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oil bottle with raspberry and leaves

Red Raspberry Seed Oil Benefits: Uses for Skin and Hair

Berries have been a prominent part of mythical narratives and folklore, with stories associating certain characteristics with different varieties. Throughout history, red raspberries have been recognized for their healing potential, consistently depicted as symbols of kindness and protection. These are the same species of raspberries that you would find in a grocery store, packed ready-to-eat in clear containers. 

Apart from being added to jams and pies, red raspberries have found significant use in the beauty and skincare industry. The fruit is packed with skin-loving compounds such as vitamins, antioxidants, astringents, and fatty acids. 

Berry oils have only recently gained commercial interest after scientific research unveiled their many benefits. This has led to an influx of red raspberry products in several formulations, such as creams, serums, and hair products. Out of all these forms, red raspberry seed oil is the most versatile and contains concentrated pharmaceutical effects. 

This article translates the scientific research on red raspberry seed oil and expands on its benefits and uses to help you incorporate it into your routine. 

Where Red Raspberry Oil Comes From and How It's Derived

essential oil bottle with red raspberries

Red raspberry seed oil is extracted from the Rubus idaeus plant, a shrub from the Rosaceae family. The plant is native to Asia and Europe but is commercially produced in Russia, Mexico, the United States, and Africa. The raspberry seeds yield about 10 to 20 percent oil and are considered by-products of raspberry juice processing. 

The oil is extracted through steam distillation, supercritical fluid extraction, or cold pressing. The preferred methods are supercritical fluid extraction and cold pressing, as they don't involve the addition of any synthetics. Cold pressing also does not involve heat and preserves the pharmaceutical properties of the seeds. 

The extracted seed oil appears a cloudy, red-yellow color. This unconventional color of the seed oil comes from its carotenoid content - pigments responsible for the coloring of carrots and pumpkins. The oil has a sweet, mild aroma with fruity undertones. 

The Chemistry Behind Red Raspberry Seed Oil

Due to its unique chemical composition and high concentration of valuable constituents, raspberry seed oil has been classified as a specialty berry oil. It is high in essential fatty acids, compounds that are invaluable as they cannot be synthesized in our bodies. The seed oil contains linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, also known as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, in medically favorable proportions.

Fatty acids in raspberry seed oil are beneficial in reducing inflammation due to their optimal proportion. Additionally, topical application of formulations rich in oleic, linoleic, and alpha-linolenic acid is known to moisturize the skin and strengthen the skin barrier. These compounds may also help improve skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. 

Adding to raspberry seed oil’s unique chemical composition are tocopherols and tocotrienols. These compounds are better known as vitamin E and are a gold standard ingredient in personal care products. Chemicals in the vitamin E family are fat-soluble and absorb quite well into the skin, quickly delivering antioxidant effects and moisture. 

Other noteworthy compounds in the list of healthy metabolites are polyphenol compounds, including phytosterols, sitosterols, and carotenoids. All of these compounds are strong anti-oxidants and offer natural UV protection. They also reduce inflammation in the skin’s cells, improving issues such as acne and rosacea. 

Raspberry seed oil also contains squalane, a skincare ingredient that has recently made rounds on social media (and for good reason!). Squalane is present in the skin’s barrier and also naturally occurs in certain fish and plant oils. It is an excellent emollient, helping make the skin soft and supple by providing lubrication and moisture. 

As evidenced by its chemical roster, raspberry seed oil performs exceptionally well as a personal care oil. Its constituents lend themselves to cosmetic use as they mimic compounds found naturally in the skin’s barrier. 

Common Queries About Using Red Raspberry Seed Oil

After research publications brought raspberry seed oil into the limelight, the online buzz around its applications has given birth to many myths and concerns. This section seeks to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the uses and benefits of raspberry seed oil. 

Is Raspberry Seed Oil Comedogenic?

Raspberry seed oil is touted for its emollient and moisturizing properties. Many emollients are comedogenic, giving rise to the concern that raspberry seed oil might clog pores. However, due to its composition of fatty acids, raspberry seed oil is very unlikely to clog pores. In fact, it has a comedogenic rating of 1, corresponding to the descriptor ‘slightly comedogenic.’ 

Is Raspberry Seed Oil Effective as a Sunscreen?

Interest in raspberry seed oil’s photoprotective properties has accelerated in the last few years. A research study investigating the seed oil’s chemical properties has found that it can offer limited protection from UVB and UVA rays. The values for UVB protection range between SPF 30-50, while UVA protection ranges between SPF 6-7. 

The sun protection properties in raspberry seed oil are insufficient to completely shield against the sun’s harmful rays, specifically UVA rays. UVA radiation absorbs deep into the skin and ages the skin while increasing the risk of cancer. 

Hence, raspberry seed oil cannot be used as a standalone sun shield as it does not provide comprehensive sun protection. It may be used as an extra step before the application of sunscreen to enhance its photoprotective effect. In fact, researchers have encouraged the use of raspberry seed oil as a supplement to sunscreens as it is eco-friendly and demonstrates a photoprotective effect. 

Can Red Raspberry Seed Oil Replace Traditional Moisturizers?

As a result of its lipid and fatty acid content, raspberry seed oil has the potential to be used as a moisturizing component in skincare. It contains compounds such as squalane and linoleic acid that naturally occur in the skin’s epidermis, making the seed oil absorb well. Raspberry seed oil helps lock in moisture and repair the skin’s barrier.

While raspberry seed oil has hydrating and moisturizing properties, its comprehensiveness as a moisturizer may depend on the skin type. For dry skin, the seed oil may not be hydrating enough as it works by locking in existing moisture rather than adding moisture to the skin. Since cosmetically formulated moisturizers often contain water and other hydrating compounds, raspberry seed oil will work best with a moisturizer that addresses your skin type.

Is Red Raspberry Seed Oil Suitable for All Skin Types?

Oils are generally thought to be useful only for people with dry, dehydrated, or acne-prone skin. However, this is a misconception, and even more so in the case of raspberry seed oil. Raspberry seed oil, with its unique composition and fatty acid ratio, is safe to use for all skin types. 

It can function as a lightweight facial oil for individuals with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin as it does not clog pores and has anti-inflammatory effects. For people with dry skin, it can be used in combination with a moisturizer to ensure moist and hydrated skin. 

Benefits of Red Raspberry Seed Oil for Skin

Raspberry seed oil has seen accelerated incorporation in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products due to its exceptional potential benefits. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, photoprotective, and moisturizing effects that make it a valuable addition to any skincare routine. The following sections elaborate on scientific opinion on the use of raspberry seed oil for skincare. 

Has Anti-Aging Properties

The chemical constituents in raspberry seed oil work together to deliver concentrated anti-aging effects. It is packed with research-validated anti-aging compounds such as vitamin E, vitamin A, phytosterols, and carotenoids. A 2020 study investigated how raspberry seed extract impacted the skin’s aging process. Subjects in the study applied the extract every day for 8 weeks, after which their skin was examined using various medical devices. 

Results showed that there was a significant improvement in the skin’s elasticity, complexion, and appearance of wrinkles. The study highlighted vitamin E in particular, noting its ability to penetrate deep into the cell membranes to reduce oxidative damage. 

In addition, raspberry seed oil contains carotenoids, which are well-documented for their ability to absorb UV radiation. A review paper that studied anti-aging literature published between 2002 and 2022 found that carotenoids were highly effective in mitigating sun-related damage. Moreover, the compounds help synthesize collagen and repair any cell damage, restoring bounce and vitality in the skin. 

Repairs and Nourishes the Skin Barrier

The blend of chemical constituents in raspberry seed oil works synergistically to strengthen and repair the skin barrier. The skin barrier, or the epidermis, is the top layer of the skin responsible for protecting the skin from the external environment. The fatty acids and tocopherols found in raspberry seed oil are building blocks of the skin’s epidermis, making them ideal for seamless integration in the skin membrane.  

Among fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid have been studied for their role in fortifying the skin structure. A study published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia tested these compounds on artificial skin tissues. 

Topical application of alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid showed enhanced barrier function by altering the skin’s lipid profile. There was a marked increase in the levels of useful fatty acids and bioactive lipids such as prostaglandins and N-acylethanolamines. These are multipurpose molecules that serve many roles, including regulating inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, healing the skin cells and maintaining the skin barrier. 

In addition, raspberry seed oil is rich in tocopherols, a class of chemical compounds better known as vitamin E. It is an emollient and a humectant, meaning that it helps the skin not only absorb moisture better but also retain moisture in the skin membrane. This strengthens the skin barrier and improves its function. 

Provides Potential Sun Protection 

In recent years, many plant oils have been tested for their photoprotective potential. Most of them were found to have an SPF rating of less than 8, including olive oil, almond oil, sesame oil, and castor oil. Raspberry seed oil has shown the most significant photoprotective efficacy, with a UVB protection rating ranging between 20-30 SPF.

However, raspberry seed oil offers limited protection from UVA rays, with an SPF value of 7. This means that it does not function as a comprehensive sunscreen, but can be used to enhance the protective effect of formulated sunscreens. 

Soothes Skin and May Reduce Irritation

The first patent relating to raspberry seed oil registered it as a natural anti-inflammatory substance, acknowledging its ability to calm immune response and its symptoms. Since then, in vitro and human studies on the seed oil have repeatedly confirmed its anti-inflammatory and soothing effect. 

Raspberry seed oil contains phenolics and flavonoids, polyphenol compounds that can modulate the presence and production of reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species are harmful molecules that cause inflammation and stress which can worsen skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. A 2016 study on polyphenols showed that they reduce oxidative stress to the extent that they may reduce symptoms of inflammation-induced disorders. 

Other compounds that soothe the skin and reduce irritation are tocopherols. This class of compounds reduces inflammation through several mechanisms that have been documented in research. They inhibit inflammatory enzymes, cytokines, and oxidative processes, dampening inflammatory responses. 

Raspberry seed oil serves as a vessel for the topical application of these antioxidant compounds, reducing redness and irritation in the skin.

Benefits of Red Raspberry Seed Oil for Hair

A new addition to the roster of oils used in hair care is raspberry seed oil. It is valuable for its versatility as it is a lightweight oil with highly moisturizing properties that can be used by people of any hair type. The sections ahead explore the specific benefits of using raspberry seed oil for hair health. 

Hydrates and Nourishes Hair 

It is common to reach for thick oils such as castor oil as a solution for dry and dehydrated locks. However, thick and viscous hair oils can be tricky as they are not all suitable for use by all hair types. Often, they weigh the hair down and cause build-up. An alternative is raspberry seed oil, an oil rich in lipid compounds, fatty acids, and tocopherols without being heavy on the hair. 

The omega-3 fatty acid in raspberry seed oil hydrates hair, nourishes hair follicles, and reduces transepidermal water loss from the scalp. Further enhancing this effect, vitamin E in the seed oil hydrates the hair and scalp at a cellular level while smoothing hair strands. It also increases shine in the hair by reducing the appearance of split ends. 

Improves Scalp Health and Controls Dandruff 

Maintaining a clean and healthy scalp is often overlooked when it comes to hair care. However, scalp health is easy to look after and serves as a foundation for beautiful hair. Natural products such as raspberry seed oil can be used to effectively clean and nourish the scalp, with the added advantage of possibly reducing scalp-related conditions. 

Raspberry seed oil may bring relief to a dry, itchy scalp by providing essential nutrients, locking in moisture, and improving blood flow to the follicles. Anti-inflammatory and anti-itching compounds, such as phytosterols, calm the unpleasant symptoms of dandruff. Moreover, beta-sitosterol, which is a prominent constituent of raspberry seed oil, is commonly used in dandruff shampoo and treatment preparations

Potentially Stimulates Hair Growth

Stimulating hair growth is a complex process that is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Raspberry seed oil has the potential to support hair growth as a merit of its nutrient-rich chemical constituents. Vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and essential fatty acids all play a role in priming the hair follicles for improved growth. 

Fatty acids, particularly linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids, support hair follicle health and function. They keep the scalp hydrated and enhance lipid barrier function while also reducing inflammation. This can help reduce the risk of hair loss as dryness and inflammation are markers of hair thinning and hair fall. 

Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and vitamin E, create a favorable environment for hair growth by reducing oxidative stress on the follicles. These compounds neutralize free radicals and prevent cell damage, preventing the impairment of hair growth. 

Provides Natural UV Protection for Hair

Despite being lesser-known effects, UV radiation has the capacity to weaken hair, reduce hair growth, and cause premature greying. Studies have repeatedly shown that exposure to UV radiation can damage hair follicles and cause hair thinning. Even hair follicles covered by hair are affected by UVB and UVA radiation and are exposed to the effects of photoaging. 

Raspberry seed oil may be used on the scalp to provide some protection from the damaging effects of sun radiation. It is noted to have an SPF rating of 20-30 against UVB rays and 7 against UVA rays. While this is not enough for the oil to function as a sunscreen product, it can be used to provide some level of protection while also moisturizing the locks. 

Another mechanism through which raspberry essential oil prevents UV damage is by fighting free radicals. It contains antioxidant compounds that prevent follicle damage, subsequently preventing the hair from graying and thinning. 

How to Use Red Raspberry Seed Oil for Skin and Hair

DIY beauty products with raspberry seed oil are a great way to boost your skincare and hair care regimens. It is a natural elixir that packs several benefits ranging from anti-aging to hair growth. 

The seed oil has a lightweight and non-greasy consistency that allows it to absorb fully into the epidermis without leaving a residue. As a result, it suits almost all skin and hair types and can be blended into a variety of formulations. You can mix the seed oil with essential oils, carrier oils, creams, and other natural ingredients to conveniently concoct a specialized treatment. 

There are several approaches that you can take to integrate raspberry seed oil into your skincare routine seamlessly. The most convenient way is to mix raspberry seed oil with your cream-based moisturizer. This would enhance the emollient properties of your moisturizer while adding active ingredients such as vitamin E, carotenoids, and phytosterols to your skincare. 

You can also use raspberry seed oil to strengthen the photoprotective effect of your sunscreen. Before applying your sunscreen, apply a quarter-sized amount of raspberry seed oil and allow it to fully absorb. Doing so will add a layer of protection from UVA and UVB rays, reducing and preventing sun damage. 

For hair care, there are several ways you can benefit from raspberry seed oil. You can massage a small amount of raspberry seed oil into your scalp to increase blood flow and strengthen hair follicles. 

It is also an excellent remedy for frizz and split ends. It moisturizes the hair and scalp while supplying antioxidant compounds, tocopherols, and omega fatty acids. Apply a small amount to the ends of your hair for shiny, smooth tresses. 

Ensuring Safety When Using Raspberry Seed Oil

Incorporating raspberry seed oil into your beauty routine promises many benefits, but to make the most of its potential, it is vital to take safety precautions. 

Firstly, make sure to conduct a patch test before applying to a larger area of skin. You can do this by applying 1-2 drops of red raspberry seed oil to a small area. Wait 24 hours after application and observe for any adverse reactions to the seed oil. If you experience any form of discomfort, discontinue use. 

Additionally, if you have a known allergy to berries, exercise caution when using raspberry seed oil topically. You may consult a healthcare provider to determine if you can use the oil.

It is also important to note that while raspberry seed oil is touted for its photoprotective effects, it does not function as a standalone sunscreen. When using raspberry seed oil to protect from sun exposure, always use it alongside a broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Final Notes on Red Raspberry Oil

clear oil bottle with red raspberries

When purchasing red raspberry seed oil, ensure that you buy from a trusted source for maximum therapeutic effect. You may want to check for the origin of the seed oil to ensure it is derived from the right plant. This information should be printed on the product label and may even be available on the product website, as is the case for Wholesale Botanics’ oil

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