Is Mineral Oil Bad for your Skin?


If I told you that the hands on the picture are those of massage therapists, would you believe me?
In 10 years of manufacturing professional massage therapy products, we have seen many massage therapists. We did not believe it every time we met professional massage therapists with such damaged hands.
So we asked ourselves the question: “How is it possible to have your hands in the oil permanently, all day long, 5 days a week, and to have, despite all, such damaged hands?
The answer came to us by analyzing the products used by massage therapists with damaged hands.
These massage therapists have learned the hard way that there are major differences in the quality of professional massage products. And the price is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.

We found that two ingredients often came into play when used long-term by massage therapists: mineral oil and SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate).



Mineral oil is a clear, transparent, odorless, viscous liquid made from petroleum as a byproduct of crude oil distillation to produce gasoline. That’s why it’s low cost. Its origin makes it very weakly biodegradable, therefore harmful for the environment1.


In cosmetics, mineral oil acts as a protective layer, similar to a plastic film on the skin, it prevents water from evaporating. That’s why it has long been used to treat dehydrated skin (baby oil, petroleum jelly). Highly refined, it does not nourish the skin, is not really moisturizing and contains no nutrients2.


An ingredient is said to be “occlusive” when it clogs the pores of the skin. The advantage of an occlusive agent is that it acts as protection, as a barrier. Occlusive ingredients are often comedogenic.
All mineral oils are occlusive except the cosmetic grade. In the products for the face, it concerns mainly the cosmetic grade.
As cosmetic grade mineral oil is more expensive than a lower quality, one can sometimes find body products that contain lower grades. It is for this reason that we usually recommend not to use a cosmetic for the body on the face3.
Also, consider the country of origin of the manufacturer. Do not buy products made in countries where commercial regulations are too flexible.
Ask your massage oil supplier which country the mineral oil comes from and what grade it is. He must be able to prove it 3!


Although mineral oil protects the skin in the short term, it is not necessarily beneficial in the long run: as a living tissue, the skin needs to sweat, and mineral oil may interfere with this mechanism. It could even trap toxins and bacteria into the skin of which may not be able to get rid of easily, which could lead to infections 4.


Even worse, a 2011 study from the University of Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria, shows that even if the mineral oil used in cosmetics is more refined than those used in other industries, it would have levels of contamination with potentially carcinogenic toxic elements high enough to cause human health damage when used repeatedly, in the long term and in large quantities 5. This is the case of massage therapists who use it daily, for hours, as part of their work!


The Food and Drug Administration, the equivalent of Health Canada in the United States, made recommendations in 2006 on the dermal use of mineral oil. Cosmetics manufacturers had to indicate these recommendations on their products. This is not always the case. These recommendations indicated that it is essential to “clean the skin regularly to completely rid it of mineral oil residues” 6. Otherwise, “these residues could remain indefinitely on the skin, causing chronic skin irritation and folliculitis” 6. How do you know if these residues have been completely eliminated?


Petrolatum is gelled mineral oil derived from petroleum. It is found frequently in cosmetics in America. Indeed, petrolatum is now banned from cosmetic use throughout the European Union, except “when the complete history of refining is known and it can be established that the substance from which it is produced is not carcinogenic “. Petroleum derivatives may contain potentially carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons and may be responsible for skin irritations and allergies 7.


The skin needs water to be healthy, just like our body. It gets it partly from the air (there is water in the air). When mineral oil is used, the skin can no longer absorb the moisture in the air as well. Fortunately, when you get rid of this film, the process can start again. This is what happens in a “normal” context.
Unfortunately, the work of a massage therapist is not a normal context. The hands are constantly bathed in oil. In the presence of mineral oil, the skin loses its good ability to attract moisture and external nutrients, which affects its cell renewal. In the medium and long-term, this phenomenon may cause problematic symptoms.


The symptoms of repeated mineral oil use that cause problems are quite easy to recognize: burning sensations, tingling, redness, irritation, dermatitis, visible desquamations (dead tissue), etc.8

Ingredient List

How to recognize the presence of mineral oil in a product? The ingredient list, if it is exhaustive, should inform you. Here are the most used terms in the cosmetic nomenclature for mineral oil and its derivatives: Paraffinum Liquidum, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Paraffin, Petrolatum Jelly, Synthetic Wax, Cera Microcrystalline, Ceresin, Polyisobutylene, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Ozokerite, Isododecane, Isohexadecane, etc.



SLS is a foaming agent whose purpose is to clean grease. Normally, it is not necessary for a massage product, since soap is already used to clean hands. But mineral oil, being much more difficult to rinse than vegetable oils, often leaves a greasy, unpleasant film. That’s why some massage gels or oils add SLS: so the user can rinse them more easily and feel less like “plastic wrap”.

However, SLS is an ingredient that is not only toxic to living aquatic organisms but also irritating and drying for the skin as well as for the eyes and the respiratory system. Using it frequently, especially as often as in an institute, can cause skin problems as pictured. In addition, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, the SLS may contain 1, 4-dioxane, potentially carcinogenic 9.

Although it is mandatory to list all of the ingredients in a formula on a product label, our own laboratory tests have sometimes detected SLS occurrences in competing products, even if this ingredient was not listed on the label at all!

So, how to know? Trust your instincts! If you have the impression that your hands are not in good condition, that the feeling on the skin is oily without being nutritious (imagine yourself with motor oil on your hands, you can feel that it is not moisturizing even if your hands are oily), it’s a safe bet that the product you use does not suit you. A massage therapist should have healthy hands, period.



We guarantee that our products are free of mineral oil or SLS. At BioOrigin, we care about the health and well-being of our clients and their own clients. We only manufacture quality products that will not only be easy to use but also beneficial. They are easy to clean, provide the desired results, make you comfortable and comfortable in your work, and allow you to work long hours in health, without hassle or worry.



1. Mineral Oil,
2. « Is mineral oil comedogenic? » Joseph C. DiNardo, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Jan 2005, Vol 4, pages 2–3. DOI: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2005.00150.x
3. “5 Reasons to Avoid Petroleum and Mineral Oil in Your Skincare”, Beauty Editor, Michelle Villett, Oct 16, 2014.
4. “3 Key reasons to avoid mineral oil”, Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipmann, Britta Aragon, Apr. 28, 2014.
5. “Mineral Oils: Untreated and Mildly Treated,” Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition (2011), National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services.
Concin N, et al., “Evidence for cosmetics as a source of mineral oil contamination in women,” J Womens Health 2011 Nov; 20(11):1713-9.
Wiley-Blackwell. “Mineral Oil Contamination In Humans: A Health Problem?” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2008.
6. Pray WS. Nonprescription Product Therapeutics. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.
7. European Commission. « Cosmetic Directive » 2003/83/EC, Annex II, Ref. 904.
8. « Mineral Oil Lotion »,
9. The Dirty Dozen: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Fondation David Suzuki,