The Skin Benefits of Topical Red Raspberry Seed Oil

1. Red Raspberry Seed Oil

1.1 Origin

Raspberries or Rubus idaeus were initially used by Europeans for therapeutic purposes while the juices were used for painting and illustration purposes. While raspberries were largely grown in Europe, the major producers of raspberries in recent times are Oregon, California, and Washington. (Burton-Freeman et al., 2016) 

  • Composition

Raspberries or Rubus idaeus are unique berries that are a rich source of bioactive constituents including dietary fibers, polyphenolic components such as anthocyanins and ellagitannins, and micronutrients including vitamins (vitamins C and K) and minerals (magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium). To obtain the red raspberry seed oil, the fresh fruit must undergo lyophilization or freeze-drying, yielding the main product, dried fruit, and byproduct, fine dust. Sifting of fine dust provides clean raspberry seeds. In a Soxhlet apparatus, the seeds are extracted with petroleum ether and the evaporated solvent forms the red raspberry seed oil with an orange color and a pleasant odor. The constituents of red raspberry seed oil along with their percentage composition are listed in the table below. (Burton-Freeman et al., 2016; Parry et al., 2005; Šućurović et al., 2009) 

No

Constituent Compounds 

Characteristic Features 

Percentage 

1

α-linolenic acid 

Anti-inflammatory substance 

21-25%

2

Linoleic acid (n6 fatty acid)

Protects the skin barrier and anti-inflammatory substance 

56-62%

3

Linolenic acid (n3 fatty acid)

Protects the skin barrier and anti-inflammatory agent 

22-29%

4

Oleic acid (n9 fatty acid and free fatty acid) 

Healing substance 

7-15%

5

Palmitic acid (free fatty acid)

Anti-inflammatory substance 

2-4%

 

  • Uses 

Red raspberry extract is known for reducing the risk for metabolically associated pathologies that include obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes mellitus. Raspberries also have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative properties that help attain optimal physical and neurological health. Compounds present in raspberry influence gene expression, cell signaling pathways, and other cellular processes. Raspberries have significantly higher antioxidant properties when compared to strawberries, kiwis, and peppers. (Burton-Freeman et al., 2016; Šućurović et al., 2009)

  • Skin Benefits of Topical Red Raspberry Seed Oil 
  • Photoprotection and Photoaging 

The red raspberry seed oil contains a significant amount of vitamin E (δ-tocopherol, α-tocopherol, γ-tocopherol, and tocotrienols) which have antioxidant properties. (Ispiryan et al., 2021) Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induces DNA damage that manifests as acute and chronic cutaneous effects. UVAI attributes to the majority of solar UVR and penetrates the deeper layers of the skin that contains elastic and collagen fibers. UVAI promotes the production of reactive oxygen species and free radicals as well as induces a state of photoimmunosuppression that increases the risk for skin cancer. Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, reduces lipid peroxidation, and inhibits photoimmunosuppression. Vitamin E also prevents the production of UVB-induced pyrimidine dimers. The photoprotective and antioxidant properties of vitamin E are also attributed to the increase in the intracellular levels of glutathione. The topical application of red raspberry seed oil containing vitamin E prevents the keratinocytes from the detrimental effects of the UVR and improves the appearance of the skin. The reduced onset of DNA damage and oxidative damage to the skin also helps combat photoaging of the skin. (Delinasios et al., 2018)

In addition to UVR, exposure to infrared A radiation (IRA) also contributes to photoaging of the skin. Vitamin E also promotes the repair of photodamaged skin. Owing to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E prevents and reduces the gene expression of matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1) otherwise induced by exposure to IRA. Reduced synthesis of MMP-1 is associated with reduced degradation of collagen. Vitamin E-containing formulation alters the gene expression of collagen 3, hemoxygenase-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor. Vitamin E contributes to improvement in skin elasticity, firmness, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, skin laxity, roughness, and laxity in photodamaged skin. It also stimulates remodeling of the dermis resulting in increased dermal thickness. (Farris et al., 2014; Grether-Beck et al., 2015)

The topical application of omega-3 fatty acids also alleviates skin damage induced by UVR. The fatty acids protect the skin against UV-induced damage, erythema, and inflammation. The fatty acids reduce the UV-induced expression of MMP-1 or collagenase in the dermal fibroblasts. The topical application of essential fatty acids also reduces the expression of MMP-9 and improves the expression of collagen and elastic fibers accompanied by an increase in the thickness of the epidermis. In older skin, the essential fatty acids improve the production of procollagen, fibrillin-1, and tropoelastin in the dermis. These proteins are involved in the repair of damaged skin and the synthesis of collagen. These effects improve the intrinsic and extrinsic aging of the skin. (Angelo, 2012a)

The red raspberry seed oil also comprises flavonoids. Flavonoids such as hesperitin and naringenin penetrate through the skin and protect the skin against erythema caused by exposure to UVB radiation. Flavonoids tend to absorb UVR before they penetrate and damage the skin. (Angelo, 2012b)

Topical retinoids (vitamin A) induce histological changes in the epidermis and dermis of the skin as well as in the collagen, which eventually leads to improvement in hyperpigmentation, smoothness, and wrinkling of the photodamaged skin. Topical tretinoin promotes the production of collagen I, restoring the normal levels of collagen in photodamaged skin. It also increases the granular cell layers, the thickness of the epidermis, and compaction of the stratum corneum along with a reduction in the levels of melanin in the skin. (Angelo, 2012c)

Vitamin C is also integral to the structure and function of the skin, with greater levels of vitamin C found in the epidermis of the skin. Oxidative damage causes depletion of vitamin C in the outer layers of the skin leading to a reduction in the collagen production in the skin and an increase in the levels of free radicals and reactive oxygen species. The application of vitamin C promotes the activity of collagen hydroxylase in the fibroblasts, stabilizing the collagen cross-links. Vitamin C protects the skin against oxidative damage by scavenging the UVR-induced free radicals and reactive oxygen species. Vitamin C also reduced the production of melanin, termed melanogenesis, which facilitates the treatment of hyperpigmentation in skin conditions such as age spots and melisma. (Pullar et al., 2017)

  • Skin Barrier and Transepidermal Water Loss

The topical application of red raspberry seed oil and products that contain this oil effectively deliver essential fatty acids to the skin. These fatty acids alleviate the sensitivity of the skin in response to chemical irritants, reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and improve the texture of the skin. (Angelo, 2012a) Fatty acids such as linoleic acid in the red raspberry seed oil strengthen the permeability and antimicrobial barrier of the skin, mediating the homeostasis of the skin barrier. The skin barrier may become dysfunctional in dermatologic conditions such as atopic dermatitis. Fatty acids restore the barrier function by reducing TEWL and improving hydration of the stratum corneum, which helps improve skin health in atopic dermatitis. (Lin et al., 2017)

  • Wound Healing

The primary processes involved in wound healing include inflammation, scar tissue formation, and remodeling of the tissue. While inflammation is an important step in wound healing for the elimination of foreign particles and the formation of new tissue, the onset of chronic inflammation may be detrimental to the wound healing process. The topical application of oleic acid (n-9 fatty acid) accelerates the closure of the wound. (Angelo, 2012a) Vitamin C in the red raspberry seed oil also accelerates wound healing while reducing the formation of permanent scar tissue. (Pullar et al., 2017)

  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects 

Vitamin E improves the signs of inflammation that include erythema or skin redness, edema, swelling, and thickness of the skin. α-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol reduce the synthesis of prostaglandins and leukotrienes as well as suppress the UV-induced activity of NADPH oxidase and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The topical application of γ-tocopherol and α-tocopherol acetate also suppresses the activity of nitric oxide synthase. The combined application of vitamin E and vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects against several chronic inflammatory skin conditions. (Michels, 2012)

  • Skin Permeation Enhancers 

Fatty acids in the red raspberry seed oil enhance the permeation of the skin by modifying the skin barrier. These substances cause reversible disorganization and fluidization of lipids in the skin which promotes permeability of the skin barrier and modulates effective delivery of pharmaceutical compounds into the skin. (Čižinauskas et al., 2017)

  • Acne 

Acne involves the pilosebaceous unit in the skin and manifests as greater sebum production, abnormal growth and differentiation of the keratinocytes, and altered immune and inflammatory reactions. The topical application of tretinoin is safe and effective for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. (Angelo, 2012c) Retinoids reduce the development of acne by reducing the proliferation and promoting the differentiation of keratinocytes. This helps normalize the desquamation in the sebaceous follicles and prevents pilosebaceous canal obstruction. Topical retinoids block the inflammatory pathways that are associated with the development of acne, which decreases the levels of nitric oxide and inflammatory cytokines. The retinoids also influence the secondary lesions of the dermis which include pigmentation and scarring. Acne scarring is a result of remodeling of the dermis and an imbalance between the synthesis and degradation of the dermal matrix. Topical retinoids improve hyperpigmentation by promoting epidermal turnover and suppressing the transfer of melanosomes to the keratinocytes. (Leyden et al., 2017)

  • Skin Moisturization

Topical emollients such as linoleic acid or n-6 fatty acid help improve the function of the epidermis and treat and prevent the reoccurrence of skin lesions in psoriasis. They also promote the production of ceramides which improve the skin barrier and enhance the hydration of the skin. Linoleic acid regulates the proliferation of keratinocytes, promotes the metabolism and synthesis of epidermal lipids, and modulates the homeostasis of the skin barrier. In contrast to other emollients, linoleic acid is non-comedogenic and does not clog the skin pores. (Li et al., 2020)

  • Topical Red Raspberry Seed Oil for Dermatologic Conditions 

Psoriasis is referred to as a chronic inflammatory condition associated with genetic predisposition and autoimmune mechanisms. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque-type psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris. The clinical manifestations of plaque-type psoriasis include pruritic, sharply demarcated, and erythematous plaques that are covered within silvery scales. The plaques are present on the scalp, trunk, and extensor regions of the limbs. (Rendon & Schäkel, 2019) Linoleic acid in the red raspberry seed oil improves the epidermal permeability barrier, reduces TEWL, and promotes moisturization of the skin in psoriasis. Vitamin C and vitamin E of the red raspberry seed oil have anti-inflammatory properties which also improve the appearance of psoriatic skin lesions. (Michels, 2012)

The skin moisturizing properties of linoleic acid are also beneficial for the treatment of chronic xerotic skin disorders such as pruritus hiemalis, atopic dermatitis, and chronic eczema. (Yang et al., 2019) Owing to the antioxidant properties of vitamin E and vitamin C, the red raspberry seed oil plays an important role in scavenging the free radicals and neutralizing the free radicals, thus, protecting the skin from oxidative damage. It proves to be effective for the treatment, management, and prevention of cutaneous ulcers, melasma, skin cancer, and scleroderma. Vitamin E prevents the reactive oxygen species from hindering the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and collagen. The topical application of vitamin E is used for the treatment of burns, wounds, and surgical scars. (Keen & Hassan, 2016)

Red raspberry seed oil is enriched with carotenoids which are a source of vitamin A and vitamin E. Both the vitamins have antioxidant and antiaging properties that protect the skin against oxidative, maintain the structure of collagen, and prevent premature aging of the skin. The oil also reduces itching, redness, and swelling which are the signs of skin inflammation. (Ispiryan et al., 2021)

References 

Angelo, G. (2012a). Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids 

Angelo, G. (2012b). Flavonoids and Skin Health. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/flavonoids 

Angelo, G. (2012c). Vitamin A and Skin Health. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-A 

Burton-Freeman, B. M., Sandhu, A. K., & Edirisinghe, I. (2016). Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links. Adv Nutr, 7(1), 44-65. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.009639 

Čižinauskas, V., Elie, N., Brunelle, A., & Briedis, V. (2017). Skin Penetration Enhancement by Natural Oils for Dihydroquercetin Delivery. Molecules, 22(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22091536 

Delinasios, G. J., Karbaschi, M., Cooke, M. S., & Young, A. R. (2018). Vitamin E inhibits the UVAI induction of “light” and “dark” cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers, and oxidatively generated DNA damage, in keratinocytes. Sci Rep, 8(1), 423. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-18924-4 

Farris, P., Yatskayer, M., Chen, N., Krol, Y., & Oresajo, C. (2014). Evaluation of efficacy and tolerance of a nighttime topical antioxidant containing resveratrol, baicalin, and vitamin e for treatment of mild to moderately photodamaged skin. J Drugs Dermatol, 13(12), 1467-1472. 

Grether-Beck, S., Marini, A., Jaenicke, T., & Krutmann, J. (2015). Effective photoprotection of human skin against infrared A radiation by topically applied antioxidants: results from a vehicle-controlled, double-blind, randomized study. Photochem Photobiol, 91(1), 248-250. https://doi.org/10.1111/php.12375 

Ispiryan, A., Viškelis, J., & Viškelis, P. (2021). Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) Seed Oil: A Review. Plants (Basel), 10(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050944 

Keen, M. A., & Hassan, I. (2016). Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J, 7(4), 311-315. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.185494 

Leyden, J., Stein-Gold, L., & Weiss, J. (2017). Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb), 7(3), 293-304. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-017-0185-2 

Li, X., Yang, Q., Zheng, J., Gu, H., Chen, K., Jin, H., He, C., Xu, A. E., Xu, J., Zhang, J., Yu, W., Guo, Z., Xiong, L., Song, Y., & Zhang, L. (2020). Efficacy and safety of a topical moisturizer containing linoleic acid and ceramide for mild-to-moderate psoriasis vulgaris: A multicenter randomized controlled trial. Dermatol Ther, 33(6), e14263. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.14263 

Lin, T. K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. L. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19010070 

Michels, A. J. (2012). Vitamin E and Skin Health. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-E 

Parry, J., Su, L., Luther, M., Zhou, K., Yurawecz, M. P., Whittaker, P., & Yu, L. (2005). Fatty acid composition and antioxidant properties of cold-pressed marionberry, boysenberry, red raspberry, and blueberry seed oils. J Agric Food Chem, 53(3), 566-573. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf048615t 

Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. C. M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080866 

Rendon, A., & Schäkel, K. (2019). Psoriasis Pathogenesis and Treatment. Int J Mol Sci, 20(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061475 

Šućurović, A., Vukelić, N., Ignjatović, L., Brčeski, I., & Jovanović, D. (2009). Physical-chemical characteristics and oxidative stability of oil obtained from the lyophilized raspberry seed. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, 111(11), 1133-1141. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/ejlt.200900022 

Yang, Q., Liu, M., Li, X., & Zheng, J. (2019). The benefit of a ceramide‐linoleic acid‐containing moisturizer as adjunctive therapy for a set of xerotic dermatoses. Dermatologic Therapy, 32(4), e13017. 

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