Over recent years, oils have gained significant popularity in the psoriasis skincare industry, becoming a staple in many people’s beauty cabinets. However, despite its potential benefits, there is one oil that some psoriasis patients avoid: mineral oil. This oil is often met with controversy due to its petroleum-based origin, which can raise concerns for some.
While some dermatologists agree that mineral oil is a safe and beneficial option for dry skin, it’s important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone and can depend on your individual skin type. In this article, we will examine whether mineral oil is a suitable option for treating psoriasis and whether it can be trusted to effectively care for your skin.
What Is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless derivative of petrolatum, commonly used in healing and moisturizing skincare products for decades. According to dermatologists, when used in cosmetics, it undergoes a high level of refinement and purification, ensuring that it is free of contaminants commonly associated with unrefined petroleum. However, due to its petroleum-based origin, mineral oil is not always favored in “clean” formulas.
As a large molecule, mineral oil has limited penetration and sits on top of the skin, functioning as an occlusive ingredient. This makes it an effective ingredient in moisturizers, as it effectively traps moisture. However, its ability to potentially clog pores has received criticism.
Commonly found in face creams, body creams, ointments, eye creams, foundations, liquid makeup removers, and wipes, mineral oil is often combined with other ingredients in a product. Petrolatum, more commonly known as petroleum jelly, is another ingredient with a long shelf life that is commonly used in many skincare and makeup products available today.
Benefits of Mineral Oil for Treating Psoriasis Symptoms
Although mineral oil lacks anti-aging or antioxidant effects, it is an effective occlusive, moisturizing ingredient for the skin.
- Retains moisture: Mineral oil acts as a protective barrier between the skin and external factors such as wind and pollution. It has been proven in studies to reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), which is the loss of water through the skin.
- Softens and smooths skin: As with any oil, including mineral oil, it helps to leave the skin feeling softer by slipping into the cracks between cells, creating a smoother texture.
- Suitable for skin and hair: The type of mineral oil used in skincare and hair care products is graded as safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The mineral oil we would find in skincare is typically rated as food-grade.
- Non-comedogenic: Some derivations of mineral oil are non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores when used alone.
- Protective: Because of its natural occlusive properties, mineral oil is ideal for those with dry skin. It creates a protective barrier for the skin for hydration and locks in moisture.
- Widely available: Unlike some specialty psoriasis skincare ingredients, mineral oil products are readily available in most beauty and drugstores.
How to Use Mineral Oil for Treating Psoriasis
When it comes to using mineral oil for psoriasis treatment, here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Mineral oil can help to lock in moisture and prevent water loss through the skin, making it a good option for those with psoriasis who experience dryness and flakiness.
- To get the most benefit from mineral oil, apply it to slightly damp skin after showering or bathing. This will help to seal in moisture and prevent further drying.
- If you’re using other moisturizing or protective skincare products, such as hyaluronic acid or antioxidants, apply the mineral oil last to create a barrier that seals in all of the active ingredients.
- Mineral oil can be especially helpful for protecting areas of the skin that are prone to cracking or chapping, such as the heels and hands. Apply a thin layer of mineral oil to these areas before bed to help soothe and protect them.
Cons of using Mineral Oil
While mineral oil is a common ingredient in skincare products, it is important to understand its potential effects on psoriasis.
Reason # 1 – Mineral oil is generally well-tolerated by most people and is often recommended for those with sensitive skin. However, it is important to note that its ability to clog pores can be a concern, especially for those with psoriasis.
Reason #2 – Although mineral oil has not been directly linked to psoriasis flare-ups, its occlusive nature may interfere with the skin’s natural ability to breathe and shed dead skin cells, which can exacerbate psoriasis symptoms. When using products containing mineral oil, it is important to be aware of its potential to clog pores and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms. Look for products that are non-comedogenic and free of other potential irritants or allergens.
Reason #3 – Even if mineral oil is generally considered safe and effective for many skin types, including those with sensitive skin, its potential to clog pores and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms should be considered.
Alternative Treatment Options for Psoriasis Instead of Mineral Oil
If you are looking for alternatives to mineral oil you can consider trying these options:
All three oils have large molecules and occlusive properties similar to mineral oil, but without being petrolatum derivatives.
If you have acne-prone skin and are concerned about clogged pores, consider trying:
- Grapeseed oil
- Avocado oil
Both oils are non-comedogenic and less likely to clog pores or result breakouts.
How Mineral Oil Impacts Your Psoriasis: Important Facts to Consider
Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum that is obtained through the distillation process to produce gasoline. While cosmetic-grade mineral oil is said to be pure and safe to use on psoriasis, it cannot be metabolized in the body and stays there forever, even if it is only applied topically. Studies have revealed that it contaminates fat cells taken from women who had recently given birth and breastfed, with cosmetics being a possible source of the contamination.
Moreover, mineral oil is toxic, and several studies have linked it to carcinogens and cancer. The Environmental Working Group has found that 80% of all beauty products may be contaminated with impurities in cosmetics that have been linked to cancer. Some of these impurities, such as 1,4 dioxane, are possible human carcinogens and are found in 22% of all petroleum-based cosmetics.
In addition to being toxic, mineral oil is also occlusive, meaning it seals off the skin from water, air, and anything else getting in or out. This creates an invisible film on the surface of the skin that blocks pores and the skin’s natural respiration process. The occlusive nature of mineral oil and petroleum can exacerbate acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and other skin conditions by trapping in dirt and oil, fueling the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
Furthermore, the occlusive nature of mineral oil can create a warm, moist environment for fungus and yeast to grow. For those with dry skin problems or conditions, the film coating the surface of the skin keeps whatever moisture is left when mineral oil-based products are applied, resulting in no moisture at all for those with eczema and psoriasis.
So… Is mineral oil “clean?”
When it comes to treating psoriasis, mineral oil has been a longstanding staple ingredient in many healing and moisturizing skincare products. However, due to concerns about its petroleum-based origin and potential for clogging pores, some people may prefer to explore alternative options. Some substitutes for mineral oil in psoriasis treatment include natural oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil, as well as emollients like shea butter and cocoa butter.
It’s important to note that the term “clean” in skincare formulations is not regulated, and there is no clear definition of what constitutes a clean product. While mineral oil may not be considered a clean beauty product by some retailers, dermatologists generally agree that the refining process used in skincare products purifies the substance of all contaminants, making it a safe and effective ingredient for psoriasis treatment.
Ultimately, the best approach to treating psoriasis is to work with a dermatologist to develop a personalized skincare regimen that takes into account your individual needs and preferences. With the right combination of ingredients and treatments, you can manage psoriasis symptoms and achieve healthy, beautiful skin.