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The difference between mineral oils and natural organic oils

Photo by Jill Burrow from Pexels

Two of the most common oils used in cosmetic products are natural organic oils and mineral oils, both different in their make-up and origin.

The team at BaoCare, a South African skincare brand that formulates its products with baobab oil, points out that the term ‘organic’ is often misused in the beauty industry, leading to confusion and misinformation. They explain: “An ingredient or product is ‘organic if it adheres to certain standards and requirements during the sourcing, production and processing phases. This includes practices like avoiding the use of prohibited substances (for example pesticides) and other potentially harmful additives.

“As such, natural organic oils are oils that are sourced organically, from organically-grown plants, fruits, nuts, flowers, bark, leaves, roots and stems. These oils are highly concentrated, filled with natural nutrients and absorb into the skin quickly. They can actually penetrate the skin through pores and the intracellular matrix and offer a wide variety of skincare benefits. These include moisturising, antimicrobial, soothing, clarifying, detoxifying, balancing and rejuvenating. However, natural organic oils may be more expensive than other oils and, in a very small percentage of people, certain natural oils may lead to skin sensitivity or irritation.”

According to the BaoCare team, despite being a popular ingredient in cosmetic products, mineral oil is known to arouse quite a bit of suspicion. They continue: “It is, essentially, a derivative of petroleum (as in crude oil). But unlike untreated crude oil, mineral oil is highly refined and stripped from potentially harmful carcinogenics like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons before it is used in cosmetics. Mineral oil is popularly used in moisturisers.

“Despite being refined, there is still a lot of concern over the trace amounts of chemicals present in mineral oils, and their potential to pose health risks. However, mineral oil has the ability to protect the skin’s natural barrier and to lock in moisture. Furthermore, it has hydrating, softening and smoothing properties. Being well-tolerated and inert, mineral oil is unlikely to trigger sensitivity or irritation and is inexpensive.

“But, depending on its level of refinement, mineral oil may be comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores, causing blackheads and breakouts. As mineral oil is highly occlusive, it has led to concerns that it may prevent toxins from leaving the body through the skin.

“While we know that mineral oil goes through a refinement process, some companies use more refined mineral oil than others and, as a consumer, it is very difficult to know how refined the oil in your product is. If not highly refined, it may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic.”

For those salons and therapists wanting to purchase natural organic oils, the BaoCare team advise that they buy from a reputable brand that’s transparent about the source of the ingredients.

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