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Mineral oil is an ingredient in skin care products that has been widely used for many years. It can also be listed as paraffinum liquidum, liquid paraffin or white oil. And although studies have found it to be safe and problem-free for most individuals, it continues to have a bad reputation.

Here are three myths regarding mineral oil that persist despite evidence to the contrary:

Myth#1: Mineral oil is comedogenic.  A 2005 study published in the Blackwell's Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reported that, contrary to popular belief, cosmetic grade mineral oil does not block pores.  In the study, volunteers tested a formulation containing cosmetic grade mineral oil applied to their upper back over a period of several weeks. Results of the test proved, categorically, that the cosmetic grade mineral oil was not comedogenic.  The misconception may lie in the fact that mineral oil is an occlusive and acts as a barrier to moisture loss.  Being an occlusive agent, mineral oil has the potential to trap other comedogenic ingredients in the pores when they have been applied to the skin prior to or along with the mineral oil.  Mineral oil itself, however, does not clog the pores.

Myth#2: Mineral oil is not natural.  Although it may not conjure up images of green fields and flowers, mineral oil is indeed natural in that it is a by-product of naturally occurring petroleum.  The cosmetic and pharmaceutical grade mineral oil used in skin care has been highly refined and purified and little resembles the crude oil that was extracted from the earth.  On a side note, plant-based oils also require processing and purifying prior to being used in skin care.

Myth#3: Mineral oil is not safe.   Crude petroleum oil contains a compound called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which, in historical studies, were pointed out as carcinogenic to rodents. The refining process of mineral oil removes these compounds, leaving the highly refined mineral oil that is required for use in the cosmetic and skin care industry safe for its intended use.

Cosmetic grade mineral oil is odorless, colorless and has a long-shelf life.  While some individuals may be sensitive to this relatively innocuous ingredient, the majority of us have no trouble with it at all.  Whether you are in the "for" camp or "against" camp, the great thing is that you can make an informed decision based on your own skin type and preferences.  Mineral oil or not, we're luckily spoiled for choice when it comes to what we use on our skin.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].
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