Is Mineral Oil Bad for Your Skin? 6 Amazing Uses

Ever come across the word mineral oil? Does reading the composition at the back of your product scare you? Or are you busy wondering what “No Mineral Oil” meant on the label of a product you saw earlier when you went shopping?

So if you’re freaked out by these marketing campaigns then I’ll be answering all your queries in this blog.

1. Is Mineral Oil Bad for Your Skin?

After going through the entire buzzword, I’m sure that the foremost question coming to your mind will be about the safety of mineral oil. As per the studies of US agencies, researchers have flagged mineral oil free from all allegations against its widespread use.

The UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) also gave a clean chit. Even many dermatologists across the globe agree with the fact that it is completely safe to be used on the skin.

2. What Does Mineral Oil Imply?

If explained simply, then it is a highly processed product obtained from petroleum. This process of refining and processing petroleum is called liquefied distillation1.

Well, this might be a surprise for you but the oils that you see every day are a branch of the oil family tree. So different oils are used for either cooking haircare or skin care. Depending upon the purpose the variety and the composition of oils changes.

So some oils can do wonders for your skin while some might cause irreparable damage to your skin. It is unique in the oil family because of the constant rumours and controversies that it indulges in.

Talking about its nature, it’s completely colourless and odourless when extracted. This property of mineral oil is contingent on the fact that no impurities like silicones and parabens are mixed during extraction.

Companies mention “Q.S” without specifying the percentage of mineral oil in the product. They use this tact to shield their product from the rumours in the market which can affect their sales.

3. Why is Mineral Oil Used so Widely?

This points out the benefits that mineral oil has to offer. Though it’s highly processed, by the time it reaches us via consumer products, it becomes a very stable and inert compound. This entails the probable reason for them being used so extensively.

Here are some other reasons as well: –

3.1 An Excellent Moisturizer

This undoubtedly is the most astonishing quality of mineral oil. It is an excellent moisturizer as it locks moisture in your skin by acting as a barrier between your skin and the environment. It acts as a seal that prevents the water from escaping your skin pores.

If you’ve dry or combination skin then it is the firefighter you were looking for. Because of these reasons, it’s used in body lotions and moisturizers.

You might have heard the term “Petroleum Jelly.” This is another name for mineral oil. People with sensitive skin need to take caution while buying moisturizers containing mineral oil because the commercial moisturizers we see around may contain some irritants.

This might backfire on you. Use your discretion while purchasing such products.

3.2 Makes Your Skin Soft and Smooth

This is another inherent quality of mineral oil i.e. it nourishes your skin. It’s easily absorbed by your skin. Moreover, it slips between the tiny cells of your skin leaving them nourished and hydrated. These properties make it an ideal choice for commercial use.

3.3 Helps in Healing Your Skin

Well, this might have become very obvious to you by then that it helps your skin to heal. This is possible because it tends to create barriers due to which it forms a protective area over the skin. Such a layer of protection cuts down the friction from external things, making wounds heal faster.

Recalling why your mom used to apply a cream every time you were hurt? I hope now you know it.

This protective layer enables it to guard your skin against sunburns and pollution. This is the sole reason products that help your skin heal from sunburns are mostly in cream format.

Not only this, the moisturizer you apply on your cheeks to prevent them from going dry due to the cold wind, enables your skin to recover because of the same reason.

You have been applying it on your cracked feet via various creams generally having a thicker consistency. Thickness is attributed to the intent of preventing contact with external things while moistening it so that the skin can heal itself.

3.4 Perfect for Rehydrating Your Nails

If you’re struggling with brittle nails then lack of proper moisture can be the reason behind it. As per various experts, applying mineral oil at the roots of the nailbed and applying it at the cuticles of your nails can relieve you from the trouble of chipped nails. This remedy is available at your disposal.

3.5 Reduces Chaffing

If you’re struggling with the redness and irritation in your skin caused by the constant rubbing of two body parts, then mineral oil can ease the itch. This problem is called chaffing.

It is the form of petroleum jelly that can reduce this problem because it tends to form a film over the skin, reducing the effect of constant rubbing. This is why it’s often used as an occlusive element in moisturizers and lubricants.

3.6 Applicable on Skin and Scalp

When flakiness irritates you, then you can opt for mineral oil. It will smoothen your scalp, making it easier for dandruff and flakes to be removed after shampooing.

You can allow it to rest on your scalp for an hour and then cleanse your hair properly, leaving no residue. Besides this, it will reduce the itchiness in your scalp2 by moisturizing it.

4. Versatility in Infant Care

It’s so surprising that mineral oil finds its utility even in the infant car sector. One of the major problems that kids face nowadays is diaper rash. Being unable to speak properly, kids either cry or become grumpier.

But applying it to their rashes will grease their skin thereby reducing the irritability of the rashes. Your kid will feel much better, at least by not being grumpier. It, thus, serves as an easily available home remedy. 

5. Concerns Associated With Using Mineral Oil

Besides all these outstanding benefits and being readily available over the counter, it has some side effects. These factors are responsible for dermatologists prescribing caution against their overuse. This is the exact point from where the myths begin to gain prominence.

5.1 A Big No For Acne-Prone Skin

“The pores get clogged” is a common narrative spread among the masses. To an extent, this holds because it forms a film over the skin’s pores, not allowing it to breathe. So if you have oily skin or acne-prone skin then this is the worst present that you will give to your skin. It will further aggravate your problem and some of it contains additives like paraffin which may cause reactions in some people.

So be sure to check the product labels in cases of pimples, acne, or blackheads.

5.2 Chances of Adulteration

The mineral oil available to you might not be in the purest form. Various compounds are added to it to further increase its shelf life. Applying generously on the skin in this situation is very risky. That’s why people go for herbal alternatives. This isn’t because it is unsafe. It’s because those products are superior apart from being expensive.

Moreover, mineral oils don’t contain any nutrients. So paying higher for other alternatives might sound reasonable to a few people who want nourishment along with other added benefits.

Especially when it comes to skincare, why should you satiate for a mineral oil-based product when there is N number of alternatives available to you as a consumer?

6. Myths Associated With the Use of Mineral Oil

  • Mineral oil is completely safe for use. Yet, if you cross over any of the myths mentioned below, then you must use your reasoning to completely denounce them.
  •  Mineral oil destroys the vitamins present in your skin is a popular misconception. Mineral oils themselves indeed have negligible nutrient content but they have no relation to robbing your skin of vitamins. Our body has Vitamin A, D, E, and K which are oil-soluble. People think that mineral oil will remove these from our skin but this is completely false.
  •   Mineral oil causes premature aging and this is quite popular among the younger generation. Well, there’s even a rumour that mineral oil dries up your skin. This should be discarded because being an occlusive agent, it is one of the best moisturizers that your skin can ever have.
  • It’s completely false that mineral oil affects the absorption of collagen in your moisturizer when applied. Collagen gives your skin and nails a tender look. It’s scientifically proven that mineral oil shares no background to this allegation.
  •  Mineral oil causes acne is another rumour that people fear. Unless you have oily skin or acne, blackheads, or pimple-prone skin, mineral oil should not be a matter of concern for you. Yet, you may have better alternatives for your skincare but mineral oil can’t be defamed for promoting acne.

7. Conclusion

Derived from petroleum might of course scare you but you can’t ignore the fact that mineral oil is an inexpensive and excellent moisturizer. Dermatologists recommend not using mineral oil too often especially when you have acne-prone or oily skin but they are completely safe for almost everyone.

Always check the ingredients before you buy any product as a safety measure for your skin. Identify your skin type and then consider a product. That should be your ideal choice.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to skincare. What works for one may not work for another.

So are you going to continue using mineral oil on your skin3? Comment below.

8. FAQs

Q1. What Are the Side Effects of Mineral Oil on Skin?

Most people who use this drug do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including unusual skin changes (whitening/softening/bumpy from excessive moisture), or signs of skin infection. Severe allergic reactions to this drug are rare.

Q2. Who Should Avoid Mineral Oil?

Again, if you only suffer from dry or sensitive skin, we recommend mineral oil as it helps keep your skin moisturized and protected from harsh elements. If you have acne or oily skin, you should avoid them altogether as they will only irritate your skin.

Q3. Is Johnson Baby Oil a Mineral Oil?

Johnson’s Baby Oil is a hypoallergenic, pure mineral oil to prevent moisture loss.

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  1. Wang, Peng, and Tai-Shung Chung. “A conceptual demonstration of freeze desalination–membrane distillation (FD–MD) hybrid desalination process utilizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) cold energy.” Water research 46.13 (2012): 4037-4052. ↩︎
  2. Bin Saif, Ghada A., Marna E. Ericson, and Gil Yosipovitch. “The itchy scalp–scratching for an explanation.” Experimental dermatology 20.12 (2011): 959-968. ↩︎
  3. Rawlings, A. V., and K. J. Lombard. “A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil.” International journal of cosmetic science 34.6 (2012): 511-518. ↩︎

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Rishi Jain

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