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Bio-Oil is a cosmetic oil that can reduce the appearance of acne scars. It may also soften wrinkles and reduce hyperpigmentation on the face. Bio-Oil is the name of the oil and the name of the manufacturer of the product.

The oil has a long ingredient list that includes calendula, lavender, rosemary, and chamomile. Lavender has antifungal properties and may fight acne. It also contains vitamins E and A, and other skin-enhancing ingredients like tocopherol.

Vitamin A can reduce the appearance of discoloration and fine lines. Retinol, sometimes called retinoids, is a much-studied topical anti-aging ingredient derived from vitamin A.

Bio-Oil is known, both anecdotally and scientifically, to benefit the facial skin.

For wrinkles

Bio-Oil contains vitamin A, which can promote cell turnover. Retinol, which is known to treat acne and soften wrinkles, is derived from vitamin A. Plant-based oils used in Bio-Oil are hydrating, which can plump the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

For face acne scars

Bio-Oil is shown to be most effective when applied to new acne scars, though it may still help lighten older acne scars. Acne scars are considered new if they’re less than a year old.

A 2012 study showed that 84 percent of subjects experienced an improvement in the overall condition of their acne scars, and more than 90 percent experienced an improvement in scar color.

However, this study was done by the Bio-Oil brand on just 32 people, all between the ages of 14 and 30, and all of Chinese descent. More research is needed.

Acne scars are typically divided into four categories, and Bio-Oil can be used on all four:

  • pockmark
  • ice pick scars
  • rolling scars
  • boxcar scars

Bio-Oil shouldn’t be used if your skin is cracked, bleeding, or broken.

The oil’s vitamin A content may help exfoliate the skin and encourage new skin cells to form. This accelerates the scar healing process.

Vitamin E is shown in some studies to reduce the appearance of scars. However, other studies say the opposite — that vitamin E can worsen the look of scars.

For dark spots on the face

Some studies show that Bio-Oil is effective at treating hyperpigmentation (dark spots) on the face caused by genetics or ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

A 2011 study conducted by the Bio-Oil company found that 86 percent of people using Bio-Oil for 12 weeks showed a “statistically significant improvement” in the appearance of uneven skin tone, and 71 percent of testers showed improvement in “mottled pigmentation on the face.”

Independent researchers need to study the oil further.

For skin lightening

Bio-Oil has been shown to lighten scars. A 2012 clinical trial done by the manufacturer found that 90 percent of subjects experienced an improvement in scar color after using the product for 8 weeks.

However, there’s no research supporting the idea that Bio-Oil will lighten the skin itself.

All available research shows Bio-Oil having lightening qualities pertaining to scars, but scar tissue isn’t the same as other skin. More research is needed.

For oily skin

It may seem counterproductive to put facial oil on oily skin. But sometimes, skin appears oily because it actually doesn’t have enough oil, and the sebaceous glands overcompensate by producing too much.

You can try Bio-Oil on oily skin, but it may be more effective to use jojoba oil, which is similar to human sebum.

A 2006 clinical trial conducted by the Bio-Oil company found the oil to be nonacnegenic and noncomedogenic, meaning it isn’t known to cause acne or clog pores. More independent research is needed.

Bio-Oil is generally considered safe, though there are certain risks and side effects associated with the product. Don’t use it if your skin or scars are cracked or bleeding. The oil contains fragrance, and it can be harmful if it gets into the body. It should also never be swallowed.

Linalool, a fragrance ingredient, is a known allergen in many people and is found in Bio-Oil.

If you’re allergic or sensitive to essential oils, don’t use Bio-Oil. It’s a good idea to do a skin patch test before using it for the first time. To do so, put a small amount of product on your forearm, and wait at least 30 minutes for signs of a reaction.

Apply a few small drops of Bio-Oil to clean, dry skin twice daily. Instead of rubbing it in as you would a moisturizer, you can gently pat or dab the oil into your skin to help it absorb. You can also use Bio-Oil after a moisturizer.

You can leave Bio-Oil on your face overnight. There’s little research to prove the efficacy of doing so, but anecdotally speaking, people claim to do this for added hydration.

Bio-Oil is available in many drugstores, grocery stores, and health and beauty stores.

Check out these products available online.

Bio-Oil may be more effective at preventing acne than at treating it. Some potentially effective acne treatments include:

You should see a doctor if your acne becomes painful or if your skin is bleeding or oozing. If you have cystic acne, it’s possible you’ll need to see a doctor for a prescription. You should also see a doctor if your acne is interfering with your day-to-day life.

If your acne scars are painful, broken, or bleeding, you’ll also want to see a doctor.

Bio-Oil is considered safe to use on your face as long as you’re not allergic to any of its ingredients or to essential oils.

Both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that Bio-Oil may help reduce the appearance of scars, help reduce hyperpigmentation, and soften wrinkles. It could potentially help to prevent acne, but more conclusive research is still needed.