Saturday, June 30, 2012

Current Mineral Oil Safety Links 2012

This information is in response to blog email inquiries about mineral oil safety. I have moved it to become a post on its own.

I followed the recent concerns about food contamination and mineral oils back to where they began. I prefer to be as thorough as possible in finding and providing information, that you as blog readers can read for yourselves, not just my interpretation and summary of it. There has not been any mention I have seen anywhere of cosmetic mineral oil or laxative mineral oil use coming under new scrutiny, since the food contamination issues were raised, nor concerns about the oil being used to condition and protect wooden cutting boards or wooden utensils. USP/BP mineral oil use as a laxative has cautions on the bottles regarding recommended amounts and length of time for use. You can also discuss its use with your pharmacist.

If any of that changes, I will be updating about it here. It is unlikely to happen. Topically, cosmetic mineral oil cannot deeply penetrate hair or skin. Toxicity issues are strictly regulated. The newest arthritis research study linked below, even with a qualification or exclusion to be precise, does not find USP/BP or cosmetic mineral oil to be a health risk. 

The first link is dated after the food contamination issues were raised, although they are not addressed in it. However, it does deal with purity and safety issues for cosmetic USP/BP mineral oil and it is clear and well written, with references. If the safety of baby oil for example were to be questioned because of the food issues, that would make headlines online and in print and that has not happened. No such changes have been made to mineral oil laxative use information on websites I trust, like the Mayo Clinic and others I consider as good.

While I am thrilled with my cosmetic use of mineral oil and I know of plenty of others who are as well, I still put safety first as a priority when recommending anything for others to think about using and I back up what I have to say with reputable information, that is as current as possible too. I have no vested interest in cosmetic mineral oil, just a very pleased and still amazed response to how great it can be. The mineral oils in question appear to be mostly from use in industrial applications and there are questions that need to be more thoroughly answered, regarding their safety and food contact.  


The safety of cosmetic mineral oil USP/BP, which includes laxative use and use on cutting boards and wooden utensils is not in question. 
Cutting board use: The link below has good resources to check out. I have checked out individual vegetable oils recommended for use on wooden cutting boards and the rancidity information matches the information here. Walnut oil can turn rancid too, in spite of claims to the contrary on some websites. Mineral oil used on cutting boards is recommended to be reapplied at an appropriate time, when indicated.
This study evaluated the shelf life of several food oils, including walnut oil. 
Food contamination issues are under review and the sources of the contamination are in question. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Coconut Oil And Mineral Oil Use

This blog post is in response to several blog emails on the same topic. 

Any "new" oil you try on your hair is going to be affected by what is already on your hair in terms of residues and hair care products in the process of creating those residues. All conditioners cause build-up. Many shampoos these days do too, as do styling aids.

Cosmetic mineral oil can work very well used over conditioner and conditioning shampoos or treatments, less so over styling aids for detangling, depending on the amount of product and residue on the hair. Cosmetic mineral oil or for many, baby oil is a surface oil. It can replace conditioner, detanglers and treatments. It can do the same things by filling in gaps in the cuticles and replacing lost lipids and moisturize hair better than vegetable oils or silicones. No oil, natural or otherwise is the same or similar to natural sebum.

Coconut oil can deeply penetrate hair to the cortex level. There are other oils that can too, like babbasu oil and palm kernel oil becaue of their high lauric acid content. However, these oils cannot penetrate hair with residues on it, or when used over relatively small amounts of conditioner used afterward on hair that has been clarified, for example. The oils need to be used on well clarified hair and can make excellent hair care treatments.

For use in oil shampoo, the oils mentioned above need to be used on hair first well clarified and then added to a preferably mild shampoo that does not cause build-up. If the oil shampoo is then followed by small drops of cosmetic mineral oil will the oil shampoo be as effective? Probably not. Yes, the oil shampoo can remove the mineral oil but during washing it is still there, hindering coconut oil penetration. Two shampooings will most likely be needed, one to remove the mineral oil and one to allow the coconut oil for example, to deeply penetrate hair.

Can coconut oil and mineral oil both be used in a hair care routine? Yes.

Most people need to clarify their hair every so often. That is a perfect opportunity to use coconut oil as a deep treatment. During washing it out with a shampoo that does not cause build-up, or if heat has been used during the treatment, it can deeply penetrate hair. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid. That means most cannot be used to penetrate hair.

The reason many people have problems with coconut oil is that while it can make a lovely surface oil, it is heavy, can be sticky and used over any residues or even a limited or very small fresh application of conditioner after clarifying hair, it is not going into the hair deeply. Coconut oil is not going to deeply penetrate hair mixed with butters or other waxy ingredients, natural or otherwise, either. 

Many people use coconut oil and like it used over conditioned hair. It is working on the hair surface and that can be fine. However, it is the amount of the other products used and the resulting residues that can change that to "crunchy" or "velcro like" hair. The same principles apply to the use of other natural oils that are able to penetrate hair less deeply than coconut, babassu and palm kernel oils. They become surface oils too.

Cosmetic mineral oil can be a multipurpose product for hair care without the drawbacks of other natural oil use: greasy, heavy, sticky hair. It alone can do many things you want an oil to do and more. It cannot replace all coconut oil or argan oil functions and it cannot deeply penetrate hair.

See Also

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Can Effective Hair Care Be Simple And Inexpensive?


For those blessed with naturally great hair and busy schedules, often a shampoo and conditioner is all that is needed in general. Some people do not need to use conditioner at all. Some people prefer to wash their hair with conditioner only. Most shampoos and conditioners these days are acidic. Those formulated for colour-treated hair tend to be more acidic, to offset chemical processing causing roughened hair cuticles. Chelating agents like citric acid and EDTA are often added to shampoos and conditioners and can help with hard water issues.

The cationic conditioning ingredients we have today in hair care are based on fabric softener technology developed in the 1950s. Clarifying shampoos were created to deal with removing residues caused by those ingredients and more, in today's conditioning shampoos, conditioners and styling aids. A gentle one that works effectively is Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo. Fully dissolved baking soda in water, not made too strong in proportion to be drying, followed by a well diluted vinegar rinse is another option.

There are a number of recipes for clarifying hair with baking soda online. What may be fine to use for one person may be too strong or too weak for another. The same applies to the vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or any vinegar with about 5% acetic acid can be used. Coloured vinegars can add colour to some hair shades. So, it may take some experimentation to get that right for you, if you have not used baking soda and vinegar for clarifying previously and been satisfied with the results.

Where extras come into play is to recognize that hair conditioning products can have limitations for a number of reasons. For dry hair for example, applying a lot more conditioner can result in a lot more build-up and even more dryness and can cause spit ends, tangling and breakage, whether it is used instead of shampoo or after shampoo or as a shampoo pre-treatment.

Cosmetic mineral oil can be very effective used as a grooming aid for frizz, static, a thermal protectant and detangler, used in small amounts like small drops, that wash out easily. It is more effective as a moisturizer than vegetable oils and silicone, while providing slip equal to silicone. It can be used that way to replace conditioner, styling aids and hair treatments too, saving a lot of time and expense, especially since it usually only needs to be applied once after hair washing, not in between washes, to be effective.

Coconut and argan oils can chelate iron and copper, and used as a pre-treatment with hair dye containing peroxide applied over them can help prevent conventional peroxide oxidative damage, increase dye uptake, and condition the hair. Used as a pre-treatment with bleach, or only conventional peroxide applied over them, they can also help prevent such chemical processing damage, while not interfering with the lightening of hair colour, as they condition the hair.

Coconut oil added to a mild shampoo that does not cause build-up, after the hair is first clarified to remove hair product residues can deeply penetrate hair, and replace the need for conditioner and styling aids, also saving time and expense. Coconut oil applied to clarified hair can deeply penetrate hair and work wonderfully as a deep conditioning treatment. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used for either method.

Salon products are not necessarily better than dollar store or drugstore shampoos or conditioners. It depends on the formulation of each product.

Catnip use for conditioning and hair colour is the hair option for me most of the time. I use a conventional shampoo that does not cause build-up first that works well with my hair and very sensitive scalp. I also love catnip on my skin and after the tea is brewed and used, I have not had issues with cats responding to catnip, rinsed off.

What I have concluded after a lot of reading about hair issues, my own experimentation with hair care products, my results and those of others and research is that effective hair care does not have to be overly complicated, expensive or necessarily time consuming. I enjoy my hour long catnip treatment time but I do forgo it for mineral oil use when my schedule is heavy.

In general, less product is more in terms of results. Cosmetic marketing with the exception of sunscreen application (most people it has been observed do not apply enough sunscreen) would have us all use far too much product for each application. For effective hair care, it is necessary to get the scalp clean not overly clean. It is desirable to have the hair lubricated after washing or with oil shampoo during washing, to prevent friction, tangling and stress damage. Far less product than many people think can accomplish all of that, leading to less problems with build-up if the products cause that and the resulting frustrations build-up can cause. It is about choosing the right products you need, be they natural or conventional, and learning how much your hair and scalp can handle, without going overboard and then having issues because of the excess.    


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cosmetic Or USP/BP Mineral Oil Updates

I am still updated by friends on their mineral oil or baby oil for the most part use on hair and the results. Their results are consistent with mine. While I still use catnip more often on my hair than cosmetic mineral oil because it is also my hair colour, when I do use baby oil, I have not seen an increase in hair breakage, the appearance of frizz which rarely happens for me with catnip, or the sudden appearance of split ends, which I no longer have to deal with otherwise, thanks to catnip use.

In fact, the consensus from them is clear, whether the person uses conditioner and baby oil or baby oil alone after shampooing, or conditioner only washing. There is a reduction in frizz to almost or nil, reduced hair breakage and a definite reduction in split ends. No other major hair care routine changes have been made.

One of my friends continues to do heat styling and baby oil alone has performed admirably as a thermal protectant and hair conditioner for her for quite a while now. Her chemically damaged hair continues to grow out stronger, while being very easy to comb and style and appears to be much healthier. It shines. She only needs to apply the baby oil to her hair once after each wash for these effects, not in between washes.That was also clear in the consensus. Baby oil only needs to be applied once after hair washing to be effective, not continuously.

One friend swears baby oil use has contributed to her hair growth spurt and protected her hair from sun damage and chlorinated pools. While I have no scientific research links to back any of that up, I think the baby oil has helped offset UV damage and helped shield her hair from access to it by chlorine. As to the growth spurt, I think less breakage from baby oil use can result in more visible growth.

For those who still use conditioner and shampoos that cause build-up, they clarify their hair when needed, which is every so often, not often, to eliminate residue. They have found they need to use much less conditioner than before trying cosmetic mineral oil on their hair, to get fabulous results.

All of this makes perfect sense to me.

Note: Some baby oils with added fragrance have been reported online to cause skin breakouts. In those same reports, switching to a different brand of baby oil with fragrance or baby oil without fragrance, resolved the issue. It was not the mineral oil in the baby oil that was the problem. 
See Also

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Current Research On Plant-Based Insect Repellents: Safety And Effectiveness

While researching my latest catnip safety review, I came across research on natural insect repellents. I think this is a good time to post the results separately. The first reference below is very complete with links one can access. Just "control f" and type catnip for links on it. I have listed more current references on catnip, not included in the first. New insect repellents are being developed with refined catnip oil.

I think the material in the first link is well written and gives sound information to think about. The topic is not a simple one and there are variables. While I personally would love all natural products to perform the best under all possible circumstances and uses, it just does not work that way in many cases, especially when safety and efficacy are factored into the equation. With my cosmetic mineral oil use, when not using catnip, my basic cosmetic needs are about 50:50 all natural and conventional.

I currently do not need to use an insect repellent. However, I am going to review the references below for when I do need one. I prefer reputable, scientifically fact-based material, compared to usually over zealous and confusing marketing hype. The research is very easy for me to find and share.

Refined catnip oil

My Catnip Safety Review 2012

I have been using catnip as a hair conditioner and hair colour for over 7 years. I also use it on my skin. I practically "live" in it, rinsed off. I still research it for current information regarding its safety. Catnip is not associated with any serious toxicities. Cautions concern its ingestion with regard to pregnancy, breastfeeding and menstrual issues. There are a few other cautions as well, all listed in the references below. I would heed those regarding topical use too. I prefer to err on the side of caution. My recipe has not changed. I still use 1 level tsp (teaspoon) to just under 300 ml of boiled water. I use the leftover infusion or tea for skin use.

I find for my hair and skin that recipe gives me the best results each and every time compared to other proportions I experimented with in the past. The one thing that frustrated me with conventional hair products was consistency. A large part of that was build-up. I no longer have to deal with that. True, things can change regarding hair and skin. However, if my hair feels a bit drier, it is usually because I used more shampoo than necessary. It is the same with my skin in general. I prefer to use fairly mild cleansing products and catnip plays nicely with both Sunsilk Lively Blonde Shampoo and Softsoap liquid soap. I can always apply more catnip but I have not found the need to change my recipe measurements.

My hair is much stronger and no longer dry and much more. I have no split ends and much reduced mechanical breakage because of catnip use and it is perfect for my skin. I now also apply catnip to my skin in the shower, after washing and gentle exfoliation with my hands (rubbing wet, water softened skin) when I do my hair treatment once a week on average and I wash my skin and face with catnip only in the mornings. I shower at night. Catnip instantly relieves any razor burn from shaving my legs and it smooths and softens my skin. I no longer require any face creams or body lotions or hand cream and have not for a long time. I do use sunscreen. I rinse all catnip off after application, leaving it on my skin in the shower until after my hair treatment is finally rinsed but rinsed off my skin right away otherwise.

I feel it is important to stay up to date on the newest research if possible on any herb or plant used for ingestion or topical use. While catnip is still not on the FDA GRAS list (generally recognized as safe), it is included in the FDA OTC (over the counter) list of remedies for ingestion as a digestive aid. While I was researching the reference list below, I included some links on catnip safety and cats. Catnip oil continues to be researched for inclusion in topical insect repellents. I have not included those links.

Before trying catnip or any herb or plant or new product topically, patch test first for allergies or sensitivities.

4. FDA OTC ingredient list (alphabetical by ingredient) 4-07-10
5. Health Canada

See Also

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Emu Oil?

I received a blog email inquiry about emu oil. It is being touted as a wonder cure based on various research studies that are careful to state it has potential for a number of uses for skin and much more. It is reported online to be: sticky, greasy, cause irritation, clog pores and be very fragrant, or the opposite of all of those effects and properties. It depends on the emu oil purchased. It is being recommended for use on hair too. The safety of emu oil has not been determined.

The problem? Uses in humans are unproven. The potency of emu oils vary. Emu oil is not FDA approved for a reason. Some of the claims made make it a drug. Scientists are unsure of what in it actually is so beneficial for results shown in research. From reports of its use and the different emu oils on the market, the processing of which is quite diverse, it means that the beneficial properties may be affected by said processing. To me and apparently others as well, that means Buyer Beware!