If you are into your beauty you’ll have heard about mineral oil or, to give it its posh name, paraffinum liquidum. There is a lot of debate surrounding this product so I thought I’d share with you what I know about it and leave you to make your own decision as to whether you want to use products containing it.
First off, what exactly IS mineral oil?
Put simply, mineral oil is a by-product of the distillation of petroleum. It is basically the liquid version of petroleum jelly.
Why do cosmetic companies use mineral oil?
First of all mineral oil is extremely cheap and is in plentiful supply. It is also used as an emollient to produce a temporary moisturising effect. Mineral oil doesn’t have any nourishing properties yet it gives the false impression that it actually moisturises when it does no such thing.
What are the effects of mineral oil?
According to Pat Thomas of ‘skin deep’ the prolonged use of mineral oil can actually destroy the natural oily barrier of the epidermis. Destroying this natural barrier can lead to more persistent dryness and chapping as it interferes with the body’s own natural moisturising mechanism. Also, as it acts like a penetration enhancer it can allow other harmful chemicals to be more easily absorbed into the skin and bloodstream.
Is it harmful?
Put it this way, in the US products containing mineral oil are obliged to carry a warning and also have child proof caps. It is also known as a human carcinogen and was recognised as such in 1987. The National Toxicology Programmes 9th report on carcinogens notes that analyses of mineral oils used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes reveal the presence of several carcinogenic hydrocarbons.
It is thought to increase the photosensitivity of the skin making it more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer.
One of the most common uses of mineral oil is baby oil – I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t fancy smothering myself in the stuff never mind a baby’s delicate skin.
Does it have other names?
Unfortunately the beauty industry is a largely unregulated one meaning most manufacturers can get away with putting whatever rubbish they want into the products we trust to put on our delicate skin. Mineral oil is, however, becoming less popular and more companies are starting to use other synthetics in their products.
From my post I think it’s pretty evident that I’m not a fan of the stuff and therefore I check every single label of any product I use to see if it has it in it. If you have a quick look at your daily products you’ll be amazed at how many of them contain this nasty stuff.
My personal advice would be to use natural, homemade products. Don’t be fooled by labels which read ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ as unlike the food industry the cosmetic industry can get away with calling something organic and natural even when it’s not – Nivea ‘pure and natural’ range is just one example of this!
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I really do feel we need to be more careful about what we apply to our skin and I hope this post encourages you to consider whether you want to use this product in your skincare routine.