Mineral Oil Myths Explained: Cancer, Safety, and Skincare Benefits

Monday, August 12, 2019

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It's been awhile as life has gotten busy! But I'm back with more skincare geekery - this time on mineral oil! I've wanted to write this post for awhile, because over my years being an amateur skincare nerd, I've noticed lots of fearmongering with respect to mineral oil. Some people believe that 1) mineral oil is bad for you because it prevents your skin from breathing, 2) mineral oil causes cancer, or that 3) you shouldn't use it because it is derived from petrochemicals. I'll be taking a look at these three myths in this post!


First though, a little bit of a primer into mineral oil itself.

What is mineral oil?
Mineral oil is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons (i.e. molecules comprised only of carbon and hydrogen atoms) obtained from petroleum, and consists of saturated hydrocarbons having carbon numbers predominantly in the range of C15 through C50. As seen in the bottles of baby oil, it is easily recognizable as an oily transparent liquid. It's manufactured by the distillation of petroleum, and then followed by refining of residual fractions to meet the standards for cosmetic grade mineral oil.

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