5 Myths About Mineral Oil You Should Stop Believing Now

by Gio
is mineral oil dangerous for skin?

You know how it goes. A jealous person spreads a juicy rumour. Everyone believes it because it’s so scary, who wants to take the risk if it turns out to be true?

Then, the truth comes out. But, it’s too late. It doesn’t matter what the maligned guy says or does to prove his innocence, everyone’s mind is already made up against him.

That’s what happened to mineral oil. The mere association with petroleum was enough to taint him with a bad brush for good. It doesn’t matter that mineral oil doesn’t resemble petroleum in the least or that the two don’t hang out together anymore. Mud sticks.

This may all be futile, but I feel so sorry for mineral oil, I’m going to stick up for it and do my best to defend its reputation. Here’s why mineral oil is NOT as dangerous as they say:

What is mineral oil?

Before I get on the stand and start defending mineral oil, I’ll better tell you what it is.

Mineral oil is a colourless and odourless oil derived from petroleum (which, by the way, is a NATURAL substance derived from Mother Earth – just saying).

There are several grades of mineral oil, but only one can be used in cosmetics. It’s called Cosmetic Grade Mineral Oil. Obvs.

To turn into Cosmetic Grade Mineral Oil, petroleum must undergo a strict purifying process that removes all toxins and other impurities from it. At the end of this process, CGMO doesn’t resemble petroleum anymore.

Cosmetic Grade Mineral Oil is safe. Period.

Next time you hear someone say that slathering mineral oil on your skin is the same as slathering petroleum on your skin, you know they have NO idea what they’re talking about.

Why is mineral oil used in beauty products?

  1. It’s cheap.
  2. It rarely causes irritations or allergies.
  3. It’s super moisturizing.

In fact, derms think it’s the king of moisturizers. The most moisturizing of all moisturizers (I think shea butter gives it a good run for its money, but mineral oil is one of the best).

Mineral oil creates a barrier on the skin that prevents water loss. Instead, that moisture stays deep into your skin, making it softer and suppler.

Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s bust some myths about mineral oil, shall we?

Myth #1: Does Mineral Oil clog pores?

I’ve just told you that mineral oil works by creating a protective barrier on the skin. So, it makes sense that it suffocates skin and clog pores, right?

Not so quickly.

  1. Skin doesn’t breathe. It perspires. That’s an important difference because if something doesn’t breathe, you can’t suffocate it.
  2. Cosmetic Grade Mineral Oil doesn’t clog pores, either.  It’s Industrial Mineral Oil that’s comedogenic. But, that’s not used in cosmetics, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Wait, there’s a catch.

CGMO itself isn’t comedogenic. But, the barrier it creates can trap other comedogenic ingredients into the skin, and those can cause breakouts.

If you’re prone to acne or breakouts, make sure none of your skincare products have comedogenic ingredients before slathering on mineral oil.

Related: Do Comedogenic Ingredients Give You Acne?

Myth #2: Does Mineral Oil Stop Other Ingredients From Getting Into The Skin?

Again, this makes sense: if mineral oil creates a barrier on the skin, then retinol, vitamin C and all the other goodies in your lotions and potions won’t be able to get through.

Yet, they do.

Mineral oil is so great at keeping moisture into the skin because the barrier it forms is hydrophobic. But, other ingredients can still get through.

Science confirms it. One study measured the diffusion rate of sulphathiazole when used in cold creams with mineral oil. These cold creams had various levels of mineral oil. Some contained as low as 8% while others a whopping 83%!

In both cases, suphathiazole diffused through the cream into your skin. Of course, it did this faster when there was only a little mineral oil in the cream. But mineral oil is rarely used at high doses so it’s cool.

Myth #3: Does Mineral Oil Prevent Collagen From Penetrating The Skin?

This is closely related to myth #2, but I thought it deserved its own paragraph, anyway. Two reasons:

  1. Collagen is the ingredient that always comes up when talking about mineral oil and its “impenetrable” barrier.
  2. Collagen DOESN’T penetrate the skin anyway!

Collagen is a huge molecule. So huge, it can’t get through the skin anyway. All it does it sitting on its surface and making it soft and smooth.

Stop blaming mineral oil for collagen’s shortcomings. It’s not fair.

mineral oil myths debunked

Myth #4: Does Mineral Oil Cause Cancer?

So far, we’ve only covered minor issues. Let’s address the worst rumour now: is mineral oil dangerous and does it give you cancer?

I see how this spread. Industrial Mineral Oil contains toxins that may cause cancer. But, that will never find its way into your creams and serums.

As I’ve mentioned before, only Cosmetic Grade Mineral Oil can be used in cosmetics. That’s highly purified. It has no toxins that could cause cancer, or any other disease for that matter.

I’ve scoured all of Pubmed and couldn’t find a single study that links CGMO to cancer. Not even a tiny little one.

Mineral oil isn’t dangerous. Full stop.

Myth #5: Does Mineral Oil Dry Out Skin And Make It Age Faster?

I have no idea where this came from, seriously.

Mineral oil creates a barrier on the skin that locks moisture in. That means its moisturizes skin. How can something that moisturizes skin dry it out? Makes no sense.

As for it making skin age faster, again, how? Have you noticed that people who make these claims never tell you how mineral oil does this? They can’t because it doesn’t.

There’s nothing in mineral oil that could make you age faster. Next time someone utters such nonsense, ask for proof or tell them to shut up.

Is Mineral Oil Bad For Skin? The Real Reason NOT To Use IT

Mineral oil critics do have a point, though. Mineral oil only moisturizes skin. That’s it.

Other oils, such as argan, rosehip or evening primrose, are enriched with antioxidants that fight premature aging and soothe irritations. Mineral oil can’t do any of these. If you’re looking for a multi-tasking oil, mineral oil isn’t the one for you.

The other side of the coin? Its simplicity makes mineral oil wonderful for sensitive skin. While most oils (like those I’ve just mentioned) are made up of tens of thousands of compounds, mineral oil is made in a sterile lab with only a handul of compounds.

In other words, mineral oil won’t irritate your skin. Something in natural oils (usually one of their fragrant components) might.

I usually use mineral oil to remove my makeup and other oils, like olive and rosehip, to moisturize and prevent premature aging. But, my skin isn’t sensitive. If it were, I would stick to mineral oil.

Is Mineral Oil Safe To Use

Yes, mineral oil is safe to use. But whether you do or not depends on your needs.

You should if:

  • You have dry skin that can’t seem to retain moisture.
  • You have sensitive skin that’s irritated easily.

You shouldn’t if:

  • You have acne-prone skin (it may aggravate breakouts)
  • You’re looking for an oil with both moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

The Bottom Line

Mineral oil isn’t dangerous. Quite the opposite: it’s super moisturizing, very gentle even on sensitive skin and really cheap. Just don’t expect it to do anything more than moisturizing your skin.

Do you use mineral oil? Share your experience in the comments below.



Dee December 16, 2009 - 6:26 pm

This is good to know. I know a lot of people freak out when they see mineral oil in the ingredients list. Because of that, I stayed away from it too. Thanks for clearing it up Gio. I have a few breakouts here and there and my current tinted moisturizer has mineral oil in it and I don’t find that its making my skin worse – at least for now anyway, lol.
.-= Dee´s last blog ..Giveaways You Should Know About =-.

Dao December 16, 2009 - 7:17 pm

I can’t use any moisturizer with mineral oil and I found out the hard way. I used La Mer once and got horrible break out from “the miracle cream.” It turns out La Mer contains petroleum-based products and my skin does not like them.
.-= Dao´s last blog ..Makeup Emergency: The Palette =-.

beautifulwithbrains December 16, 2009 - 8:07 pm

Dee, you’re welcome. There is a lot of confusing and misleding information about mineral oil and it’s a shame that people are staying away from it for that. It really is an effective moisturizing ingredient and I’ve never had problems with it.

Products with minreal oil won’t damage the skin nor clog pores unless they contain comedogenic ingredients too. I always stay away from products with isopropyl palmitate or myristate at the top of the list cos they give me horrible breakouts! But a well-formulated product wouldn’t contain comedogenic ingredients and without those, mineral oil is perfectly fine and will moisturize skin without clogging pores.

beautifulwithbrains December 16, 2009 - 8:23 pm

Dao, that’s a shame. Mineral Oil is usually well-tolerated by most people but unfortunately it can cause problems for those with acne-prone skin and aggravate their condition. 🙁

I guess that shows that expensive products aren’t always better but I hope you didn’t pay the full price for the La Mer cream.

Eliza July 25, 2018 - 9:23 am

Hey, can I oil cleanse with Mineral Oil even if I have fungal acne?

Gio July 28, 2018 - 5:57 pm

Eliza, yes, mineral oil is one of the three oil that’s safe for fungal acne, too. The others are squalene and MCT.

kristen December 16, 2009 - 8:46 pm

I have been using straight Vaseline (petroleum jelly – one step ‘up’ from mineral oil in both thickness and bad press!) on my face as a moisturizer since I was 12. I’m in my 40’s now and I have yet to see any lines – even around my eyes, none at all – or loss of firmness of any kind in my skin. It is my ‘open secret’ – people ask me all the time what I do to my skin and when I tell them they usually look blank and then want to know what the real secret is. I’ve done a lot of research on it and found only things that convince me more that it is safe and adds no further burden on the environment (no need to test on animals, since it has been around so long and tested enough in the past; it is a byproduct of an oil-refining process that would occur anyway, whether you got petrolatum or not, so might as well make good use of it). It heals cuts like magic! I get big tubs in my Christmas stocking every year! You have to use the kind that says USP though – otherwise no way to tell for sure if it has been purified to highest-grade standards and free of contaminants.

beautifulwithbrains December 17, 2009 - 11:15 am

Kristen, I’m glad vaseline works so well for you.There really is no secret to aging well but using effective ingredients helps a lot. It’s a perfectly ok and safe ingredient and it’s a shame many people refuse to use it due to unjustified bad press.

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Golden March 20, 2010 - 12:24 am

Well said. Thanks so much. I’ve a small baby and it has been our habit to apply baby oil on her chest and back before giving her a bath. Then I suddenly read some articles claiming that mineral oil isn’t good for our skin. I’m glad that you clear the issue out. 🙂

Lots of love,
.-= Golden´s last blog ..Stuff I Bought at the End of February =-.

beautifulwithbrains March 22, 2010 - 10:06 pm

Golden, you’re welcome. It’s a shame there are so many misconceptions about mineral oil that only scare people unneccessarily. It’s a fine, safe and very moisturizing ingredient and there really is no reason not to use it. I’m happy this article helped set the record straight. 🙂

Anita May 17, 2010 - 4:18 am

Hi. I recently purchased a moisturizer (ponds dry skin cream) that has mineral oil, isopropyl palmitate, stearic acid, and cetyl alcohol. I’m guessing I shouldn’t use it? :p It was recommended by someone who is pretty in the know-how about skin, but only after I purchased it did I notice she said that the only problem she had with it was that it contained mineral oil. After I looked it up it sounded pretty nasty, but this article made me give a second thought – but it does have these comedogenic ingredients…
I did get one pimple shortly after use, but I had been trying several new skin products so I’m not sure which was the culprit. I have been using it on my rosacea, (which is in the only particularly dry area of my face) but not the area of which pimples were produced. But I also read that mineral oil can do unseen damage to your skin that is only visible when you stop using the product…

Darn. I really wanted to use this product, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse :p I want to try Olay Complete, but they introduced this new formula that everyone hates, and it is already in every store, replacing the old formula.

beautifulwithbrains May 21, 2010 - 6:41 pm

Anita, first of all I apologize for my late answer but I’ve been away for a few days and still trying to catch up on comments. From the ingredients you mentioned, the Pond Cream seems to be a very basic formula as most products use them too. I guess most of its hydrating properties come from mineral oil, which is one of the best moisturizing ingredients available.

I don’t have any problems with Mineral Oil in skincare products. All the negative things you hear come from natural cosmetics companies that try to sell more products by scaring people into believing Mineral Oil is bad. But I haven’t come across any scientific studies yet that show Mineral Oil causes unseen damage at all.

I’m actually more concerned with Isopropyl Palmitate, which is very comedogenic. Every time I use a product that states it at the top of the ingredient list, I get horrible breakouts. Mineral Oil instead is not comedogenic, but it is occlusive. That means that Mineral Oil per se won’t cause breakouts, but it tends to trap the other ingredients in the skin and if these ingredients are comedogenic like Isopropyl Palmiate, then breakouts can occurr.

Personally, I would try this product and see how my skin reacts. If you get breakouts, throw it away. Otherwise, there’s no reason not to use it. Hope this helps.

Anita May 22, 2010 - 5:09 pm

Thanks! During this time I had decided to stop using it on my face (still found a use for it though, it works great on my arms) and just started using regular lotion (without mineral oil) on my face…the funny thing is that this lotion I started using is a new formula that skips the mineral oil and it actually gave me a pimple, whereas the old formula did not. I have eczema, I wonder if that has something to do with it. I don’t want to blame the products because I could just be getting a random pimple. Lol, it’s a mystery, I suppose I will just have to keep trying around to find the right one.

beautifulwithbrains May 23, 2010 - 9:35 pm

Anita, you’re welcome. I’m glad you still found an use for the cream. Mineral Oil isn’t comedogenic, people just assume it is because it is occlusive but if the ingredients it traps underneath aren’t comedogenic there’s not much chance of getting pimples. I guess that could be a random pimple. Maybe try using the cream a few more days and see how it goes. If you don’t get any more pimples, it may be just a random one but if you keep getting zits, ditch it.

Anita May 23, 2010 - 9:38 pm

and NOW, I’ve switched back to ponds, because the other cream I had started using gave me THREE PIMPLES. Very random. Lol thanks for your help 🙂

beautifulwithbrains May 24, 2010 - 10:54 am

Anita, I’m sorry you got more pimples. I guess the cream you were using must have been the culprit then. And you’re welcome. I’m glad I could help 🙂

Shelle June 8, 2010 - 8:55 pm

Thank you for this post! I’ve always thought mineral oil got an undeserved bad repuation. Sure it’s not for everyone, but for me it’s wonderful. I wrote about it in my blog.


beautifulwithbrains June 9, 2010 - 11:54 am

Shelle, thank you for this post and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that doesn’t seem to have a problem with mineral oil. It’s cheap, very moisturizing and isn’t dangerous for your health so I don’t see any reason not to use it. I’ll go check out your post now 😉

wozin September 29, 2010 - 9:55 pm

Thank you for the education on mineral oil. I had never thought about it, but lately have seen such bad things being said about it. And, so I checked the source of these allegations, and found out they were from companies selling herbal and natural products. And, also Alpha Hydrox, makes your skin age, like mineral oil. Both of witch I have used all my life, and I am 58 years old. One site said wait 10 years and you won’t look so good. How horrible. I don’t listen to them anymore.

beautifulwithbrains September 30, 2010 - 1:00 pm

wozin, good for you for not listening to them anymore. It’s a shame that some companies need to spread such lies on ingredients used by their competitors to scare customers into buying their own products instead. People seem to think that Mineral Oil is based just because it is derived from petroleum, but once refined they are too completely substances that don’t resemble each other anymore. And I haven’t seen one study saying mineral oil is bad for skin, in fact they all agree is one of the most moisturizing ingredients available!

Denise December 12, 2010 - 12:31 am

wow thank you for this, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post! I have been having (these past months that I got into make-up and natural products) bad thoughts and bad misconceptions (?) about mineral oil, I had read it’s bad for the skin, it’s a bad ingredient like petroleum etc. Petroleum (petrolatum?) is bad, though, right?
I’m so glad now, I hadn’t considered that the rumors were coming from natural/mineral companies etc. I’m using a Boots Botanics face cream and it has mineral oil, petroleum etc in it and I was bummed that there was mineral oil in it haha, The cream itself is very moisturizing, I just have to check if there are comedogenic ingredients, now. =) and I don’t even know what those are so I’m reading your other post about them, now. thanks!

I’m also considering using Vaseline on my face, though I’m concerned about the petroleum. (Kandee Johnson swears by the Un-petroleum jelly one!) ^_^

beautifulwithbrains December 12, 2010 - 9:12 pm

Denise, you’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and found it useful. When I first started getting into makeup and researching the ingredients I too would believe that lots of ingredients, including mineral oil, very bad for you but it is not. The information comes from natural website and sources who just assume mineral oil is bad because it comes from petroleum without taking into consideration that once refines, they don’t even resemble each other anymore! They are too different things and there is no proof in scientific journals and research that they cause any negative side effects. It is the same from petroleum, it is said by some to bad because of its origin, but that is refined and safe. It is actually very moisturizing so you can just use both mineral oil and petrolatum without problems. 🙂

Denise December 13, 2010 - 12:52 am

thank you for your reply!! 🙂 I can now be more confident and I’ll be more weary from now on, as to what ingredients are bad, and the sources that those rumors come from (even though I’m a big supporter of natural cosmetics and skincare, with the least number of ingredients)

thanks! xx

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2010 - 2:33 pm

Denise, you’re welcome. I like natural products too (I use both those and traditional/synthetic ones) and anything with a few ingredients is always a good thing as there is a lot less risk of them causing an irritation. But in the end, this whole chemicals are bad thing is just a marketing strategy natural brands use to make you buy their products, just like traditional companies put one or two natural ingredients in a product claiming they are benficial when their concentrations are too small to do anything and it’s the synthetic ingredients that do all the work.

In a nutshell, every brand twists the truth to convince customers to buy from them, so just use what works for you. As for bad ingredients, they are very few (mainly alcohol) and very strictly regulated. 🙂

Denise December 14, 2010 - 7:53 pm

yes, you are right about the traditional companies making those claims about the natural ingredients. haha very true ^_^ yes, I can never trust completely a brand but all we can do is try and be informed and try to choose carefully (and consciously) what we put on our skin.

*hugs* =)
xx Denise

beautifulwithbrains December 14, 2010 - 9:55 pm

Denise, I completely agree with you. We can’t trust advertisements and marketing claims but we can educate ourselves so that we can choose the safest products that work best for us. 🙂

jennifer December 19, 2010 - 10:44 pm

are you kidding me? that is the stupidest thing i have ever heard. Did you really just say: “Mineral Oil is a colorless and odorless oil derived from petroleum, WHICH IS A NATURAL SUBSTANCE EXTRACTED FROM THE EARTH.” ? Because uranium and mercury are also natural substances extracted from the earth and no matter how much its been REFINED or processed, i will not smear that all over myself or my children. Any person that even takes that risk is a horrible parent.

beautifulwithbrains December 20, 2010 - 5:55 pm

Jennifer, all comments left by first time commenters are moderated. It is simply a measure to avoid spam, that’s all. I publish every comment, unless they are spam or offensive. And I don’t really have any agenda. I don’t work for a cosmetic company, I don’t sell cosmetics, no one is paying me to blog so why would I say that mineral oil is safe unless I didn’t believe it to be true? It’s natural companies that have an agenda as they are the ones that started spreading lies about this ingredient claiming it causes all sortsof diseases but never providing any proof supporting their statements.

I don’t see what your problem is with what I wrote. Petroleum is a natural substance extracted from the earth. It is a fact. I’m not saying that all natural things are good for you. Like you pointed out, there are natural things that are deadly to humans, but mineral oil is just not one of them. I’ve been researching mineral oil (and cosmetic ingredients in general) for more than three years, keeping up with the latest findings and study in scietnific research and I haven’t found a single study that says mineral oil causes cancer or is bad for you. What I found are lots of studies that say how effective and safe it is.

If you have any proof of the contrary, please send me the links to support your statement. If I see a real proof that it is so bad, I will change my mind. And I don’t think someone is a horrible parent just because he/she applies mineral oil on their child, when there is absolutely no proof it is bad for you. Horrible parents are those that hit their children, that leave them in front of the tv all the time instead of taking care of them even when they’re not working or justify their children even when they commit serious crimes and offences. Choosing to believe science over unfounded rumours doesn’t make you a horrible parent.

jennifer December 19, 2010 - 10:50 pm

oh its awaiting moderation. you’ll never post what i wrote because its right and you would only post comments that further your agenda. whatevs.

Cara January 18, 2011 - 12:45 am

I just decided to research mineral oil because I went to an Arbonne party by my sister-in-law last night and her sponsor was all over mineral oil and how it will age your skin.

She told my sister-in-law to throw it all away. (She didn’t, stating it cleans her tub of soap scum really well.)

I wanted to verify her claims because I have baby oil which I apply to my girls (2 1/2 & 6 months) occasionally.

I’m glad I checked it out! This was a very informative post. 🙂

beautifulwithbrains January 18, 2011 - 10:16 pm

Cara, I’m so glad you found this post useful. Mineral Oil is a very moisturizing ingredient and it is a shame it is so vilified. There is a lot of misinformation about it because of its origin, but it is safe and won’t harm skin nor make it age faster so there is no reason to stop using it. 🙂

Jenny March 14, 2011 - 1:25 pm

Hi beautifulwithbrains, that was a very informative reading, thank you. I live in sweden and have extremely dry flaky skin in winter time. Can you recommend some cheap good non-comedogenic moisturizers. And where can I find a complete list of comedogenic ingredients?

Thank you

beautifulwithbrains March 14, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Jenny, thanks. Mmm, have you tried Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer, for Very Dry to Dry Skin? It’s a night time moisturizer (although it can be used during the day too) and it is very rich and doesn’t contain ingredients that should cause breakouts. For a cheaper option you can check out some Olay moisturizers (just avoid those that list Isopropyl Palmitate or Myristate at the beginning of the ingredient list). You can find a list of comedogenic ingredients here: http://beautifulwithbrains.com/2009/06/10/what-ingredients-are-comedogenic/ Hope this helps.

Jenny March 24, 2011 - 2:05 pm

I have now tried both vaseline and pure mineral oil on top of moisturizer.

I got some red rashes from vaseline and it make my face itchy. They are not breakouts, just rashes that disappears after a day or 2. Not sure it was because of the vaseline or the combination of my moisturizer.

Mineral oil works better for me, less itchiness and no rashes.

How come i get so different results from those 2? i thought they should be the same.

Another strange thing is that both vaseline and mineral oil doenst just sit on top of my skin, it seems like they absorbs into my skin after a couple of hours. If i have quite alot of it on my whole face before bedtime, in the morning they are just all gone! Same thing during the day time. Is it even possible?

beautifulwithbrains March 24, 2011 - 9:44 pm

hi Jenni, mineral oil and vaseline are closely related but still two different substances so it is possible that one causes problems for you while the other doesn’t. I’m sorry to hear vaseline gives you a bad reaction.

Both substances also sit on top of the skin and are difficult to absorb but I guess it is possible that a tiny amount does get absorbed. I think it’s more likely they just fade away overtime rather than getting absorbed into the skin.

Brandon June 6, 2011 - 5:00 pm


beautifulwithbrains June 6, 2011 - 6:09 pm

Brandon, parabens too have a bad reputation but it isn’t deserved. Some people say they are bad because a study has found parabens in breast tissue of women who have breast cancer, but no one took samples from the breast tissue of healthy women. It is very possible, thus, that healthy women have the same levels of parabens and they have nothing to do with the cancer. The researches themselves didn’t do further tests of parabens because they didn’t find any evidence they are harmful.

It is also true that parabens have an estrogenic activity but so have a lot of plant extracts so I can’t see why parabens would be singled out as bad. In any case, they are used in miniscule amounts in cosmetics and have a long history of safety (they have been used for decades without anyone reporting any problems) so until I see real proof that they are bad (and so far, there isn’t), I’ll keep using them.

ana August 22, 2011 - 11:22 am

Considering this research was done by J&J it could be bias…
If it’s not true that mineral oil is bad for you, then why do so many people say it is?

beautifulwithbrains August 22, 2011 - 6:18 pm

Ana, I don’t completely trust studies made by the companies themselves. I don’t think they lie, but they could exaggerate the good results and minimize the bad ones. So, instead than trusting those, I use pubmed, an online database of peer-reviewed studies.

Just because a lot of people believe something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. It’s natural companies that started slating off mineral oil. That’s because natural products are very often less effective but more expensive than those that contain synthetic ingredients, so to convince people to buy their products, a lot of these companies have started spreading lies of how harmful these ingredients (such as mineral oil, silicones etc) are. But they always fail to provide proof and back up their claims with scientific studies. Which doesn’t surprise me since I have never come across a study claiming mineral oil is bad for skin.

federifera March 21, 2012 - 4:07 am

I personally used mineral oil all over my body in the past (and by mineral oil I mean j&j baby oil – pure mineral oil with fragrance – and various products containing petrolatum). It gave me beautiful, soft, glowing skin for a few hours, but as soon as it dried out my skin started drying up much faster than usual. I eventually stopped applying it for a couple days and the skin on my belly started flaking like crazy.

Cosmetic grade might not be comedogenic or lead to cancer or whatever (there’s no strong evidence as you said), but it is an occlusive substance. That means its effect is only temporary: it prevents your skin from losing water when the oil’s still on your skin, but it does not do anything to get rid of dry spots once and for all, it doesn’t actually hydrate the skin, nourish it by penetrating to the derma.

I am quoting from this article:

“It is important to note that the use of occlusive products does not achieve long-lasting results–transepidermal water loss re turns to its previous level after the agent is cleaned from the skin. Occlusive agents are generally used in combination with humectants (water-soluble, hygroscopic substances), because reducing transepidermal water loss by more than 40% risks maceration with elevated bacteria levels (Cutis 1987;39:512-5).”

Beeswax and many natural vegetable oils like sunflower oil are occlusive as well (many of course are not, jojoba oil for a start), but they are rarely used by themselves in a product, and the degree of occlusivity is thus lower.

I have switched to mineral oil-free (and paraben-free) cosmetics for a couple years now and my skin, especially on my face, has improved incredibly. It’s really rare for my skin to flake now, and I don’t need to reapply moisturiser 3-4 times a day to keep my skin soft. On my body, I apply pure jojoba oil twice a week after the shower, and I use nourishing shower products.

It’s true that mineral oil itself is cheap, but it is also true that many super-expensive creams out there (from Chanel to Dior) contain it rather than more precious natural oils.

So I guess it is just very personal: many state occlusive substances are good for dry skin because they trap the water back in, but I really prefer to treat a problem and get rid of it rather than temporarily “suspending” it.

beautifulwithbrains March 22, 2012 - 4:23 pm

Federifera, thanks for your comment. Mineral oil is an occlusive substance indeed and it is true that its effects are only temporary. But so are those of natural oils. I mean, if you stopped using shea butter or whatever for a while, your skin would go back to being dry.

I do believe though that, even though mineral oil is very moisturizing, it may not work for everyone. After all, everyone’s skin is different and what works for one person may not work for another. I’m glad that you have found products that work really well for you.

federifera March 22, 2012 - 7:54 pm

I really agree that every one is different and probably mineral oil can actually work with other kinds of skin, and it’s indeed very personal.

The truth is I mostly buy natural products over regular ones because they also tend to be cruelty-free and don’t contain many artificial preservatives like parabens, strong fragrances etc.

My “rule” is: if it works just as well, I’ll buy the natural one. It has smaller an impact on the environment and it makes me feel safe because the effects have been tested for centuries. Of course there are natural products that don’t work for me, natural ingredients that I dislike for whatever reason or cannot keep up with the artificial ones. And of course, just like with regular products, I need to try a few ones and experiment to find the one that suits my needs.

It’s true that some natural products are quite expensive, but not all of them. There are many brands (Dr.Organics, Burt’s Bees, Jason, Australian Organics, Purity, Skinfoods, Lavera and Badger just to name a few that I use and am really happy with) which have a very affordable price range and really good quality products.

And a few brands that are a bit more expensive like A’kin, Weleda, Living Nature and Dr. Hauschka have some products which are probably higher quality (by the quality of the ingredients they contain) than most high-end brands.

I buy most of my skincare products from my local organic shop here in London UK, which is called Bumblebee, then from Holland&Barrett and occasionally, for higher-end products, from Wholefoods. I don’t think the prices are that much higher from drugstore ones, especially for the quality you get 🙂

Sorry for my ramble about skincare and cosmetics, I hope I didn’t bother you.

I really enjoy your blog by the way, I think it is quite important to bring brains into beauty and personal care and you are doing it really well! 🙂

beautifulwithbrains March 23, 2012 - 9:26 pm

Federifera, I really enjoyed your ramble, you didn’t bother me at all.

I completely understand your decision to use natural products. I have a problem with people spreading misinformation and lies about mineral oil and other synthetic ingredients, leading people to avoid perfectly safe ingredients out of fear. But if you know the truth about them and still prefer to use natural ingredients because they’re better for the environment, for your skin and/or is the result of a lifestyle choice, that’s something I completely respect.

I believe there are ingredients that work and others that don’t, regardless of their origin and that people should just use what works best for them and what they feel more comfortable with. I tried to switch to natural products too a few years ago but here in Italy most of the brands you mentioned aren’t available and what is available is either expensive or ineffective. So I just use what works for me. Most of these products are synthetic but there are a few who are natural and work really well.

Aww thank you! I’m really glad that you enjoy it and I hope to see you around often.

federifera March 24, 2012 - 12:36 am

Wow! I didn’t notice you were Italian!
I am too, but I’ve been living in the UK for about a year and a half and I am planning to stay 🙂 where about in Italy? I’m from Tortona (AL). Shall I switch to Italian in my comments? For now I’ll probably stick to English ’cause I see you have an international readership! 🙂

I know a thing or two about poor product availability in Italy (especially organic stuff, products that are suitable for vegetarians, free-from food, international makeup brands…) but I think that when it comes to haircare Italian brand are among the best (Alfaparf for a start, I absolutely worship it) and sometimes hard to find abroad! Lucky that more and more online stores now ship worldwide (I couldn’t live without cherryculture.com, just to name one, I really enjoy NYX makeup and it seems impossible to find in the UK), let’s hope some good organic brands will follow the trend 🙂 I must say here in London there’s quite a choice of organic goods and among them some are incredibly high quality!

I have bookmarked your blog among my favourites, I’ll definitely come by more often! It is a pleasure to read: you are smart, nice and polite.

Have a lovely Friday night! 🙂

beautifulwithbrains March 25, 2012 - 8:42 pm

Federifera, yep, I’m Italian, from Senigallia (AN). And I really envy you, I wish I lived in the UK too. 😉 Who knows, maybe one day.. And you can write either in English or Italian, whatever you prefer. 🙂

It really is a shame that not a lot of brands are available here. In the past couple of years, I have started buying more and more online, but mainly makeup as I like to see ingredient lists (which not all websites put up) and maybe try a sample before buying skincare products or I’d risk being stuck with something that causes breakouts or has just a horrible texture.. But buying skincare products locally reduces the options a lot.. I buy NYX from cocktail cosmetics, an UK website, they have lots of wonderful brands. Cherry Culture is another great website, but I avoid buying from the US cos now pretty much every package gets stopped at customs so they take months to arrive and there’s an additional fee to pay too. *sighs* But I do hope that more organic brands will be available here. It would be wonderful for consumers to have a wider choice. And you know, I have never tried Alfaparf, I actually have never seen it in my small town, but I will keep an eye out for it from now on. 🙂 London is a wonderful place for beauty shopping. I always come back with a huge amount of beauty products whenever I go there, which sadly isn’t often these days..

Aww thank you! You’re making me blush 😳

Thanks. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. 🙂

federifera March 24, 2012 - 12:38 am

*brands 🙂

federifera March 25, 2012 - 11:28 pm

I sometimes buy from cocktail cosmetics too, but NYX product are much more expensive on there (also considering currency exchange). So when I need just a few products I use the uk website, but when I stock up on some items I find it cheaper from cherryculture, although the delivery is quite expensive. Also, I think my orders never got stopped at customs ’cause I usually received them in about 10 days. Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe they have different policies for different countries 🙂

Alfaparf is a company from Milan, they do salon high-end hair products that are just excellent imho. My all time favourites are http://www.alfaparf.it/article/pro-concentrate , http://www.alfaparf.it/article/cristalli-liquidi and http://www.alfaparf.it/article/divine-cream-styling-liscio.
I might have tried half of their product line over the years (my favourite range is the bamboo one, probably because it’s really rich and the scent is delicious, very fresh and natural, just a bit fruity), and they never disappointed me once. Some products have indeed entered my everyday hair regime and I stick to them even from another country 😀

I don’t remember the exact prices because my mom buys them for me from my hairdresser and brings them here when she visits, and also because I think they can only be found in salons and each salon sets a different price. If you are interested I can check (a 200ml tube of hair mask is around 20 euros, quite expensive but I can tell you that their products last for ages and are worth every cent) and even send them to you if you can’t find them anywhere near. I’ll be in Italy for the upcoming holidays 🙂

Also on your next trip to London I’d love to meet you 🙂 some makeup shopping on Carnaby street could do 😉

beautifulwithbrains March 26, 2012 - 8:45 pm

Federifera, you’re so lucky that your packages never get stopped at customs! Yes, NYX products are more expensive on cocktail cosmetics, but when you consider that, if the package gets stopped (and lately they stop everything, even presents!), you have to pay at least €11 to get it (more if the order of the value is high), and they take their time to send it to you (a month if you’re lucky), buying from there is worth it, at least to avoid such a hassle!

That’s so nice of you, thanks for the offer. I will try and see if I can find here the products you recommended (and that Bamboo line really intrigues me), otherwise I will let you know. And if there is anything I can ever do for you, just say so. 🙂

And that would be wonderful! I’d love to meet you too. 🙂

Suzanne March 1, 2013 - 11:28 am

Fascinating reading! I just want to make a comment about Ponds. No, I don’t work for them. I noticed that over in India, where the climate is seriously harsh, they take skin care very seriously, and apply vegetable oil all over once or twice a week. The only manmade cosmetic they use seems to be Ponds.I have never seen such glowing and blemish-free skins.No doubt their diet plays its part.

beautifulwithbrains March 1, 2013 - 12:19 pm

Suzanne, I’m glad you enjoyed it and thank you for sharing your experience and your observations with us. 🙂

Irene Ford June 12, 2013 - 2:19 am

I have always had very bad problems with my skin. Recently, I discovered that the problem was due to my consumption of anything with refined suger. One day I had a burning sensation on both legs, I put some mineral oil on the burning areas.
The burning sensation lessened. After my first use, I began to apply the oil to my legs everyday. I feel so much better, and the appearance of my skin is improving.
But after reading all the negative articles about mineral oil, I am considering discontinuing the use of the product.

beautifulwithbrains June 16, 2013 - 2:59 pm

Irene, I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you, but don’t discontinue it because of the myths that surround it. Those nasty claims about mineral oil are mostly spread by natural companies who hope to scare people into buying their products. The type of mineral oil used in cosmetics, mineral grade cosmetic oil, is highly purified, doesn’t contain any carcinogenic impurities, isn’t toxic nor comedogenic. There really is no scientific proof to support the claims that mineral oil is bad for skin, but plenty that says it is safe and effective.

Irene Ford July 5, 2013 - 1:10 pm

Thanks, I am still using mineral oil, and I notice imrovement everyday.

beautifulwithbrains July 5, 2013 - 7:32 pm

Irene, you’re welcome.

Elcee June 16, 2019 - 1:29 pm

Hi Gio, Great article! Do you know if the mineral oil sold in drug stores as a laxative would be condered cosmetic grade? I want to avoid fragrance and the only product I could find was in the health care aisle. The ingredient list is: Active Ingredient: Mineral Oil. Inactive Ingredient: D-Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E) As Stabilizer.

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:26 pm

Elcee, I wouldn’t use a laxative on your skin!

Megan July 5, 2019 - 1:29 pm

I’ve come across articles claiming that mineral oil can act as a hormone disruptor. Have you found any research on this?

Gio July 6, 2019 - 2:26 pm

Megan, there is NO proof this is true!


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