Vitamins and minerals are important building blocks of health and beauty, so you'd think any product with the word “Mineral” in the title must be good for you, right? Not so fast. This week, I'd like to highlight Mineral Oil in my Ingredient Watch List; where and why it is frequently used and what kinds of issues it can cause.
Why Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is an incredibly inexpensive humectant– an ingredient added to beauty products in order to promote moisture retention. Often, you'll see it added to shampoos, conditioners and lotions, as well as multiple types of makeup products like concealers, foundations, even powders and eyeshadows. While it may seem like a good thing to promote moisture absorption, mineral oil actually can do far more harm than good.
Mineral Oil is created as a byproduct when gasoline is made from crude oil. This leftover liquid is clear, odorless, never spoils and easily available. One of the most interesting facts about mineral oil is that it costs more to dispose of it properly than it does to purchase it- with that in mind, it's no wonder many cosmetics companies use it as their ingredient when adding moisturizing properties.
The Drawbacks of Mineral Oil
While mineral oil is used in order to promote the moisture retention of skin as well as add moisture in itself, it actually isn't quite as beneficial as people have ben led to believe. It is very difficult for skin to absorb mineral oil, due to its synthetic nature. Additionally, it causes clogged pores, so for those already struggling with acne or “problem skin,” it can make things much worse. Possibly the most surprising fact about mineral oil is that using it can prevent your skin from naturally creating its own moisture- so while you're using lotions and creams in order to help your dry skin, if they include mineral oil, you're actually doing far more long-term damage than you are good. Many who have quit using moisturizing products containing mineral oil have reported a reoccurrence of dry skin and hair, further evidence of how it inhibits our bodies from making their own moisture.
Where You'll See Mineral Oil (And How You Can Avoid It)
Like I mentioned before, Mineral Oil is used in many beauty products that people use daily. Most shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial creams, and makeup items include Mineral Oil in their list of ingredients. Additionally, many baby-care products (lotion, baby oil, even shampoo) include it as well- not necessarily something most mothers would want to put on their baby's skin. It can be pretty easy to avoid using products that include mineral oil- simply look for an important phrase- non-comedogenic or non-comedogenic oil– on the labels of the products you buy! Noncomedogenic means that a product doesn't include mineral oil, and while there are certainly other important factors to keep in mind when choosing the things you'll put on your skin, using items that are free of mineral oil is a step in the right direction for a healthy, beautiful you.
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