Know your ingredients: Mineral Oil (Liquid Petrolatum)

What it is
Mineral Oil (also called liquid petrolatum) is a clear and odorless oil derived from petrolatum.

What it does
Mineral oil is one of the best moisturizing ingredients available. It hydrates the skin and acts as a barrier to prevent moisture loss.
Mineral oil is also a hair conditioner. It is used in leave in conditioners, but doesn’t absord very well and can therefore weigh your hair down.
It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking; it softens them, but may feel greasy and cause blurred vision.
It is also a solvent used to remove makeup and temporary tattoos.

Side effects
Mineral oil has a bad reputation because it is derived from petrolatum. However, petrolatum is a natural ingredient derived from the earth. Mineral oil used in cosmetics is refined and purified to meet the FDA regulations and, at the end of this process, it has no resemblance to the original petrolatum. There is no evidence, therefore, that mineral oil causes cancer.
Mineral oil doesn’t clog pores. However it is an occlusive agent, and if you use it with products that have comedogenic ingredients, they will get trapped under the skin, causing pores to clog.
As mentioned above, it can weight hair down when used as a conditioner and cause blurred vision when used on eyelashes.
Allergies to mineral oil are very rare, but can occur.

5 Comment

  1. Baby oil has a high concentration of mineral oil, doesn’t it? I try to avoid mineral oil and petrolatum as much as I can although they are good moisturizers. Guess what, La Mer is choke full of them! I wrote about it a while ago.

  2. Lydia: I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

    Dao: yes, baby oil has a very high concentration of mineral oil. I don’t mind using it as a moisturizer, although I try to use products that don’t contain when I can. I’ve just read your post about La Mer, it is very interesting. I’ve been wondering whether to but La Mer products or not. Everyone keeps saying how good they are, but they are also so expensive! I’ll keep the info in mind, thanks.

  3. I got baby oil in my eye. How do you get rid of the blurred vision? It’s been about 24 hours now and not any better.

  4. Monique, I’m sorry to hear that. When you get baby oil in your eyes you should flash it out with water straight away and the blurred vision should go away shortly after. But if you stil have problems after 24 hours, you should consult a doctor immediately.

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