Mineral oil is commonly added to a variety of beauty products including moisturizing creams and lotions. It’s a popular cosmetic additive because it has no odor, is inexpensive, and has good moisturizing properties. It’s an occlusive type of moisturizer meaning it coats the outer surface of the skin preventing loss of water. Along with lanolin, it’s considered to be one of the most effective types of occlusive moisturizers. Despite this, mineral oil has received some bad press over the years due to concerns about potential toxicity and the potential for it to clog pores, increasing the risk of breakouts and acne. Is mineral bad for the skin?
Is Mineral Oil Bad for the Skin? : How Is It Made?
When petroleum is distilled to produce gasoline, mineral oil emerges as a by-product. With such an origin, it isn’t surprising that there’s concerned about the toxicity of this oil since petroleum products contain benzene, one of the most potent human cancer-causing agents. Fortunately, mineral oil may not be as bad as its origins might suggest. To make the mineral oil product that goes into cosmetic products, the oil is highly purified before being added to skin products. Most experts believe that because of the refinement and purification mineral oil undergoes prior to being used in cosmetics, it poses little risk from a safety standpoint. The cosmetic safety database Skin Deep lists the hazards of using mineral oil products as being low to moderate. Although it may not sound particularly healthful to apply petroleum derived products to the skin, the risk to overall health of using mineral oil appears to be lower than many other cosmetic ingredients.
Is Mineral Oil Bad for the Skin?: Does It Clog the Pores?
Mineral oil products have long been criticized for being comedogenic, meaning they clog the pores and increase the risk of acne outbreaks. While was believed to be true for many years, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2005 put this idea to rest. They showed that cosmetic grade mineral was not comedogenic and should be removed from the list of comedogenic cosmetic ingredients. Still, many people continue to shy away from mineral oil containing cosmetics due to fear or clogging the pores.
Is Mineral Oil Bad for the Skin?: Is It Safe to Use?
Mineral oil appears to form a good skin barrier against moisture loss and is an inexpensive product, making it cost effective. In terms of toxicity, there’s no overwhelming evidence that cosmetic grade mineral oil is a real threat to health, although it’s preferable to use natural, organic products whenever possible. Despite the perception, it also doesn’t appear to clog the pores or exacerbate breakouts. If you’re looking for an inexpensive moisturizing ingredient, it’s an acceptable alternative, although natural oils such as coconut oil or olive oil may be better. Coconut oil should only be used only in areas that aren’t prone to breakouts since it’s considered to be somewhat comedogenic.
Is Mineral Oil Bad for the Skin?: The Bottom Line
Use organic moisturizing products whenever possible, but if you need something inexpensive that has good moisturizing properties, mineral oil isn’t a bad choice.