Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Welcome to the wonderful world of mineral oils, also known as:

Used in cosmetic for their emollient properties, mineral oils supposedly protect the skin from dehydration and improve the quality of textures. ‘Supposedly’ because after extensive research, the situation is the following: no one seems to agree on whether they’re actually great or terrible for the skin.

We’ll leave that aside. Because although we care very much about your skin, there’s nothing life-altering about a little breakout. What might work for some won’t work for you, and vice-versa. We play the game of ‘will this be my next favourite product or a big mistake’ every time we buy something new, and there’s nothing Refrain can do about it.

Our only promise is to screen each ingredient to make sure they’re not toxic to you or to the environment.

So here’s the deal with mineral oils. First of all, they’re a by-product of the polluting oil refining industry, which in our eyes, is enough to say we don’t want them in the products we curate. It might seem like tiny amounts here and there are fine, but petroleum is naturally formed far too slowly to be replaced at the rate at which it’s being extracted, so whatever the amount, hydration doesn’t justify the depletion of non-renewal resources. Even more when there are so many kinder alternatives out there.

Secondly, depending on their quality, mineral oils can contain impurities and polycyclic aromatic compounds which are cancerous. And since it’s virtually impossible for us to know to what lengths a brand has gone to filter out toxins for sure, why would we take the risk of filling our pretty jars with toxic formulations? Non merci.

Finally, it seems mineral oils have poor biodegradation rates, and can be toxic to aquatic life. Classic.

We could go on and on about what’s wrong with them. But never hit a man when he’s down and all that, you know.

Couldn’t find a better conclusion to this post than The Skincare Edit’s ‘Just the fact that they're derived from crude oil is off-putting if you strive for beauty products made of pretty things like essential oils and beeswax.’ Pretty it is, then. R x

Credits: Ayano Takase.

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