Pas71 is perplexed: How does oil free moisturizer work?
The Right Brain replies:
Pas’ question came to us as comment in our recent post on our post on Which Is A Better Moisturizer: Oil or Water? and we thought it would make an excellent follow-up post.
According to Wikipedia, an oil is defined as follows:
An oil is a substance that is in a viscous liquid state (“oily”) at ambient temperatures or slightly warmer, and is both hydrophobic (immiscible with water) and lipophilic (miscible with other oils, literally). This general definition includes compound classes with otherwise unrelated chemical structures, properties, and uses, including vegetable oils, petrochemical oils, and volatile essential oils. Oil is a nonpolar substance.
Functionally speaking, oil moisturizes skin by forming a barrier that prevents water from evaporating. Typical oils used include mineral oil, and various animal and vegetable derived oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and even shark liver oil and emu oil. These materials all fit the above definition because they are long chain hydrocarbons that are liquid at room temperature, they don’t mix with water and they do mix with other oils.
So what about oil-free products? For an example, lets look at the ingredients in Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture:
Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Isodecyl Laurate, Laurate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pantothenic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Disodium EDTA, Bisabolol, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylates, Sodium Hydroxide, Blue 1, Red 40, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance
You’ll notice that there no mention of any kind of oil – hence the product is “oil-free.” However, you will see ingredients with similar properties that are not technically oils. Hydrogenated polyisobutene, isodecyl laurate, dimethicone and trisiloxane function the same way as an oil – they occlude the skin to seal in moisture. But they aren’t defined as true oils because they don’t mix with other lipophilic materials. So, the product can claim to be oil free. That’s how oil free moisturizers work: they use non-oil ingredients to deliver the same benefit as oils.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Is this a scam? Not really. Some people are looking for formulas that do not contain specific ingredients, like mineral oil. Oil-free is one way to draw consumers attention to that. Other people feel that products containing oils are too heavy or greasy for their skin. Oil free formulations are intended to solve that problem.
What do YOU think? Do you oil free is an important quality to look for in your beauty care products? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.