Dr Rachel Says: What’s Up with Mineral Oils?

Hello there!

This week we have one more ingredient to keep your eye out for in your face and body products:

MINERAL OIL (look for paraffinum liquidum or petrolatum)

Ever heard anyone say that they couldn’t use oil on their skin because they have oily skin?? Well, this MAY be true- if you’re talking about synthetic oils, that is… But if we’re talking natural plant oils, there’s nothing better to help moisturise dry skin, heal blemished, irritated, redness-prone skin and balance dry skin.

What is it?
Mineral oil is derived from petroleum, (that alone puts me off!) Because of the nature of these oils, however, they are not well recognised or absorbed by the skin. This means that they sit on the surface, creating the illusion of soft, smooth skin, instead of sinking in to the deeper layers where they are much needed to deliver moisture. The result= DRY SKIN- sometimes the very problem you are using the product to treat. What’s more, this pore-clogging action actually inhibits the skin’s natural function of ridding itself of toxins and protecting you from infection. The result= OILY SKIN and spots.

NOTE: Mineral oil is often used at the base for foundation as well, so don’t forget to check the ingredients on your make-up as well as your moisturisers!)

So why is it used?
As usual, it is a very CHEAP ingredient (are we seeing a pattern??)

What are the risks?
Though mineral oil may have less obvious effects on your body than sodium lauryl sulphate, for instance, what it does is make your skin feel smooth on the surface (because it remains on the surface of your skin rather than being absorbed) whilst the underneath layers are becoming more and more dehydrated. Mineral oil, like parabens, has also been shown to be xeno-oestrogenic, meaning it mimics oestrogen’s action in the body, so best to be avoided.

What are some more natural alternatives to mineral oils?
Natural oils (think coconut, olive, almond..)
are from plants, and are similar in content to the skin’s own sebum and therefore are more easily recognised and absorbed by the skin. As a bonus, these kind of oils are naturally rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids, (delicious AND nutritious, your skin will lap them up!) They are easily absorbed and will not block pores or cause spots/acne. In fact, natural oils provide the raw materials to help the skin heal up old scars from spots and re-balance the skin’s moisture levels. As I explained earlier, using a moisturiser can actually help to balance the skin’s own sebum and may actually help regulate oily skin, which is over-producing sebum as a response to dehydration. There are also certain essential oils, such as geranium, and ylang ylang, which when included in products you’re using on your skin, can help control and restore the balance of oily skin.

NEXT TIME: The Organic food debate and Make Your Own skincare!!

xx Dr Rachel

6 Comments on “Dr Rachel Says: What’s Up with Mineral Oils?”


Thursday, 25. August 2011 at 9:06 am

Sara du får översätta. Jag har slutat använda det som Rachel tar upp här(så långt det går) plus en del andra ämnen också. Det är bara typ helt omöjligt att köpa någonting nu för ALLT innehåller ju konstigheter. Funderar på att göra egna produkter. Har du Rachel några tips! / Maja

Thursday, 25. August 2011 at 3:27 pm

In English: As far as possible, I’ve stopped using the what Rachel has covered here, as well as a few other ingredients. It’s just that it’s almost impossible to buy anything now because EVERYTHING contains some type of nasty ingredient. I’m considering making my own products. Dear Rachel, do you have any tips? /Maja


Thursday, 25. August 2011 at 3:47 pm

Hi Maja,

That’s a great idea! The best thing about making your own is that you know exactly what’s in it and don’t have to worry about reading labels and checking ingredients.

there are a couple of products that I use for a few different purposes that can help save money.

Coconut oil is relatively inexpensive and can be used to cleanse and remove make-up, (I use a flannel or muslin cloth to remove it when I use it for cleansing.) It has natural antibacterial properties so will clean your skin but also moisturise rather than drying it out. You can also use it as an overnight mask for face and hair, I put some on the ends of my hair and a small amount on my face and wash off in the morning.

You can also use coconut oil as a body moisturiser just as you would a body oil and because it’s solid it is less messy to apply than liquid oils.

I also use olive oil as the base for a scrub (with sugar or salt and essential oils if you’re feeling experimental) but can also be used on the hair as a mask and as a make-up remover.

There are also certain natural general shampoo/shower gel products that if you can buy in bulk can help cut costs.

If you need specific recipes or ideas let me know. There’s more coming on the next blog post too!


Thursday, 25. August 2011 at 3:52 pm

Forgot to mention rosehip seed oil!

This is a more expensive one but lasts FOREVER. I only use one drop for my entire face. It is definitely worth the investment, it’s crammed full of antioxidant vitamins A,C and E and it really brightens your skin. It’s also the wonder-oil on the marker for scars and stretch marks and is much more concentrated than vitamin E oil (or the dreaded Bio-Oil) it helps heal up scars like they never were there so not only can you use it as a facial oil but it’s a great one to keep in the medicine cabinet for emergencies too.


Thursday, 25. August 2011 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Rachel! Det här är så intressant.
Jag ska prova dina tips!
Har du något bra recept på schampoo/dusch/deo?

Friday, 26. August 2011 at 8:22 pm

English: Thanks Rachel! This is so interesting. I’ll give your tips a try! Do you have any good recipes for schampoo/shower cream/deodorant?

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