“Don’t put that on your face, it’s full of mineral oil!”
“They use that to seal wood, you know.”
“Mineral oil will clog your pores and give you crazy pimples!”
How often have we all heard this? I know I’ve heard it from folks and read it on the internet a million times. I even stopped using a favorite makeup remover of mine because it was primarily mineral oil, and I thought that was the cause of all my problems. Turns out we may have all been wrong about mineral oil.
The term mineral oil is a bit of a silly term, as it’s been a catch-all for many kinds of oil over the years. More often than not, mineral oil refers to a by-product of refining petroleum into gasoline. It’s clear, odorless, and when processed correctly, is not a known carcinogen. The best part about mineral oil is that it’s incredibly cheap! You may have seen it at the local hardware store, as it can be used to seal wood, like butcher’s block counters.
For years, mineral oil has been on various comedogenic product lists, leading dermatologists to recommend against the use of mineral oil. The reason it has been on these lists for so long is because of animal testing. When these lists were created they were based on the reactions of rabbits to various products. As it happens, rabbit skin is much more sensitive than human skin when it comes to pore blockage. When trials were done on humans it was discovered that mineral oil wasn’t comedogenic at all!
In fact, mineral oil has a lot of benefits. It’s highly emollient, meaning it softens the outer layer of your skin. It’s also an occlusive, so it traps moisture in your skin. This not only keeps your skin hydrated, but in doing so can reduce the appearance of fine lines. Because of the nature of the alkyl chains (carbon chains) they don’t fully cover the skin, but they do a good enough job for the average skin type. It can even be used to treat eczema.
My favorite way to use it is as a cleanser. It dissolves makeup, no matter how heavy or waterproof it is, so it’s a great first step for those of us who use the oil cleansing method. I personally like using the Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil. It has ingredients that emulsify and rinse clean with minimal effort. The downside is that it does have quite a strong fragrance, so if you’re sensitive to scents you may want to skip this one. You can also use baby oil, but most baby oil is also fragranced so you’ll run into the same problem. You can definitely use pure mineral oil, which is super cheap and lacks fragrance.
Long story short, you definitely shouldn’t be scared of mineral oil! It can be a cheap way to provide moisture to skin and remove stubborn beauty products. It’s non-comedogenic, non carcinogenic, and honestly just plain awesome.
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