A clinical review of scientific publications, studies and evidence based research to get a deeper understanding of the ingredients and products based on scientific facts.
First let’s look at the facts..
What is a moisturizer and what is it supposed to do?
Moisturizers are a key component of basic skin care especially when there is alteration of the epidermal barrier ( english: the upper layer of the skin) and reduced water content in the epidermis. They are used to restore the barrier function of the epidermis, to cover tiny fissures in the skin, provide a soothing protective film, and increase the water-content of the epidermis. They may, thus, slow evaporation of the skin’s moisture, thereby maintaining hydration and improving the appearance and tactile properties of dry and aging skin.
Where it’s from ~ discovering the source of the ingredient
Mineral oil sounds fancy doesn’t it? It almost sounds nutritious like mineral water. Despite its name it does not contain any minerals, nutrients or organic ingredients. It’s an odorless, light, transparent and colorless substance and is a by-product of the petroleum industry, which is choosen, in huge quantities in the cosmetic industry. Mineral oil is created by mixing together various hydrocarbons that is the result of peterolum being distilled as a by product of making gasoline. Yes it’s the same gas you put in your CAR.
Extra virgin coconut oil is the fresh milky white semi-solid oil found by extraction either through a centrifuge, cold or expeller pressed. It is extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconut harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Depending on the brand the coconut meat is allowed to dry out from anywhere 2-10 hours; then it’s expressed.
Related Research Summary
Extra virgin coconut oil has shown to have skin antiseptic effects and many people in the tropics have used it as a skin moisturizer. But because there was no formal study to document the safety and efficiency of coconut oil as a skin moisturizer for moderate to mild xerosis. Xerosis is a common skin condition characterized by dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin, created by defect in skin barrier function, and is treated with moisturizers. These patients were randomized to apply either coconut oil or mineral oil on the legs twice a day for 2 weeks. The virgin coconut oil and mineral oil moisturization measurement was measured at baseline with a tewmeter TM210, and skin surface hydration ion concentration (ph) was measured with a skin pH meter PH900. At the end of the 2 week study the end the patients and the investigators separately evaluated, at baseline and at each weekly visit, skin symptoms of dryness, scaling, roughness, and pruitus by using a visual analogue scale and grading of xerosis. By the end of the study extra virgin coconut oil showed effective and signigicant difference in TEWL and skin pH about equal to the effectiviness of mineral oil. Subjective grading of the xerosis by the investigators and visual analogue scales used by the patients showed a general trend towards better (though not statisically evident) improvements with coconut oil over mineral oil. ( Dermatitis, 2004 Septl 15(3):109-116 (you can view the summery here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15724344))
How it works as a moisturizer
Mineral oil is an occlusive moisturizer; it leaves a thin film locking in moisture which prevents the skin from breathing. In this case it causes blocked pores, stopping normal respiration by keeping oxygen out. The mineral oil traps in the toxins that you would normally excrete from your pores. Your skin will start to starve from this effect and will literally strip, flake or peel when you stop using it (you know when you forget to cream your legs in the morning). You will see that your skin will have an artificial sheen like plastic and since it creates a film when you apply other products it just sits on top of the mineral oil resulting in layers and layers of lotions or creams that might have good nutrients i.e. water, that is not being absorbed. Resulting in even more dry skin that flakes further or worse, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin like acne or eczema), or hormonal imbalance. Yep your skin is wrapped in plastic and it cannot breathe! Cosmetically speaking it’s only and primary function is to keeps moisture (water) from evaporating from the skin’s surface.
Coconut oil a semi occlusive moisturizer that also sits on the surface of your skin but it allows your skin to breathe but it still keeps water from evaporating from the skin’s surface. It moisturizes the skin with a unique blend of fatty acids that not only moisturize and nourish the skin’s surface and sub dermis layers, it also has antiseptic qualities that helps the skin heal itself. When combined with a emollient like cocoa butter as seen in our cocoa nutty body butter, dry skin is banished and beautiful deeply hydrated skin surfaces. Emollient ingredients do more then just protect the surface of the skin with a semi occlusive barrier; they are humectants holding and grabing moisture from the air continuously re-hydrating the skin’s sub dermis layer to protect against dryness; they lubricate the surface of the skin making it soft and smooth.
If extra virgin coconut oil and mineral oil have been clinically shown to moisturize our skin effectivly then why oh why won’t major manufacturers use it?
Mineral oil does not spoil unlike plant or vegetable oils. It’s much much cheaper then most vegetable oils and its available in abundance, as long as we continue using gas or petrol as our primary method to fuel our countries energy needs. Large coperations need extra extra large quantities (as in the hundreds of thousands of pounds or tons) and sometimes the natural ingredients are either not available in the quantity needed or the companies just doesn’t want to pay the price for higher quality ingredients because it’s cheaper for them to get chemical substitutes or nature identical synthetically created ingredients.
So what can you do? Stop supporting the companies who use ingredients you don’t want in the products you use day to day. Support small business that uses real natural vegetable based ingredients! Remember companies won’t stop what they are doing until they feel the pinch in the paycheck and bank.
Dermatitis, 2004 Septl 15(3):109-116 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15724344