Baby oil is a standard in the care products for baby. It’s always included in those darling packages of cute little bottles. It’s really a seemingly benign and simple product – just mineral oil and fragrance. However, both of those simple ingredients have major problems and should NEVER be used on anyone, much less a baby!
The Problems with Fragrance
Artificial fragrances are made from petroleum or coal which degrade in the environment and cause skin irritations. Cosmetic fragrance is made with cheap synthetic chemicals which replicate the natural aroma of products which already exist in nature. Companies use them because it is cheaper than using the natural scent.
A single fragrance is made from hundreds of different chemicals to cheaply reproduce a natural scent. Fragrances may be highly irritating to sensitive people in their lungs and on their skin.
I’m one of those people who just can’t tolerate any fragrance on my skin or on others. It is overwhelming when someone is wearing a very strong smelling perfume or has just used too much of any scent. Interestingly, I have the most trouble at the gym – with the guys wearing way too much fragrance!
A baby has very delicate skin that is not as protective as adult skin and can easily be irritated from environmental toxins. Fragrance is the LAST thing you want to put on a baby’s skin, much less have them inhale.
The Problems with Mineral Oil
According to the Environmental Working Group, mineral oil is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum and may be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Mineral oil may aggravate acne and may negatively impact skin function, causing it to age prematurely.
This oil is a common ingredient in anything that requires a smooth gliding action, and may be listed under different names, such as, deobase, heavy mineral oil, light mineral oil, liquid paraffin, liquid petrolatum, paraffin oil, paraffin liquid, petroleum white mineral oil, prolatum oil, white mineral oil, petroleum.
Mineral Oil is a Carcinogen
Mineral oil is considered a potential carcinogen to aerospace workers who are in frequent contact with it. This study published in the Journal of Industrial Medicine in 2012 found that mineral oil contributed to toxic exposures leading to cancers:
High levels of exposure to mineral oils increased mortality and incidence of lung cancer … and incidence of melanoma … Mineral oil exposures also contributed to incidence and mortality of esophageal and stomach cancers and of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia when adjusting for other chemical exposures.
The researchers conclude,
Our findings suggest that these aerospace workers who were highly exposed to mineral oils experienced an increased risk of developing and/or dying from cancers of the lung, melanoma, and possibly from cancers of the esophagus and stomach and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. These results and the increases we observed for TCE and kidney cancers are consistent with findings of previous studies.
Yes, these workers were exposed over a period of many years – using any personal care product directly on the skin over a period of years is a similar type of exposure. Certainly slathering a baby, or anyone, with mineral oil (and fragrance) is not a wise thing to do.
Inhaling Mineral Oil Can be Fatal
There have been several instances of children becoming seriously ill with pneumonia that could become fatal, when aspirating mineral oil into the lungs.
This should be a huge caution on the label of mineral oil and baby oil, but it is not. There is just a statement that if accidental inhalation occurs, it can cause serious injury and if breathing problems occurs to consult a physician. Not so — it should be an emergency room visit.
Mineral Oil Accumulates in Body Fat and Breast Milk
Mineral oil has been found to be present in the body fat of 144 volunteers with Caesarean sections as well as in milk fat from days 4 and 20 after birth of the same women living in Austria. This study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology revealed that the use of breast salves were a source for the elevated levels of mineral oil in the breast milk that would be transferred to the newborn.
This is not a good thing. Newborns and infants are fragile and their detoxification systems are undeveloped.
Cosmetics as Source of Contamination
There is evidence for cosmetics as a source of mineral oil contamination in women. The same study, published in another journal, The Journal of Women’s Health, also evaluated the other potential sources of contamination from mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH). Their conclusions were that,
Cosmetics might be a relevant source of the contamination.
Clearly, women as well as workers in industries that use petroleum based products, may all have high exposures to these chemicals. We are all exposed to these chemicals whether we know it or not.
However, whenever we can, we should reduce our exposures by not using products that are blatantly filled with toxic chemicals.
Mineral Oil and Premature Aging
One of the main functions of the skin is to facilitate detoxification of your body. In that regard it is an organ of excretion and needs to be able to breathe to perform these functions and work together with the kidneys to rid the body of toxins. Mineral oil seals the skin and disrupts the skin’s natural immune barrier – inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb moisture and nutrition. Consequently, normal cell development is slowed down and the skin ages prematurely when skin cells are robbed of moisture.
Additionally, the cosmetics, creams, lotions, soaps, etc. that you put on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream. If these products are made of chemicals, that can and will affect your health and your ability to heal.
What to Use Instead of Baby Oil
Use whatever you eat. If you don’t eat it, don’t use it.