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Natural: Common Natural Substances Not Suited for Skincare (July 24, 2009)

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum, or crude oil, to produce gasoline and other products. It is a transparent, colorless oil composed mainly of alkanes and cyclic paraffins. It is related to petroleum jelly (also known as "white petrolatum"). Mineral oil is available in light and heavy grades.

By my definition of natural, mineral oil is natural. Distillation is a process that separates mixtures based on differences in their volatilities. It is not a chemical reaction.

Mineral oil is absorbed by skin very poorly, it inhibits the skin's own moisture-producing capacity (thereby producing dry skin), tends to clog pores, and is phototoxic and allergenic. As mineral oil is absorbed, it removes the oil-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) from the skin; these vitamins are eventually excreted in the feces. Mineral oil in a collagen cream product greatly inhibits the absorption of the collagen.

Mineral oil with added fragrance is marketed as baby oil in the US, UK, and Canada. It is commonly used to relieve diaper rash (but I wonder at its effectiveness). In the 1960s it was commonly used on Southern California beaches to promote sun tans.

I found it to be a major cause of acne. When I used hand cream containing mineral oil, I had endless trouble with pimples and blackheads on my jawline where I tended to rest my head in my hand. Discontinuing the use of such hand creams immediately stopped the acne.

I conclude it has no redeeming value in skincare.