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What is it?

“A mineral oil or paraffin oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum…
Most often, mineral oil is a liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Mineral oil is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They classify it as a known carcinogen and of occupational concern.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has registered that mineral oil “may be fatal if swallowed and enters airways.”

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

Mineral oil, as by-product in the refining of crude oil, is produced in very large quantities and is therefore of relatively cheap. Because of its low price, it is widely used as an ingredient in cosmetic products*. It works mainly as a fragrance ingredient, hair conditioning agent and skin conditioning agent (emollient) in products.

Perhaps the most famous use of mineral oil is in baby oil. Baby oil is a perfumed mineral oil / paraffin oil, often labelled “Paraffinum Liquidum” in the list of ingredients. The use of paraffin oils are so widespread that you can find it as an ingredient in all kinds of cosmetic products. Some examples are in eye shadows, moisturizers, lip gloss, lipsticks, conditioners, hair colors and bleaching, styling lotions, blushes, facial moisturizers and treatments, foundations, concealers, and facial powders.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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