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.

  • Lisa M. Rodgers

    Hey Perry –

    Thanks so much for your articles on mineral oil. It was interesting to read a tweet this morning stating the following:

    “Fact: It is against OSHA regulations to use skin care products that contain mineral oil!”

    Another piece of misinformation plaguing the internet. It amazes me that people will pass along information without taking the time to research. This is why it is so hard to dispel myths, but, not impossible.

    We greatly appreciate your contribution! Keep up the great work!


    • Katherine

      HI Lisa, this comment absolutely intrigued me, so I put my research hat on and found the regulation prohibiting mineral oil or any cosmetic, (here’s the actual reason) a skincare product which compromises the integrity of those using Latex gloves in industrial environment, such as any mineral oil or petroleum products.

      Clearly not because the ingredient is hazardous or dangerous! Wow, what some people to do and say to sensationalize. ….it is laughable!

      • Lisa M. Rodgers

        Hey Katy –

        I, too, was curious where they could come up with the information and found the article you referenced.

        Thanks for sharing it!

      • Duncan Abbott

        My Understanding is that Vegetable oil will have a similar effect on Latex as well

  • qutequte

    #cosmetics #mineraloil #makeup Anything that goes through chemical purification is synthetic. So now the question is, is synthetic mineral oil more useful or more harmful? Most people would rather use olive oil or even coconut oil than mineral oil. Mineral oil is added to many personal care products because it’s cheaper?

    • Perry Romanowski

      “Anything that goes through chemical purification is synthetic”

      If this is your standard, both Coconut Oil and Olive Oil would be considered synthetic. They are both chemically purified first filtered, then chemically bleached, then chemically deodorized.

      • Dene Godfrey

        Any cooked foodstuffs would also be classed as synthetic, as the cooking process causes chemical change – so much for organic food!

  • qutequte

    By the way, your article has excellent info on mineral oil so I appreciate it! ^_^

  • Gboates

    Mineral oil is directly linked to RA in all animals tested in the ’80s. At Univ. Chicago the researchers stated that no further research is required. Mineral oil represents 40% by volume every tanker of crude oil. It would be a huge disposal issue if people like you were not duped into promoting the over 270 products made from this toxic compound.

    • Perry Romanowski

      Perhaps you could provide a link to the study?

      • Dene Godfrey

        Just saw this a year later – looks like there IS no study. Perry! 😉

    • Colin

      If mineral oil were indeed 40% by volume of every tanker of crude oil, I don’t think putting it into cosmetic products would help much in disposing of it.  The world pumps about 90 million barrels a day of crude. 40% of that would be one heck of a lot of personal care products.

      • Ky-Lee

        I am not sure about the % being true but it is true that it is cheaper to use mineral oil then to dispose of it. Its not just cosmetics, its shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, creams, everything! Think about the 6 billion people in the world, each person buys a few products a week containing mineral oil.

        Do we really trust the practices of people working in oil? shouldnt they stick to machines, not human skin? Same with monstano stick to your evil chemicals, not food growth

        • Dene Godfrey

          I have no idea where you get your figures from, or your general information, but not all 6 billion (now over 7 billion) people currently living on earth actually buy cosmetics, and mineral oil is not used in all cosmetics, particularly shampoos and conditioners. How many consumers actually buy a few cosmetic products each week and use them in their entirity; buying more of the same the following week? Monsanto have nothing to do with cosmetics, and your comment implies that you simply dislike any substance that is synthetic. You are entitled to that opinion, but please don’t impose your opinion on everyone else who appreciates the benefits of synthetic substances. “People working in oil” are people – no less trustworthy or more trustworthy as any equally generalised group of other “people” – wherever they work.