Disputing Mineral Oil - Wholesale Supplies Plus

Disputing Mineral Oil

Over the past decade or so, mineral oil has seen its share of debate in the beauty and skincare arena. This article examines the pros and cons of mineral oil so you can decide for yourself whether or not to use mineral oil in the formulations you develop for you and your customers.

First things first, what is mineral oil?  Mineral oil, sometimes called liquid paraffin, is an odorless and colorless oil derived from petroleum distillation process. It is insoluble in water and is considered a lightweight oil, with a specific gravity of 0.9, making it lighter than water.  Mineral oil is considered biodegradable.

Mineral oil used in the beauty industry has been refined for impurities so it is approved for use specifically for cosmetics.  It is also approved by the FDA for food and drugs. Now that you know what mineral oil is, it’s time to learn both sides of the debate.
Those that use mineral oil do so because it brings many beneficial properties to formulations. Mineral oil is a skin protectant which, according to CosmeticsInfo.org, is “An ingredient that temporarily protects injured or exposed skin from harmful or annoying stimuli, and that may provide relief to such skin.” This protectant also acts as a barrier on the skin, keeping water and moisture locked into the skin while leaving it with a silky, smooth after touch. Finally, the oil is an emollient meaning it has easy spread-ability and glides smoothly across the skin. These elements make mineral oil an attractive ingredient to lotion, scrub, massage oil and lip balms makers.

Those against the use of mineral oil in cosmetic formulations tend to be formulators with an aversion to paraffin related ingredients.  Paraffin is a byproduct of manufacturing petroleum and because of its origin, it’s sometimes thought to be carcinogenic. The World Health Organization classifies unrefined mineral oil as a class one carcinogen, while refined mineral oil is a class three, which is thought to be harmless. Cosmetic formulations use class three. Since mineral oil acts as a barrier on the skin it is thought to be comedegenic (pore clogging). This barrier is viewed as negative because good ingredients cannot penetrate the skin and bad things, such as dirt, can be trapped in the pores.   Critics argue that there are many substitutes to mineral oil such as coconut oil, vitamin E and olive oil.

Whichever side you choose to be on is up to you. Both sides have valid points, it’s just a matter of preference. Despite the debate, mineral oil is one of the most popular ingredients in the cosmetic industry. Here are some of the most common ways you will see it used in retail products and around the house:

Make Up Remover - Mineral oil is used to remove eye makeup because it is a non-irritable oil that has a silky glide across the skin. Use a little mineral oil on cotton ball or a towel and wipe eyes clean of dark, hard to remove makeup.

Baby Oil - Mineral oil can be used as baby oil to fight diaper rash/reduce friction and keep babies’ skin soft, due to its high emollient properties.

Winter Lotions - Mineral oil is a great additive in winter lotions, body butter, creams and other cosmetics intended to protect the skin and lock in moisturize.

Lip Balm & Lip Gloss - Mineral oil can be added to lip balm and gloss to add a smooth glide when lips rub together.

Jewelry Polish - Mineral oil is a great way to clean and polish jewelry and stainless steel. Simply use a cloth or paper towel with a little bit of mineral oil to wipe away dirt and polish.

Label Remover - Another use for this oil is to remove stickers/labels from non-porous. Mineral oil can loosen up adhesive bonds making it easier to remove a sticker completely without residue.

Detangler - Some people even use mineral oil to untangle necklaces. Dip tangled necklace in mineral oil and use a pin to untangle. The mineral oil should loosen up the knots and allow for easier manipulation.


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