Myths About Mineral Oil:: Part 2
In part one of this series we looked at some of the things that are said about mineral oil and examined whether they were true or not. In part two we’ll propose a few reasons why companies would try to propagate myths about mineral oil.
1. They want you to buy from them instead of the big manufacturers.
This is the primary explanation for mineral oil bashing. Little companies have to find a way to convince consumers to use their products instead of the less expensive, name brands produced by large manufacturers. They can’t possibly advertise as much as the big guys so they need other ways to motivate consumers. Spreading rumors, half truths, and lies about mineral oil (and a host of other ingredients) will scare a significant amount of people.
And most people don’t have the time or scientific background to question what they hear. They’ll just believe a myth about mineral oil causing cancer and avoid it at all costs. The lack of skepticism in our country is extremely troubling to this half of the Beauty Brains.
2. They need to have a reason why their products don’t work as well.
The truth is mineral oil is one of the best functioning skin care ingredients available. Every cosmetic chemist who reads studies published in the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists knows it. Other oils work too, but not as well as mineral oil.
When chemists are told they need to create a formula without mineral oil to satisfy a marketing story, they can’t produce the best functioning product out there. It’s a bit like trying to make omelets with egg beaters. Sure, it tastes like an omelet but it’s not nearly as good as on made with real eggs. That’s how it is with these “natural” type products.
3. They think natural things are inherently good.
You find this notion throughout society but especially in the areas of cosmetics. In the US some people automatically believe that something taken directly from nature is better than something that is man-made or synthetic. Of course, there is no evidence supporting this notion and plenty of evidence to show that it is wrong. Natural is NOT necessarily better! Snake venom is natural. Cyanide is natural. Uranium is natural. Natural can be both good and bad. Similarly, synthetic things can be both good and bad.
The thing that is most amusing is that mineral oil is “natural”. It is pulled right out of Mother Earth and purified for use in your favorite cosmetic. There is no synthetic process, just simple distillation of naturally occurring oil. Even an ingredient like Panthenol requires some chemical modification. Not mineral oil. Just natural purification.
4. They believe all of the myths about mineral oil.
Despite the fact that there are some companies that are just trying to scare and lie to you, there are some people that honestly believe all they’ve read about the evils of mineral oil. And who could blame them? We all lead busy lives and when you hear bits of information that sound plausible, you don’t have time to read the supporting research. Consequently, a manufacturer might believe they’ve found a much better product when they really haven’t. People want to believe they can solve other people’s problems. Even if their solution is based on a delusion.
There are many reasons that myths about mineral oil continue. Chalk some up to naivete but others are downright fraud. You can believe whatever you want, just don’t accept everything you hear about chemicals. You could be buying in to someone else’s delusion. And that will cost you.
More about the author: Perry received his B.S. in Chemistry from DePaul University. He has written and edited numerous articles and books, teaches SCC continuing education classes in cosmetic science, and is the primary author at ChemistsCorner.com a website dedicated to training current and future cosmetic scientists. Read more from this author