Is Bio-Oil a Miracle Cure For Skin Problems?

Jager Weatherby on 4 May 2008 at 7:00am


Since hitting the worldwide market in 2002, Bio‑Oil has continued to land top spots on consumer reports all around the globe. The topical product claims to provide a number of benefits, including reducing stretch marks, improving the appearance of scars, fighting the signs of aging, and smoothing uneven skin tone. With so many uses in one tiny bottle, it’s no surprise that it’s been dubbed a “miracle” product by many who’ve used it. But is Bio-Oil really as effective as everyone says?

What Is Bio-Oil?
The product is essentially a combination of vitamins and plant extracts, including lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and vitamins A and E. Its latest “breakthrough” is PurCellin Oil, an ingredient derived from an oil secreted by ducks to help keep their feathers waterproof and flexible. (Yes, we said ducks, so no, it is not Vegan!) Bio-Oil has been described as having the consistency of olive oil, with a strong, perfume-like smell. It’s easily absorbed when massaged into the skin, but some users have reported breakouts, especially if used for prolonged periods of time.

According to the company, 65% of users saw an improvement in scarring in only four weeks, while 50% reported a reduction in stretch marks over eight weeks. For those trying the product for complexion irregularities such as dryness and uneven skin tone, a whopping 93% saw improvements in 6 weeks or less.

Despite fairly convincing statistics (though consider the source!), critics of Bio-Oil have said there’s not enough clinical trials to back up the product’s claims. We turned to our friends over at Paula’s Choice, who use scientific research to write reviews on the latest skincare, to get a better understanding of the oil.

“PurCellin oil has absolutely no research proving it affects the skin concerns that Bio-Oil is touted as being able to treat,” they write on review site Beautypedia. “Several irritating fragrance ingredients are included, too, all of which adds up to an unabashedly poor product that should not be taken seriously because it simply doesn’t make scars and stretch marks less apparent. All this can realistically do is provide some moisturizing benefit.”

RealSelf doctors also question the effectiveness of the product, saying that nothing can compare to in-office treatments for scarring, stretch marks, and aging. However, it’s hard to completely discredit reviews from the RealSelf community:

  • “I have been using Bio-Oil for the last two years and will probably continue to use it. I had discoloration problems, acne marks, and scars on my face. After three months, my skin looked clear and felt so smooth. Since then, I have never stopped using it. It’s also a good moisturizer, especially in the winter.” — RealSelf user Raahat

  • “My partner has a very lined face. For about the last six to nine months, she's been using Bio-Oil. The results have been terrific. Lines don't look so deep and the skin looks so much healthier, smoother, and supple.” — RealSelf user hortitowers

  • “I have pretty bad stretch marks on my sides, upper arms, and lower stomach. Bio-Oil took the color away in seven days. Within 20 they were almost gone (and they were pretty severe). I have quite sensitive skin, so that might be why they went quite fast. If you have tougher skin, you may see results a little bit longer but will still see them. Bio-Oil is great and I would advise to anyone.” — RealSelf user sixsignsofalex

  • “I began using Bio-Oil a few days ago and I have to say that things look much better finally. It makes a huge difference.” — RealSelf user TallOne

Of course, that isn’t to say that all of the reviews have been glowing:

  • “Bio-Oil did nothing but worsen my scarring condition.” — RealSelf user kimact

  • “I'm using Bio-Oil, but it doesn't seem to be lightening anything, [even] five months post-op.” — RealSelf user Newstartnewme

  • “I had been using Bio-Oil on my scars twice a day but noticed I was getting small acne-like bumps on my chest.” — RealSelf user JennyDriscoll

  • “I tried this for hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, and stretch marks for about a month. I used the entire bottle, pretty much all over and faithfully. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any difference.” — RealSelf user PinkPink

Clearly, the jury is out on the miraculousness of this “miracle” product. Have you ever tried Bio-Oil? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo credit: ElsaMakeup on YouTube