Before we delve into the controversy revolving around mineral oils let’s first understand what these oils are. Simply put, mineral oils are petroleum products that have been taken through a rigorous refinement process that allows them to be introduced into the bodies of human beings. The oils are not only found in personal care products but they are also used in laxatives and in some foods. It is also worth noting that the term ‘mineral oil’ is often synonymous with ‘liquid petroleum’, ‘white oil’, ‘liquid paraffin’, ‘paraffinum liquidum’ and ‘paraffinum perliquidum’.
What is it about mineral oil that has made it such a hot topic?
Well, for the longest time most of us used petroleum jelly and other products that contain mineral oils without a care in the world. This was mainly due the fact that the composition of these oils was not in the public domain so we could comfortably say that “what we don’t know can’t hurt us.”
Today, with a bit of internet research you can easily find out the chemical properties of many common hydro-carbons that are contained in your favorite cream. However, with this information comes a queasy feeling in your stomach: should you really be applying a by-product of crude oil on your skin, especially if you have Eczema like myself?
So is Mineral Oils Safe, Especially for our Skin?
This is actually a question that has continues to keep researchers up all night. Study after study has been conducted to either declare mineral oil safe for humans or all together ban it from our shelves. Unfortunately, not even the most esteemed regulatory bodies have been able to conclusively clear the controversy.
Consequently, there is a lot of confusion in the dermatological field where one group of experts says that the oils are safe while the other advices you to steer clear of them. Amid all the conflicting opinions, your best defense is to get your facts right. In this light,
Here are three main things you need to know about mineral oils:
- There are different grades of mineral oils ranging from the least refined form that is used as a lubricant to the cosmetic grade type that has been extensively refined. Furthermore, many hydro-carbons have not been fully analysed hence for some of them their chemical composition remains a mystery. It is these unknowns that pose a threat to the consumer because as you purchase your jar of petroleum jelly you have no way of knowing whether the hydro-carbons used to manufacture it are the purest. Furthermore, you also don’t know everything there is to know about the type of chemical reactions they could have with your skin.
- Mineral oils coat the skin and keep moisture from escaping. However, they may also trap dirt resulting in breakouts thus you must clean your skin before you apply any mineral oil.
- As far as babies go, there are still no conclusive studies about the damage that may be caused by mineral oils. Sadly, you may need to follow your gut on this one.