mineral oil


Clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum that is widely used in cosmetics because it rarely causes allergic reactions. It cannot become a solid and clog pores. Despite mineral oil’s association with petroleum and the hype that it’s bad for or ages skin, keep in mind that petroleum is a natural ingredient derived from the earth. Once it’s purified to become mineral oil USP (cosmetics- and pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil), it has no resemblance to the original petroleum and isn’t a source of contaminants or carcinogens. [1,2]

Cosmetics-grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered the safest, most nonirritating moisturizing ingredients ever found. Mineral oil and petrolatum are known to be efficacious in wound healing, and are also among the most effective, established moisturizing ingredients available. [1,2]

Mineral oil is not an ingredient to avoid unless you have oily skin, in which case the somewhat greasy texture of mineral oil won’t feel good. But again, mineral oil doesn’t clog pores, cause acne, or suffocate skin.

The mineral oil in skincare products is certified as either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or BP (British Pharmacopeia). It’s completely safe, soothing, non-irritating, and perfectly healthy for skin. [1,3,4,5,6]

References Cited:

  1. Rawlings A, Lombard K. A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012;34(6):511-8.
  2. Agero A, Verallo-Rowell V. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis. 2004;15(3):109-16.
  3. Sahlin A, Edlund F, Loden M. A double-blind and controlled study on the influence of the vehicle on the skin susceptibility from lactic acid. Int J Cosmetic Sci. 2007;29(5):385-90.
  4. Wang I, Lin I, Hu F, Hou Y. A comparison of the effect of carbomer-; cellulose-; and mineral-oil based artificial tear formulations. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2007;17(2):151-159.
  5. Brigido S. The use of an acellular dermal regenerative tissue matrix in the treatment of lower extremity wounds: a prospective 16-week pilot study. Int Wound J. 2006;3(3):181-87.
  6. Hoggarth A, Waring M, Alexander J, Greenwood A, Callaghan T. A Controlled Three-Part Trial to Investigate the Barrier Function and Skin Hydration Properties of Six Skin Protectants. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2005;51(12):30-42.
See petrolatum

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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