Mineral Oils in Skin Lotions Can Be Dangerous to Health
The process of manufacturing cosmetics has changed tremendously throughout history, and our scientific advances have allowed us to manipulate countless chemicals and obtain cost-effective products that seem to generate amazing results. All of this sounds wonderful, but unfortunately, over time we may be forced to pay a greater price, as far as our health is concerned. While some authorities claim that cosmetics contain substances that are not directly harmful in tiny doses, these substances may be detrimental to human health in the event of prolonged exposure. And we usually end up using commercially available creams, shampoos and lotions over and over again, sometimes for years on end.
There was a time when beauty products were manufactured exclusively with vegetables oils, which have undeniable health benefits for the human skin. Olive oil is particularly good for the skin, due to its vitamin A and vitamin E content. However, vegetable oils spoil quickly and can be expensive, and that is why modern cosmetics manufacturers use mineral oils instead. Also known as paraffins, they are a distillate of petroleum and a byproduct of gasoline production. Since these substances are considered of relatively low value, they are much cheaper than vegetable oil, and, being minerals, they spoil a lot harder, prolonging shelf-life for cold creams, ointments and baby lotions.
Mineral oils are viscous, so they make lotions spread easily and evenly onto the skin, while they help trap water molecules by creating a thin film over the skin. This helps the skin remain hydrated. The downside is that this film may be clogging pores or even preventing helpful substances from becoming absorbed into the skin.
A study featured in the journal of Investigative Dermatology has revealed that moisturizing creams containing mineral oils are tumorigenic when applied topically to mice that had been UVB irradiated twice a week, for a period of 17 weeks. Adding a cream without mineral oil had no detrimental effects on the health of the mice. This could be of concern to us considering that mineral oils are often added to tanning lotions, making them easier to apply. Humans, however, have thicker skin than mice and can naturally withstand some exposure to UVB radiation (which is actually necessary to induce the production of vitamin D), so we still do not know exactly how risky these mineral oils are for adult people.Continued on the next page