Mineral Oil - No Do's, Just Don'ts



Fact: The skin is the body's largest organ. It is permeable. It needs to be permeable in order to function properly (like breathe and perspire).

Fact: Paraffin (INCI: paraffinum liquidum) and mineral oil (INCI: petrolatum) blocks pores and acts as a barrier, suppressing normal skin functions.

Yet a most cosmetics labels lists one of the abovementioned as ingredient number 2. Read: that's what there is second most of in that product.
How can anyone advertise a paraffin or mineral-oil based product as wrinkle-fighting or skin-smoothing? If it's blocking the pores, it's doing the opposite!

I hear you thinking: "Yes, but then it's functioning as a barrier. Surely that must mean it is protecting the skin by keeping the moisture in". (bet you didn't realize I could hear you thinking, did you?). Again: suppressing normal skin function is not good for it. There are non-pore-blocking skin-barrier possibilities that are both functional and safe to use.

But How Can it Be Bad if Grandma Used It

Perhaps it's because petroleum-oil-based products have 'been around forever' that no one seems to take notice. Baby oil is straight up mineral oil. That great old household favorite, Vaseline, is petroleum-oil-based. They make no bones about it. It's written right on the lid as part of the name: 'Petroleum Jelly'. 

I remember using this as a cheap lip balm in my youth, not really registering that it was the vaseline that was causing me to apply more and more often because – you guessed it – my lips kept drying out. 

I haven't had that problem since I stopped using petroleum-oil-based products.

I have really tried to think where any petroleum-oil-based product would be preferrable to put on skin. The only situation I can think of, is as a barrier prior to working with any product that might discolor the skin. 

Nope, sorry, even then I would recommend using a slow-absorbing plant-based oil like Castor instead. Try as I might, I cannot find any do's for mineral oil in skin product use – just don'ts.

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