Mineral Oil: Why is it in Your Moisturizer, and Is It Bad For You?Saturday, September 24, 2011
Since I'm beginning my Johnson's skin care challenge, I knew that this topic would be brought up in comments. It has come up many times in the past, and honestly the people that usually bring it up are so rude to me about it that I don't publish their comments. So, if you've been wondering about this, here's the answer. And, if you have strong opinions about mineral oil, and were thinking of writing a not so nice comment about it, here's why you should stop for a moment first.
Mineral oil has a bad rap in cosmetics for the wrong reasons. There are many people that now believe anything that is not 100% natural is bad for you, and that something labelled "natural" is good. That thinking is incorrect, there are lots of things that are "natural" that aren't any good. And lots of things that are synthetic that are just fine.
Mineral oil is derived from the distillation of petroleum in the production of gasoline. True. There are many grades of mineral oil. Most people get confused by this and rather than considering only cosmetic grade mineral oil, they generalize the effects of all mineral oils (including industrial grade, which is extremely different from cosmetic grade).
Industrial grade is the big baddie here. With protracted exposure (via the skin or inhalation), industrial grade mineral oil has been found to be associated with increased risk of several types of cancer (reference). Industrial grade mineral oil has also been found to be comedogenic, meaning it can clog your pores.
Cosmetic grade mineral oil is a very different story. It has been used in cosmetics for over 100 years, and is still one of the most popular ingredients in items like body wash, moisturizer and sunscreen. It has been found to be just as safe and effective as extra virgin coconut oil to treat dry skin. It has never been linked to cancer. And it isn't even comedogenic!
Since I'll be posting about quite a few products that contain mineral oil as their #1 or 2 ingredient over the next few weeks, I'll be referring back to this post quite a bit. The moral of the story is to remember that there are different grades of mineral oil. And there is a reason we don't use the industrial stuff in our moisturizers or ingest it as a laxative.