It seems like people today are freaking out when they see the word “mineral oil” associated with skincare products. Many moisturizers are marketed as “mineral oil-free,” giving people the impression that mineral oil is not good for the skin. The issue many seasoned skincare aficionados have about this ingredient is it’s derived from petroleum, which raises serious red flags for many, and it’s known for clogging pores. But should it be avoided entirely? Here’s what you should know about mineral oil:
What is Mineral Oil?
It’s a clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum, and is widely used in cosmetics. Despite its association with petroleum, mineral oil used in skincare products are highly refined and purified, so it won’t contain the contaminants that unrefined petroleum has been known for. It’s made from natural ingredients derived from the earth.
Cosmetic-grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered as the safest, most non-sensitizing moisturizing ingredients ever found. It’s known to be effective in replenishing the skin and is also considered among the most established, safe, non-sensitizing moisturizing ingredients available.
Benefits of Mineral Oil
While mineral oil doesn’t offer antioxidant or anti-aging benefits for the skin, it’s a reliable moisturizing ingredient. It seals moisture in the skin as it creates a barrier between your skin and the outside world. It’s shown in studies to reduce water loss through the skin, as mineral oil protects the skin from elements like wind and pollution.
Mineral oil can also help smooth and soften skin. After applying, it leaves the skin feeling softer since it can slip into the cracks between cells to create a smoother texture. Since it smoothens the skin, the mineral oil itself makes the moisturizer glide across the skin more easily.
Side Effects of Mineral Oil
Cosmetic-grade mineral oil has a low likelihood of causing skin irritations, which is why it’s often recommended for sensitive skin types. Mineral oil in itself is non-comedogenic, which means it’s not pore-clogging, so using it alone won’t leave your pores clogged with added gunk. However, since it tends to form a protective layer on the ski, it can trap some ingredients onto the top layer of the epidermis, which can lead to clogged pores. Most dermatologists will agree that if you are acne-prone, or if you develop blackheads or whiteheads after using products with mineral oil, it’s best to discontinue using the ingredient. Acne-prone skin has pores that are already prone to clogging, and the barrier that mineral oil can make on the skin may exacerbate acne.
With that said, the general consensus about mineral oil is that it’s better left for dry skin types that are not prone to acne. It’s better for dry skin because it creates a protective barrier for hydration, and it effectively locks in moisture.
How to Use Mineral Oil Moisturizer
Apply mineral oil moisturizer a few minutes after showering, so that the skin is still slightly damp, and the mineral oil can help lock in some of that moisture into the skin. If you use other moisturizers like hyaluronic acid or those containing antioxidants, make sure that the mineral oil product is the final step to seal all of that in.
Great Moisturizers with Mineral Oil
This body oil is a multitasker. It’s great for dry skin, scars, stretch marks, and more. Along with mineral oil, it also contains plant-based oils for smoothening and softening skin. Bio-Oil absorbs fast, especially if you do a little massage. It helps lock-in moisture without clogging the pores, and it’s not greasy for an oil.
This ointment is perfect for eczema and dermatitis sufferers and people who have dry, chafed, and cracked skin. It comes with a silky, lightweight formula that contains hyaluronic acid for additional moisture. The mineral oil adds extra protection; this is why it’s great to use from minor cuts to dry cuticles, to rough skin patches. It’s also lanolin-free to prevent skin irritation.
This lotion from Nivea is based on a combination of mineral and almond oils plus glycerin. It’s formulated for dry to very dry skin. It can nourish and moisturize skin with visible results after a single application.
This Vaseline lotion contains both mineral oil and petroleum jelly, yet it’s fast-absorbing and non-greasy. If you feel that straight-up Vaseline can be too goopy, this one has a more lightweight feel. It contains pure aloe extract, which is known for calming and soothing skin. This lotion is ideal for applying for those days when you’ve got a little too much sun.
A cult-classic French pharmacy brand, Bioderma produces a lot of amazing products, and that includes this cream. It’s a choice for dry and itchy skin, as it combines mineral oil and hydrating glycerin. It has nourishing ingredients that soften and moisturizes from its very first application.