Since we are all aiming for our best skin, we must be careful with what we put on it. Especially if you are into DIY skin care like me, being watchful with ingredients must be like a sixth-sense. And an ingredient we must all be wary about is mineral oil.
Mineral oil might sound good. We have a preliminary notion that something mineral carries benefits for the skin. Meanwhile, oils can be moisturizing. All in all, it must be all safe and well.
But as I researched about this ingredient, what I found didn't match the safety and wellness of these notions.
It wasn't until last year that I started researching this ingredient. So at the time, mineral oil was still part of my routine. I would use it as a body lotion. It would be in most of my makeup products and purchased skin care products.
Then, in my research, I noticed that "No mineral oil" is the new "No parabens." Some people swear by it, while others run from it like the plague. And because the opinions vary so widely, I decided to take a look at the facts.Read on to find out why you shouldn't let mineral oil near your skin.
What Is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is not a mineral, but rather an oil. It is a liquid by-product of petroleum distillation to produce gasoline and other petroleum-based products from crude oil. The difference between mineral oil and gasoline is in how they are refined.
Those used in cosmetic products are highly refined. Meanwhile, the stuff that makes your car run is often unrefined or only mildly treated.Mineral oil is also known as white oil, paraffin oil, liquid paraffin, and liquid petroleum.
Why Is Mineral Oil In Your Skin Care Products?
1. It's cheap! What better reason than this, right?
2. Mineral oil is generally colorless and odorless. Though you can find mineral oil with some fragrance like baby oil.
3. It rarely goes rancid, as it is highly refined, which assures its long shelf life.
4. It is actually very moisturizing. When applied to the skin, mineral oil creates an invisible film (occlusive layer) over the surface, which locks in moisture and prevents water loss.
Many big beauty brands that use mineral oil in their products will swear by these benefits and pay research institutes to "prove" how beneficial the oil is. The truth is that because it is so affordable and does no harm (in the short term), mineral oil is very convenient for manufacturers.
3 Reasons Why Mineral Oil Should Be Avoided
It might be hard to believe that this ingredient can do anything wrong. You see it everywhere — face moisturizers, body lotions, sunscreens, lipsticks, baby oil, etc. So let's get to the bottom of this. Here are my three reasons why you should not let mineral oil near your skin:
1. Mineral Oil Is Occlusive
In the previous list, occlusivity was one of mineral oil's benefits. But if we put this "benefit" into perspective, the oil's occlusivity may do more harm than good.
As an occlusive, the oil forms an invisible film. This film blocks your pores and prevents your skin from breathing. It seals-off the skin from air, water, and anything trying to get in or out of the pores. Meaning oil, makeup, dirt, and dead skin cells can get trapped in the pores, which leads to blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, etc.
Tip: Avoid mineral oil-based products on a sunburn. They will lock-in heat into your skin, making the burn worse. It could even lead to permanent scarring. You'll be better off with pure aloe vera since its gel consistency is meant to cool and soothe.
2. Mineral Oil Doesn't Nourish Your Skin
Because of its ability to lock and seal the skin, mineral oil will prevent beneficial ingredients like essential oils, carrier oils, and rose water to enter your skin. This oil in itself also does not contain any properties (e.g., antioxidants, antibacterials) that can benefit the skin.
Moreover, the film mineral oil creates on the surface of your skin won't let your skin absorb moisture from the atmosphere. Here's an example. If you invested in a humidifier to enrich the air in your bedroom, don't expect benefits from it if your pores are closed.
Instead, choose oils that are natural, cold-pressed, and rich in antioxidants like coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, or apricot kernel oil.
3. Mineral Oil Never Leaves The Body
According to a study from 2011:
"There is strong evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant of the human body, amounting to approximately 1 g per person. Possible routes of contamination include air inhalation, food intake, and dermal absorption."
Subjects of the study were women undergoing C-sections. Researchers studied fat specimens and post-delivery milk samples that they collected from the women. They found that the concentration of mineral oil in the142 women accumulated over time.
So the researchers concluded that cosmetics may be a relevant source of the contamination.
To Wrap It Up
Take good skin care decisions. The World Health Organization classifies highly refined oils as Group 3 carcinogens. Meaning mineral oil, as highly refined oil, is not suspected to be carcinogenic because the evidence remains inadequate to state either way. However, available information is not sufficient to classify them as harmless.
So a rule of thumb when it comes to skin care should be to trust no one. Always do your own research, read labels, and if still in doubt, seek a dermatologist's advice.
What are other ingredients that you avoid, and why? I always love to hear your thoughts, so go on and visit the comment section below!
I hope you found this post helpful.
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