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Posted on October 29, 2017 by Beatrice Jocom

#ReadtheLabel: Petroleum Isn't Pretty

For today's #ReadTheLabel, let's talk about your face, up close and personal. Did you know there's a cheap, synthetic ingredient in most face and makeup products that really shouldn't have any business with making you pretty? It goes by many names but it's most widely known as mineral oil. Let's get to know this ingredient more!


Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless oil derived from petroleum as a by-product of distilling petroleum to produce gasoline (yup, same one that you put in your car). Also sometimes called liquid petroleum, petrolatum, petroleum jelly, paraffin oil or paraffinum, it’s an inexpensive ingredient used in lotions, creams, ointments and cosmetics to help reduce water loss from skin.

Though used for decades as a popular moisturizer, mineral oil has been garnering a bad rep. Turns out, the mineral oil we pat and slather on daily can is prone to contaminants that could possibly affect our health.

Studies show that with regular use, mineral oil's molecules can accumulate in the body via penetration through broken skin or use of lip balms (our lips have the thinnest skin and absorb molecules more readily). And since mineral oil doesn't metabolize inside our bodies, it can accumulate in our system.  

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), mineral oil in beauty products may be contaminated with one or more recognized cosmetic impurities linked to cancer and other health concerns. Included in this list are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a carcinogen in mineral oil used in body lotions and body creams as moisturizer, and in lip products as an emollient. Another concern is 1,4 dioxane, a contaminant classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a possible human carcinogen, and which  may be present in 34% of all body lotions and 36% of facial moisturizers. The presence of these contaminants is not restricted by government safety standards.

Although there isn't definitive conclusion yet on the long-term effects of mineral oil bioaccumulation, some studies suggest that large quantities on the skin can cause allergic reaction, lead to toxicity of the immune system, and even develop tumors.


Mineral oil's main function itself poses as a problem. Because it's an occlusive agent, meaning it forms a physical barrier over your skin to help reduce water loss from skin, it also traps pore-clogging bacteria and ingredients from other products on our skin, increasing risk of acne and blackheads.

The final straw about mineral oil is this: it does nothing for our skin. It doesn't nourish it with any vitamins or nutrients nor does it really moisturize the skin. It just sits on top like a plastic wrap, trying to prevent moisture loss.

But we have so many better natural alternatives now - like natural plant extracts, butters and natural oils that give our skin a long list of benefits WITHOUT the health risk. Isn't it time we move on to safer, more effective skin care?

So scope the back labels of your moisturizers, lotions and creams and ditch those that have mineral oil (or liquid petroleum, paraffin oil or white mineral oil) in their ingredients list. Opt instead for natural oils that cater to different skin types.


This post was posted in Latest Updates