WHAT IS MINERAL OIL? The mineral oil used in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics is a colorless, odorless, tasteless oil that has excellent emollient, lubrication and solvent properties and a long shelf-life. Cosmetic-grade, pharmaceutical-grade and food-grade mineral oils are highly purified and refined, and meet exacting standards and specifications for composition and purity. All mineral oils originate from fractions ofpetroleum, but those used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and foods undergo numerous purifying and refining processes.
WHICH IS BETTER, MINERAL OIL OR VEGTABLE OIL? As usual, which is better depends on the intended use. All oils have varying degrees of emollient and lubricating properties and can be used as solvents for other beneficial ingredients in particular products. Because some vegetable oils can spoil or become rancid when exposed to air, antioxidants and preservatives must be added to products containing these oils so these products have an adequate shelf-life. Since mineral oil does not have these shelf-life problems, formulators often combine vegetable and mineral oil in the same product to obtain “the best of both worlds.”
WHY IS MINERAL OIL USED IN COSMETIC PRODUCTS? IS IT A “FILLER” AS SOME COMPETITORS CLAIM? Mineral oil is used as an emollient, lubricant and solvent for other ingredients. Because it assists the skin in retaining moisture, it is often used in moisturizers, skin supplements and foundation makeups, particularly in products formulated for dry or normal skin. Because of mineral oil’s excellent solvent properties, it is often used in cleansers intended to remove oil based makeup, including eye makeup removers. Mineral oil is often or frequently selected as a cosmetic ingredient to obtain the benefits of these very valuable qualities.
WHAT IS THE SAFETY OF MINERAL OIL? Mineral oils that qualify as cosmetic-grade, pharmaceutical-grade and food-grade have excellent records of safety. Many dermatologists and researchers use mineral oil as a vehicle when performing patch tests on other materials, because mineral oil virtually never causes allergic reactions.