Nasty chemical of the month: Mineral oil
Mineral oil is an ingredient that’s derived from crude oil and has gone through different levels of processing and refining depending on its end use.
The name ‘Mineral oil’ is used quite broadly to cover a wide spectrum of oils from the highly refined ones used in cosmetics and baby products to the less refined ones used in the motor industry as engine oils, transmission fluids and gear oils. These unrefined oils can include something called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) and are classified as carcinogenic to Humans by the IARC
Even though the mineral oil used in cosmetics and baby products is not as dangerous as unrefined mineral oil, it does still come from carcinogenic crude oil, a non-renewable resource that also contributes to considerable environmental harm. There’s also a concern that mineral oil can be a ‘comedogenic’ meaning that it clogs pores and causes pimples and other skin problems.
So what are the healthier alternatives?
Many alternatives can be used to improve the conditioning and moisturising ability of a product besides mineral oil. At ecostore we use natural oils including almond oil, jojoba and coconut as well as Shea butter in our moisturisers. Our hair conditioners contain an ingredient called behentrimonium methosulphate, which is a conditioning agent derived from rapeseed oil and our baby balm contains olive and sesame oils.
How do I reduce my exposure to Mineral Oil?
Read product labels and look for ‘mineral oil’, paraffin or ‘petrolatum’ in the ingredients list.
Some products that contain mineral oil include:
St Ives Body Lotion
Vaseline hand and body moisturisers
Johnsons baby moisturiser and Desitin Nappy Balm
Mineral oils are derived from non-renewable resources. The petrochemical industry impacts our air, water and soil, and consequently all living beings on our planet. Pollution is a byproduct of all stages of oil and gas production, from exploration to refining. Wastewaters, gas emissions, solid waste and aerosols are generated during drilling, production, refining and transportation. This is not even taking into account the detrimental impacts that oil spills have on whole ecosystems, and the social impacts of the petrochemical industry.
Mineral Oils, Untreated or mildly treated IARC
The scope of Mineral Oil in personal care products and its role in cosmetic formulation
Petroleum Engineering – Downstream - Environmental Impacts Of The Oil Industry