In terms of beauty products, I often subscribe to the same mindset Alton Brown has about kitchen utensils: they must serve more than one purpose. I have a soft spot for pragmatism and versatility. For example, my heart pitter-patters for a lip color that doubles as blush, and heaven help my wallet when I meet an alphabet cream that promises W, X, Y, and Z.
Cue baby oil. While many pass by this product without a second thought, mentally reserving it for miniature humans, it’s actually one of the best products an adult can keep in her home. Baby oil is typically 98% mineral oil and 2% fragrance. If fragrance bothers you, there’s always the option to head to the digestive health section at your local pharmacy and pick up 100% mineral oil. This is scent-free but thicker than baby oil due to tocopherol additives. I’ve used both and prefer the former, but you do you.
Now, before you recoil in fear at the thought of using mineral oil, about which people often make false assumptions, let me briefly fill you in on a few details.
First, mineral oil is non-comedogenic to humans, meaning it won’t clog pores. It’s also an inert substance, so it’s not going to react when it comes into contact with any other product you’re using. That is a major double win.
Additionally, because mineral oil molecules are so large, they do not penetrate they skin, but instead create a protective barrier. In return, your skin, hair, nails—or wherever you apply it—better retains moisture. As you can probably tell from your experience in handling mineral oil, it’s also quite emollient and softens the skin dramatically.
Baby oil’s utility is only limited by your imagination. Here, however are the five most common ways I use it.
Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)
I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for a little while now, and I can’t imagine going back to my former routine.
I essentially do a double cleanse that consists of OCM and then a foaming cleanser follow-up. If you haven’t tried it before, you will be shocked at how much dirt and makeup comes off with OCM.
Because it’s non-comedogenic, baby oil/mineral oil is commonly used as base for most OCM cleansers. You can add other oils depending on your skin’s need to create a personalized concoction. I often just mix mine with a little tea tree oil, which is antibacterial and assists in acne prevention and reduction.
The OCM is really easy. Just apply a little bit of oil to your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin, and then massage gently in small circles. In additional to removing dirt and the day’s makeup, you’ll also dislodge little gritty plugs in the skin. Massage for two to five minutes and then wipe off completely with a warm, clean washcloth.
Removing eye makeup
Not into the thought of cleaning your entire face with oil? That’s cool. You should at least try using baby oil as an eye-makeup remover, though.
Just apply a little to a cotton ball or a reusable makeup pad and gently wipe until all that mascara, eyeliner and shadow is gone.
Forget expensive shaving creams—all you need is baby oil.
This will seriously change your life. Just slather some baby oil onto your entire leg and shave per normal. You won’t have to apply a moisturizer afterward, either, because the baby oil is so emollient. Multi-functionality at its finest.
Conditioning and cleaning makeup brushes
About once every other week, I clean and condition my makeup brushes with baby oil. I’ve been told by makeup artists that over-conditioning brushes can make them too soft and not as easy to use, so I alternate every other week with a standard brush wash (I typically use Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser).
Your brushes do need to be conditioned, though, especially if they’re made of natural hair. Baby oil is the perfect product for this.
To cleanse and condition, just apply a few drops of baby oil into the palm of your hand and swish your brush around. Rinse with warm water, gently press and then lay flat until the bristles are completely dry.
Tip: never dry with the bristles up or down. Letting them dry bristles-up allows water to trickle into the ferrules, which shortens your brush’s life. Letting them dry bristles-down disrupts their natural shape.
Smooth parched ends
When I’m in a pinch—or when my hair really, really needs some TLC—I use baby oil on dry ends to give them a boost. They become instantly softer, glossier and healthier looking. Just make sure you don’t apply baby oil directly to your hair, which can weigh it down and make it verge on greasy.
Apply a tiny bit to a reusable makeup pad or some tissue and allow it to absorb some. Then pull your hair through the lightly soaked pad/tissue. Finally, let the baby oil soak into your hair a little bit and then style per normal.
Like I said, these are only five of the most common ways I use baby oil. I’ve also used it as a moisturizer for my cuticles, on calluses and feet to soften the skin, as a post-shower moisturizer and more. I always have baby oil on hand and you better believe I carry my travel size with me whenever I leave home.
Do you use baby oil for anything?
This article originally appeared on xoJane.