The Role of Liquid Paraffin in Skin Care
Finding liquid paraffin listed as one of the ingredients in a cream or lotion can be confusing for some consumers. After all, paraffin is a term that’s commonly associated with candles, which don’t really have anything to do with skin care. But a deeper look at liquid paraffin will reveal that this common personal care ingredient is used in many skin products, including creams, lotions, lip balm, soap, and even eczema ointments. But what does liquid paraffin do, and more importantly, is it safe to use on the skin? To better understand this ingredient, let’s take a deeper look at its role in skin care and the possible side effects it can induce.
What is Liquid Paraffin?
Liquid paraffin is a petroleum derivative that is also commonly referred to as “mineral oil.” There are many types of chemicals that are classified under the mineral oil label, and are used in a variety of applications, including manufacturing.
However, liquid paraffin is a term reserved for highly-refined mineral oil that is suitable for skin care product applications and even for oral ingestion. This is an important distinction, because some skin care experts who express concern about liquid paraffin may be inadvertently referring to non-medical-grade mineral oil, which has not been properly purified for use in skin products.
How is Liquid Paraffin Used?
There are many uses for liquid paraffin, and this chemical is included in many skin care product formulations, and even in products taken orally. For example, this ingredient is sometimes formulated into certain laxative products.
When it comes to skin care, liquid paraffin is often included in cream formulations because it is believed to help the skin retain moisture. Moisture retention is an important factor in skin care, which is often overlooked. The skin has a natural barrier that prevents moisture loss and helps keep the skin supple. Some individuals, however, experience a weakening of this barrier due to genetic factors, aging of the skin, and damage from UV radiation and harsh weather.
Therefore, liquid paraffin is sometimes formulated into skin care products to create a protective layer on the skin that helps retain hydration. Commonly, it creates a somewhat greasy, but smooth feeling on the skin, giving the consumer a sensation of moisture.