Mineral oils

Mineral oils

Spotlight: Ingredients of cosmetic products based on mineral oil are criticised with a view to so-called saturated hydrocarbons (“MOSH”) and aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (“MOAH”).

What are mineral oils in cosmetics?

  • Different raw materials with different consistency, e.g., liquid oils or solid waxes
  • Saturated, branched or non-branched hydrocarbons recovered from petroleum or produced synthetically
  • Prior to their use in cosmetics, they are intensely purified
  • Application for decades in cosmetic products such as creams, lotions, lipsticks, etc.

What are the properties of mineral oils?

  • Lipophilic (fat loving), hydrophobic (water repellent) as well as high stability
  • Insoluble in water, difficultly soluble in 100% alcohol, mixable with fats, fatty oils and waxes
  • Referred to as “paraffin oil”
  • Clear, colourless, odourless and tasteless, viscous liquids

What are the functions of mineral oils in cosmetics?

  • Film forming and water repellent
  • Support gloss formation on the skin (e.g., in lipsticks)
  • Provide creams with a certain stability
  • Protect skin from the loss of moisture

What are MOSH and MOAH?

  • MOSH (Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons): so-called saturated hydrocarbons, which include all mineral oils used in cosmetic products
  • MOAH (Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons): so-called aromatic hydrocarbon compounds, which can still be included even after maximum purification

What are the concerns?

  • MOSH could penetrate through the skin. It is known from part of the MOSH that they can be absorbed more easily through food and can accumulate in the body.
  • Some components of MOAH can have a mutagenic and carcinogenic effect.

What do the experts say?

  •  German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
    • No health risks from the application of cosmetics containing mineral oil on skin
    • The use of lipsticks that contain mineral oils and that could get into the body through the mouth is safe
    • MOAH that occur in cosmetic mineral oil grades are safe

INCI names:

  • Paraffinum Liquidum, Paraffin, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Cera Microcristallina
  • Most frequently used in cosmetics: paraffin oil (INCI: Paraffinum Liquidum) and Vaseline (INCI: Petrolatum)