoleic acid that replenishes moisture in the skin. Linoleic acts as a ceramide booster to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Acts a collagen booster: Over the years, our skin loses its elasticity due to enzymes that break down collagen. In this study, rosehip powder significantly improved the skin elasticity of participants after eight weeks of treatment. Its high concentration of vitamin A and C both help increase collagen production for more firm skin. Although when it comes to rosehip seed oil (which has minimal amounts of vitamin C), the results will not be the same.
  • Skin brightening: Vitamin A is known to speed up the skin cell renewal process for more glowing and radiant skin. Since this oil is on the lightweight side, it rapidly gets absorbs by the skin without the risk of clogging pores.
  • Anti-inflammatory: The essentials fatty acids present in this oil combined with vitamin E, known for its soothing properties, make it a great anti-inflammatory.
  • Fades hyperpigmentation and scarring:  Vitamin A (retinoid) present in rosehip oil are well known for the ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and clear dark spots. In a 2015 study, rosehip oil was tested for improving scarring. The oil was topically on participants after surgical procedures. Rosehip oil proved to effectively improve the appearance of post-op scarring over 6-12 weeks. Rosehip oil equally contains the beta-carotene compound said to have skin-lightening properties.

Marula oil vs Rosehip oil – Similarities

These two super oils present the following similarities:

  • They both are rich in antioxidants and offer protection from UV rays and free radicals. Note that, although they offer protection against photoaging, they cannot replace sunscreen.
  • Both have essential fatty acids that provide anti-inflammatory and moisture-retaining properties. Although in different concentrations.
  • They both present significant capacities in slowing down skin ageing and can boost collagen production. More research is still required on the anti-ageing properties of marula oil.
  • They are both non-greasy oils and non-irritant oils that soothe and smoothen the skin.
  • Both are rich in vitamin E and support skin repair.
  • Both can be directly applied as facial oils after your moisturizer for more supple skin.

Marula oil vs Rosehip oil – Differences

Even though these two oils have some points in common, they are not the same. Their composition sets them apart and is an important thing to consider before choosing which to introduce into your skincare routine.

Marula OilRosehip Oil
70-78% oleic acid14% oleic acid
4-7% Linoleic acid54% Linoleic acid
0.7% Linolenic acid19% Linolenic acid
More comedogenic (3-4)Less comedogenic (1)
Contains some vitamin CMost vitamin C present in rosehip seeds is lost during the extraction process
Best for dry and sensitive/mature skinBest for oily and acne-prone skin. Though can be used by all skin types
Focuses on hydration and moisture retentionFocuses on skin ageing, skin brightening, and collagen formation
Has a low concentration of carotenoidsHas a high concentration of carotenoids

Marula oil or Rosehip oil – Which one is better for your skin type?

  • Normal skin:  Unless an allergic reaction occurs, both oils are good for normal skin. Your choice of either of them will depend on what your routine targets. For anti-ageing, rosehip oil is more suited. Meanwhile, for hydration and moisture, marula oil is best.
  • Dry skin: Dry skin needs all the hydration and moisture it can get. Therefore, marula oil is what you should go for if you have dull, flaky, or itchy skin. Its high concentration in oleic acid offers lots of hydration.
  • Oily skin: With rosehip oil being less comedogenic than marula oil, it is more suitable for oily skin types. Its high concentration is linoleic acid helps keep the skin moisturized while vitamins A increases cell turnover.
  • Sensitive /Mature skin:  For ageing or damaged skin, both oils are suitable. Rosehip oil will provide phytonutrients that prevent aggressions, boost collagen production, and slows down ageing. And marula oil will work to reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier and prevent trans epidermal water loss.

Marula oil vs rosehip oil: Which one is better for acne?

Because rosehip oil scores lower on the comedogenic scale, it has fewer chances to clog pores and is the best option for acne-prone skin.

Rosehip oil has high amounts of active compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids (beta-carotene) that all act to treat and reduce acne flare-ups and fade scarring.

Can you mix marula oil with rosehip oil?

So far, there exists no counter indication that these two oils do not go together. You can benefit from the benefits of each of them.

Although they carry no dermal limits (unless you are using them in the form of essential oils), they need to be used in moderation to avoid skin congestion.

Always make sure you do a patch test on your arm 24 hours before using either of them to be sure of no allergic reactions.  

CONCLUSION – WHICH IS BETTER, MARULA OR ROSEHIP OIL?

Ultimately, choosing which of these two oils is best for you rests on your skin’s specific needs. For someone battling acne, rosehip oil will be a better option.  On the other hand, someone with dry or dehydrated skin should opt for marula oil.

Factors like weather and hormonal changes in your body may also impact your choice. But understanding the properties of each of these oils will help you choose which is best for you.

As seen above, both oils have incredible benefits that certainly justify the fact that they are high in demand. We haven’t even yet discovered all they have in store since more research is still being carried out.

Best rosehip oil brands:

Best marula oil brands: