In the last 36 years of practicing aesthetics, with my core interest in sensitive skin and working with women and men cancer patients, I have never had an Oncologist, Radiologist, Oncology Nurse Navigator, or Hematologist tell me that they told their patients to avoid mineral oil in their topical creams, cleansers, or other skincare. Are you surprised?
However, what I can tell you is that many of these medical professionals have told me that they have recommended to their patients, is while undergoing cancer treatment, to take a few tablespoons of mineral oil daily to help with the common side effect of constipation.
These highly trained medical professionals have even recommended topical ointments with mineral oil, silicone,and lanolin for skin undergoing radiation treatment. A skin condition called pruritus, where the skin feels itchy making the person want to scratch, is common with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Mineral oil is often used in these products because it is colorless, tasteless, chemically stable, not subject to oxidation, low cost, and nature-derived. Mineral oil provides the occlusion and emolliency in the topical product. Medical professionals may recommend products for their cancer patients based on cost and availability of particular products.
Additionally, patients can experience dry eyes, from loss of eyelashes or medications while going through treatment. These medical experts will recommend eye ointment, which has mineral oil and white petrolatum. Many patients experience scalp sensitivity after losing their hair, and apply mineral oil directly to the scalp.
As an aesthetician it can be very hard to hear this information, when we have been told by numerous skincare companies, educators, and esthetic schools over and over that mineral oil is bad for the skin. "Bad" can mean different things to different people, however, I think as aesthetics professionals we need to look at all of the information and be open to hearing what medical professionals are saying and recommending to their cancer patients. We need to listen to what the cancer patient is telling us and what they are needing.
I have had many cancer patients tell me that they are not afraid to use mineral oil, or that they believed that mineral oil somehow caused their cancer. More often than not, many patients will decide that they want to make better health and lifestyle choices while going thru treatment and going forward in life. Family members and close friends may decide to make healthier choices as the result of caring for their loved one. The patient will look for products that are more "natural" and/or "organic" with ingredients on the label that they understand. They want the products to be affordable with minimal number of skincare steps. They want products that will not irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Rita Page, CIDESCO, Master Aesthetician, Cosmetologist, Laser Technician