Mederma vs Bio-Oil 2019 | What’s Better for Scars?

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Mederma vs Bio-Oil

Mederma vs Bio-Oil

Preview
Best for Dry Skin
Bio-Oil 200ml: Multiuse Skincare Oil (6.7oz)
Best Value for Money
Mederma Advanced Scar Gel - 1x Daily - Reduces The Appearance of Old & New Scars - #1 Doctor & Pharmacist Recommended Brand for Scars - 1.76oz.
Best Overall Results
NewGel+ Advanced Silicone Gel for Scars, 1 Ounce
Product Name
Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil
Mederma Advanced Scar Gel
NewGel+ Advanced Silicone Gel for Scars
Product Size
200 mL
50 g
30 g
Recommended for Scars?
Active Ingredients
PurCellin Oil™ (Mineral Oil)
Cepalin® (Onion Extract Gel)
Polysiloxanes (Silicone Gel), Vitamin E
Application Frequency
2x Daily
1x Daily
2x Daily
Customer Rating
Prime Eligibility
Price
$26.39
$28.80
$54.00
Best for Dry Skin
Preview
Bio-Oil 200ml: Multiuse Skincare Oil (6.7oz)
Product Name
Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil
Product Size
200 mL
Recommended for Scars?
Active Ingredients
PurCellin Oil™ (Mineral Oil)
Application Frequency
2x Daily
Customer Rating
Prime Eligibility
Price
$26.39
More Information
Best Value for Money
Preview
Mederma Advanced Scar Gel - 1x Daily - Reduces The Appearance of Old & New Scars - #1 Doctor & Pharmacist Recommended Brand for Scars - 1.76oz.
Product Name
Mederma Advanced Scar Gel
Product Size
50 g
Recommended for Scars?
Active Ingredients
Cepalin® (Onion Extract Gel)
Application Frequency
1x Daily
Customer Rating
Prime Eligibility
Price
$28.80
More Information
Best Overall Results
Preview
NewGel+ Advanced Silicone Gel for Scars, 1 Ounce
Product Name
NewGel+ Advanced Silicone Gel for Scars
Product Size
30 g
Recommended for Scars?
Active Ingredients
Polysiloxanes (Silicone Gel), Vitamin E
Application Frequency
2x Daily
Customer Rating
Prime Eligibility
Price
$54.00
More Information

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

Mederma and Bio-Oil are two of the most popular over-the-counter scar products. 

The key difference is that Mederma is specifically formulated to improve scars while Bio-Oil is more of a multipurpose oil for dehydrated skin and stretch marks.

Mederma include the key ingredient onion extract which has been clinically shown to improve scars.

Bio-Oil, on the other hand, includes a blend of synthetic mineral oil, plant oils, and vitamins. It may help with some skin conditions, but lacks rigorous third-party studies on scar treatment.

Now, Mederma is a great value option for scar treatment.

But if you want the best results for improving scar appearance, I recommend a silicone gel like NewGel+.

Silicone gels are backed by decades of clinical research and recommended by the International Advisory Panel on Scar Management, as well as most dermatologists and plastic surgeons. (1)

Researchers believe that silicone works by hydrating and protecting the newly formed scar. This helps prevent dehydration and excess collagen which can result in scar formation. (2)

My top pick is NewGel+ (I use it myself). It’s an effective silicone gel at a reasonable price.

Our Recommendations

For the best results for your scars, I recommend a silicone gel like NewGel+.

Silicone gels are backed by decades of research and provides the best results for new and old scars.

If you have mild scars or need a cheaper alternative, I recommend Mederma.

It’s worked for thousands of people (myself included) but the clinical research is a bit weaker.

Finally, I don’t recommend using Bio-Oil for scar treatment.

Despite its popularity, Bio-Oil is actually a mix of synthetic mineral oil, plant oils, and vitamins. (3, 4)

In terms of scar treatment, the clinical studies on Bio-Oil’s website are rather short on details and provide no comparison with leading scar products like silicone gels. (5)

RELATED:

Mederma Advanced Scar Gel

PROS

  • Softens existing scars
  • Reduces discoloration
  • Dries quickly
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Inconclusive clinical studies
  • Results require patience
  • May cause itchiness, irritation, or redness

About Mederma

If you want great results that won’t break the bank, Mederma is an excellent option.

Featuring Cepalin (onion extract), Mederma has been the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for over 15 years. (6)

Although clinical studies of onion extract are somewhat mixed, it’s clear that Mederma has helped thousands of people with their scar problems.

Amazon alone has well over 2,000 reviews, including hundreds of before/after photos.

Personally, I’ve used Mederma for my chest keloids and have seen slow but steady improvements in scar texture and color (check out my progress photos here).

Mederma has a light texture and mild scent. It’s easy to apply and dries quickly.

Key Features

  • Cepalin (onion extract)
  • Light texture
  • Mild scent
  • Dries quickly

Key Benefits

  • Softens existing scars
  • Reduces scar discoloration
  • Won’t break the bank

Suitable For

  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Keloids (including on the chest or earlobes)
  • Surgical scars (including C-section)
  • Scars from trauma, burns, or injuries
  • Scars on the face, hands, and other visible areas

Why Onion Extract?

Onion extract (allium cepa) has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that onion extract may inhibit fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen). (7) 

This can help soften hypertrophic scars and keloids and may also reduce discoloration. 

Onion extract also contains quercetin, a plant flavonoid that inhibits collagen. (8)

The clinical evidence, however, is still inconclusive:

  • One study reported no difference between onion extract and Vaseline (9)
  • Other studies reported positive results using onion extract (10, 11, 12)
  • One study was funded by Merz (manufacturer of Mederma) (12)

Why Mederma?

In my opinion, the key selling point of Mederma is the price.

It’s more affordable than alternatives like silicone gels and corticosteroid injections, both of which are used for treat hypertrophic scars and keloids. 

As for the product itself, it definitely works (and I can personally attest to this). 

But it does require a lot of patience and most people tend to quit too early. In my experience, it takes at least 3 months before you’ll see any noticeable improvements.

Mederma Reviews

Mederma has well over 2,000 reviews on Amazon. While reviews are mostly positive, Mederma doesn’t work for everyone. 

For some people, Mederma flattened their scars completely. But for others, it didn’t seem to move the needle much.

As with all skincare products, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Side effects of Mederma may include itchiness, irritation, and redness. 

Read my full review of Mederma here.

Pro Tip: use Mederma 2x daily (instead of 1x) to maintain continuous scar coverage.

The Bottom-Line

Mederma is a popular scar gel that works well and is quite affordable.

Bio-Oil Multipurpose Skincare Oil

PROS

  • Vitamin A and E
  • Plant-derived oils
  • Very affordable
  • Good reviews

CONS

  • Limited clinical evidence
  • Synthetic mineral oil (including PurCellin Oil™)
  • Feels greasy

About Bio-Oil

Bio-Oil is an award-winning multipurpose skincare oil that claims to be “the world’s leading scar and stretch mark product”. (13)

You’ve likely seen Bio-Oil before because it’s literally everywhere: Wal-Mart, Costco, and Amazon are just a few places where it’s sold.

But despite its popularity, some experts remain skeptical of Bio-Oil.

The reason?

If you look closely at what’s inside Bio-Oil, you’ll see it’s a blend of:

But what is PurCellin Oil™?

Also known as cetearyl ethylhexanoate, PurCellin Oil™ is a “very common synthetic emollient… used in a wide range of skin and hair care products”. (3)

PurCellin Oil™ is also not intended to help with scars. According to the company, this ingredient provides Bio-Oil with a light and non-greasy consistency. 

Key Features

  • PurCellin Oil™
  • Vitamin A and E
  • Plant-derived oils
  • Light consistency

Key Benefits

  • Reduces scars and stretch marks (supposedly)
  • Restores dehydrated skin 

Suitable For

  • Scars (not recommended)
  • Stretch Marks (not recommended)
  • Dehydrated Skin

Why You Should Avoid Bio-Oil

Mineral Oil Base 

To quote Beautypedia’s review:

“[Bio-Oil is] a mix of mineral oil… along with commonplace vitamins and irritating plant oils.” (3)

Mineral oil is a synthetic ingredient made from highly refined and purified petroleum. It’s very safe for skin and used in products like baby lotions and cold creams. (14)

But for scar treatment, you’re much better off using natural oils like coconut oilrosehip oil, or jojoba oil. These include additional benefits like antioxidants, vitamin C, and fatty acids that promote skin health.

Clinical Studies

The clinical trials on Bio-Oil’s website are rather short on details and provide no comparison with alternatives like silicone gels or good ol’ Vaseline.

In the 2005 study, it’s noted that “65% of subjects recorded an improvement in appearance”, but the magnitude of this improvement was not specified. (15)

In the 2010 study, researchers compared Bio-Oil to a placebo but we’re not told what the placebo was or how well it performed against Bio-Oil. (16)

This makes it difficult to draw conclusions on Bio-Oil’s usefulness for scars.

Ingredient Safety

Finally, I consulted Beautypedia and the Environmental Working Group’s ingredient safety assessments for Bio-Oil. (4, 17)

Unfortunately, both reported several potential skin irritants on the ingredient list. 

Bio-Oil Reviews

With over 6,000 reviews on Amazon, Bio-Oil is one of the most popular scar products.

Some reviewers noticed positive differences in fine lines, scars, and even eczema.

As with all skincare products, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Just be careful when ordering as I’ve seen several complaints about copycat oils. 

The Bottom-Line

Bio-Oil is a popular skincare oil featuring a blend of vitamins and plant-derived oils. 

At this time, I don’t recommend using Bio-Oil for scar treatment. 

Alternatives to Mederma & Bio-Oil

My Top Pick

My top pick for a silicone gel.

Featuring 100% silicone and vitamin E, NewGel+ is a great balance of effectiveness and affordability (I use it myself).

Budget Pick

An exceptional value silicone gel.

Featuring 100% medical grade silicone, ScarFade is effective for new and old scars while offering value for the money.

For Body Scars

Best for large body scars.

Featuring 100% silicone gel, ScarAway Silicone Scar Sheets is my top pick for large scars from surgery, injury, or burns.

What Causes Scars?

Ever wonder why you get those pesky scars in the first place?

Well, research suggests that genetics are partly to blame (thanks, Mom and Dad). (18)

But scars themselves are a natural response by your body to injuries.

Part 1: Inflammation

When you’re injured, your body sets off an “alarm” signal known as inflammation.

This process jumpstarts the immune system and triggers wound healing signals.

Part 2: Repair

After inflammation comes the repair stage.

Your body replaces damaged skin with new skin cells and materials like collagen.

Collagen fibers weave together to form the foundations of new skin tissue (a “scar”).

Part 3: Scars

Unfortunately, scars are seldom identical to the original skin.

They’re often a different color and may feel hard or lumpy.

Sometimes, scars end up elevated like hypertrophic scars or keloids. 

This happens if your body produced too much collagen during the repair stage.

The Bottom-Line

I hope this guide to Bio-Oil vs Mederma helps you pick the right product for you. 

Remember, nothing can replace patience and consistency! 

To Recap:

If you want the best results for your scars, I recommend a silicone gel like NewGel+.

If you have mild scars or you’re on a tight budget, a great option is Mederma.

Finally, I don’t recommend Bio-Oil for scar treatment due to insufficient clinical data and a formulation based heavily on mineral oil with potential skin irritants.

Author Image
Tom Qiao

I solve skin mysteries using simple science to provide you the best skincare advice!

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