Is Emu Oil A Miracle Ingredient?

Emu Oil, which has been used by Australian aborigines for centuries to treat cuts and other wounds, has become a very popular ingredient touted to do pretty much anything, from moisturizing skin to reducing wrinkles to treating acne. But is Emu Oil really such a miraculous ingredient or are cosmetic companies exaggerating its benefits?

What is Emu Oil?

The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is a flightless bird native to Australia and one of the largest in the world. The oil derived from the fat of this animal contains several unsaturated fatty acids, including oleic (20%), palmitic (20%), linolenic (1-2%) and linoleic (20%) acids. These fatty acids are naturally present in the skin and help maintain and repair its outermost layer.

Emu Oil is more moisturizing than mineral oil

These fatty acids give Emu Oil strong moisturizing properties, making it a very effective treatment for dry skin. According to a study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology, it is a more effective moisturizer and has better skin penetration than mineral oil: “it appears that emu oil in comparison to mineral oil has better moisturizing properties, superior texture, and lower incidence of comedogenicity, but probably because of the small sample size (the study was conducted on 11 people only) these differences, were not found to be statistically significant. Neither of the oils were found to be irritating to the skin. Finally, emu oil fatty acid composition was studied by gas chromatography and was found to have high concentration of nonpolar monounsaturated fatty acids, which may explain emu oil’s ability to penetrate easily through the stratum corneum barrier.”

Emu Oil has anti-inflammatory properties

A 2003 study has shown that Emu Oil also has anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists induced inflammation in rats and then applied emu oil on the affected area. Several hours later, they discovered the inflammation was reduced. They also applied other oils, such as olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil, and found out they all have anti-inflammatory properties as well. However, Emu Oil works slightly better than them to reduce inflammation.

Emu Oil and wrinkles

But while Emu Oil has both moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, I couldn’t find a single study claiming it is effective at reducing or even just preventing wrinkles. There is some anecdotal evidence that Emu Oil has antiaging properties but it comes mostly from companies that sell it. Of course that doesn’t mean that Emu Oil doesn’t work against wrinkles, only that we don’t know if it does yet and, considering how expensive Emu oil can be, I’d rather stick to retinoids and other antioxidants such as Vitamin C, that have already been proven to work.

Emu Oil and acne

Some companies that sell Emu Oil also claim it isn’t comedogenic and so won’t clog pores and that it is even effective against acne. But again, there are no studies that either confirm or deny these claims. The only thing we know for sure is that Emu Oil contains a high amount of Oleic Acid, which is very comedogenic. Now, that alone doesn’t prove that Emu Oil is comedoegnic. Emu Oil is made up of several compounds and it is possible that some of the others counteract the comedogenic effect of Oleic Acid. But until we know for sure, I think those suffering from acne would do better to stay away from Emu Oil and try ingredients that have been proven to work such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil.

The Bottom Line

Emu Oil has soothing properties that help reduce inflammation and is very moisturizing (even more than mineral oil), making it a good treatment for dry skin. However, that’s just not enough to make me wanna rush out and buy Emu Oil, especially considering that this oil is usually quite expensive and there are lots of ingredients that have the same properties (they may be slightly less effective but unless you have skin that’s very dry or inflamed, they’ll work just as well) and cost a lot less. Sadly, at the moment, there are no proof that Emu Oil has anti-aging properties or that it is effective at fighting acne so if that’s the reason you want to try this oil, you may wanna wait until more research is done and stick to what’s already proven to work in the meantime.

Have you ever tried Emu Oil? If so, how did it work for you?

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    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Amanda, it’s an intriguing oil indeed but I agree that the thought of putting bird’s oil on one’s face is quite offputting..

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      La Bisbetica, I can see where you’re coming from. Poor emus. And the thing is that so far, emu oil hasn’t been proved to be as miraculous as claimed so I don’t see any reason to use it at the moment, unless one has very dry or inflamed skin..

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Sesame, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad it worked well for your acne but it’s a shame it’s hard to tell if the emu oil you’re using clog pores or not as it is quite expensive and you wouldn’t wanna end up with a wrong bottle..

  1. says

    I bought a bottle of it because I read it’s good for hair loss, but it’s super greasy, so I have to wash it off before I can leave the house. I haven’t used it enough to really determine if it does anything positive for hair. I would never buy a product like that otherwise, because of where it comes from, but when it comes to hair stuff I get desperate! And I would try it on my face, but am afraid of it clogging my pores.
    Jeni´s last blog post ..Reviva Labs Hyaluronic Acid SerumMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Jeni, emu oil is claimed to do pretty much everything but I haven’t found any scientific reference showing it works for hair loss. Of course it may just be that noone has studied that yet. I hope it works for you but it’s a shame it’s so greasy. Must be so unpleasant to use.

  2. Janessa says

    My mom gave me a jar of emu-oil cream many months ago and I still have it. I barely used it and when I did, I felt like I was putting on a baby bird and I felt bad haha despite emus being quite large. 😛 It worked really well to moisturize my skin though.

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