From carrier oils like rosehip oil to essential oils like lemon, various oils have gained a reputation for containing high amounts of vitamin C.
And many people include these products in their skincare routine, in the hopes of getting vitamin C’s skincare benefits.
But do these oils really deliver on the vitamin C promise?
That’s what we’re going to explore in this article on essential and carrier oils that are rich in vitamin C.
Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.
DO ROSEHIP, JOJOBA AND OTHER CARRIER OILS CONTAIN VITAMIN C?
After doing extensive research on this topic, here’s what I can tell you:
Carrier oils like rosehip and jojoba do not contain vitamin C. This is mainly because vitamin C is water-soluble and therefore, it is not carried over in the process of oil extraction.
In order to reach this conclusion, I reached out to a few companies that make carrier oils.
Specifically, I reached out to Pai, Kosmea and Plant Therapy.
The first two – Pai and Kosmea – make a rosehip oil that is pressed from the rosehip seed and the skin. Since the skin is where most of rosehip’s vitamin C is contained, you would expect that these rosehip oils to contain vitamin C, right?
Well, turns out that it doesn’t. Here’s the response I got from one company:
Rosehip, when it is still in its fruit form, does contain Vitamin C. However, Vitamin C is water-soluble and as our Rosehip is an oil, the Vitamin C is no longer present. Additionally, it is too polar to be extracted by our supercritical CO2 extraction method.– Pai customer support
You’ll also notice in the above response that they mention CO2 extraction. Compared to cold pressing – which is how most oils are made – CO2 is even more gentle. Yet despite this very gentle process, the vitamin C is not retained.
Now here’s the response from another company:
The Kosmea Rose Hip Oil contains a very negligible amount of vitamin C. The very negligible amount in our Rose Hip Oil comes from the skin of the rose hip. Rose Hip Oil is best known for its essential fatty acid content – being EFA 3, 6 and 9.– Kosmea Customer Support
Lastly, below is the response I got from Plant Therapy when I asked them if any of the carrier oils they sell – rosehip, jojoba, etc. – contain vitamin C (their oils are cold pressed):
I’m following up on my previous email! I double checked and none of our carrier oils contain Vitamin C, this doesn’t carry over from the extraction process.– Plant Therapy Customer Support
WHICH ESSENTIAL OIL HAS THE HIGHEST VITAMIN C: LEMON OR ORANGE?
Citrus fruits like lemon, orange and grapefruit are some of the most popular sources of dietary vitamin C. So, it’s easy to think that the equivalent essential oils also contain vitamin C.
Although essential oils contain compounds like antioxidants, they do not contain nutrients like vitamin C. This is primarily due to the fact that vitamin C is water soluble. Since essential oils do not contain water it’s impossible for vitamin C to be present in them.
One thing to be aware of is that there are different methods for extracting essential oils. For example, citrus oils (except lime oil) are made by cold pressing the fruit peels (source).
On the other hand, other essential oils are mainly made by steam distillation. Here are some things to know about steam distillation and vitamin C:
- Steam distillation occurs at temperatures close to 212°F (100°C) (source).
- Vitamin C starts to breakdown at about 86°F. As we get into higher temperatures – such as 140°F – it breaks down even more. By the time you reach 170°F you can expect the vitamin C to breakdown significantly more (source).
- So, the essential oil of non-citrus, vitamin-C containing plants still won’t have vitamin C due to the temperatures used for steam distillation.
In addition to all this, you might find it helpful to know that all the B-vitamins – which are also water-soluble – are not present in essential oils.
NOTE: fat-soluble vitamins – like A, E and K – are not found in essential oils because essential oils are not true oils (i.e. they’re not a fat).
FAQs ABOUT OILS THAT HAVE VITAMIN C
How do you make vitamin C oil?
Since vitamin C is water-soluble, it doesn’t make sense to add it to a carrier oil. Instead, you want to use it in a serum. While some serums contain oil, they’re usually mainly water-based (with emulsifiers to blend the oil and water).
That said, there are quite a few DIY vitamin C serum recipes online that you could try. So, if you don’t mind experimenting to find a recipe that works for you, you can give this option a go. Just make sure that the recipe you use has the right pH (vitamin C works best at lower, more acidic pH values), as well as an antioxidant to prevent the serum from spoiling.
On the other hand…if all that sounds too much, then you can also look into this vitamin C booster powder from True Botanicals. It contains:
- pure L-ascorbic acid powder (vitamin C in its natural form). Because it’s a powder, this form of vitamin C lasts longer and doesn’t degrade as quickly as standard vitamin C serum.
- ferulic acid, an antioxidant that is often used in vitamin C serum formulations. Not only does ferulic acid protect the skin from free radical damage, but it also helps to stabilize vitamin C and enhance its action on the skin. To use the booster powder you simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to blend it into your favorite moisturizer or serum.
Carrier and essential oils bring plenty of benefits to our skincare routine in the form of antioxidants and fatty acids, for example. However, they do not contain vitamin C and and should not be relied upon as a source of vitamin C for your skincare routine.
I hope this post has given you some clarity about this sometimes confusing topic!
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