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Controversial Ingredients: Setting the Record Straight

By: Ada Polla and Anne Pouillot
Posted: January 30, 2012, from the February 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
skin cream

page 7 of 17

Mineral oil, or paraffinum liquidum, belongs to the class of chemicals called hydrocarbons—residues from the distillation of petroleum. Mineral oil used in cosmetics is purified by a refining process. Mineral oil is used in oil-phase products as an emollient because of its low volatility and smooth texture.18 Mineral oil has hydrophobic effects; namely, it protects the skin against moisture loss.

Mineral oil has a bad reputation because it is derived from petroleum. That very word has negative connotations among consumers. Furthermore, mineral oil creates a film on the skin,19 potentially leading to clogged pores and obstructing the skin.

It should probably be replaced. Consumers are increasingly rejecting raw materials derived from petroleum and hydrocarbons, and easy-to-use alternatives are available. To obtain an oil-phase product, natural waxes, such as candelilla and carnauba waxes, can be used as alternatives to mineral oil.20

Aluminum salts

Antiperspirants reduce sweat and decrease the pH of the skin, thus preventing bacteria from growing and causing foul odors. Aluminium salts, an important component in antiperspirants, minimize the sweating process by tightening pores and reducing the secretion of sweat.

Aluminum salts have a bad reputation because exposure to aluminum via the repeated use of antiperspirant is regularly criticized and has been implicated in causing various diseases, including breast cancer.21 Although to this day, a link to breast cancer has not been confirmed, the transcutaneous passage of aluminum, although low, is proven.22 After dermal application, the penetration of aluminum continues through hair follicles.

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