Mineral Oil vs Plant Oils

I’m always shocked by the amount of products that contain mineral oil. So many high street brands choose this over nourishing plant oils. One of the greatest benefits of making your own natural products and that you can use a wonderful variety of plant oils which nourish and feed your skin.

Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum, petrolatum)

  • Is not absorbed by the skin
  • does not contain nutrients, fatty acids or vitamins
  • creates a thin membrane which blocks the pores, prevents secretion of sweat and obstructs skins own production of fat (a bit like wrapping yourself in cling film)
  • suppresses the skins own normal, healthy functioning
  • it is the same substance that is used to make plastics, solvents, floor wax, chewing gum and grease machinery


Plant oils (also known as vegetable oils, base oils or carrier oils)

  • are fats and oils from nuts, seeds and fruit pulp
  • are easily absorbed by the skin
  • supply the skin with essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins which help the skin function optimally and improve its condition and appearance
  • are emollient – they soften and smooth the skin which improves the flexibility and appearance of the skin.
  • protect the skin
  • prevent moisture evaporating from the skin

It’s useful to think of these oils as providing food for the skin. They are absorbed by the skin, promote healthy skin functioning, better circulation and vitality.

Why is mineral oil used?

  • It does not go off. This means that products made using it have a very long shelf life which is good for mass producing products.
  • It is occlusive – it forms a thin layer on the surface of the skin to protect it and prevents transepidermal water loss. The only problem is that it also doesn’t allow skin to breathe, blocks the pores and supresses the skins natural functioning.
  • It is cheap

Take the mineral oil challenge!
1) When you are in chemists and shops start to look at the ingredients in moisturising creams. See which ones use mineral oils and which ones use plant oils. Mineral oils will appear as paraffinum liquidum or petrolatum. Let me know what you find!
2) Check the cream you’re using. Does it contain mineral oil? If so switch to one that uses plant oils instead. See the difference this makes!

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