Monday, March 28, 2011

Beauty Dilemma and a Collection Purge

Often times being informed makes life more difficult than being blissfully ignorant. What makes it even more complicated is when you try to get informed and can’t find solid information.

What are you going on about, Caitlin?

The last few months, I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot about mineral oil and its use in cosmetics so I decided I’d better get myself educated. Turns out that’s easier said than done. Some people say that it’s a miracle worker while others say it’s the devil. Some say that it’s perfectly safe while others claim a link to cancer. Humph. Why can’t I just find a straight answer?!

I may do a more in-depth post about what I have found about it if you ladies are interested; but for now, I’ll leave it at that if the possible negative effects of it are true, then no makeup is worth the risk.

What I’m most concerned about right now are products that cause me to actually ingest this ingredient. Any bad ingredient will be more dangerous when put directly into your system, right? What’s that mean? Lipsticks. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but I read that the average woman ingests approximately 7 pounds of lipstick every decade. (Is anyone else a little grossed out by that prospect?) I went through my lipstick collection and did ingredient list searches (for some of them, this was more difficult than it should have been) and pulled out the ones that contained any form of mineral oil.

This is what got pulled out.


  * NYX lipsticks

   * Revlon lipsticks

   *Cover Girl lipsticks and glosses

To be honest, some of these made me really sad to pull out– especially the GC gloss that has been one of my go-to’s since high school, but I took them out of my collection a few weeks ago and threw them in a plastic bag to see how much I’d miss them and – I managed to survive.

Do I feel any healthier? No.  Do my lips feel any different? No.

But I do have to say that I do feel a little better knowing that I’ve taken a (possibly) dangerous ingredient out of my routine.

A Basic ‘About’
For any of you interested in what mineral oil is – it’s a byproduct of the distillation of petroleum, and it’s extremely inexpensive because it’s so abundant. Vaseline and (most) baby oils are pure mineral oil.

To make things even more confusing, mineral oil is listed under multiple different names depending on, I believe, the level at which it’s been refined. The names that seem to be most common are mineral oil, petroleum, petrolatum, paraffinum liquidum (or liquid paraffin), and propylene glycol. But supposedly there are over a hundred different names for it… so intimidating…

Since I’ve managed not to miss these for an extended period, I may be able to make the final trip to the garbage with them.

What to Do with Them?

This is just a fun, little extra, but when I pulled the bag of lipsticks out to take the photos for this post, I had the idea that any other self-respecting girl would have – I decided to see if you could build something with them.

Lipstick tower! Don’t tell me that’s not fun – and it’s more difficult to do than you’d think! The little buggers kept trying to roll off each other. I, obviously, feel very accomplished.


  1. So you tossed them all out? Wow! You and I should switch blogger names! LOL

    It's great that you've made the decision to learn more and make an educated choice. Right now I'm in the ignorance is bliss side of the debate, because once I start looking, I might have to do the same. Not at the point where it's bothering me enough to scrutinize the ingredient list too much, if at all.

  2. Liz: Yep, they're all gone. There are plenty still left behind though! haha

  3. Hi Caitlin, long time reader, first time commentator -

    I'm VERY curious about what information you turned up suggesting mineral oil is dangerous. I'm a bit of a skeptic myself (my undergraduate degree is in Biology and I'm doing a Masters in Neuroscience) and I've seen too much pseudoscientific mumbojumbo on the internets to have much faith when people tell me XYZ ingredient is bad while the natural/organic/herbal alternative is good. Of course, I haven't done much research myself on products containing mineral oil to be honest, but most things I've read show that's it's chemically inert and harmless. The guy who discovered Vaseline ate a spoonful of it every day (yes, seriously) to prove how "healthful" it was and lived to be 96 or something. I also know it can be used in larger quantities as an, er, internal lubricant for those who don't get enough fiber in their diets :)

  4. RFC: Thanks so much for commenting! I'm also wary about information like this, so I appreciate a skeptic's approach. I was a Psychology major in college and, while not the same as Bio, there's always a lot of pop psych floating around that holds no empirical merit, so I know where you're coming from.
    It may take a bit since it will be a more time intensive post for me to put together well, but I promise to do a post trying to bring together the information I've found in some sort of cohesive way. :)
    And I came across that lubricant use for it as well... Ick! lol

  5. I've heard that "women eat 7lbs of lipstick in a decade (or their lifetime, I've heard it both ways)" thing before, but that means that if lipsticks are about .12 ounces per tube, we eat an average of 933.33 tubes each decade. Being a researcher myself; I find this highly improbable.

  6. Winni: That's a really good call breaking it down that way. I guess that stat must be bogus then, and it must be that many in a lifetime (if even that's correct). There's no way I go through 93 lipsticks each year. Thanks for the comment!


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