Bren Lee
February 10, 2016 5:07 pm
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Fox and FX's 2016 Golden Globe Awards Party on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

In the beauty world, oils are huge right now. It seems that hair oils, facial oils, and cleansing oils are on every store shelf and in every medicine cabinet. However, not all oils are created equally, and we’re calling out one in particular: mineral oil.

Mineral oil has been used for decades in beauty products, due to its effectiveness, cost, and because it’s really easy to come by. It’s a clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum, and once purified, it contains no impurities or carcinogens.

Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Ehh, kind of. Due to its molecular size, mineral oil does not absorb into the skin. Instead, it has a barrier effect on skin, so while it can lock in moisture, it also just kinda sits on the surface just chillin’ and being greasy. This works really well on ashy elbows, dry knees, and cracked cuticles, but it’s not ideal for your face.

Many dermatologists and aestheticians advise exercising caution when it comes mineral oil, including Sonya Dakar, a celebrity aesthetician based in Beverly Hills whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lawrence, and myself—Yep, I’ve seen Dakar a few times and she’s a miracle worker on my skin, so when she has something to say about skincare, I listen. Dakar recently told Allure she highly recommends staying away from mineral oil. “It’s derived from petroleum and does not absorb into the skin—its molecular size is simply too big,” she says. “As a result, mineral oil remains on the surface of skin, making it a reflector of the sun, which can lead to more sun damage and discoloration.”

Basically, the only thing worse than being shiny is when that shine is actually causing more damage to your skin. This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone—those with dry skin aren’t going to have that big of an issue with sheen. There are just so many other alternatives to mineral skin that it’s worth trying something else out. Dakar says she is a huge fan of flaxseed oil, since it not only hydrates but also reduces irritation and inflammation as well as balances your natural oil production.

Despite this info, mineral oil isn’t the worst thing to have in your skincare repertoire. It’s great at breaking down waterproof makeup, and as mentioned above, can really work miracles when it comes to dry skin on other parts of your body.

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