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What are the Side Effects of Bio-Oil?

Updated April 17, 2017

Bio-Oil is the registered trade name of a skin product made in Europe and marketed in the United States by Pacific World Corporation. Bio-Oil is promoted for healing a variety of skin conditions, including acne, stretch marks and scar tissue. This product, found in the beauty and skin care section of many stores, is for topical use only, on non-inflamed skin with no open wounds and is not to be taken internally.

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Bio-Oil contains more than 30 ingredients, including synthetic oils, natural oils from flowers and seeds, such as lavender oil and rosemary oil, and various chemicals, such as benzyl salicylate and Alpha-isomethyl Ionone. The primary ingredient is mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum) and the substance that is credited for the product's healing ability is PurCellin.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is used in a wide variety of products, including baby oils, baby lotions and make-up removers. It is generally gentle on the skin and few people report any allergic or inflammatory reaction. The benefit of mineral oil is sometimes questioned. Since it is a petroleum product some people feel that it is unhealthy for the skin because it clogs pores, ultimately drying rather than healing the skin. The counter argument holds that mineral oil traps in the body's natural moisture and guards it against the drying elements in the air. Mineral oil is used both topically and internally and is well-tolerated.


PurCellin is a synthetic form of an oil produced by ducks and other water fowl. Birds that need to stay afloat in water have uropygial glands located near the tail feathers. These glands make and store a preening oil which the birds collect and distribute over their feathers. Natural soaps and lotions have long been made from duck oil. Bio-Oil is the first product to use a synthetic form of the substance.

Side Effects/Reactions

Although little independent research has been conducted, Bio-Oil research indicates that controlled studies confirmed no side effects or skin reactions to this products when used as directed.

User Feedback

Online surveys and discussion boards indicate high approval rates for this product both in Europe and in the United States Two conditions, scars and pregnancy-related stretch marks, are mentioned more often and more positively than wrinkles and acne. In fact, acne seems to be the condition for which more people express dissatisfaction with the product. In general, people have positive things to say, usually including the relatively low cost for Bio-Oil compared to similarly marketed products.

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About the Author

Evelyn Carlson has a background in psychology and sociology and a Master's degree in English. Until recently, she taught college-level composition, literature, and creative writing. She is currently teaching art classes and doing freelance writing and freelance copy editing. Her writing appears online and in two literary Journals: Skylark and Green Hills Literary Lantern.

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