What It Is And How It Benefits Skin – Beautiful With Brains


Ever wondered how the Australian aborigines healed their cuts and wounds? Their secret’s emu oil.

According to legend, this unique oil can do pretty much anything, from moisturising skin to reducing wrinkles and even busting acne.

But what’s the truth? Can emu oil really do all these miracles or is it just another hyped up ingredient with an intriguing marketing story behind it?

Let’s find out. Here’s what science says:

What Is Emu Oil?

You know that weird-looking, awkwardly cute flightless bird from Australia? The big one? That’s the emu (or Dromaius Novaehollandiae to use its full name).

Yep, emu oil comes from the fat of the emu. They take fats from the back of the bird and then put it through a refining process to remove excess toxins. The resulting fat contains several unsaturated fatty acids, including oleic (20%), palmitic (20%), linolenic (1-2%) and linoleic (20%) acids.

These are the fatty acids naturally present in your skin. They help strengthen its protective barrier and keep skin moisturised. Just make sure to buy 100% emu oil that’s not diluted with other ingredients.

Related: How To Strengthen Your Skin’s Protective Barrier (And Why It Matters)


Need help creating the best skincare routine for you dry skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Dry Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


Is Emu Oil Cruelty-Free?

No. Emu oil is derived from the fat of an animal, so it’s one million percent not cruelty-free. I don’t think in this day and age you need to use skincare products made by hurting animals. But, if you don’t have a problem with this and want to try emu oil for your skin, the choice is yours.

Emu Oil Benefits For Skin

Like most oils, emu oil is a multi-tasker. Let’s take a look at what it really can do and what is just hype:

1. It Hydrates Skin

I know a lot of you hate mineral oil BUT, it is one of the most moisturising things on this planet. FACT.

Emu oil is even better. A study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology compared the two. The verdict?

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.”

In plain English, the fatty acids in emu oil allow it to easily penetrate the skin and deeply moisturise it.

Related: Does 60% Of What You Put On Your Skin Really Penetrate It?

2. It Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties That Soothe Skin

Is your skin irritated or inflamed? Emu oil can come to your rescue.

Scientists compared emu oil with other oils – including olive, flaxseed and fish oils – and discovered they all have anti-inflammatory properties.

BUT emu oil works that little bit better at reducing inflammation (it does the job within a few hours!).

Related: 9 Soothing Ingredients That Calm Down Redness And Irritations

emu oil

3. It Prevents Wrinkle

So far, emu oil has an excellent track record. It’s super moisturising and reduces inflammation to boot. But can it treat wrinkles, too?

We don’t know yet. Some people swear emu oil is the secret to their youthful complexion, but I couldn’t find any studies in the scientific literature that proves it.

What we know is that emu oil is a rich source of antioxidants. It has polyphenols, carotenoids, and Vitamin E. But antioxidants only prevent wrinkles. There’s no proof emu oil can reduce the ones you already have – unless it does so by moisturising skin.

Moisturised skin looks plumper, which in turn makes fin lines and wrinkles look smaller. But it’s just an optical illusion.

So I’m sticking to retinol for now. That’s proven to work to reduce wrinkles, you know.

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol

Can Emu Oil Treat Acne?

Some people swear emu oil isn’t comedogenic. It won’t clog your pores and give you pimples. It’ll treat them and make them disappear instead.

These people usually sell emu oil. Usually.

Again, I scoured the scientific literature but found no proof that emu oil can treat acne. 

Related: Salicylic Acid VS Benzoyl Peroxide: Which One Is Best To Treat Your Acne?

Is Emu Oil Comedogenic?

Emu oil can clog pores – but that doesn’t mean it will.

This oil has a sticky texture. Plus, one of the main fatty acids in emu oil is oleic acid – and THAT is comedogenic. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, I’d steer away from emu oil. Just in case.

Dry skin? It’ll be harmless for you.

Related: What Skincare Ingredients Are Comedogenic?

Emu Oil Side Effects

So emu oil can clog pores. Does it have any other side effects? Not really. Of course, always do a patch test in case you’re the exception to the rule. But for most people, emu oil is generally considered to be safe.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same for the poor emus that are killed to make the oil. They’re usually killed for their meat and then the fat goes into skincare production.

How To Use It

Like all oils, emu oil is multi-tasking. You can apply it on its own at the end of your skincare routine, in place of moisturiser. Or you can mix it with your moisturising to amp up its hydrating powers.

What Are The Best Products With Emu Oil?

  • Pure FREE RANGE Australian EMU Oil (£11.95): A simple, no-frill emu oil to moisturise skin and soothe irritations. Available at Amazon.
  • The Emu Oil Well Pure (£10.79): A 100% pure emu oil to deeply moisturise skin from head to toe. Available at Amazon.
  • Y-Not Natural Ultra Pure Australian Emu Oil (£34.99): 100% Pure Emu oil infused with 0.02% Green Tea you can use on skin, nails, and scalp. Available at Amazon.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a nourishing moisturiser for dry skin or a natural way to calm down irritations, emu oil will do the trick. Just don’t ask it anything more than that for now.

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