Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Is Mineral Oil Bad for your Skin? What Science Says

I feel like a lot of people are confused about mineral oil and whether it is actually bad for your skin. I don't use skincare face products with mineral oil as it's main ingredient, but I don't avoid it completely. I use Lucas' Papaw Ointment as a 'lip balm' with 'petroleum jelly', and I use plenty of hand creams, body lotions that contain mineral oil. Here is what I found out after a LOT of research and reading and sorting through the 'sponsored by famous mineral oil using skincare line' articles.

Mineral Oil is also know as:
  • liquid paraffin
  • pariffinum liquidum
  • white oil
  • baby oil (which is mineral oil + fragrance)

Reasons to keep calm and carry on with your mineral oil-based FACE moisturisers
  • It is used in moisturisers as a semi-occlusive ingredient- they physically block water loss from the skin (stratum corneum) by forming a hydrophobic film (Leena C., Papapit T. et al. 2014)
  • cosmetic grade mineral oil, which is heavily refined, was found to be non-comedogenic (DiNardo, 2005)
  • It's cheap - usually mineral oil based skincare is affordable because it is a very inexpensive ingredient
  • Because you DGAF

Reasons to keep calm and carry on with your mineral oil-based BODY moisturisers
  • It's not your face

Reasons to stop using mineral oil forever
  • if you are using it simply because you have dry skin: there are better ingredients that do the same job, whilst being beneficial
  • mineral oil is known to clog pores, unless it is heavily refined. A zero comedogenic rating does not mean it won't clog pores for everyone. Everyone loves to leave coconut oil on their face, but when I used it as a 'moisturiser', I received inflamed acne. I love using it as a makeup remover though. 
  • How comedogenic ratings are developed is questionable (and cruel). It is usually tested on rabbit ears, few on humans.
  • it's cheap- if your paying for a high end skincare item-and the first ingredient in mineral oil (more common than you think), then you've been conned
  • has no added benefits, it just creates a film on your skin. So do most plant oils.

Why you should not be using mineral oil-based skincare long-term
  • This study (Fluhr J, Lazzerini S et al. 1999) showed that prolonged occlusion (making a film) induces barrier damage, without skin dryness.
  • Here's a newer study from late 2011, which investigated the penetration behaviours of four vegetable oils and mineral oil. It found that all oils penetrated only into the first upper layers of the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of the epidermis). This was 30 minutes after application.
A lot of people use mineral oil as a daily moisturiser and rub it into their skin on the assumption that it just sits on top of the skin and does not penetrate. I can hazard a guess and say this is because of a claim made by the popular Beautypedia site. Which I am a fan of by the way. I just don't agree with everything they say. This is one of them. Here's an excerpt of the study I mentioned.

Why you should slather it all over your face
  • Your skin is bone dry while you are stranded on a deserted wasteland as the last human on Earth and the only resource available to you is mineral oil: a by-product of the petroleum industry.

Some scary/concerning facts
  • evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbon contamination in the body is the number one contaminat in the human body
  • And that it increases with age with cosmetics and skincare use is a source of this contamination (Concin et al., 2011)
  • The World Health Organization classifies mineral oils (untreated or lightly treated industrial-grade form) as Group 1 carcinogens to humans (WHO, 2011). This is different to refined cosmetic grade, but I still think it is something to consider. 
Plant oils like almond, avocado and soybean, penetrate into the top layers of skin because of their composition being similar to skin lipids, while cosmetic grade mineral oil is not metabolised as they are chemically inert and made up of hydrocarbon chains (Patzel et al. 2012). So, unlike vegetable oils, paraffin oils do not have a nutritional benefit to the skin.

Vegetable oils contain :
  • essential fatty acids
  • phytosterols
  • tocopherols
  • tryglycerides
  • flavonoids
  • vitamins and minerals.

I just fail to see how this a beneficial ingredient in skincare. The more that I read up on it the more annoyed I became. It's just used everywhere because it's dirt cheap. That's pretty much it. It actually made me angry how people were just citing articles about how amazing mineral oil was while not noticing who partnered up to write the studies. I'll give you a hint, a very popular baby oil, and a stretch mark oil. I'll send you the links if you ask me on twitter. Another thing, just because something is regulated doesn't mean it's good for you. It's completely legal to add beaver anal gland secretions into perfume too.
I will certainly be steering clear of it for my face, and I will definitely be looking into finding better body products.
This is just my opinion. I'd rather use vegetable oils, At the end of the day, it's up to you.

Hugs and love from Amali.

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Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2014;7(5):36-44.

DiNardo, J. (2005). Is mineral oil comedogenic?. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 4(1), pp.2-3.

Fluhr JW, Lazzerini S, Distante F, Gloor M, Berardesca E. Effects of prolonged occlusion on stratum corneum barrier function and water holding capacity. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 1999

Patzelt, A., Lademann, J., Richter, H., Darvin, M., Schanzer, S., Thiede, G., Sterry, W., Vergou, T. and Hauser, M. (2011). In vivo investigations on the penetration of various oils and their influence on the skin barrier. Skin Research and Technology, 18(3), pp.364-369.

Patzelt A., Lademann J., Richter H., Darvin M.E., Schanzer S., Thiede G., Sterry W., Vergou T., Hauser M. In vivo investigations on the penetration of various oils and their influence on the skin barrier. Skin Res. Technol. 2012;18:364–369

Concin, N., Hofstetter, G., Plattner, B., Tomovski, C., Fiselier, K., Gerritzen, K., Semsroth, S., Zeimet, A., Marth, C., Siegl, H., Rieger, K., Ulmer, H., Concin, H. and Grob, K. (2011). Evidence for Cosmetics as a Source of Mineral Oil Contamination in Women. Journal of Women's Health, 20(11), pp.1713-1719.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (17 June 2011). "Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1 - 102" (PDF). Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. pp. 3, 19. Retrieved 11 November 2011.


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