The "mineral" part makes it sound natural, gentle and green, but in fact mineral oil (and it´s other forms) are bad for your skin and hair. Here is why, and what you can use instead.
We often think of "mineral" as opposed to "chemical": minerals are good and natural, chemicals are bad and artificial.
Throw this concept out of the window. According to Wikipedia:
A chemical substance is a material with a definite chemical composition. A common example is water.
A mineral is a naturally occurring substance (...) formed through geological processes.
So you see that every chemical in not artificial. Nor is every mineral good for our skin.
By-products of gasoline production ? Whaaat ?
Wikipedia: Mineral oil or liquid petrolatum is a byproduct in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline.
Mineral oil is a synthetic substance, there is nothing organic about it. It contains substances that cause cancer. It is not absorbed by the skin, it leaves a impermeable film on it which clogs the pores. It may irritate the skin and cause breakouts.
Check you labels for:
Mineral oil, paraffin, paraffin oil, petroleum, propylene glycol.
Mineral oil & co are cheap, that´s why crappy cosmetics have it as an ingredient. Better quality stuff will have plant-based oils.
"Petroleum, paraffin, paraffin oil and propylene glycol are all derivatives of mineral oil and have similar effects on your skin. Propylene glycol, in particular, has been known to inhibit cell growth and has been linked to kidney damage and liver abnormalities." from here
Where to look:
Oils (even those that claim to be avocado oils or wheatgerm oils often have mineral oil mixed into them), moisturisers and creams, esp those for the body, lip balms, baby oils, conditioners.
What about Vaseline ?
This is the trademark of petroleum jelly. However, petroleum jelly (vaseline) is very often contaminated by petrolatum, a suspected carcinogen that is banned in Europe. More details here. Try shea butter instead,
Photo: Released to Public: The Mineral Moon (NASA/JPL)