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What Is Bio-Oil and Does It Really Work? We Asked an Expert

SI Swimsuit cover model Kim Kardashian once raved about the product for stretch marks.

In a market that is forever evolving, it’s rare to find a brand that maintains its credibility and proves its longevity among its counterparts. Enter Bio-Oil. The skincare company started in 1987 when it pioneered using oil instead of creams or lotions to help improve the appearance of scarring and stretch marks. In 2010, the brand set up a specialist laboratory to continue expanding its product line, and today, it continues to be a staple in beauty cabinets around the world, available at Ulta, Amazon, Walgreens, to name just a few retailers.

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover star Kim Kardashian has even raved about the relatively inexpensive product (under $20). She has shared the effects Bio-Oil has had on her own stretch marks during her pregnancies, calling it a lifesaver. “It just makes my skin glow, and it has so many benefits,” the Skims founder wrote in 2018. “If you have a scar or stretch marks, you just massage the oil onto the area two times a day.”

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To fully understand the advantages of Bio-Oil, we asked Dr. Gibran Shaikh, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of the online teledermatology platform MySkinofColor.com, to fill us in on all things pertaining to the brand. (Gibran is not affiliated with Bio-Oil.)

What is Bio-Oil and does it work?

“Bio-Oil contains a combination of natural and semi synthetic oils and can be used as a daily moisturizer anywhere on the body. Additionally, the makers of the product actually did a high quality, randomized clinical trial showing that it can be used to improve the appearance of scarring and stretch marks (striae). The investigators found that it reduced their size by 5% compared to the untreated ones after eight weeks. That’s admittedly pretty underwhelming, however, patients actually rated their improvement much higher at 20%. I tell my patients don’t expect miracles, but it’s something, and at least there’s a little science behind it.”

What are the benefits of the main ingredients in Bio-Oil?

“Mineral and PurCellin oil are semi synthetic oils used in a wide range of cosmetic products. [Tocopheryl acetate has Vitamin E and is a naturally occurring antioxidant, normally found in our diet, and now in a lot of cosmetic products due to its anti-aging properties.”

Do you recommend Bio-Oil instead of using a lotion?

“Dermatologists almost always prefer thicker creams, ointments and oils—all oil based—rather than lotions, which are water based. They are much more hydrating and protective of the skin barrier. This is particularly true with people who have dry skin or eczema.”

How often should someone use Bio-Oil?

“Once or twice daily. A thin layer is more than enough – slathering it on just wastes product.”

This is mostly for the body, but can it be used for the face?

“A small amount, directly applied to the scar, may be helpful and is safe. I probably wouldn’t use it as a daily facial moisturizer, but it does have good moisturizing effects and improves scars. It does come at the risk of clogging pores and increasing acne.”

Who should avoid using Bio-Oil?

“Anybody with allergies to the ingredients, and people with oily skin should avoid using it. Also, people with an oily complexion who are also acne prone should not use it on their face.”

Bio-Oil also recently launched a lotion that fans are loving. You can check it out here.