Plant vs mineral oils

Weleda never uses mineral oils in cosmetics and bodycare products – and that’s more than a point of principle. Although a mineral oil could technically be seen as ‘natural’, because it originates in the earth, its extraction, processing and refinement are all processes which raise concerns. Added to that, we know that plant oils, carefully chosen and blended for the right uses, actually add benefits to skincare, making Weleda products rich, pure and better for your skin.

Mineral oils start life as part of the crude oil so highly valued in the developed world. Extracted in massive quantities, the crude oil is distilled to create petrol and other petroleum products, leaving mineral oils behind as a by-product. That is then refined for cosmetic use, but no-one knows what impurities still remain after refinement – and that’s the first big argument against using them.

Our major concern about mineral oils is that they are extracted as part of the petro-chemical industry, are non-renewable and add to the exploitation of the earth for fossil fuel.They can’t be called environmentally-friendly for that reason.

The oil itself is inert – with little smell or colour and without active ingredients. That means it doesn’t add anything to the bodycare product, and in fact can even clog pores, sitting on the skin’s surface and preventing it from breathing. In some medical skin conditions an inert base like soft paraffin can be useful for that very reason – remaining where it is applied to hold the active ingredients. In fact Weleda does make a handful of specialist pharmaceutical products which contain soft paraffin for exactly this reason, but we make sure we use only the finest medicine-grade paraffin, carefully refined to remove impurities, and the packaging will tell you that it’s there.

By contrast, organic plant oils have active properties which work well with human skin on a variety of levels. Weleda uses a range of oils, from seed kernels like sesame and sunflower, from fruits like almond and olive, and some precious oils from plants like pomegranate, evening primrose and rose. Each is chosen for a specific purpose – for absorption, for kindness to inflamed or damaged skin, or for extra nutrients which help older skins. Even some vegetable oils may be less helpful if used in the wrong way, so we really know our oils and, for us, mineral oils just don’t match up to what your body needs.