Mineral oil - sounds good, doesn't it? Is it a mineral? Is it an oil? Is it good or bad for your skin?
I made my research and here is what I found...
It wasn't before last year that I started researching this ingredient and so it was part of my routine.
I would use it as body lotion, it would be in most of my makeup products, and purchased skin care products...
I notice that 'No mineral oil' is the new 'No parabens'.
Some people swear by it, while other run from it like the plague.
And because the opinions vary so widely, I decided to take a look at the facts:
What is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is not a mineral, but rather an oil.
It is a liquid by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum-based products from crude oil.
The difference between these mineral oil and gasoline is how they are being refined.
Those used in cosmetic products are highly refined, while the stuff that makes your car run is often unrefined or only mildly treated.
It is also known as white oil, paraffin oil, liquid paraffin and liquid petroleum.
Why is it in your skin care products?
1. It's cheap! What better reason than this, right?
2. Mineral oil is colorless and odorless. Though you can find mineral oil with fragrance - baby oil is an example.*
3. It rarely goes rancid, as it highly refined which assures its long shelf life.
4. It is actually very moisturizing. When applied to the skin, it creates an invisible film (occlusive layer) over the skin, which locks in moisture, and prevents water loss.
Many big beauty brands that use mineral oil in their products will swear by the these benefits and pay research institutes to 'prove' how beneficial the oil is.
The truth is - because it is so affordable and does not harm (in the short run), mineral oil is very convenient for the manufacturers.
It might be hard to believe it because you see it everywhere - face moisturizers, body lotions, sunscreens, lipsticks, baby oil, etc.
Here are my 5 reasons why this ingredient should NOT be in your skin care
1. It Is Occlusive
If you remember from the previous paragraph, this was one of its benefits.
The invisible film the oil forms, blocks your pores and prevent your skin from breathing.
It seals off the skin from air, water and anything trying to get in or out of the pores.
This means oil, makeup, dirt and dead skin cells get trapped in the pores which leads to blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, etc.
Tip: Avoid mineral oil-based products on a sunburn. They will ll lock in the heat into your skin, making the burn worse. It could even lead to permanent scarring.
2. It 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, rose water to enter your skin.
Moreover, the film mineral oil creates on the surface of your skin won't let your skin absorb moisture from the atmosphere.
For example, if you have invested in humidifier to enrich the air in your bedroom, don't expect to benefit 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. It 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.''
Subject of the study were women undergoing C-sections. Researchers studied fat specimens and post-delivery milk samples that they collected from them.
They found that concentration of mineral oil in the researched 142 women accumulates over time.
They conclude that cosmetics might be a relevant source of the contamination.
Take good skin care decisions
The World Health Organization classifies highly refined oils are classified as Group 3 carcinogens.
This means 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.
A rule of thumb when it comes to skin care should be 'Trust No One'.
Always do your own research, read labels and if still in doubt - seek a dermatologist's advice.
I hope you found the post helpful.
Share with us your experience with mineral oil in the comments below.
Stay tuned and take skin care