Why is mineral oil getting such a bad rap?
We could also be asking ourselves why does “sugar” in our diet get a bad rap. The problem is that mineral oil has been over-used and abused in the cosmetic industry just like sugar in the food industry. Mineral oil is cheap, fragrance free and colorless, doesn't oxidize and can easily be kept for a long time. In fact, it’s a great preservative. You will find mineral oil in everything ranging from baby products through to high-end face creams. Don’t believe me? Look at your ingredients and it could be going under the following disguise: liquid petroleum, paraffinum liquidum, liquid paraffin, petrolatum liquid, paraffin oil, petroleum oil, white oil and white mineral oil or petrolatum.
So where does mineral oil used in cosmetic products come from? It is derived from petroleum (fossil fuel). Petroleum is made from the residue of plant and animal life (plankton and algae), that have been exposed to extremely high pressure and temperature deep within the Earth's crust. When crude oil is taken out of the ground, it first needs to be purified and refined before it can be used. The mineral oil used in skin care products is extensively refined and purified so that it hardly resembles the original source.
Mineral oil is not toxic. When you apply products with mineral oil, it stays on the surface of your skin and forms a layer of insulation: nothing can go in and nothing can come out. It is therefore an excellent short-term fix for dry skin because it almost stops moisture from escaping from your skin. Your skin therefore appears to have recovered quickly but will not get the added benefits that products without mineral oils offers such as anti-oxidants, soothing ingredients and nutrition to boast collagen production. Why miss out on all these unique and restorative ingredients that are often as affordable as products with mineral oil?
Another disadvantage to mineral oil due to the “insulation” it gives your skin is that your skin will look good initially (because the dryness and lines are smoothed out), but in the long run, the cells and their processes in elimination and producing moisture will become lazy and will work somewhat less efficiently. This will start a vicious circle in which your skin will not be able to protect itself, will then dry out even faster and then you need to keep applying more cream and so on.
Always check what perfume / fragrance has been added to the mineral oil product. It is often synthetic. Another unwanted ingredient usually associated with mineral oil is colorants. The most obvious is orange or yellow.
So mineral oil is not all bad. But there are just so many better choices available. Just like sugar.