Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So What's the Deal with Mineral Oil?

When I first started out with the goal of growing my hair, I was more than a little overwhelmed by the number of hair products out there marketed to our population. Before embarking on my heat-free journey, I didn't think about the ingredients in my hair products any more than I gave a thought to the last ANT I'd stepped on. It just wasn't on my radar. I thought, who has the time to research all those ingredients anyway? I just want something that works! And don't we all?

But I soon came to find that mineral oil is in a lot of popular hair care lines out there. But what is mineral oil? defines mineral oil as:

"a colorless, oily, almost tasteless, water-insoluble liquid, usually of either a standard light density (light mineral oil) or a standard heavy density (heavy mineral oil), consisting of mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum by distillation: used chiefly as a lubricant, in the manufacture of cosmetics..."

However, as I began to branch out into YouTube and find more natural women who were experiencing consistent, healthy hair growth, I noticed something: some preferred only all-natural products while others didn't seem bothered by the ingredients in their products. But it didn't matter whether they were using regular products that contained mineral oil or if they strictly stuck to all-natural products. I saw cases of women in both camps who were able to grow long, healthy hair.

So what's the deal with mineral oil? Why are some naturals against using products with this ingredient? Is it bad for our health? After doing some research, here is what I found:

  • Websites that harped on the detriments of mineral oil to our health either provided no scientific support for their claims or the scientific experiment(s) that they did site had no evidence regarding the long-term effects of mineral oil on humans.
  • One article had this warning: "Do not use products that contain mineral oil or petrolatum. Both of these cheap oils clog pores, rob the hair's moisture, and can retard hair growth" ("Using the Wrong Products"). However, my favorite detangling conditioner has mineral oil as its sixth ingredient (the first five ingredients in a product are said to be in the highest quantities) yet over the past six-plus months I have experienced a lot of hair growth. Also, I know my hair is well-moisturized after I do my wash and detangle regimen because it comes out soft (but not too soft) and is easier to comb. 
  • The sites that seemed to be strongly opposed to mineral oil in hair products were almost always sites that were dedicated to natural or organic living. Not that there's anything wrong with that - our family is all about organic when it comes to food - but it left me wondering if the authors' bias was skewing the information.
In the end, you have the final say in what goes into your hair, so you shouldn't let anyone's opinions make you feel bad about your product choices. I went through a short phase where I was opposed to using products with mineral oil. But after researching the facts and finding out that my hair loves my (now) favorite detangling conditioner which has mineral oil, I realized that mineral oil might not be so bad after all.


  1. I've always been curious about mineral oil - thanks for the research


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