For this week’s Ingredient of the Week post I’m talking about mineral oil. If you’ve ever used Aquaphor, you’ve put mineral oil on your body. If you’ve ever used Aquaphor for chapped lips, you’ve even eaten it. So what is mineral oil?
If you missed the intro to this series, it explains what “safe beauty” is, and why it’s important. The quick version is that the FDA doesn’t regulate what chemicals brands put in their products and it doesn’t set standards for words like “natural” or “organic”. Basically, a brand could put “natural” on a container full of carcinogens if they wanted (and they often do). I caveat this at the beginning of every post not to scare anyone but to educate. You don’t have to switch everything you own to safer today. Just make small changes where it makes sense for you. After all, doing something is better than doing nothing, right?
If you’re completely overwhelmed right now, take a look at my skincare routine and my everyday makeup routine. Since most of the products we use fall into one of those two categories, it will give you an idea of some great beauty products to start with. Of course, if you have any questions, shoot me an email or send me a DM. I chat with you guys all day long about personalized recommendations based on your needs! If you want more, here’s a list of my favorite beauty products!
What to look for.
This one is really easy. It literally is labeled as is! It also has some different forms which I’ve listed below too.
White Mineral Oil
What is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum. It’s created during the process of producing gasoline – yes, the stuff that powers your car or starts a fire! It’s colorless and odorless so it’s impossible to detect. There are various forms of mineral oil that range from unfiltered to highly filtered. Mineral oils that are untreated are the most toxic as they are carcinogens. The more refined it is, the less carcinogenic it is. In all likelihood, mineral oil isn’t the most toxic chemical you’re putting on your body. It’s just not good for it. And, it’s probably not helping you either. Keep reading.
Why do brands use Mineral Oil?
It’s cheap. Are you noticing a theme yet with these Ingredient of the Week posts? Generally speaking, cheaper products tend to be more toxic. Toxic ingredients are cheaper to manufacture (usually because the toxins aren’t filtered out). Mineral oil is also lightweight and helps reduce water loss from the skin. Does that sound like something you might want for dry skin? Exactly why they use it!
Which products contain Mineral Oil?
It’s commonly found in lotions, ointments, creams, and makeup products. Aquaphor, Petroleum Jelly, and Vaseline are just some of the many products that contain mineral oil. They also happen to be the ones that I’ve heard people mention they use the most.
What Mineral Oil can do to you.
Just like PEGs and retinol, the less mineral oil is filtered for toxic chemicals, the more harmful it is to you as the user. Since you as the consumer don’t know to what lengths a brand has gone to filter out toxins (unless they’ve made a public statement), it’s hard to get that peace of mind. Here are some of the side effects.
Nothing. That’s the problem! Mineral oil doesn’t actually do anything for your skin – it just sits as a layer on top of your skin protecting it from the atmosphere. Meaning, your chapped lips aren’t going to get any better. They’re going to stay status quo and you’re going to have to rely on Aquaphor over and over and over. Because it’s blocking water loss, it’s also going to mess with your body’s ability to sweat and cool itself off. It also makes your sunburns worse by locking in the heat which can lead to permanent scarring.
Acne. Since mineral oil clogs your pores (and doesn’t let water out), it is often the cause of acne. It’s like covering your skin with Saran Wrap. It traps bacteria in and voila! Whiteheads, blackheads, and zits!
Cancer. Okay, this one is scary. Untreated or lightly filtered mineral oils can cause skin cancer. There have also been links to skin cancer of the scrotum so watch out for your guys! Typically, the only people that need to be concerned about this work in industries with heavy machinery like metal working, automotive, etc.
Safe alternatives to Mineral Oil.
Since the majority of products that contain mineral oil are focused on dry skin, I’m going to share a general list of best lotions and oils. When it comes to your face, I’d recommend this face oil (it’s a miracle product you can read about here), this lotion for a lightweight solution, and this night cream for a more intense moisturizer (think during winter or for really dry skin)!
For your body, I used to use a lotion but have recently found that just using body oil alone is more effective. This body oil absorbs really well and smells amazing. There are cheaper ones like the coconut oil from Advanced Clinicals but you get what you pay for. Meaning, it doesn’t absorb as well and it doesn’t work as well. If you’re going for a really inexpensive option, try regular coconut oil you get from the grocery store! You can use it all over your body!
Have you used Aquaphor before? Do you have any favorite safe beauty products of any kind? Leave your recommendations below – I always love getting new beauty tips!