This ingredient has had a lot of bad press recently and we thought it needed a chance to clear its name, after all it has been used in cosmetics for over 100 years!

Also called liquid paraffin or paraffin liquidum this ingredient is commonly used in our moisturisers, even with such a bad name it has persisted over the years! It is derived from petroleum, like petrolatum, another common cosmetic ingredient. This is where we think it has got its bad name from. However, it is the most purified form of petroleum that exists and is specifically processed for a range of uses including cosmetics and the food industry. Due to this processing it can not be called a natural ingredient but despite this it is still safe to use. It is actually one of the safest ingredients in cosmetics as it is extremely chemically stable and has been approved by the FDA for use as a skin protectant. There have also been many studies looking into the use and safety of mineral oil, not only was it shown to be good for eczema but it also had no adverse effects!

Many of us will have used mineral oil without even realising it as baby oil, a product almost everyone has heard of! What you might not know is that baby oil is simply mineral oil and fragrances. If it is classed as safe enough for a babies skin to calm rashes and eczema we think it is safe enough for us.

Many people say it is just super cheap and that is why it is used, but we disagree with this argument! Yes it is a lot cheaper compared to vegetable oils, as it can easily be made in large amounts, but we still think it has its uses!

Vegetable and plant oils have a good selling point as they are classed as natural but they are generally used in small amounts for a very specific result whereas mineral oil is used in higher concentrations for a more general use, that being the moisturisation of the skin. These are two very different jobs so the rumours that it is just a cheap alternative don’t make much sense! Mineral oil is actually a better occlusive and emollient when compared to vegetable oils. This means it will sit on the skin and stop water loss as well as soften the skin, just what we ask for in a moisturiser.

Mineral oil is a large molecule made up of of long hydrocarbon chains so it can not penetrate the skin and is stuck sitting at the top epidermal layers in a mesh made up of these long chains. Sitting on the surface of the skin is what gives mineral oil its moisturising properties as it stops TEWL, or trans-epidermal water loss across the skin, keeping it hydrated and making skin appear smoother.

Yet another mineral oil myth is that it blocks pores causing blackheads and acne breakouts. This property of an ingredient is called comedogenic and in the 1970’s this was a big deal! There was a sudden fear that a whole load of oils applied to the skin cause blackheads but since then studies have found no solid evidence of this for mineral oils, or many of the others criticised at the time. So although mineral oil sits on the skins surface it will not clog pores and cause blackheads, it is just holding that all important water in!

Other more bizarre problems mineral oil has said to cause have also turned out to be a bit of a myth. Mineral oil causing sensitivity to UVB radiation was ruled out as it was minimal and any changes it does cause are similar to glycerol, an extremely common and safe cosmetic ingredient. It has even been suggested that mineral oil is involved in cancer but we are happy to say that there is no evidence for this and the known carcinogens called poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are not present in mineral oil.

Our conclusion based on the scientific evidence is that mineral oil is a fab ingredient for a moisturiser and is perfectly safe to use!

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