Mineral Oil

AKA: Paraffinum Liquidum, Huile Minerale

Also known as liquid paraffin, it is an amazing moisturizer (the second most occlusive one after Petrolatum). It is also an excellent emollient that fills the micro-cracks on the surface of the skin, making it appear smoother. Mineral oil is considered safe.


Paraffinum Liquidum, Huile Minerale

All Functions

Moisturizing (occlusive),Soothing,Emollient,Fragrance,Antistatic,Solvent



What is Mineral Oil?

Mineral oil, also known as liquid paraffin, paraffin oil, or Huile Minerale, a translucent, oily, odorless and very occlusive liquid. It is derived from petroleum, is a prevalent ingredient in various industries, particularly in skincare products.

Mineral oil is well-known for its exceptional moisturizing properties and protective barrier it creates on the skin surface. This helps prevent moisture loss and promotes healthy skin. Despite some controversy surrounding its use in skincare, when properly refined, it is deemed safe and efficacious.

What is Mineral Oil Made of?

Mineral oil comes from petroleum, also known as crude oil, a natural, non-renewable resource found deep beneath the earth's surface. 

This raw substance goes through an intensive refining procedure, removing any impurities and producing a substance suitable for a range of uses, including cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Food-grade mineral oil undergoes additional purification to render it safe for consumption and usage in food preparation. This type of mineral oil is frequently employed as a food preservative, as well as a lubricant for kitchen appliances, ensuring their efficient and safe operation.

History of Mineral Oil

The use of mineral oil dates back to ancient times when it was used for medicinal and lamp fuel purposes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, its potential for lubricating machinery was discovered, and it quickly became a staple in industrial applications.

The rise of mineral oil in the skincare industry happened in the early 20th century. It was found that mineral oil could create a protective layer on the skin, preventing water loss and keeping the skin hydrated.

Since then, despite the debates around its use, mineral oil has remained a commonly used ingredient in a multitude of skincare products such as creams, lotions, and lip balms. The continual use of mineral oil in such applications is a testament to its effectiveness, versatility, and its safety.

Uses of Mineral Oil

Mineral oil's extensive range of applications extends well beyond its historical uses. In the skincare industry, mineral oil plays a critical role in locking in moisture and maintaining skin hydration, especially in dry skin conditions.

In the food industry, food-grade mineral oil has found widespread use as a preservative for eggs and as a lubricant for food handling equipment. It's also used as a lubricant in kitchen appliances and food processing equipment, aiding in their smooth operation and longevity.

In medical contexts, mineral oil is frequently utilized as a laxative, providing relief for constipation by enabling easier passage of stool. It's also used in various pharmaceutical preparations, underscoring its diverse application spectrum.

Interestingly, mineral oil is also used in veterinary medicine, particularly as a laxative for livestock and as an intestinal lubricant for pets that have consumed indigestible substances.

From lubricating industrial machines, preserving our food, to hydrating our skin, mineral oil's history and continual use pay homage to its versatility and importance.

Mineral Oil Uses in Skincare

Mineral oil has been a vital part of skincare for over a century. It boasts several properties that make it a key ingredient in many cosmetic and personal care products. But what is mineral oil used for exactly? Let's dive into its various uses in skincare.

As an occlusive moisturizer, mineral oil forms a barrier on the skin's surface, reducing moisture loss and maintaining hydration. This property makes it an exceptional moisturizer, helping to keep the skin smooth, soft, and hydrated, especially in dry and harsh conditions.

Mineral oil also has soothing properties. Its ability to provide a protective layer over the skin aids in reducing irritation, making it ideal for sensitive skin or conditions like eczema. It's also an excellent emollient, softening and soothing the skin by filling spaces between skin cells to replace lipids and prevent moisture loss.

Surprisingly, mineral oil can also act as a fragrance in some products. While it's odorless, it can carry and enhance other fragrances in a product, thus contributing to a pleasant user experience.

Additionally, mineral oil has antistatic properties, which is beneficial in haircare products. By reducing static electricity, it can help keep hair manageable and frizz-free.

As a solvent, mineral oil can dissolve or suspend other ingredients, which is particularly useful in skincare and makeup products.

Mineral Oil USP

Mineral Oil USP often appears on ingredient lists. Mineral Oil USP is a highly purified and safe version of mineral oil. USP stands for United States Pharmacopeia, a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements. When a product meets these rigorous standards, it's labeled as USP.

Mineral Oil USP represents a grade of mineral oil that has met the stringent requirements set forth by the USP. These standards ensure the mineral oil is free from impurities, contaminants, and harmful substances, making it safe for its intended use, including skincare.

The process of refinement that Mineral Oil USP undergoes guarantees that any potentially harmful substances present in the raw petroleum are thoroughly removed. This purification process is so thorough that Mineral Oil USP is even safe for internal use as a laxative.

Paraffinum liquidum

European skincare brands typically list mineral oil as "paraffinum liquidum" or "huile minerale" on their ingredient lists, while U.S. brands generally use the term "mineral oil." This variation is largely due to regional naming conventions. However, it's important to note that both terms refer to the same substance.

Interestingly, some skincare producers deliberately use the term "paraffinum liquidum" in place of "mineral oil." This decision is often driven by a desire to alleviate consumer concerns related to the use of mineral oil, a substance that, despite its safety when properly refined, has been subject to controversy and misunderstanding. By using the term "paraffinum liquidum," brands aim to navigate these concerns while continuing to incorporate this beneficial ingredient into their products.

Mineral Oil Benefits for Skin

Despite certain misconceptions, when properly refined, mineral oil offers an array of benefits for the skin. Its versatility and efficacy are particularly evident when used as a moisturizer, a soothing agent, and an emollient.

Moisturizing (Occlusive)

One of the key roles mineral oil plays in skincare is as a potent moisturizer. It acts as an occlusive, which means it forms a protective barrier on the skin's surface that traps in moisture.

Our skin, despite having its own complex lipid barrier that prevents trans-dermal water loss, loses a certain amount of water anyway. Mineral oil and Petrolatum are substances that can prevent most, if not all, of this remaining water loss. They do this by forming an unbroken oily layer on the surface of the skin.

This quality is especially beneficial for dry skin types, as it prevents water loss and helps to keep the skin hydrated. Covering the skin with a sturdy occlusive layer is also a property that is very desirable for heavy-duty hand creams.

Mineral oil seals in the water from the deeper layers of the skin, allowing it to be absorbed gradually and aiding in long-lasting hydration. When applied to damp skin, it can further enhance this hydration effect, making it an excellent addition to your post-shower skincare routine.

There have been a handful of studies that have compared the occlusive effects of mineral oil to the most heavy-duty plant alternative – coconut oil. A study involving 34 patients with moderate xerosis (i.e., dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin patches) found that both ingredients aided in the healing process, and that there was no real difference in the results.


Mineral oil has impressive soothing capabilities. By providing a protective layer on the skin's surface, it can help shield the skin from environmental stressors such as wind, cold temperatures, and air pollution. This makes it a great skincare ingredient for those living in harsh climates or city environments.

Moreover, due to its soothing properties, mineral oil is often used in products designed for sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It helps reduce irritation and inflammation, promoting healthier and calmer skin over time.


As an emollient, mineral oil works to soften and smooth the skin. Emollients fill the tiny micro-cracks in the surface of the skin. In doing so, mineral oil helps maintain the skin’s smooth and soft appearance while also improving skin's flexibility. 

Emollients like mineral oil are essential for managing rough, flaky skin conditions. Regular application of skincare products containing mineral oil can lead to noticeably softer and smoother skin.

Additional Benefits

Beyond these three core benefits, mineral oil offers several additional advantages in skincare:

  • Non-comedogenic: Contrary to popular belief, properly refined mineral oil does not clog pores or contribute to acne. In fact, it's rated as non-comedogenic, meaning it's suitable for use even on acne-prone skin.

  • Gentle makeup remover: Mineral oil is an effective, yet gentle makeup remover. It can dissolve even stubborn, waterproof makeup without causing irritation or stripping the skin of its natural oils.

  • Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic: Mineral oil is both fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, making it a safe choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies to common skincare ingredients.

Mineral Oil vs. Petrolatum

Both mineral oil and petrolatum originate from the same source: petroleum. They serve as excellent occlusive agents, although their chemical structure, consistency, and degree of moisturizing efficacy differ.

While both compounds are hydrocarbons, their chemical structure varies. Mineral oil consists of a mix of lighter hydrocarbons, which gives it a more fluid consistency. Petrolatum, in contrast, is a blend of heavier, long-chain hydrocarbons, accounting for its thicker, semi-solid state.

Mineral oil is a lightweight, clear, and odorless oil that's adept at sealing moisture into the skin. Its occlusive nature forms a protective barrier on the skin, reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and helping to maintain skin hydration.

Petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly or by the popular brand name Vaseline, on the other hand, is a semi-solid mixture known for its remarkable occlusivity, arguably more potent than that of mineral oil. Studies confirm that petrolatum is the most occlusive moisturizing cosmetic ingredient in the world, followed by mineral oil.

Petrolatum creates a stronger barrier on the skin surface, making it exceptionally effective at locking in moisture. It's often used in products designed for intensive hydration or to tackle extremely dry skin conditions.

Both mineral oil and petrolatum are non-comedogenic and safe for use when properly refined.

Is Mineral Oil Bad for Skin?

When navigating the vast world of skincare, a frequently debated topic is, "Is mineral oil bad for skin?" This question stems from various misconceptions about this commonly used skincare ingredient. However, scientific research and skincare experts agree that mineral oil, when properly refined, is not only safe but also beneficial for your skin. So actually mineral oil is good for your skin, offering hydration, protection, and soothing benefits.

The History of Misconceptions About Mineral Oil

Much of the controversy surrounding mineral oil stems from its origin: petroleum. The connection to crude oil has led to negative perceptions, associating it with industrial usage rather than skincare. However, this overlooks the crucial step of refinement, during which impurities are removed, yielding a pure and safe skincare ingredient.

Another common misconception is the fear that mineral oil clogs pores and causes acne. This likely stems from its occlusive nature, as it forms a barrier on the skin to lock in moisture. However, this barrier is breathable and does not clog pores. In fact, mineral oil is classified as non-comedogenic, meaning it is unlikely to cause breakouts.

What Do Studies Say About Mineral Oil Safety?

Numerous studies reinforce the safety and benefits of mineral oil in skincare. Research shows that white mineral oil or mineral oil USP (United States Pharmacopeia), both indicating high refinement standards, are safe for topical application. It's important to note that the cosmetic industry only uses highly refined mineral oil, ensuring it's free from contaminants and suitable for skin use.

The mineral oil used in skincare adheres to strict quality control which states that the ingredient should only consist of saturated hydrocarbons with carbon numbers predominantly in the range of C15 through C50. It also states that it should be completely devoid of unsaturated, polycyclic, aromatic, oxidized, sulfated, or nitrogenated compounds that are known to be harmful.

You’ve probably heard the rumor that petroleum products are carcinogenic. But in the case of mineral oil and Vaseline, scientists agree that they have been purified to such a degree that what is left is completely inert and harmless.

Mineral oil is almost completely inert. It does not oxidize when exposed to air, and there is little to no reaction in the skin when it is applied. It does not get absorbed beyond the topmost layers of skin and rarely causes allergic reactions. Every single study, whether on humans, animals or in test-tubes, agrees that mineral oil does not permeate deeper than stratum corneum and that it does not produce any negative effects.

In conclusion, mineral oil is nothing to be afraid of, and a great ingredient to have in any moisturizer aimed at dry skin. The current consensus of all control organizations and scientists is that properly purified mineral oil is completely safe for use in skincare.

Does Mineral Oil Clog Pores?

In the complex world of skincare, mineral oil has often been subjected to numerous misconceptions. One such belief is that it clogs pores, leading to acne breakouts. This assertion, however, is largely a myth. Scientific evidence and skincare experts confirm that mineral oil, when properly refined, is a non-comedogenic substance, which means it doesn't clog pores.

Mineral oil's occlusive nature may be responsible for this misunderstanding. As an occlusive agent, it forms a protective barrier on the skin surface. While this characteristic of mineral oil is excellent for preventing moisture loss, it doesn't lead to clogged pores or acne.

To understand why mineral oil doesn't clog pores, we need to delve into its molecular structure. Mineral oil molecules are large and cannot penetrate deep into the skin. Instead, they remain on the skin's surface, forming a breathable layer that helps maintain moisture without blocking pores.

Mineral Oil Side Effects

Highly refined mineral oil is generally safe for topical use, but like all ingredients, it may not suit everyone.

Mineral oil creates an occlusive barrier on the skin's surface. While this effectively locks in moisture, it also means that any dirt, sweat, or other substances present on the skin when the oil is applied could be trapped beneath this barrier. Therefore, it's vital to cleanse the skin thoroughly before applying products containing mineral oil.

Furthermore, although mineral oil is considered non-comedogenic, which means it doesn't clog pores, individual reactions can vary. Some people may find that mineral oil-based products feel heavy on their skin, leading to discomfort.

Moreover, although rare, some individuals might be allergic to mineral oil, leading to skin irritation or inflammation. Hence, if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, it's always advisable to perform a patch test before incorporating new products into your routine.

1Petry, T., et al. (2017). Review of data on the dermal penetration of mineral oils and waxes used in cosmetic applications. Toxicology letters, 280, 70–78.
2Chuberre, B., Araviiskaia, E., Bieber, T., & Barbaud, A. (2019). Mineral oils and waxes in cosmetics: an overview mainly based on the current European regulations and the safety profile of these compounds. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 33 Suppl 7, 5–14.
3Evangelista, M. T., Abad-Casintahan, F., & Lopez-Villafuerte, L. (2014). The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. International journal of dermatology, 53( 1 ), 100–108.
4Agero, A. L., & Verallo-Rowell, V. M. (2004). A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug, 15( 3 ), 109–116.

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