Does mineral oil applied to skin prevent other ingredients applied on top of it from reaching skin?

edited December 2013 in Ask the Beauty Brains

I'm a bit confused about mineral oil. Is it absorbed into the skin at all or does it just sit on top of the skin forming a layer?

My favourite moisturiser is mineral oil based and I use physical sunscreen on top of it which contains some good stuff for skin eg antioxidants etc.

So does the mineral oil in my moisturiser prevent ingredients in my sunscreen from reaching my skin?

Thanks :)


  • Great question! We'll answer it on the blog later this week.  
  • Looking forward to the answer.  Would the same principal apply to hair atyling products that contain mineral oil, petrolatum, silicones and conditioning ingredients?  Would the conditioning ingredients be  blocked out?
  •  I haven't had a chance to get to this yet, sorry!

  • No worries!  I can wait. Can't begin to imagine how hard you must work to answer all these questions as well as the rest of your workload! I feel like I'm bombarding you with so many questions! You guys are the best.
  • edited January 2014

    Yeah, you guys rock! :D I was just wondering if you were still to answer this or if you already answered but I've missed it? Thanks!

    Forgot to add, my moisturiser has water as 1st ingredient, then mineral oil-don't know if that makes a difference!

  • *sigh* No you didn't miss anything I got too busy with other stuff and I let this slip. I'll look into it this afternoon and report back. Stay tuned! 
  • OK, I'm back. I found the notes I took when I originally saw your question so here's the scoop (I'll also put this up on the blog:) 

    Based solely on the fact that mineral oil is used in sunscreens, I have to say the answer is no. That’s because when M.O. containing sunscreens are tested they are shown to provide UV protection which indicates that the sunscreen active is getting to the upper layers of of skin. This diffusion takes a little while which is why you should put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going into the sun. 

    If that’s not proof enough, I found a study which evaluated the effect of varying the water and mineral oil ratio on the diffusion rate of sulphathiazole from cold cream type ointments. In this study they took creams that contained from 8% to 83% mineral oil and measured how well a specific drug ingredient diffused out of the cream. The study was done in the lab, not on skin, but the results showed that even at the highest level of M.O the drug still diffused through the cream. Granted though, it diffused much faster at lower levels.  Mineral oil is rarely used at very high levels in creams so this indicates that "stuff" does get through a mineral oil film.
  • Wow, thank you so much for all the info. Much appreciated! :)
  • You're very welcome! If you'd like to repay the favor you could go to iTunes and write a short review of our Podcast. I'd really appreciate it!
  • Hiya,

    For some reason I haven't been able to leave a comment yet but I will definitely try again-more than happy to do so! You guys do an amazing job :)
  • Kitster - you have to have an iTunes account to be able to leave a review. (I didn't realize that initially.) So, assuming you do have an account, navigate to our podcast in iTunes and then click on "Ratings and Reviews" and then click "Write a Review." I hope that helps. 
  • Hiya,

    Thanks-yeah, I can't seem to get an account going! But my husband has one-I will leave a review that way. :)
  • Thanks! 
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