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Because numerous women have asked me to explain the harmful effects of Mineral oil in skincare products, I’ve compiled the following information (gleaned from numerous articles as well as my own opinions) to explain why I am adamantly opposed to the widespread use of this toxic ingredient.  I hope that you will find this information helpful, and that you will share it with anyone using commercially manufactured personal care products that contain Mineral oil (or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce nor understand).

Mineral oil is a by-product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. (Yes, you are placing this on your skin when you apply “Mineral oil”).  Considering the numerous Oil wells around the world, it’s no surprise that Mineral oil is abundant as well as inexpensive.  (It costs more to dispose of it than to produce it).  Now that we understand Mineral Oil is abundant and inexpensive, consider why personal care products are loaded with it.  Although I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to the Oil industry, I believe “the industry” has figured out a way to dispose of it while making a multi-billion dollar profit – make it a key ingredient in skincare products.  (In previous articles I addressed the Oil and Beauty Industry’s alignment and how they lobby diligently in Washington for their best interests). Unfortunately, their interests don’t include our well-being.

Mineral oil is foreign to the human body and acts as a thin plastic layer on the skin.  Because the skin has difficulty absorbing Mineral oil, it clogs the pores slowing the skin’s ability to breathe and eliminate toxins.

Once Mineral oil is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver and passes through the intestinal tract. Once the oil is present in the intestinal tract it absorbs all of the fat-soluble vitamins found there, stealing important vitamins from the body. If Mineral oil is absorbed into the skin by habitual use it may affect the functioning of the liver.  As the liver works extremely hard to break down Mineral oil it may not be able to break down toxins efficiently, leading to poor health and a weakened immune system.

Baby oil, Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and baby lotions all contain Mineral oil. Petroleum jelly and Mineral oil (its liquid equivalent) attach to your cells and are not water soluble.  They are difficult for your body to eliminate causing buildup in various organs. The oxygen and nutrients the skin needs are blocked by the “barrier” created by petroleum.

When Mineral oil is applied to the skin, sweat, oil and toxins are not released and oxygen is prevented from entering. Mineral oil can clog the pores leading to acne and other skin problems.  It can also prevent skin cells from developing normally, and when used regularly Mineral oil may cause skin to age prematurely.

Please read personal care labels carefully. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient (or you wouldn’t eat it), don’t place it on your skin.  Our skin is our largest organ.  It breathes, absorbs and it protects us.  Treat it with care – ditch the Oil Industry’s “by-product”.

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan
Mountain Spirit Botanicals

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Comment by Robert Goodman on May 22, 2011 at 9:54pm
Petro oil and gas recovery have got nothing on agriculture where it comes to alteration of the environment. You don't suppose olive groves just got that way, do you? What was there before the olive monoculture? Meanwhile palm oil is produced in some places extractively, i.e. by sacrificing palm trees that were already growing wild. The major oil source that petroleum replaced was from whales.
Comment by Elise Muller on May 22, 2011 at 8:03pm

Although I've tried to ignore your comment "we must be writing in different languages if you think you can beat mineral oil for purity or naturalness.  No animals have to be killed in its making, no trees cut down, no land cleared for planting, no pesticides, no strip mining" ... unfortunately, I can't control myself.  If you have spent years (as I have) volunteering in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast repairing the damage that "off shore drilling" has caused, or how the "gas and by-product exploration" has devastated an entire region, both wildlife and human life, perhaps you will learn a different language and not be so arrogant (as your statement reveals) "what could be more purer or more natural than mineral oil".  And if you really want to learn a different language, rent the movie "The True Price of Oil" and come to see what the exploration for gas and oil has done to Indigenous people and their Ancestral lands (that were, at one time, sacred).  Oh ... and regarding your statement "other ingredients being more functional or have more pizazz" ... no trees are cut down" ... in case you didn't realize this, to produce Olive Oil, or any other exquisite oil, no trees are cut down.  Yes, farmland is Organically cultivated which produce income for local farmers, who in turn supply the world with fine ingredients that don't annihilate people, cultures or our Natural world.  But again, by all means, slather yourself with Mineral Oil and know that with each "slather", you are creating harm ...


Comment by Robert Goodman on May 6, 2011 at 5:31pm
Switch from MO to "pure, natural ingredients"?!  What could be purer or more natural than mineral oil?  Its name says it.  It comes from the ground, they remove the heavier and lighter fractions, that's it.  I can understand a criticism that says other ingredients might be more functional or have more pizazz, but we must be writing in different languages if you think you can beat mineral oil for purity or naturalness.  No animals have to be killed in its making, no trees cut down, no land cleared for planting, no pesticides, no strip mining -- what more could you ask?
Comment by Elise Muller on May 6, 2011 at 4:08pm

Yes, my point exactly.  Good old Johnson & Johnson, eh?  A customer, who as a baby and young child was "slathered liberally" with Mineral Oil products (by her father, who was a doctor) always had painful boils throughout her childhood.  Other customers who come to me with "skin problems" - my first question is "does your current skincare products contain Mineral Oil".  Their response is always "yes".  Once they stop using Mineral Oil laced products and switch to pure, natural ingredients, the condition is eliminated.  And so Mr. Goodman, it is not my intent to "sway you" or change your opinions of Mineral Oil (of which you seem to hold in high esteem) ... we simply hold different opinions.  I'm out of this discussion with you, and by all means, please enjoy your Mineral Oil.


Comment by Robert Goodman on May 5, 2011 at 7:27pm

I highly recommend that you "slather yourself with Mineral Oil on a daily basis" and then let us know how "innocuous" it is.

That "experiment" has already been done.  Babies routinely have their tushies smeared with baby oil or petroleum jelly after diaper changes; baby oil is perfumed mineral oil.

Comment by Elise Muller on May 5, 2011 at 5:45pm

Thank you for your comment Mr. Goodman, I too "strongly disagree" with your opinion.  As far as your opinion "it's hard to come up with anything more innocuous to put on skin than M.O.", this statement is quite literally, ludicrous.  As we are of different opinions, I highly recommend that you "slather yourself with Mineral Oil on a daily basis" and then let us know how "innocuous" it is.


Comment by Robert Goodman on May 5, 2011 at 12:39pm

I disagree strongly.  While it is possible to react negatively to M.O. on the skin, it is considered so biologically inert that it's used as a carrier oil in allergy tests.  When it's refined well enough, it's hard to come up with anything more innocuous to put on skin than M.O.

Mineral oil is, for all practical purposes, not broken down by the liver, and practically none of it even gets to the liver because it's not absorbed from the intestines.

The use of mineral oil in toiletries did not come about as a result of some great search by the petroleum industry for a way to make money off a byproduct.  Such use of MO is ancient, from the times petroleum was discovered in some places leaking spontaneously from the ground.  Later, when it began to be gotten from wells, workers in the industry found petroleum jelly to be useful to put on skin burns and scrapes.

M.O. does not prevent skin cells from developing, normally or otherwise.  It is used in various applications in biology and biochemistry where it is presumed and has been verified to have no effect on living cells or their contents.  Yes, it is foreign to the body, and that is its great advantage in such applications.  It is not at all difficult for the body to eliminate; it runs right off and right out.

I'm not saying M.O. is some great miracle ingredient that can replace other carrier oils to advantage.  What I'm saying is that it's harmless.  Yes, if you swallow it you can produce diarrhea and prevent absorption of fat soluble vitamins -- but who's saying it should be a major part of your diet?

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