If you turn the packaging of any of your personal care products you are most likely to find on the ingredients list the so called “mineral oil” – one of the most widely used stuff in the cosmetic industry. Believe it or not, more than 50% of the personal care products we use daily contain it – body lotions, facial creams, hair masks, serums, moisturizers, cleansers, shampoos, soaps, foundations, etc. But what is ‘mineral oil’, how does it work, why it is so popular and is it safe? Let’s find out.
What are petrochemicals?
Petrochemicals present a great variety of compounds used for almost everything – from manufacturing plastic and motor oil to being key ingredients in personal care products (listed usually on the first lines of the ingredients lists, making them with the highest concentration in the product in question). These compounds are derived from petroleum (crude oil) and have endless industrial applications.
Why manufacturers use petroleum derivatives and byproducts?
The main reason petroleum byproducts are so widely used is because they are incredibly cheap. Cheap ingredients are easy to manufacture and easy to market, since they make products affordable by lowering the price. Do these products actually work any good and fulfill the promises made? When most cosmetic companies are working on their latest must-have product, they are not thinking about your health and the well-being of your skin. They are thinking only about their own profit. Profit margins on these chemical-byproducts that are repackaged and sold as ‘skin care’ are fifty-fold or more, whereas certified organic products like La Mav‘s are not even a fifth of that, but are much more beneficial for you and the environment.
What are the harmful effects of using petroleum byproducts?
As mineral oil and petroleum jelly are both not water soluble they get stuck on the skin’s surface, preventing gas exchange and te elimination of toxins. But this is just the beginning. Petrochemicals are linked to premature aging, development of eczema, disruption of the normal functions of the skin, and much more . The worst part is they are both reproductive and neurotoxins!
If not purified and filtered well, mineral oil and petroleum jelly might present traces of benzene, known to be highly carcinogenic and extremely harmful for the human health. Poorly refined mineral oil has already been proven by numerous studies to drastically increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Last but not least mineral oil is considered by some scientists a xenohormone (means “foreign”) that can interfere with the normal function of your endocrine system, affecting negatively your immunity.
How to avoid these ingredients?
The most popular and widely used ingredients you should look for on the labels of your personal care products are: mineral oil, petroleum jelly, petrolatum, paraffinum liquidatum, propylene glycol (anything with PEG), isopropyl alcohol. All of them are derivatives of petroleum and can produce adverse side effects if used daily. It’s also good to know that a high percentage of the fragrances used in personal care products are also derived from petroleum, but due to lack of strict regulatory requirements, manufacturers are not even obliged to inform the consumer about their origin and composition.
Being aware and informed allows you to make the right decisions. Don’t let other people decide for your health. It’s in your hands. Take care of it!