The skincare community remains divided when it comes to one ingredient—mineral oils. There are numerous claims to show how mineral oils are bad for your skin, while others stand their ground to debunk these myths. This ingredient combines two popular terms in the skincare community; “mineral” and “oil”, where both hold good reputation in showering your skin with endless benefits. But does this automatically make mineral oils a go-to or a no-no ingredient?
Mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum. Yes, petroleum—distilled from crude oil to produce gasoline. The difference however, lies in how these oils are refined. Those in mineral oils used in cosmetics are highly refined, whereas those used in petroleum are mildly treated. Plenty of skincare products feature mineral oils for its hydrating properties, which is not wrong. But there are downsides to this seemingly moisturizing ingredient.
They clog pores
Mineral oil is an occlusive agent—meaning it forms an invisible film which sits on the surface of the skin. It restricts skin cell renewal and causes dead skin cells to accumulate under this barrier. This build-up can eventually clog pores. When combined with comedogenic, or pore-clogging agents, this is just a recipe for disaster. The occlusive nature of mineral oils will trap these comedogenic products, which then continues to rapidly clog the pores. Congested pores can present multiple problems—one being the occlusive seal hinders the skin from releasing harmful toxins from the body.
They damage the skin barrier
Due to the occlusive seal, mineral oils also suffocate the skin and disrupt its natural immune barrier. It inhibits the Natural Moisturizing Factor, a group of naturally-occuring humectants on the surface of the skin, to draw water into the cells. This can throw off the pH balance of the skin and deteriorate its health, causing acne and dry patches. Ironically, the occlusive seal of mineral oils prevents the skin from regulating its moisture to keep free radicals out.
They do not get absorbed into the skin
Mineral oils have a large molecular size and cannot penetrate into the skin. As established earlier, it rests on the surface of the skin to form a physical barrier, which holds the moisture in. As confused by many, mineral oils are not moisturizing, but rather lubricating. This is an added advantage for those living in cold and harsh climates, as it maintains the skin’s moisture to keep it warm and protected. However, those with oily skin cannot say the same as this barrier traps excess oil inside the pores, and can lead to inflammation.
They are a disaster for acne-prone skin
Mineral oils and acne-prone skin do not mix well. Those with this skin concern already struggle with clogged pores and excess oil on the surface. The occlusive seal will just lock them in further and contribute to inflammation, breakouts, and the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.
They are not nourishing for the skin
Mineral oils possess one sole purpose—to stay on the uppermost layer of the skin to prevent moisture loss. It does not contain any beneficial properties to pamper the skin with. Plus, it is too large to permeate the skin, but rather settles on top to maintain the moisture that already exists in the skin. This explains why mineral oils are marketed to apply on when you already have damp or wet skin, or only after you have hydrated it.
So, how do you ensure a product actually gets absorbed into the skin?
In order to determine the right moisturizer for your skin type, it should get absorbed into the skin—not just rest on its surface. To test this, wait around five minutes after moisturizing before gently touching the skin with clean fingers. If you can feel excess product on the top of your skin, this might indicate that the moisturizer is too rich for your skin type.
Think of your skin as a sponge—it absorbs what it needs, while leaving the remainder on its surface. This can suffocate the skin, clog pores, and lead to a dull complexion.
At first glance, mineral oils may not be dangerous to the skin. However, prolonged use can pose dire consequences, such us cause build-up in pores, trigger breakouts, and throw the natural process of skin cell renewal off balance. Yes, it holds moisture to keep your skin hydrated for longer, but there are plenty of better alternatives that can keep your skin plump, without jeopardizing your skin’s health.
The IRÉN Superfruit Booster Quench-Up Hydrating Serum
Presenting the all-new and revamped IRÉN Quench-Up Hydrating Serum; one of our bestsellers. Enriched with more actives—4 per cent Natural Moisturizing Factor Solution and Hyaluronic Acid, it douses dehydrated skin with the moisture it needs. This thirst-quenching blend nourishes dry skin, promotes skin radiance, and strengthens the skin barrier with moisture—the complete opposite of what mineral oils pose. This serum provides instant hydration to restore a dewy complexion.
If that is not good enough, the IRÉN Superfruit Booster Serums do not contain any of the Seven Big No-Nos, and this includes mineral oils. So, lather on these serums without having to worry about whether your skin will retaliate. Begin your happy skin journey now, ladies and gents!
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Featuring the Start Afresh Daily Enzyme Powder Wash, Star Light, Forever Young, and Quench-Up Serums. These brighten dull complexion and revitalizes the skin to achieve that fresh and healthy glow.
Featuring the Start Afresh Daily Enzyme Powder Wash, Clearer Days, Glow-Getter, and Quench-Up Serums. These soothe blemishes and gently buff away dead skin cells to reveal a smoother skin underneath. It also restores moisture to plump up the skin.