What is mineral oil?
Also known as paraffinum liquidum, it is a clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum. Highly refined and purified mineral oil has been widely used in lotions, creams and cosmetics for 100 years or more.
Because of the purification process this ingredient has low toxicity, it is safe for use on your skin as well as ingestion but many people have linked health concerns to the use of mineral oil. There is no evidence that this ingredient is unsafe to use, and the claims have not been backed up.
Is it safe to use?
Mineral oil is available in different grades. Technical grade which is used to lubricate engines and machinery equipment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that this unpurified form contains contaminants that have been linked in studies to an increased risk of health concerns.
Cosmetics grade undergoes a rigorous purification process before it can be sold as a raw material and contains no residual dangerous components of the petroleum cracking process. Studies have not linked this oil with health concerns.
What are the benefits for your hair?
Mineral oil is a great lubricant, making it good for detangling and slip. As mineral oil is a liquid form of petroleum, it forms a film-like barrier over the hair strand, sealing it and locking in moisture, this is also good for protecting the strands from the elements outside. It also binds the strands, clumping the curls to add definition and hold while remaining non- sticky.
This is to be avoided if you are following Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Method as mineral oil needs a shampoo with sulfates to remove all traces. This ingredient can cause build up if not washed out completely, making hair heavy and waxy. Unlike natural oils, they do not contain any natural nutrients or vitamins.