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A messy situation – mineral oil in cosmetic products

Eine schmierige Situation – Mineralöl in Kosmetikprodukten

Do you know that too? You have finally found a care product that your skin can handle very well, and then you are guaranteed to read everywhere that this product contains an ingredient that is classified as critical. The most recent example is mineral oils, which have been contained in numerous products for years and are now suddenly seen as the villains. But why and why are they even used in the cosmetics industry?

Mineral oils are declared on creams, lotions, lip care, etc. as Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Paraffinum (Liquidum or Subliquidum), Cera Microcristallina or Microcrystalline Wax, Ozokerite, Ceresin, Vaseline. They are actually nothing more than a waste product of petroleum production. For cosmetics manufacturers, their use has two very simple advantages: firstly, they are cheap and secondly, they have a very long shelf life. While cosmetics based on vegetable oils quickly go rancid, products made with mineral oil last forever.

The effect of mineral oil in cosmetics is very simple: it protects the skin from moisture loss. It penetrates the top layer of skin and forms a fatty film there that seals the skin and thereby prevents moisture loss. It actually sounds great, but this is exactly why mineral oils are pilloried. Critics complain that the skin gets used to this protective film and becomes sluggish when it comes to its own ability to regenerate.

Mineral oil is often found in creams and lotions for dry skin. But the fatty protective film is supposed to prevent the cream from penetrating the dry and stressed deep layers of the skin. This would actually make the cream ineffective. Even more problematic is that some mineral oils are suspected of causing damage to the liver and lymph nodes. The fractions declared as MOSH (Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons) and MOAH (Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons) are particularly critical in lip care because they are automatically licked and swallowed. Unfortunately, it is not yet sufficiently clear how much is absorbed through the skin by creams.

So it's best to pay attention to whether your care products contain mineral oils when purchasing. With apps like Toxfox or CodeCheck you can easily use the barcode of a product to see whether it contains mineral oil or other critical substances. If you want to be on the safe side, it's best to use certified natural cosmetics in which mineral oils are prohibited.