Debunking The Myths About Mineral Oil For Skin

With so many conflicting opinions about mineral oil, one can never be sure whether to use or not to use the controversial ingredient. Described as super slippery, odorless and colorless, mineral oil has been a hot topic for quite some time now.

While some people use it as a home remedy for various reasons, others claim that since it’s a by-product of petroleum, you shouldn’t be using it, especially for skincare. Many even say it causes premature aging, according to Self. So, is it harmful or effective to use mineral oil for skin? But most importantly, what is mineral oil? What is this ingredient that gets a lot of flak from people but it’s widely used?! Well, let’s find out.

mineral oil for skin
Getty Images/Ake Ngiamsanguan

Mineral oil is a clear oil that derives from petroleum, as a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. In its purified form, mineral oil is widely used in the industry and is a pretty common ingredient in personal care products, be it moisturizers, foundations, lips balms, or hair products.

For instance, baby oil is just mineral oil with fragrance added to it. It’s usually used on children’s diaper rashes to soothe the inflammation. The same is used for eczema. Some even use mineral oil straight from the bottle. Basically, it has been used in cosmetics for over 100 years.

This is because mineral oil rarely causes allergic reactions, according to Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare. You can find the product basically everywhere, and did we mention it’s not at all expensive?!

There are three basic types of mineral oil:

  • paraffinic oils, based on n-alkanes
  • naphthenic oils, based on cycloalkanes
  • aromatic oils, based on aromatic hydrocarbons 

According to an article by A. V. Rawlings and K. J. Lombard, mineral oil has also been used in electrical and food applications. It was first introduced around 1870-1880, at a time when the mineral oil production was high enough at low cost, which is probably why it was used as a cheaper alternative for vegetable oils.

Is Mineral Oil Pore-Clogging or Comedogenic?

Mineral oil spreads easily and delivers a smooth finish. But it doesn’t penetrate through the layers of the skin because according to Paula, its molecular size it’s too big to get into the pore lining where clogs happen. So it only stays on the surface (where it does the most good), and that’s why it doesn’t clog pores.

Another read: How To Unclog Pores On The Nose

It actually is a barrier between the skin and environment and helps contain moisture in the skin. And because it’s an occlusive agent, mineral oil keeps the water off of leaving your skin.

Another myth bites the dust…

mineral oil for skin
Credit: Pexels/Moose Photos

Celebrity aesthetician, Mandy Epley claims that mineral oil not only is a great moisturizer, but it’s also pretty effective in wound-healing.  Do you know what else helps to treat minor wounds? Vaseline. Epley says you can find mineral oil in many products because it’s very hydrating, however, it gets a bad rap because it’s so emollient that sometimes feels greasy or heavy on the skin, adding that’s its only flaw.

You might also want to read about: How To Grow Eyelashes With Vaseline

Is Mineral Oil Contaminated With Carcinogens?!

Thing is, anything that derives from petroleum comes with carcinogenic side effects. However, that only counts if you’re using the unrefined, industrial-grade product, otherwise, those carcinogens go through a strict purification process which is monitored by the Food & Drug Administration. So, when the mineral oil is stripped from all impurities, it becomes safe and is considered non-comedogenic.

All ingredients actually go through the purification process, including plants, says Paula Begoun. Before using them in cosmetics, plants must be purified of insects, worms, fungus, bacteria, and other contaminants when coming out of the ground.

Bottom Line

Mineral oil is an effective skin moisturizer and no harm will come to anyone who uses it neat or in other products. However, it’s best if you speak to a dermatologist before embarking on a skincare journey.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.

Read also: Jojoba Oil And 10+ Incredible Uses Everyone Should Know About