The Mineral Oil Debate

Awe, the wonderful world of what should and should not be in our personal care items. The never ending debate of what is and is not safe/good/effective for our skin. Everywhere you turn there is a new blog, article, video, or what have you, regarding the latest in safety standards.

In all honestly, it gets overwhelming. It bothers me greatly that the FDA laws in the US doesn’t have much of a say when it comes to what is used in our cosmetics.

“The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market, but there are laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics on the market in interstate commerce.” FDA

Yet, there are more restrictive laws when it comes to our personal care products. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but as long as everything is labeled fairly under the, Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, any ingredient is fair game. Unless PROVEN to be dangerous. Ugh, makes you stop and think what the hell it is you have been putting on your body for all these years.

I plan on going over cosmetic ingredients in a future post but I wanted to discuss something else today, and that is the mineral oil debate. Mineral is one of the most common ingredients used in skincare today, actually it is the number one ingredient in America. Fact is, there are no law or regulations against it. There are numerous debates on whether or not it bad or safe, however.

So lets have a discussion. An honest one, please.

Why Mineral Oil is said to be UNSAFE 

  • Mineral oil is:Also called “liquid petroleum,” “paraffin oil,” and “white mineral oil.” It is an inexpensive byproduct of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. While impuri­ties in untreated or lightly treated mineral oil (used in transmission fluid and gear oils, for instance) are carcinogenic (cancer causing), these are removed when mineral oil is further refined for use in skin care products and for sale in drugstores.
  • The mineral oil molecule is occlusive which means it cannot penetrate the skin because its molecules are larger than our pores. Which then translates to clogged pores, supposedly. There is much debate on this one subject alone.
  • Products with mineral oil sit on the surface of the skin and actually inhibit the skin’s ability to absorb oxygen and release toxins – so nothing good can come in and nothing bad can come out.  
  • It inhibits the product from being absorbed into the deep layers of the skin, so you can easily wash away that mineral oil leaving your skin feeling ultra-dry.


Yikes! Well now that we have covered the big, bad, and scary… let’s flip the the coin, shall we?

Mineral Oil Facts Vs. Myth:

  • Is it true that mineral oil is bad for your skin?
    • Not at all. Like petroleum jelly, min­eral oil is an effective emollient (having the quality to soften or sooth the skin), which forms an oily layer on the skin that traps water.
    •  A 2012 article on diaper rash in U.S. Pharmacist noted that mineral oil is “a safe and effective emollient protectant for diaper rash.” But it suggested that the oil shouldn’t be allowed to build up on the skin without cleaning it off and reapplying (reasonable advice for most things you put on your skin) to prevent skin irritation. 
  • What about the common belief that mineral oil clogs pores and thus leads to acne and blackheads?
    • It’s a myth. Mineral oil is “noncomedogenic,” meaning it doesn’t clog pores, and it has low allergic potential.
    • Mineral oil is one of those ingredients that sits on top of your skin and the molecules are too big to be absorbed into it.
      • “It produces an occlusive layer, preventing water loss, which keeps skin hydrated and protects it against irritation from outside sources,” – Dr. Mraz Robinson. “But, too much occlusion can be a bad thing, leading to clogging and acne.”  “Cosmetic-grade mineral oil should be highly refined, and as such, not likely to cause clogging and acne. It’s all about the grade, purity and level of refinement of the mineral oil.
  • How are we exposed to mineral oil and is it bad?
    • Inhalation, ingestion, and through skin contact. “The general population
    • According to one recent study, mineral oil is preferable for many different skin types, including a baby’s sensitive skin. Mineral oil is noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores. (See above statement.) It has a long record of safe use and is unlikely to spoil, even in hot, humid climates. Mineral oil is an inert, chemically stable ingredient, with a long history of safe use in common topical applications. FDA permits the use of mineral oil as an active ingredient in some over-the-counter (OTC) drug product categories, including anorectal drugs, skin protectants and ophthalmic moisturizers. ~Chemical Safety Facts 
  • Does mineral oil cause cancer?
    • Mineral oils and waxes as used in cosmetic products do not present a risk to human health under normal use conditions. It is also important to note that the type of highly refined, purified mineral oil used in cosmetics and personal care products is not the same as the “crude” or unrefined  forms of mineral oil used in automotive, railroad and aviation industry applications. ~Chemical Safety Facts
    • “An analysis of a series of 344 cases of scrotal cancer occurring from 1936 to 1976 in the West Midlands region of England reported that 62% of the men had been exposed to mineral oils. Epidemiological studies in metal workers have reported excesses of gastrointestinal, sinonasal, and bladder cancer, in addition to skin and scrotal cancer. Some but not all studies of workers in the printing industry have reported significantly increased incidences of death from cancer of the lung, rectum, buccal cavity, and pharynx. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that there was sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of untreated and mildly treated mineral oils in humans (IARC 1984, 1987).” ~Government PDF

Wow! That was a lot of information. So many people say so many different things it really boils down to what YOU believe and what YOU want to be exposed it. For the most part I read that mineral oil is a crude oil often used in the automotive world. Which scares me a bit, personally, because I don’t want the same oils that used in a car shop on my skin or on my child’s skin. Yes, I understand that it also says that is way more refined when used in cosmetics but geez, what does that really mean? Isn’t it all the same ingredient but flittered differently?

Do I believe that it is going to clog my pores? No. There is so much evidence against that myth that it is hard for me to believe it. However, it does suggest that if you use a baby oil or a lotion with mineral oil in it that you wash it off. Why? Because it will not absorb into your skin completely. That alone speaks volumes. It also says that too much occlusion can be a bad thing. Ok, so for me, I don’t want to over expose myself and use products with mineral oil in it daily, or multiple times in one day. THAT WOULD BE WAY TOO MUCH! Picture how many times you throw on a hand lotion during the day that contains mineral oil? Or if  the soap you used in the public bathroom had mineral oil…see where I am going with this? It is very easy to have way too much exposure to products containing mineral oil.

Have you every noticed what when you use diaper rash cream or certain lotions that your hands feel greasy afterward? Plus the product feels impossible to wash off? That is because of the mineral oil.

I never really noticed the difference until I started using Arbonne’s mineral oil free lotions, and man, WHAT A DIFFERENCE. A diaper rash cream that doesn’t get everywhere and isn’t hard to wash off my hands? A lotion that doesn’t feel oily? WOW.

Now, let me be clear about something. I am not a fan of mineral oil in my lotions, creams,  baby washes, etc. but I do use a lipstick that has mineral oil as one of the ingredients. Yes I have just admitted that publicly, shame me if you must.

For those of you that have been reading my blog you know that I am an Arbonne Consultant so admitting this doesn’t do me any favors. In fact it will possibly hurt my brand as Arbonne stands firmly against using mineral oils in there products.

My sponsor worded this perfectly, so allow me to quote her, “I think while the safety is debatable, Arbonne has chosen to not allow it because it is not from a renewable resource. Arbonne’s products are formulated to protect the environment, people, and so on. So basically Arbonne is going above and beyond safety and putting people and the plant first. This is what makes Arbonne different.” (Karolyn Potts)


Like I said, admitting to the fact that I use a lipstick that has mineral oil in it hurts my brand, but I am not and will never be a lair. I told myself when I started doing Arbonne that I would always been upfront and honest. I am after all human. I could of course, use my lipstick with mineral oil privately and be hush hush about it, but to me that’s fraud. I understand completely that Arbonne is my business, it is my brand, they do pay me to talk about their products, but what if I am wearing another brands lipstick and someone asks me what shade it is? Do I lie? No. Then again if I tell the truth doesn’t that hurt me as an Arbonne representative? Would you want to buy product from someone if on the rare occasion they didn’t use a product from that company and the product they were using had an ingredient that the company she worked for stood against? I honestly do not know.

I love that Arbonne is a mineral oil free company among so many other things, you will be hard pressed to find companies that are, especially in addition to being all the other things thats Arbonne is.

Arbonne’s skincare, lotions,  and anti-aging cosmetics, all feel so amazing and grease free that it is hard not to fall in love with the product line. You are using products that are good for you and for the environment and that alone is amazing! But is Arbonne the only product I will ever use? No. Is it the company I will use 99% precent of the time? Yes.

On the rare random occasion will I use a product that contains mineral oil in it? Yes. However that product does have to met my standards. Any product that I use has to be paraben free, vegan, cruelty-free, soy free, and chemical free. Those are my standards. For the most part I choose to use products that are also mineral oil free.

For example, I do not use mineral oil lotions, shampoos, creams, and the like but my makeup on occasion does contain mineral oil. I know I risk a lot admitting that but I am nothing if I am not honest. Like I said before 99% of my personal care products are Arbonne but I have a few things that I use from time to time that are not Arbonne.

My personal belief is that mineral oil should not be used primarily or regularly but can be used sparingly in certain products.

Am I making sense here?

What do you belief? What are your personal standards? How high do you set the bar?

My sponsor, Karolyn, who I mentioned above, lives a very pure life. She is an admirable person. She is is the embodiment of Arbonne, of clean living, safe living, pure living. She does a great segment on her facebook page (which I linked above) every Wednesday called, Swap it Out Wednesday. Teaching us all how to take better care of ourselves and the environment.

I bring all this up because the debate is real. I cannot be as environmentally conscious as her. I will never be. She avoids plastic wrap, ziplock bags, using reusable bags when she grocery shops, among so many other things. So for her to hold a very high standard in her personal care and cosmetics makes complete sense. She is what Arbonne stands for.

Me? I am very strict on a lot of things but mineral oil just isn’t one of them. For more the most part, yes, I am strict on it, as I have mentioned several times now, but it would be a lie if I said I avoided it all together.

I am not sure where this makes me stand as an Arbonne representative. Does it ruin my brand completely? Am I able to keep going with my momentum if I use a lipstick that contains mineral oil? I don’t know. What are your thoughts?

I love what Dr. Whitney Bowe says,  “There is so much buzz surrounding mineral oil. My patients ask me about it all the time. There is a lot of misinformation out there – and a lot of it is scary (for example, many of my patients are wondering whether mineral oil can cause cancer). I wanted to give more background and information on this subject to help to separate fact from fiction. This is especially timely because products containing mineral oil (Aquaphor, Petroleum Jelly) are many people’s go-to products when their skin is dry, red, and chapped during winter. There is so much ongoing confusion and even fear surrounding mineral oil and petroleum jelly. People are worried about “impurities” and “contaminants” found in mineral oil – and there is some concern that it could even be carcinogenic (cancer causing). The cosmetic grade mineral oil is completely different from the type of mineral oil used to lubricate engines. It’s gone through purification processes to remove these contaminants and impurities. Mineral oil is an occlusive emollient, meaning that it helps to keep your skin hydrated by locking in moisture by forming a barrier on your skin’s surface. Based on my research, it’s actually considered very safe and rarely causes irritation or an allergic reaction. Here are two main reasons I don’t rely on mineral oil containing products on a daily basis. First, I expect more from my skincare ingredients. Mineral oil isn’t irritating, and yes it is hydrating, but for me, that’s not enough justification to use it on a daily basis. I’d prefer to find ingredients that not only moisturize but also provide other benefits such as anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties. The second reason I don’t use mineral oil containing products on a daily basis is because, even though mineral oil is unlikely to clog pores on its own, it can trap other pore-clogging ingredients in the skin. So if you use a product that combines mineral oil with another ingredient, the mineral oil can potentially trap that other ingredient in the skin.


I think that she says it perfectly.  I agree with her. If some of my eye shadow and lipstick have mineral oil in, then so be it. It do not wear those shades daily or weekly anyways. What does this say about me?


What can I use instead of mineral oil?

  • Shea butter
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Search out personal care companies that hold the high stand or mineral oil free. Such as Arbonne 


The end result is what you decide your personal standard is. Everybody is different and it is OK. There are very few companies, however, that are mineral oil free, in addition to being vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, soy-free, paraben free…

If you know of any please comment below and don’t hesitate to answer my questions. I genuinely want to know.


Thank you all for reading this! I will post another health/beauty tip on Monday and chapter 9 next Wednesday! (catch up on the other chapters in the tags below!)

If you have requests for any topics let me know in the comments below! 

Don’t forget to subscribe if you like this post! It would mean a lot to me. 



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