There is so much buzz surrounding mineral oil. My patients ask me about it all the time. There is a lot of misinformation out there – and a lot of it is scary (for example, many of my patients are wondering whether mineral oil can cause cancer). I wanted to give more background and information on this subject to help to separate fact from fiction. This is especially timely because products containing mineral oil (Aquaphor, Petroleum Jelly) are many people’s go-to products when their skin is dry, red, and chapped during winter.

What is Mineral Oil?

Mineral oil is a clear, odorless oil which is derived from petroleum. It comes in different grades, ranging from the technical grade – which is used to lubricate car engines and equipment – to a highly purified cosmetic grade which is often found in many of the skin care products you might have in your house.

Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are both byproducts of petroleum refinement and both are considered petrochemicals.  Recently, you may see more and more products marketed as “free of petrochemicals” or “petrochemical-free” and that means they don’t contain mineral oil or petroleum jelly.  Some popular products containing mineral oil that you probably have in your home include Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and Aquaphor.

Is it Dangerous?

There is so much ongoing confusion and even fear surrounding mineral oil and petroleum jelly. People are worried about “impurities” and “contaminants” found in mineral oil – and there is some concern that it could even be carcinogenic.

The cosmetic grade mineral oil is completely different from the type of mineral oil used to lubricate engines. It’s gone through purification processes to remove these contaminants and impurities. Mineral oil is an occlusive emollient, meaning that it helps to keep your skin hydrated by locking in moisture by forming a barrier on your skin’s surface. Based on my research, it’s actually considered very safe and rarely causes irritation or an allergic reaction.

Would I be afraid to use Vaseline or Aquaphor on myself or my family, say, after a burn or after washing out a cut or scrape?  Not at all. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology advocates using Petroleum Jelly as standard protocol in wound care.

Do I use products with mineral oil on my skin or my daughter’s skin every day?  

I don’t, but it’s not because mineral oil scares me. Here are two main reasons I don’t rely on mineral oil containing products on a daily basis. First, I expect more from my skincare ingredients. Mineral oil isn’t irritating, and yes it is hydrating, but for me, that’s not enough justification to use it on a daily basis. I’d prefer to find ingredients that not only moisturize but also provide other benefits such as anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties. The second reason I don’t use mineral oil containing products on a daily basis is because, even though mineral oil is unlikely to clog pores on its own, it can trap other pore-clogging ingredients in the skin. So if you use a product that combines mineral oil with another ingredient, the mineral oil can potentially trap that other ingredient in the skin.

What can I use instead of mineral oil?

Many of my patients are starting to consider other options to mineral oil and have noticed that clean beauty certifications often specifically exclude products containing mineral oil. For example, “Clean at Sephora” specifically means that the products included are free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates and mineral oils.  Two of my favorite alternatives to mineral oil and petroleum jelly are shea butter and sunflower seed oil. Stay tuned for some of my favorite DIY home skincare recipes using these ingredients!

Dr. Whitney

QUESTION 1: What helps with acne scarring?
ANSWER: When it comes to acne scarring, there are many options that can smooth out those scars, but they usually work best when used as part of a personalized treatment plan. Topical retinoids are key to use at home, as they help to rebuild the collagen especially in atrophic scars (ones that appear depressed or have a shadow). If scars are raised (so called hypertrophic scars), then cortisone shots can make a huge difference. For ice pick scars, and many types of rolling scars, I usually combine lasers with microneedling and fillers. I use lasers like the Fraxel laser to resurface the skin. Microneedling is amazing for acne scars as well. I can combine microneedling with your own plasma (the so-called Vampire Facial), or I can combine microneedling with radiofrequency energy (the Endymed Intensif). Last, chemical peels can also help to slowly even out the tone and textural changes associated with acne sequelae. (more…)

I had so much fun working with my Good Morning America family this morning and sharing some of my go-to, DIY facial masks for glowing, healthy skin. I’ve had a lot of requests for more information on the masks we featured, so here you go!

DEPUFFING AND EXFOLIATING: Coffee and Yogurt Mask

  • Coffee: The caffeine in coffee grounds helps to reduce swelling and puffiness.
  • Yogurt: Soothing, emollient
  • To make: Combine 3 tablespoons of greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee and mix together (using a fork) until you have a paste. Apply to face using gentle, circular motions. Rinse off after 20 minutes with warm water and a soft wash cloth. Pat dry!

COMBAT REDNESS: Green Tea and Honey Mask

  • Green Tea: Soothing, removes impurities, reduces inflammation
  • Honey: Antibacterial, soothing
  • To make: Cut open 2 green tea bags and empty contents into mixing bowl. Add a few drops of water and mix with fork just to dampen. Then, mix in 3 tablespoons of honey (I use a fork to mix, which seems to work better than a spoon). Apply mask to face. Rinse off after 15 -20 minutes with warm water and a soft wash cloth. Pat dry!

The harsh and cold winter air can leave your skin feeling so chapped. These easy masks with ingredients you can find right in your kitchen are a quick fix to rehydrate and nourish your skin!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

The New Year is the perfect time to try new things! One of my favorite, power-packed antioxidant masks is so simple and easy to make, but will leave your skin feeling refreshed, radiant and renewed! Here’s what you need:

CRANBERRY-APPLE ANTIOXIDANT POWER MASK

Three Simple Ingredients:

1 grated apple

½ cup fresh or frozen (defrosted) cranberries)

1 tbsp. almond oil

To Make:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until you have a paste consistency- should be a bit thick.

Spread on clean skin, leave on for three to five minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Key Ingredients to Nourish your Skin:

Cranberries and apples are rich in wrinkle fighting antioxidants, including Vitamin C which helps collagen production and strengthens your hair and nails.

Almond Oil is packed with Vitamin E and softens and smooths the skin, improves tone and complexion and has been shown to slow down the visible signs of aging.

As you guys know, I LOVE everything fall and everything pumpkin!

After we go pumpkin picking, we carve our pumpkins, toast our pumpkin seeds, and I use the pumpkin pulp to make this mask, which leaves my skin glowing, hydrated and feeling great!

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

RT @DrWhitneyBowe: Brand new Picks Page post about a supplement that can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. In view of the FD…

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