When faced with questions on what ingredients are good or bad for the skin (especially for people undergoing cancer treatment) we have to look at things objectively.
We at OTI always take into consideration what the client is looking for – if they are dead against the use of mineral oil, then don’t sell them a product with mineral oil. Let’s look a little deeper at mineral oil on the skin. It is not bad for the skin – as a clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum it is widely used in cosmetics. It does not solidify and does not clog the pores but sits on the surface of the skin. We believe most fears about the ingredient is the association with petroleum, and for some of us it definitely feels greasy on the skin; and for others this ingredient does not actually moisturise the skin. So, lots of opinions about it. Estheticians that know the skin barrier components will testify to this being a ‘useless’ ingredient as the skin barrier needs cholesterol, fatty acids and ceramides – of which mineral oil is not.
Petroleum is actually derived from the earth, so is in essence a ‘natural’ ingredient. Due to processing abilities this original source becomes mineral oil USP (cosmetics- and pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil), and it does not resemble the original product.
Cosmetics-grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered safe for use on the skin which is why many companies use this ingredient. For concerns of impurities that could be present in this ingredient – the impurity would be polyaromatic hydrocarbons, PAH’s – which are carcinogenic. Different grades of mineral oils used in industrial settings can contain PAH’s so we must be clear on the grade of ingredient used.
So, really WHAT is the benefit of mineral oil on the skin? To us….pretty much none. For products containing this cosmetic grade ingredient – if your client is okay with mineral oil as one of the ingredients and they are getting results – use it!
Cosmetics & Toiletries, January 2001, page 79; and Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2000, pages 44–46.
Cosmetics & Toiletries, February 1998, pages 33–40.
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2012, issue 6, pages 511-518
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2007, issue 5, pages 385-390
European Journal of Ophthalmology, 2007, issue 2, pages 151-159
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 1996, issue 2, pages 213-215