This is something that has come out of nowhere. Is mineral oil actually something you should stay away from?
“Mineral” and “Oil”
A couple of the highest trending terms in beauty right now are “mineral” and “oil”. For “mineral” you want to think of the sort of flawless coverage mineral makeup. Or even of mineral thermal water. “Oil” on the other hand makes you think of face oil or hair oil or even body oil. So does that mean that “mineral oil” is a beauty slam dunk? Well, not really. Although many classic skin care products feature mineral oil for its hydration benefits, however there are also many beauty authorities who say to avoid this ingredient altogether. They put it in the same category of “bad” additives like parabens, PABA, artificial fragrances, colors and phtalates. All of these are things we have been told over and over that we are supposed to avoid. So what is it? Is mineral oil a friend or a foe? Is it a classic skin care “must have” or an “avoid at all costs”?
What is Mineral Oil exactly?
Well to answer this we should first look at what mineral oil is exactly. It belongs to a class of chemicals that are called hydrocarbons. These are compounds that contain only hydrogen and carbon. Typically, hydrocarbons consist of petrolatum, paraffin and mineral oil. All of these are widely use emollients. This is due to their low volatility and ability to smooth the skin when applied. So this is why mineral oil is so widely used in skin care applications. You see it in the bargain bin in drugstores and also in the highest end products in Sephora. Mineral oil locks in moisture which helps heal dry and irritated skin. It makes products feel so smooth and luxurious. However, because of that barrier effect that it has on the skin, it can also severely clog pores. Especially creams which blend mineral oil and paraffin. These can damage the skin by increasing water loss.
Sonya Dakar says “stay away” from Mineral Oil
For these reasons, Sonya Dakar says to stay away from mineral oil. Dakar is a celebrity esthetician. Her office is in Beverly Hills and her client list includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lawrence among many other A-listers. Maybe you haven’t heard of her but she is a big name in the Hollywood skin care scene. Dakar is adamant that mineral oil is petroleum based and doesn’t absorb at all in to the skin. For this reason it simply has a molecular size too big to be beneficial as a skin care additive or product. It remains on the surface of the skin, thus becoming a sun reflector. This can lead to intense solar damage and pigmentation. Now there are several different types of oils that are able to moisturize without clogging the pores. But mineral oil is not one of them. Another celebrity esthetician named Renée Roulea does not recommend mineral oil either as a skin care product. She says that it clogs the pores and essentially suffocates the skin. Skin care product companies regularly formulate moisturizers with mineral oil and petroleum in order to replenish dry skin. But these oils are simply too heavy and because of that they never really penetrate the skin. They have large molecular structures and never absorb in to the skin, they just sit on the surface which is not useful and ends up clogging pores and doing more harm than good.
Try flaxseed oil instead
Roleau suggests a test to see if your skin care products are too heavy for your skin. All you need to do is wait a few minutes after moisturizing and then lightly touch your skin with your clean finger. If you feel a heavy moisturizer still on the skin then it is clearly not absorbing. If that is the case then it is simply too rich for your skin. Your skin should act like a porous sponge. It is designed to absorb what it needs and the rest will not penetrate. This has the effect of suffocating the skin and causing those clogged pores that you desperately want to avoid. Clogged pores leads to dull and tired looking skin. Use a mineral free facial oil says Dakar. Flaxseed oil is a good option because it absorbs in to the skin while providing many benefits. It is proven to reduce skin irritation and inflammation. Flaxseed oil will also hydrate the skin and balance the skin’s natural oil production.
But don’t be alarmed
If you see mineral oil on your favorite product’s ingredient panel, don’t be alarmed. It may not be completely necessary to drop that line of products. Although mineral oil has a bad reputation for being greasy, it is useful for cutting through makeup, particularly around the eyes. Often you can just use a cleanser to remove the filmy residue left behind from the mineral oil.