Did you know that mineral oil is commonly found in many hair and skin products? Although it has been used in cosmetics for many years, does that make it good for you? There are countless ingredients that are bad for you, that are often found in beauty products (see The 10 Worst Ingredients In Hair Products). Most of these can actually damage your skin and hair, even though they are supposed to be making them better. On the other hand, some of these ingredients are said to be safe in small quantities. So the question remains: is mineral oil bad for your skin and hair? Let me explain…
What Is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is an odorless, tasteless and colorless ingredient found in many different body lotions, face creams, hair products, ointments, makeup, etc. It’s a by-product of the distillation of petroleum when producing gasoline, and is produced in large quantities. Similar to Vaseline (petroleum jelly), it’s said to moisturize the skin and make it feel smooth and soft. Furthermore, since it’s lightweight and inexpensive, it’s a no-brainer why it’s used in beauty products.
You can find it under the names: petrolatum, liquid parrafin, and propylene glycol.
So Why Is Mineral Oil Bad?
Everything I mentioned above makes you wonder, “if it’s cheap and effective, then why is mineral oil bad for me?” Well…
It May Cause Cancer
According to Wikipedia, “the World Health Organization classifies untreated or mildly treated mineral oils as Group 1 carcinogens to humans.” Actually, the concern is not with the oil itself, but with the contaminants that are part of the refining process. Chemicals like polycyclic aromatic compounds have been linked with cancer.
The good news is that most beauty products these days probably use a highly refined version of mineral oil. Studies show that the more refined the oil is, the less carcinogenic they are. The bad news is that Wikipedia also says that “highly refined oils are classified as Group 3, meaning they are not suspected to be carcinogenic but available information is not sufficient to classify them as harmless.”
Now you know the facts and that risk is up to you.
Other Health Issues
Beyond the carcinogen concern, there are other toxins found in mineral oil. A 2011 study showed that use of cosmetics can cause “mineral oil contamination.” The study examines air inhalation, food intake, and dermal absorption as possible causes of mineral oil contamination. Fat and milk samples were taken on women on day 4 and 20 postpartum and analyzed for mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (aka MOSH). In the end, both the milk and fat were contaminated. The study concludes by saying that the increase in MOSH concentration in human fat tissue with age suggests an accumulation over time, and they believe that cosmetics may be a relevant source of contamination. In other words, it cannot be metabolized.
It Will Clog Your Pores
Mineral oil is said to be “comedogenic,” which means that it will clog your pores. I want to let you all know that I was blessed with horrible skin. I’m almost 32-years-old and still break out all the time; I have to be very conscious about what I put on my skin. When your pores are clogged, you run the risk of developing acne and blackheads. Once again, the higher refined the product is, the less pore-clogging it is. However, there is no way to tell what type of mineral oil is being used in the product.
There is also a lot of controversy around mineral oil and if it really clogs pores. Some people swear that it made their skin horrible and others say that they’ve used it for years with no problems. Once again, it probably depends on the quality of mineral oil used, along with the individual’s skin type. Personally, I’d rather just stay away from it and not risk my acne flaring up.
It Creates A Moisture Barrier
Remember how I said earlier that mineral oil is very similar to vaseline. Now, imagine if you smothered your face with vaseline and then tried to put moisturizing products on top of it. It would create a barrier that would keep the beneficial products out and away from your skin. Scientists call this an “occlusive” agent. On the other hand, some people believe that mineral oil actually traps moisture underneath the barrier. This also goes hand-in-hand with the comedogenic factor. If it traps everything underneath, that includes dirt and oil. This also means that the environment underneath the barrier creates a perfect breeding ground for fungus.
How Do I Avoid Mineral Oil?
So my verdict is that most mineral oil used in cosmetics is probably high-quality and safe to use if you really want to. I personally would like to stay away from it since my skin is so sensitive and I break out easily. I also like to avoid toxins as much as possible, especially for my baby.
The growing trend is that beauty companies are starting to exclude mineral oil from their ingredients and there are many different options but I want to tell you about my favorite. I really think Arbonne is one of the greatest skin care/hair care companies around. They use all natural, botanically based ingredients and are free of (you guessed it) mineral oil, along with other horrible ingredients.
I should let you know that I am a Carson City Arbonne Independent Consultant so I can answer any other questions you have about that. I promised not to spam my readers about Arbonne, so I will just leave that there. However, I do also want to let you know that for a small yearly cost, you can become a preferred client, which allows you to get 20% off every order along with other great benefits like free shipping and products. It’s a great way to get Arbonne products for a lower cost. Learn more about that here.
If you are looking for something else, here is a link to Nordstrom with “mineral oil-free” products filtered out for your viewing pleasure.
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Did you learn something new? Did you know that mineral oil was bad for your skin? I’d love to read your feedback in the comments section below..