Cover Girl Clean Make Up got me thinking about mineral oil. Since so many cosmetics are mineral oil-based, it is a little unfair to single out Cover Girl. They did rather bring it on themselves though by claiming that Clean is "loaded with natural good-for-your-skin ingredients". We shall see.

First, mineral oil. This really seems to polarize people. Some say its good for the skin, providing a barrier that maintains moisture. Others say it blocks pores, causes break outs and dries the skin. There is a huge amount of verbiage on the subject, most of it unsubstantiated. For my own part, I was surprised to find mineral oil is nothing more or less than petrolatum.

Now that I know that, the mineral oil debate is a lot simpler. Mineral oil (or petrolatum) is so cheap it is virtually given away; this is the main reason that it is so ubiquitous. Unrefined petrolatum is toxic and a carcinogen. In Europe, manufacturers must state that they use a refined grade that doesn't cause cancer. No such obligations exist in the US. Beside this, the clogged pore debate seems a trifle insignificant. Anyway, mineral oil is an occlusive agent so if the other ingredients in the product along side it are comedogenic (clogging) the problem will be exacerbated.

Even if you are willing to take your chances with mineral oil, you might want to take note that Cover Girl Clean also contains talc. Even cosmetic grades of talc are linked to cancer and Senator Edward Kennedy is campaigning against its use. There is also triethanolamine, which can cause eye and skin irritation (in fact, triethanolamine, also known as TEA, looks alarming enough to be worthy of further research). Finally, there is a mild sulfate and parabens.

Apart from the odd stabilizer, that leaves eucalyptus oil and clove. Now they must be what is loading Clean with all those good things.