Emu oil benefits for skin, hair, and body.
It might seem like there’s a new “it” ingredient for the hair, skin, and body almost daily. After all, the global beauty industry is worth an estimated $532 billion and it’s probably no surprise that the U.S is the world’s largest market behind China and Japan, per Forbes. While these new ingredients certainly make exciting additions to our skincare routines, we shouldn’t forget those that have stood the test of time, like emu oil.
“Emu oil has been around for centuries, used in aboriginal culture to treat common skin and hair conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as arthritis and digestive issues,” says Alexis Parcells, MD, plastic surgeon and founder of SUNNIE, a skincare and anti-aging clinic, and Parcells Plastic Surgery.
The oil itself is extracted from the refined fat deposits just beneath the skin of an Emu and then depleted of any toxins, Dr. Parcells explains. “Unlike other common oils on the market, emu oil particles are small, which allows it to cross into the bloodstream more effectively,” she says. “When used topically, it penetrates deeper into the skin and may act as a carrier to deliver other potent ingredients.”
That said, emu oil can be used as a pure ingredient or mixed into a variety of moisturizers, creams, and serums. Either way, you will reap the bountiful emu oil benefits. Here is a closer look at some of the most impressive benefits of using emu oil on your skin, hair and body, plus what to look for in a product.
Emu oil benefits for skin, hair, and body
Emu oil is thick and occlusive, so, like many other oils that can be used on the skin, hair, and body, like coconut and olive oils, it helps protect the skin barrier and prevents water from leaving the skin. In doing so, it helps prevent cracking of the skin and promotes skin health and youthfulness, explains Jordan Frey, MD, Buffalo-based plastic surgeon and founder of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon. “The best way to harness this benefit is to apply the oil topically and to use it daily,” he says.
Emu oil is chock full of antioxidants, including carotenoids, flavones, and polyphenols that protect the skin from harmful free radicals lurking in the environment that can cause premature aging. “Emu oil has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers in the skin that will prematurely damage and age skin,” says Dr. Frey. “Topical consistent application yields the best outcomes, especially for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema,” he adds.
Reduces strand breakage
“Emu oil’s fatty acid composition of omega -3, -6, and -9 is beneficial to moisturize the hair and soothe a dry flaky scalp,” explanis Kate O’Grady, esthetician based in Upstate New York and founder of Kate O’Grady Skincare. After shampooing and conditioning, she recommends applying the emu oil directly to your hair and scalp to seal in moisture and prevent water loss from occurring. “Its additional anti-inflammatory properties will help reduce redness and irritation associated with a compromised scalp,” she adds.
Accelerates wound healing
Emu oil has been used effectively to speed up the healing of burn wounds, according to Kemunto Mokaya (Dr. Kemmy), MD, dermatologist based in Houston, TX, including ulcers on the feet, legs, buttocks, and other hard-to-heal sites—as well as dermatitis caused by radiation therapy.
What to look for in an emu oil-containing product
If you’re going to be using emu oil, you’re going to want to use the real thing. Dr. Frey recommends looking for an emu oil product that is 100 percent pure. “You certainly can mix the oil with other moisturizing products; however, the oil itself is going to be most beneficial at its maximum potency,” he says. “No adverse effects of topical emu oil have yet been demonstrated, reinforcing the safety of this supplement for skin, hair, and nails.”
Dr. Frey recommends using an emu oil that is highly refined. You can tell if an oil is highly refined if it’s clear and odorless. “A yellow or red tint or odor signifies a poorly refined product,” warns Dr. Frey. “In fact, some companies may mix with herbs to cover a poorly refined product, again highlighting the importance of 100 percent purity.” The good news is that most U.S.- and Australian-based products meet these high standards.
When possible, Dr. Parcells recommends buying organic. “If the oil is refined from an intermediary manufacturer, you can still check the label to see if that is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),” she says. “Avoid added ingredients, including preservatives and vegetable oils, which are known skin irritants.”