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What is Bio Oil?
Bio-oil is a well-known skincare brand that produces oils and gels that are meant to improve stretch marks and scars on the skin. The company prides themselves on being innovative, as they created an oil based product when it was not popular years ago. In particular, their most famous skincare oil is made up of a variety of plant oils to improve skin health and soothe skin after facial procedures such as eyebrow threading or facial waxing.
The product’s main focus has been to target striae distensae (SD), which is a dermal condition in which lesions like stretch marks are formed. There are different stages of SD including striae rubrae (an early stage characterized by red marks) and striae albae (a later stage characterized by faded, wrinkled skin with no pigmentation) (1).
SD is difficult to treat. The treatment must target and improve skin collagen, elasticity, improve hydration and have anti-inflammatory effects in order to show visible improvement in SD symptoms. Treatments include tretinoin and silicone gel.
Studies by the Bio-oil company have shown improvement in scars after 8 weeks of use of their skincare oil (1).
The Good Ingredients
Helianthuus annuus seed oil
Otherwise known as sunflower seed oil from the sunflower plant, this oil has plenty of benefits for the skin. It is an antioxidant and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (2). It also has wound healing properties. When ingested, it is heart-friendly as it contains vitamins and phenolic compounds (plant substances that have anti-aging and antioxidant properties).
It is also rich in linoleic acid – This is a fatty acid that has been found to be low in acne patients. Topical application of linoleic acid helps to control scaly lesions on the skin (2).
Bisabolol is a plant substance that has skin soothing properties. It is deemed a safe ingredient by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition to its soothing properties, it is anti-inflammatory. When applied topically, it increases absorption of other ingredients and penetrates the skin well (3).
Calendula officinalis leaf oil
This is a plant extract used for medicinal purposes. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and speed up wound healing. When applied topically, it increases granulation in the skin, which is the formation of new tissue and capillaries that happens after a decrease in inflammation. One study showed the application of this oil exhibited anti-inflammatory properties on the skin (4).
The Bad Ingredients
Lavandula angustifolia oil
Although lavendar oil is rich in polyphenols and antioxidant activity, essential oils like this one can sensitize the skin. They can cause allergic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema characterized by redness, itchiness and swelling in response to essential oils (5). Those at risk of experiencing skin irritation include older people and those with sensitive skin. However, eczema-like reactions have been shown in infants treated with essential oils as well (5).
Geraniol is a type of fragrance additive included in skincare products to enhance user experience. While geraniol on its own may have some beneficial properties, geraniol added to skincare products can oxidize in the air at room temperature. This oxidation leads to byproducts that can irritate and sensitize the skin (6).
Limonene is another fragrance additive. It has been found to induce skin sensitivity and irritation after use (7). Although it is considered low toxicity, it may target the liver when administered orally. While skincare products are not intentionally ingested, it is important to keep in mind that skincare products used on the face may migrate onto the lips and into the mouth in small concentrations, wreaking havoc in the body and on the skin.
Terpenes are a type of compound found in essential oils. Linalool is another fragrance ingredient that releases terpenes upon exposure to the air (8). This ingredient has been added to Bio-oil and also has irritating properties. In a study of over 4,000 UK patients exposed to terpenes, almost 300 had an irritating skin reaction to linalool, and another 200 had an irritating reaction to both linalool and limonene (8).
Should You Use It On Your Face?
The skin on your face is thinner than the rest of your body, especially under the eyes. Irritating substances should be avoided at all costs. The use of fragrance additives can cause skin sensitivity, irritation, inflammation, and cause skin peeling. The dryness can lead to dehydration. This loss of moisture leads to wrinkling, sagging, and dullness.
Can It Be Used Overnight?
While Bio-oil can be used overnight, the irritating properties of fragrance additives and the sticky/oily feel of the product itself may cause inflammation in the skin. This can promote clogged pores that lead to acne, redness, and peeling skin. It is recommended to skip out on Bio-oil and instead opt for using an occlusive to help with pigmentation and moisture in the skin.