There are three main natural retinol alternatives on the market: rose hip seed oil, bakuchiol extract, and more recently, aguaje oil. In this blog post, we will explore the difference between aguaje oil and rose hip seed oil.
Currently, there has never been a head-to-head comparison of the performance of aguaje oil and rose hip seed oil. In theory, we can compare them by comparing their composition. Unfortunately, this method does not take into account the fact that individual chemical components work together to produce the oil’s effect.
Aguaje oil and rose hip seed oil are excellent sources of vitamins and skin-nourishing fatty acids that promote skin repair and regeneration, while keeping the skin smooth and soft. They differ in their composition however. Aguaje oil has a higher proportion of oleic acid (omega-9), while rose hip seed oil has a higher proportion of linoleic acid (omega-6). Oleic acid-rich oils tend to be a bit thicker than linoleic acid-rich oils, making them more nourishing and moisturizing, and better for dry, sensitive and mature skin. Since linoleic acid has been shown to reduce the size of microcomedones in mild acne, linoleic acid-rich oils may be better for oily, acne-prone skin.
The other main difference in composition relates to Vitamin A and its ability to improve skin tone and texture. Aguaje oil has very high levels of beta carotene (more than 100 times the amount in rose hip seed oil). Beta carotene is pro-vitamin A that converts to retinol in the skin [i] [ii]. That is why we call Aguaje oil a ‘natural retinol alternative’. Rose hip seed oil, on the other hand, already contains some vitamin A in the form of all-trans-retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is known to be more irritating to the skin than retinol [iii]. Therefore, Aguaje oil may be more suitable for sensitive skin.
We are fortunate to have so many choices, but that makes choosing the best product for your skin challenging. Once you find a face oil that works for you, look for an environmental conscious version of it.
[i] Antille C et al (2004) Topical beta-carotene is converted to retinyl esters in human skin ex vivo and mouse skin in vivo. Exp Dermatol 13(9): 558-61.
[ii] Andersson E, Vahlquist A, Rosdahl I. Beta-carotene uptake and bioconversion to retinol differ between human melanocytes and keratinocytes. Nutr Cancer. 2001;39(2):300-306. doi:10.1207/S15327914nc392_21
[iii] Kang S et al (1995) Application of retinol to human skin in vivo induces epidermal hyperplasia and cellular retinoid binding proteins characteristic of retinoic acid but without measurable retinoic acid levels or irritation. J Invest Dermatol 105(4):549-556.