What Exactly Is Baby Oil?

Learn All About This Popular Skin Care Product

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Some people claim baby oil is the best body moisturizer out there and others claim it's a dangerous product that you should steer clear from. But it's used on babies!  How could it be bad?  And does it really moisturize as good as or better than thick body creams?

The most popular baby oil is probably Johnson and Johnson's Baby Oil.  It's in every drugstore in the baby care products section, and you've probably seen it a million times.

The ingredients in this product are simply mineral oil and fragrance. 

Mineral oil can be a controversial skin care ingredient, and many people avoid using it which is a shame. There is nothing wrong with using mineral oil on your skin or your baby's skin.  This ingredient can be great for your skin.

What is Baby Oil?

Baby oil is usually 98% mineral oil and 2% fragrance.  Mineral oil is inert which means it does not change or react with other substances that it comes in contact with.  In addition, mineral oil won't clog your pores; it actually sits on top of your skin and creates a protective barrier for your skin so your skin will not lose moisture.  This ingredient will soften and soothe your skin and will help your skin retain moisture.  

But Wait Isn't Mineral Oil Bad for My Skin?

Despite what you might read, mineral oil is safe for your skin. Skin care expert, known as The Cosmetics Cop, Paula Begoun is a fan of mineral oil and scoffs at people who scorn it.

 Begoun writes: 

This recurring, foolish, misinformation about mineral oil and petrolatum is maddening. After all, crude oil is as natural as any other earth-derived substance. Moreover, lots of ingredients are derived from awful-sounding sources, but are nevertheless benign and totally safe.(read more of her thoughts on mineral oil)

Mineral oil is regulated by the FDA and is highly refined and purified - completely safe to use on your skin. In fact, it is known as one of the best moisturizers you can use on your skin.

Why the Bad Rep?

If you do a little Google search you'll find horror stories and scary information about mineral oil page after page. False claims include that mineral oil clogs pores (it doesn't, but should be avoided if you have overly oily skin), causes premature aging, and even causes cancer. False, false, false. Don't believe us? Check out this two-part series on mineral oil from The Beauty Brains. (Here are some more myths you might be falling for.)  Instead of falling for misinformation and scare tactics about mineral oil be sure to do some of your own research to learn the truth about this skin care ingredient.

What about Vaseline?

Vaseline is pure petroleum.  It gets lumped in with mineral oil when the subject of this ingredient comes up.  We talked with Dermatologist Helen Torok, Medical Director at Trillium Creek Dermatology, and she was happy to respond with her thoughts on petrolatum. In short - she routinely recommends her patients use it whenever they have skin irritations. Here are some more of her thoughts on petrolatum.

(aka: Vaseline)

What Consumers are Saying About Baby Oil 

If you do a little digging at online reviews of baby oil, you'll find that consumers are very happy with baby oil. At Makeupalley.com, it has a 4.8 out of 5 stars and 94% of people would purchase again.  Baby oil has many uses other uses other than just as a moisturizer.  It can be used as a make-up remover, to smooth hair, to clean and condition make-up brushes, remove wax, and soften cracked heels.

Bottom Line 

Baby Oil (Mineral Oil) is safe, effective, reasonably priced and something that is recommended by skin care professionals on a regular basis. Apply to damp skin after your shower or bath to seal in the moisture. Not only is baby oil great for dry skin, it also has numerous other uses. The sky's the limit when it comes to using baby oil.

Updated by Hanah Tetro