It is said that the Rockefellers were the first to introduce the use of mineral oil in the skin care industry. They were so successful in doing so that today, mineral oil is even used in food and medicine. For many years, mineral oil has been marketed as a safe oil and it is even used in baby products. Yet mineral oil should never be used on babies, let alone adults.
How is mineral oil made?
Mineral oil is the by-product of the petroleum industry. It is what remains after the distillation of crude oil to produce gasoline. The other names of mineral oil shed light on its origins—liquid petroleum and liquid paraffin. Petroleum jelly is a close cousin.
Because the world has not yet tapped alternative sources of energy and still relies heavily on fossil oils, the massive petroleum industry naturally churns out massive volumes of mineral oil. Based on the law of supply and demand, the cost of mineral oil is understandably low so that skin product manufacturers prefer to use it over more expensive essential oils. The price of mineral oil is said to be so ridiculously low that it is even more expensive to dispose of it than to purchase it.
Mineral oil is commonly used in skin care products as an emollient or moisturizer. Baby oil is, in fact, mineral oil. Many lotions, facial moisturizers, lipsticks, shampoos and conditioners add in mineral oil.
What are the harmful effects of mineral oil?
• Mineral oil is comedogenic. That is, it coats the skin in such a way that pores are blocked, preventing toxins and sweat from escaping.
• Mineral oil is foreign to the human body (as is gasoline and petroleum) and thus is not metabolized or broken down the way food oils are broken down. As such, this oil poses threats of causing organ damage, particularly liver damage.
• Mineral oil can seep into the lungs to cause lipid pneumonia.
• Mineral oil, when taken internally in the form of laxatives, interferes with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals in the intestines.
• Mineral oil can cause hives, itching, rashes and other allergic reactions for the simple reason that it is foreign.
But isn’t cosmetic mineral oil refined?
Yes, mineral oil is refined, just like gasoline is refined. Yet it is still better to go for plant-based oils or food-grade oils instead of this synthetic oil.
What are the safer, more natural and healthier alternatives to mineral oil?
The plant kingdom offers mineral oil substitutes which are safe, healthy and more effective. These plant-based or plant-derived oils are food-grade—that is, safe enough to eat and therefore safe enough to apply on the skin. In addition, they offer nourishment and provide antioxidant protection to the skin. The next time you’re shopping for your skin care products, scrap the mineral oil-containing products and look for those which contain the following natural plant oils:
• olive oil
• coconut oil
• jojoba oil
• almond oil
• avocado oil
• grapeseed oil
• wheat germ oil
• sunflower seed oil
• rosehip seed oil
• apricot kernel oil
• castor oil
• flaxseed oil
• chamomile oil
• primrose oil
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