Remember when mineral oil was the only oil associated with beauty and skincare? However, for the last two or so years the beauty world has been all about oils—olive oil, jojoba oil, alma oil, coconut oil, lavender oil, argan oil, and the list literally goes on and on. We have learned in this time how beneficial the right oils can be for our skin, but with so many to choose from, what happened to the “mother” mineral oil that was around way before this oil craze?

For years mineral oil has been an extremely common ingredient in personal care products, from hair moisturizers to foundations to lip balms, with the most popular probably being baby oil, which is made entirely of mineral oil. For a while mineral oil was the ultimate moisturizing agent, but only to the extent that it keeps the area of skin that it is applied to moist. Mineral oil, a petroleum product, became popular as a skin care product because it forms a film over the skin that prevents the skin from contacting or absorbing anything in the environment. However, over recent years, there has been an increase in research into mineral oil alternatives, driven by the demand for products that are more environmentally friendly.

But before we go deeming mineral oil bad for you, it’s important to know crude oil (which mineral oil is derived from) is as natural as any other earth-derived substance. When used on hair, mineral oil forms a film on the strand, which smoothes the cuticle and prevents water from penetrating or leaving the strand. Mineral oil can improve curl clumping and moisture retention, but these benefits only last until the oil is washed away, whereas other oils have lasting benefits for hair health. The problem is while most moisturizers include important nutrients that support the fragile and always aging skin and hair, mineral oil provides no nutrients whatsoever. It can cause product buildup on the hair unless a sulfate-shampoo is used, and actually smothers and seals off your skin, preventing it from breathing. This makes mineral oil not necessarily  “bad” for your hair and skin, but it isn't  good either.

Should you cut the mineral oil out of your hair regimen?

According to NaturallyCurly's Curl Chemist, Tonya McKay "is not one of those materials that must be avoided at all costs. It provides some pretty decent benefits, and I would not personally discard a potential product simply because it was on the ingredients list. It looks as if it is especially useful if you live in very dry or very damp climates or if you use chemical relaxers of any sort." So while you may not need to avoid it, vegetable oils and even some synthetic polymer emollients can deliver the same level of performance while also improving the long-term health and vitality of your hair.

Should you cut mineral oil out of your skincare?

Considering your skin is the body’s largest organ, and it works together with the kidneys to rid the body of toxins, your skin needs to be able to breathe to perform these functions. The problem with mineral oil is that it lays on the skin like saran wrap, disrupting the skin's natural immune barrier and inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb the natural moisture factor, while clogging pores, trapping dirt, and causing pimples. Plus, mineral oil attracts needed moisture from cells deep inside your skin. This means that cell renewal is slowed, collagen breaks down, and the connective tissue is destroyed. Normal cell development is slowed down and the skin ages prematurely when skin cells are robbed of moisture.

While non-purified industrial mineral oil is comedogenic, cosmetic grade mineral oil isn’t, which means mineral oil may be aggravating for the face, mineral oil is generally ok for the rest of the body. But it is important to remember that  mineral oil doesn’t let anything in (oxygen), but it also doesn’t let anything out (toxins), so careful of how often and how much you use on the rest of your body.

What’s great is many large cosmetic companies are discontinuing their use of synthetic and petrochemical ingredients in personal care products. There are now botanical oil alternatives that keep moisture locked in, and make the skin and hair feel smooth and healthy. Carol’s Daughter’s Body & Bath Collections are packed with performance-driven ingredients, like vitamins and antioxidants, for truly healthier, softer skin. Experience our fan-favorite Almond Cookie Moisturizing Collection for yourself (Now new At Target!).

For ultimate moisturization on your face, try Carol’s Daughter’s Açai Hydrating Face Lotion (also available at Target), which contains a plethora of oils including baobab, jojoba, and manketti oils to minimize blemishes and wrinkles, and nurturing rose, chamomile and ylang-ylang oils to keep  skin perfectly balanced throughout the day. Oils, when massaged into the skin, act as a cleanser bind to surface impurities and allow them to be comfortably rinsed away leaving the skin clean, soft and hydrated.

Bottom line is mineral oil is safe, but not the best for your skin. Free your skin and stop smothering it with artificial mineral oil so your skin can breathe freely!

This post is sponsored by Carol's Daughter.