Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry Seed Oil) Extract in Skin Care

Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry Seed Oil) Extract is a plant derived cosmeceutical ingredient that has components that give it antiaging, soothing and skin whitening abilities. Bilberry extract also known as European blueberry or whortleberry, is a shrub that contains beneficial compounds for skin health.

Bilberry Seed Oil is an exciting ingredient in wrinkle creams to treat aged skin with dark spots.

Benefits of Bilberry Seed Oil on Skin

Its natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities make V. myrtillus ideal for soothing sensitive and allergic skin.

V. myrtillus is used to treat:

Studies have shown that Vaccinium Myrtillus Extract has these activities:

Skin Care Products with Bilberry Seed Oil

How Bilberry Oil Extract Works on Skin

The oil from bilberry seeds is rich in linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid, which are unsaturated fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties.(2) These fatty acids can help lighten skin hyperpigmentation caused by UV exposure by inhibiting melanin production and promoting the shedding of pigmented skin cells.(3)

Bilberry fruit contains anthocyanins, which give the berries their blue/black color. Cyanidin is one of the active anthocyanidins in bilberry.(4) Anthocyanins from bilberry exhibit antimicrobial and antioxidant effects, with bilberry fruit skin showing especially potent antiradical activity.(5) The anthocyanins are thought to protect against age-induced oxidative stress and inflammation.(4) Although anthocyanins have relatively low bioavailability, they act as intracellular antioxidants which may explain their beneficial effects.(6)

Other phenolic compounds found abundantly in bilberry include chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, resveratrol, isoquercetin, quercetin, and hyperoside. These compounds demonstrate significant antioxidant capabilities.(6)


Active Chemical Components

The unsaturated fatty acids and anthocyanins in bilberry provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and skin-lightening effects that can benefit skin health. The phenolic compounds also contribute antioxidant activity. Vaccinium Myrtillus has these natural chemical components that give it the ability to protect the skin. 

  • Unsaturated fatty acids: linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid
  • Anthocyanins- antioxidants and anti-inflammatory
  • Phenolic components such as chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, resveratrol, isoquercetin, quercetin, and hyperoside. (1)
bilberry for acne


Bilberry oil is noncomedogenic, but it cannot treat acne alone. It should be combined with other acne medications such as retinoids and benzoyl peroxide.

Dark Spots

Sensitive Skin or Allergic Irritated Skin

This extract has been shown to reduce the itch and rash seen in allergic contact dermatitis. (3)

Sun Protection

Bilberry extract has been shown to help skin maintain its natural antioxidant glutathione after sun exposure. It also decreased free radical formation due to UVA exposure. The anthocyanins in bilberry extract are believed to be responsible for the strong antioxidant abilities of this natural plant extract. (4)

is bilberry safe?

Safety of Bilberry Extract

The Environmental Working Group has rated V. myrtillus (bilberry seed) oil as very safe and gave it a score of 1 on the risk scale. (no danger).

The CIR reported that plant-derived fatty acid oils are safe. (18)

Natural Plant-derived Ingredient

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a member of the Ericaceae plant family. It is native to northern Europe and North America. The bilberry fruit is known to contain many different polyphenols with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Also known as European blueberry or whortleberry, this perennial deciduous shrub is also one of the richest sources of the polyphenolic pigments anthocyanins.

To find out if bilberry oil containing skin care products are right for you, take the skin care routine quiz and get a list of products to use in a custom skin care routine.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

Is bilberry good for the skin?

Bilberry has a number of benefits for skin care such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protective qualities. This ingredient also has fatty acids that contribute to its use in moisturizers and other hydrating products. It is considered a great ingredient for many skin types.

Does bilberry help hair grow?

Bilberry won't cure hair loss, however its components are known to be good for repairing damaged hair follicles and an irritated scalp. If you have oily skin and hair, this ingredient could contribute to acne on the forehead if overused.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Bilberry Oil:

Plant image Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry Seed Oil)  via Wikimedia Commons

  1. https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/258712/aesthetic-dermatology/vaccinium-myrtillus-bilberry-seed-oil-extract

  2. Tadić VM, Nešić I, Martinović M, Rój E, Brašanac-Vukanović S, Maksimović S, Žugić A. Old Plant, New Possibilities: Wild Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L., Ericaceae) in Topical Skin Preparation. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Mar 16;10(3):465.

  3. Svobodová A, Rambousková J, Walterová D, Vostalová J. Bilberry extract reduces UVA-induced oxidative stress in HaCaT keratinocytes: a pilot study. Biofactors. 2008;33(4):249-66.

  4. Chu WK, Cheung SCM, Lau RAW, Benzie IFF. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.). In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 4.

  5. Yamaura K, Shimada M, Ueno K. Anthocyanins from bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) alleviate pruritus in a mouse model of chronic allergic contact dermatitis. Pharmacognosy Res. 2011 Jul;3(3):173-7.

  6. Ștefănescu BE, Szabo K, Mocan A, Crişan G. Phenolic Compounds from Five Ericaceae Species Leaves and Their Related Bioavailability and Health Benefits. Molecules. 2019 May 29;24(11):2046.

  7. Smeriglio A, Monteleone D, Trombetta D. Health effects of Vaccinium myrtillus L.: evaluation of efficacy and technological strategies for preservation of active ingredients. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2014;14(7):567-84.

  8. Ando H, Ryu A, Hashimoto A, Oka M, Ichihashi M. Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin. Arch Dermatol Res. 1998 Jul;290(7):375-81.

  9. Burdulis D, Sarkinas A, Jasutiené I, Stackevicené E, Nikolajevas L, Janulis V. Comparative study of anthocyanin composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activity in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fruits. Acta Pol Pharm. 2009 Jul-Aug;66(4):399-408.

  10. Bornsek SM, Ziberna L, Polak T, Vanzo A, Ulrih NP, Abram V, Tramer F, Passamonti S. Bilberry and blueberry anthocyanins act as powerful intracellular antioxidants in mammalian cells. Food Chem. 2012 Oct 15;134(4):1878-84.

  11. Brasanac-Vukanovic S, Mutic J, Stankovic DM, Arsic I, Blagojevic N, Vukasinovic-Pesic V, Tadic VM. Wild Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L., Ericaceae) from Montenegro as a Source of Antioxidants for Use in the Production of Nutraceuticals. Molecules. 2018 Jul 26;23(8):1864.

  12. Yamaura K, Ishiwatari M, Yamamoto M, Shimada M, Bi Y, Ueno K. Anthocyanins, but not anthocyanidins, from bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) alleviate pruritus via inhibition of mast cell degranulation. J Food Sci. 2012 Dec;77(12):H262-7.

  13. Pires TCSP, Caleja C, Santos-Buelga C, Barros L, Ferreira ICFR. Vaccinium myrtillus L. Fruits as a Novel Source of Phenolic Compounds with Health Benefits and Industrial Applications - A Review. Curr Pharm Des. 2020;26(16):1917-1928.

  14. Svobodová A, Zdarilová A, Vostálová J. Lonicera caerulea and Vaccinium myrtillus fruit polyphenols protect HaCaT keratinocytes against UVB-induced phototoxic stress and DNA damage. J Dermatol Sci. 2009 Dec;56(3):196-204.

  15. Calò R, Marabini L. Protective effect of Vaccinium myrtillus extract against UVA- and UVB-induced damage in a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT cells). J Photochem Photobiol B. 2014 Mar 5;132:27-35.

  16. Bucci P, Prieto MJ, Milla L, Calienni MN, Martinez L, Rivarola V, Alonso S, Montanari J. Skin penetration and UV-damage prevention by nanoberries. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Oct;17(5):889-899.

  17. Ruscinc N, Morocho-Jácome AL, Martinez RM, Magalhães WV, Escudeiro CC, Giarolla J, Rosado C, Velasco MVR, Baby AR. Vaccinium myrtillus L. extract associated with octocrylene, bisoctrizole, and titanium dioxide: in vitro and in vivo tests to evaluate safety and efficacy. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Jan 13.

  18. Belsito, D. V., Hill, R. A., Klaassen, C. D., Liebler, D. C., Marks Jr, J. G., Shank, R. C., ... & Snyder, P. W. (2011). Plant-derived fatty acid oils as used in cosmetics. Final Report, 1-100.

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