Mineral oil, once a common ingredient in beauty products has been increasingly implicated a being a toxin in the past few years, and yet many manufacturers continue to use it…
Why is mineral oil used in cosmetics?
Even though Mineral Oil recently came under fire in the news, many big companies still haven’t discontinued mineral oil in their formula completely. This is because Mineral Oil in cosmetics is not only very inexpensive, it also delivers some crazy moisture locking effects that makes the final product water repellent, possess protective qualities, and above all have excellent compatibility for all skin types.
So…What’s the problem?
They are potent carcinogens
According to a research by the National Toxicology Program, minimally processed mineral oils are known carcinogens with sufficient scientific/empirical evidence showing increased risk of cancers in human beings.
Popular brands like Nivea use highly purified mineral oils which they claim are not linked to cancer. The jury is out on this one, so if you can’t completely give up on your favorite brand, you should at least look for highest quality grades of mineral oil like the ‘pharmacological grade’ or the ‘Mineral Oil USP’ in the final product ingredient list.
However, researchers say there are plenty of reasons for concern even with these higher grades of mineral oil, as the hydrocarbons in mineral oils are one of the greatest contaminants in human beings. Hydrocarbon pollution bombards most of us via the air we breathe, the food we eat, and in the case of mineral oil, via skin barrier penetration.
They can clog pores
Mineral oils are comedogenic or occlusive, that is they can cause pores to clog and give rise to frequent breakouts or acne, whiteheads and blackheads. Since mineral oils act as a skin barrier, they also intensify the chances of acne, by providing an optimum environment for bacterial growth.
Lacking in Skin Nourishment
Unlike natural products, mineral oils don’t provide any benefit for your skin. As far as moisture locking effect, there are much better ingredients and organic products like Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and Argan Oil.. all of which are loaded with vital skin nutrients, essential fatty acids and antioxidants rich factors.
So, How Does it affects us?
Contamination with Mineral Oils is largely linked to two elements – Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons (MOSH) and Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH). Both these cannot be metabolized by our body and once internalized, remain forever (much like pesticides!).
MOAH is suspected to work as a mutagen, carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor (that is, it interferes with normal functioning of your hormones and cellular function). On the other hand, MOSH accumulates in the body tissues, and can cause various physical dysfunctions. Petroleum based products are classified as Xenoestrogens and can cause estrogen balance problems, particularly in women. Poor quality mineral oils consist up to 83% MOSH and 43% MOAH content!
Different factors like storage, temperature, packaging, composition and the cosmetic product architecture play crucial roles in determining the level of toxicity of mineral oils. While mineral oil is not likely to cause immediate reactions or problems, it can be thought of as a slow, cumulative poison.
Now that you know this, ask yourself if shifting to safer, healthier, more nutrient rich ingredient formulas with anti-aging, anti-oxidant benefits is not in your long term best interest? Maybe that giant ‘Economy Sized’ lotion from the drugstore is not such a great bargain after all!